LinkedIn. Just the name alone probably makes you think of boring corporate buildings, employees in stuffy, three-piece suits, and – worst of all – networking for fun. Ew! Sure, you might already have a personal LinkedIn profile, but you’ve rarely logged in to use it. In fact, you’re pretty sure your profile has sat there, totally barren, for at least a few years. And, honestly, you’re not too bothered by it.
But, what if we told you that ignoring your LinkedIn profile is essentially the same as ignoring potential internship opportunities, or passing up on connections that could one day boost your career? You might not think much of it now, but one day, you’ll be consumed with thoughts of landing that first post-grad dream job. After all, no one wants to be broke forever – and you have to admit that existing on a diet of iced coffee and Raman noodles is getting really old, really fast.
That’s why your pals at uCribs think it would be beneficial to get back on the metaphorical horse and reacquaint yourself with the dusty, ol’ pastures of LinkedIn. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be like the Wild West— there’s an easy way to fill out your empty LinkedIn profile to attract recruiters and businesses searching for the perfect fit. By doing so, you’ll automatically give yourself a presence on the platform, which just might encourage you to check-in more regularly. Hey, a little networking will only benefit your future career… so, why not get a head start with our 6 tips?
Add a professional photo.
First things first: your LinkedIn profile should have an appealing headshot. Not only does adding an image make your profile more aesthetically pleasing, but a study revealed that LinkedIn recruiters spend nearly one-fifth of their time on a profile looking at the owner’s photo. It only takes mere milliseconds for someone to form an impression of you based on how you present yourself in a profile picture. The last thing you want is to have your LinkedIn profile image turn off a potential employer, so be sure to add an appropriate, office-friendly photo to fill this space! While you don’t necessarily need a professional headshot, you should choose a suitable image of yourself that isn’t an obvious selfie and doesn’t include any distracting backgrounds or clothing choices. You’ll also want to make sure that the photo is of you, and you alone – potential recruiters won’t want to waste time playing guessing games. not a friend. And, don’t forget the most important aspect of a professional LinkedIn photo: your smile!
Showcase your educational achievements.
You’d actually be surprised at how many people tend to overlook one key component of their LinkedIn profile: educational accomplishments! Because LinkedIn is a business-oriented social media platform, some users gun it for the Experience section, completely ignoring Education. But, you’re in college, so you must showcase your academic achievements, which in all honesty, will impress onlookers more than your part-time job at the local bookstore. To kick off the process, list your high school, your graduation year, and any honors you received while enrolled there. If you totally killed your SAT or ACT score, go ahead and mention that, too! Once you’re enrolled in college, you can continue fleshing out your profile with your intended major and any noteworthy achievements or skills you’ve learned along the way.
Keep an active record of your on- & off-campus involvement.
LinkedIn is a professional network, so it’s easy to assume that its users are only interested in the cold hard facts concerning your college career. We’re here to bust that myth. To the contrary, future employers and peers will be interested in how you’ve spent your time, while pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Why? Well, because other aspects of your life, like campus involvement, illuminates the type of person you are aside from your scholastic accomplishments. Did you singlehandedly form the campus debate club, or join a Greek organization? Perhaps, you participated in volunteer efforts or worked part-time for the local newspaper. Even if you’ve mostly stuck to the books, odds are, there’s something you can add to your profile that reveals a bit more of your personality, aside from your favorite courses.
Pump up your sections with keywords.
We know what you’re thinking – aren’t keywords reserved for marketing professionals? Well, yes and no. The fact is, keywords can be used by just about anyone – including yourself! Keywords help other LinkedIn users and recruiters locate you on the platform. For that reason, you should embrace them with open arms and sprinkle them liberally across your page. Need an example? Let’s say that you’ve spent the first half of your college career in an intensive Spanish program and want to find a career in the foreign languages. You might add keywords indicating that you are bilingual, Spanish-speaking, or fluent in Spanish. Trust us, the more strategically you use keywords, the more it will become like second nature – and your future, job-seeking self will be sure to thank you!
Create a punchy profile headline.
‘Fess up: you probably spent a good chunk of time coming up with the perfect personal bio for your Instagram and Twitter profiles, right? Well, you should consider doing the same for your LinkedIn profile. Similar to your awesome Instagram bio, your LinkedIn headline should encapsulate what makes you, you – in a professional sense, of course. This might sound intimidating, but the best headlines are actually simple yet informative. A good way to brainstorm your perfect headline? Reflect on your passions, potential career paths, and any skills that you’d like to advertise in this space. Then, prepare to tell the world that you’re “an honors student and Alpha Epsilon Delta member pursuing a biology degree.” Or, something of the like and voila! Headline achievement unlocked.
Utilize additional fields to fit your experience.
No traditional job experiences to speak of? No problem! When you’re in college, it’s likely that you haven’t actually held a “real” job yet – but, instead, have a ton of random experiences in your back pocket, like internships, volunteer programs, and study abroad opportunities. Instead of ignoring those worthy accomplishments, give them their due attention by adding additional fields or descriptions to your page. While you are limited to a certain selection of profile fields, the platform allows you to add descriptions at whim. For example, you can go use the Education section to go into further detail about your life-changing program in Spain. Got a lot of volunteer work under your belt? You’ll be happy to learn that there’s a dedicated section for that, in addition to projects, certifications, and courses – all of which could lend themselves well to your individual college experience.
Admittedly, LinkedIn isn’t as enjoyable of a medium for young adults as Snapchat, Instagram, and the like. But, you might be surprised to learn how useful LinkedIn can be for a young college student already eyeing their perfect post-grad career. While we’re certainly not saying that you need to ditch Twitter for its professionally minded cousin, staking your claim in the LinkedIn universe is key to building a small network of online peers, mentors, and potential employers before you even earn your degree. So, log back into your LinkedIn account, dust off your neglected profile, and start filling it out, using our ideas as a jumping-off point. You might just find that LinkedIn was the social media tool you needed all along to prepare yourself for the real working world!