There’s no question that everyone and their mom (literally) is on Facebook these days. But what about Facebook’s slightly dorkier and business-minded cousin website? Yup, we’re talking about LinkedIn today.
When I thought I might like to have a career in online publishing, I made an appointment to talk with one of my favorite professors to see what options were out there for me. Before we got into career options, the first thing she asked me was if I had a LinkedIn profile. I made one that afternoon.
What is LinkedIn?
For those who are only vaguely familiar with the site, your LinkedIn profile is essentially your online resume with a more personal touch. You can write your own “about me” section and link to personal websites/ twitter pages in addition to providing all of your past job and schooling info. LinkedIn also has a recommendation feature, where past employers can write up summaries on your work experience that will display on your profile.
What you should include in your profile:
One of my professor’s best LinkedIn tips: make sure you don’t put “SUNY Geneseo (insert your college name here) student” under your profession at the top of your profile, unless your plan is to become a graduate student. I was ready to hit the workforce, so instead I took stock of my personal writing projects and called myself a “magazine journalist and blogger”. Since I had examples of where I was published, I felt okay using this title. It made me feel powerful to stop placing myself into the college student category. This is definitely not to say that you should make up a career, but make sure you are giving yourself a title based on your skills, not where you attend school.
The other tip I have for anyone new to LinkedIn is to make sure you commit to your profile. If you want a career as a social media strategist or writer, make sure your profile reflects your skills. Leaving your profile completely empty with only “I’m a recent grad looking for job opportunities” under “about me” is not the way to go about attracting potential employers.
Instead, take the time to write out a thoughtful LinkedIn page. Contact old employers on LinkedIn and ask for recommendations. Hook LinkedIn up to your Twitter account, join LinkedIn groups, and actively participate in discussions.
Why LinkedIn is so valuable:
Resumes are great tools to use in the job hunt, but they can easily get lost in the shuffle of a busy office. LinkedIn is easily accessible anywhere with an internet connection (which is pretty much everywhere nowadays.) For example, every time you write a follow up email to a potential employer, include your LinkedIn page link under your signature. This not only makes you appear social media savvy, but is also a quick way for employers to scan your qualifications and see what past employers have to say about you.
LinkedIn is also a valuable resource for job openings. I’m alerted at least five times a day about job openings in my field that might be of interest to me. It’s possible that you and a potential employer will even be members of the same LinkedIn group.
About half of the people I know the professional world actually don’t have LinkedIn profiles, which seems crazy to me, since the site is entirely free and easy to navigate. I hope a few of of these tips can help you turn your LinkedIn profile page into the best one possible or inspire you to create one for yourself!