Being connected is a good thing. LinkedIn has become a de facto site for finding alumni, professional contacts and searching for a job. Creating a professional online presence and leveraging your network to research companies and positions should be one of the first things you do when searching for either an internship or a full-time position. To truly leverage all of LinkedIn’s features, we’ve compiled a list of several top tips to help you maximize your profile and bring your online resume to life.
Broadcast Your Career Goals
Don’t hide! Your profile should give employers an indication of your career goals. Creating a descriptive headline to capture the skills and attributes you offer can draw an employer’s attention. For example, if you are interested in social media marketing, then highlight those skills and indicate this to an employer.
Example: “Innovative Communications Student Seeking Social Media Internship”
With your headline written, it’s now time focus on a summary detailing past experiences and your goals and professional skill set. This is similar to an elevator pitch. LinkedIn recommends this section be “concise and confident.” Remember to focus on what you can offer an employer instead of focusing on what you are looking to learn in your new position. As you begin to leverage your network, your career goals and professional summary will be one of the first sections people will view.
Build Your Connections
LinkedIn is only effective if you actively build your network of connections. Remember, you will be building your network over time—and we all have to start someplace. This may sound obvious, but donate time each week to seeking out new contacts. Begin with classmates and former coworkers. Begin a strategic outreach for connections for informational interviews or simply connect to build your network. Remember, quality over quantity!
As a student, you automatically have a default network of Northwestern University alumni to draw upon. Because LinkedIn is built on the power of networks, you can search for alumni from Northwestern in specific positions or at specific companies.
Start with “My Network” and LinkedIn will generate a list of alumni from Northwestern to help you begin the connection process. The search will generate Northwestern alumni based on what they do, where they work and where they live. This search can be helpful if you are, for example, searching for media and communication alumni (there are over 13,000 listed!).
Additionally, by searching for a specific company and then narrowing down employees by Northwestern alumni, you are able to focus your outreach.
LinkedIn also offers you the ability to connect with other members through a variety of groups. Groups allow you to join professional areas that demonstrate your interest in an industry or topic and facilitate outreach to new contacts because of your shared interest in a group. If you are considering a career in marketing, a quick search resulted in 41,000+ groups dedicated to various aspects of marketing. It’s an excellent way to create a digital profile of your interest in a number of industries.
Honors / Awards / Recommendations
Employers look for employees who are well-rounded candidates. Use the honors, awards and volunteering sections of LinkedIn to promote any clubs and organizations you are involved with. These out-of-the-classroom experiences give entry-level job seekers the opportunity to show an employer their passions and campus recognitions.
To leverage your networks effectively, consider asking a former supervisor or coworker to endorse you. Endorsements are an opportunity to showcase your talents and add additional information about your work ethic. These recommendations, honors and awards give your profile extra pizzazz that don’t always translate well in a resume.
LinkedIn is increasingly a platform for companies to advertise open positions. You can follow specific companies and engage with them online. These online connections can open an entirely new set of potential employers allowing you to research new opportunities.
Recruiters are increasingly using LinkedIn as a method to source talent and recruit new hires for their organization. Companies frequently begin searching for candidates before positions are open to create a pipeline of talented individuals who specifically meet their hiring criteria.
It pays to be proactive! Make sure you are leveraging your LinkedIn profile to its fullest by engaging with alumni and employers through this professional social media platform. For more information, LinkedIn has several resources useful for college students. They offer step-by-step ways to create an engaging profile.
Written by EPICS Associate Director Michael Johnson, who serves as the main point of contact for all students enrolled in the Master of Science in Communication program.