3 LinkedIn Profile Tips for College Grads
Life after college is full of new exposure into the real world, and a significant portion of this transition has to do with attempting to build your career and job prospects—you’ve put in the hard work, and now you’re ready for this hard work to pay off. If you’ve read our article “How to Network in College,” you know that networking is a very effective way to help open up job and career opportunities, and a LinkedIn profile is an excellent tool for networking, both in terms of finding new connections and maintaining connections you make along the way.
If you are a new college graduate, or about to graduate from college, you are probably new to LinkedIn. You’re not likely new, however, to social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. While you may be very well versed in these other social media streams, there are important differences to know about the way LinkedIn functions and the purpose is can serve in your professional life. To help you get started, here are some important LinkedIn profile tips for college grads to keep in mind before you jump in and create your profile.
1. Get a professional looking photo
While you may have a pretty awesome or hilarious Facebook picture you are proud of, when it comes to LinkedIn you will want to ask yourself, “What would a prospective employer think of this picture?” Remember, first impressions are everything, and many employers today use LinkedIn to research their job candidates. Really try to think of your profile picture as your first selling point as a job applicant.
You don’t need to go out and pay a professional to take your picture, but you should take a picture of yourself that looks professional if you don’t have one already. An advice article written on LinkedIn’s Talent Blog on profile pictures recommends choosing a picture that accurately represents what you really look like, making sure your face takes up 60% of the frame, smiling warm and genuinely (with your eyes), wearing professional clothing (i.e. what you would wear to work), and going with a neutral background that doesn’t distract from your face.
2. All experience matters
Building your LinkedIn profile to accurately represent the jobs you’ve held, responsibilities you’ve taken on, experiences you’ve had, and skills you hold are all aspects that you should take a considerable amount of time filling out. While many experts say a resume should be kept to a single page, your LinkedIn profile can be a place to more extensively paint the picture of your professional self.
While your profile should be complete and provide a lot of information to a prospective employer, try to target your experience and skills outline to a specific job or field you are hoping to move into. Even if a position you held isn’t directly applicable to the job you hope to acquire, there are surely skills you developed in that position that you can highlight to show that you are capable of success in a future position.
It’s certainly possible, as a recent college grad, that you haven’t held many paid or full-time positions yet. However, for the purposes of your LinkedIn profile, remember that you don’t have to be paid in a position for your experience to count! You can, and should, highlight volunteering opportunities you’ve had, and even important projects you completed in college. Even better—upload pictures and documents of these projects and opportunities to really make your profile stand out! Lastly, be sure to list any awards or recognition you’ve received under the “Honors & Awards” section.
3. Put time into building your network
The most important part about building your LinkedIn profile is building your network. Sure, as a recent college graduate, you may think that you don’t yet have a “professional network,” but that can’t possibly be farther from the truth!
LinkedIn connections can be anyone you know who has a profile, and you’ll be surprised how many people you know that have a profile already. When you sign into LinkedIn, you can use your e-mail to search for potential contacts; don’t be afraid to request anyone and everyone you know to be a LinkedIn connection. The best part is that once you’ve added enough people, LinkedIn will do a lot of work for you by suggesting potential connections based on people you already know, and your network can grow quite quickly. Also, take a moment to sit down and think broadly about your network: co-workers and supervisors (past and current), friends from college, professors, family and friends from all circles of your life should be people you consider for LinkedIn.
One excellent way to build your network beyond who you immediately know if by joining LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your field, career, and experience. LinkedIn groups are often places that jobs are posted, and advice and discussions are had pertaining to job hunting and general career guidance. One good place to start is by looking up the LinkedIn group for your college alumni association. Next, be sure to do a search for “LinkedIn groups for _____” (fill in your desired job title or career field). Lastly, there are many wonderful LinkedIn groups dedicated to job hunting and with recent college grads in mind! Here are just a few examples of LinkedIn groups you can join:
- Next Dimension Careers is a community of over 121,000 members where you can turn to others for career advice and expertise.
- A Job Needed – Job Posted is a place for those seeking employment and those seeking employees to meet. With over 59,000 members, this is an excellent group for recent college grads to explore potential job postings and to become noticed by potential employers.
- Students and Recent Grads is a community nearing 100,000 members that includes job recruiters, and features a “Jobs” tab with ongoing job postings and opportunities.
Hopefully these LinkedIn profile tips for college grads has helped give you a general idea of where to get started with creating your profile and using LinkedIn as an effective networking and job hunting tool! Do you have your own advice for others you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!