It was only twelve years ago that the social networking site LinkedIn came on to the job market scene, and today, it has over 250 million users across the world. There have been some recent concerns over whether or not college graduates will be able to find a job within their field of study after graduation. So, it is important to begin making professional connections to those in your field of study, and gaining those connections early can only improve the likelihood of landing a job somewhere you want to be.
LinkedIn has become a job seekers tool; a tool that the University of Minnesota Duluth has begun to emphasize the importance of now.
Sherrill Yeaton, a career counselor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, was able to give Lake Voice News insight on the best way to build a professional profile and network, through the use of LinkedIn. With the help of Sherrill Yeaton and the rest of Career Services at UMD, here are seven things to think about while you are creating an impressive LinkedIn profile.
1. Choosing a Profile Picture
When choosing a picture for your LinkedIn profile, avoid using pictures that involve the family dog or a beautiful sunset. You will want a picture that represents not just you as an individual, but as a professional. According to Yeaton, The best photograph that you can use is a nice and clean headshot of yourself. “If you meet someone at an event, it is important to put a name with a face,” Yeaton said. She also stressed the importance of a recognizable profile picture, because people will be more likely to recognize a face than a name. You won’t need to set up a professional photo-shoot, you can just wear a nice shirt and take picture with your cellphone.
2. Creating A Professional Summary
The Summary section can be considered your “elevator speech”. When someone comes to view your profile, this summary will be the first thing that they read. There are many ways to go about writing your professional summary in order to attract potential employers. You should be able to present a few of the key skills that you want others to know about you. According to Yeaton, turning this section into something that reads as your bio, resume or a list of accomplishments are all topics that should be explored. You will have a short amount of time to grab the reader’s attention and make them want to know more.
3. Introduce your Personality
You may have some unique talents that your friends and family love about you. You may tell the raunchiest jokes or be able to play video games with your feet, but those are some “unique” gifts that should be left off of your LinkedIn profile. Using strong keywords within your profile will help potential clients find you, but don’t get caught up with some of most common terms on LinkedIn, referred to as “buzzwords”. Some of the most common buzzwords used according to LinkedIn include motivated, passionate, driven and strategic. But, not all buzzwords are impractical. “Creative falls under the LinkedIn buzz word list,” Yeaton said. "I’ve been told by coworkers that they need my creativity for this or that. It is a word that describe who I am, sometimes it’s alright to use a so-called “buzzword”, if it is a term that fits your personality.” You will want to find ways to describe yourself that will leave potential employers with a noteworthy impression of you. Potential employers are not hiring fancy words; they are hiring people.
4. Making Connections with the Right People
A commonly asked question among those who are new to LinkedIn is whether or not the amount of connections they have matter. When you are connecting with people on LinkedIn, it is not a matter of how many connections you have, rather who the connections are. According to Yeaton, fifty connections or more is what you should be striving for. Making the benchmark of fifty or more should come fairly easy after adding friends, family members, professors, coworker and previous employers. After adding the people you know, begin branching out, looking for groups to join that may relate to your career field. When adding a potential employer you have met before, send them a connection request along with a personal message. This will give them an understanding of why you want to connect with them. If you met them while attending a job fair or just at a public event, it is important for them to know where they met you and why you may look familiar in your profile picture.
5. Drawing Recruiters to your Profile
Finding ways to make your professional profile attractive to recruiters is something that is easier than you may think. When Yeaton was asked how LinkedIn users can attract interest from recruiters, she said, “Recruiters want to make connections with people. There is no reason to not reach out and find them, don’t make them come and find you.” Some of the best ways to do that involve attending events where those recruiters may be, whether it is an info session, a career fair or even a mock interview. Sometimes our busy schedules get in the way of being able to attend these professional gatherings, but there are other ways to present yourself to recruiters. Joining groups and associations relating to a specific job market or general interest field can draw attention to your profile. If you build your profile, they will come.
6. Gathering Recommendations
When you are building a LinkedIn profile you will notice that you can present your skills to employers using keywords, something that has been touched on already. The people you have connected with can “endorse” those skills to help boost your profile resume. Though this option gives the people you are connected with a way to give a thumbs up towards your skills, having a professor or colleague write an in-depth recommendation would be a way to let an employer know that someone other than your close friends and family members can see that you have what it takes to be a part of their organization. The best part of a LinkedIn recommendation is that it will be online forever, or at least, until the internet implodes.
7. Making Sure Your Profile is Complete.
Make sure that each of these tasks are completed within in your LinkedIn profile.
- What type of industry are you in
- Updated employment description
- Some key skills that you possess
- Your education
- 50- 100 connections
- Of course, a profile picture
By following these tips, you should be able to create or improve your LinkedIn profile. If you are a UMD student and would like additional assistance with creating a LinkedIn profile, you can contact Career and Internship services on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus or call (218) 726-7985.