Hey all! My name is Eleni, and I’m the Graduate Assistant in the Career & Internship Services Center at USG.
Many times in the career center, I hear students say “Isn’t LinkedIn just for old people?” And I ask “Do I look old?!” which is usually met with chagrin and stammering.
LinkedIn is great tool to promote yourself to potential employers, no matter your age. It requires less upkeep than Snapchat or Twitter, so I guarantee you can find time for it in your busy lives. Worried about getting started? I’ve outlined just five things you can do to make sure your profile catches employers’ eyes…in the right way:
1. Pick a professional picture — You’ve heard it said before, “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” It’s a cliche for a reason, it’s true! This is going to be the first thing a recruiter sees, so no photos with Snapchat filter, funny faces, selfies (especially of the mirrored variety), or cropped group shots — I don’t care how good you look in it, having half of someone’s face or a floating arm wrapped around you does not say professional. You want a clean, professional headshot that clearly shows your face and who you are. Don’t have one? Don’t worry! On LinkedIn Day, we’re going to be offering FREE headshots from 12-6pm on the main staircase landing between the 3rd and 4th floors. Dress professionally and drop by when you have 15 minutes free! Check out our Facebook page for #FashionFridays to see appropriate attire.
2. Write a good headline — Your LinkedIn headline is a short 120 characters of who you are and the cool things you do (or want to do) — think of it as your tagline for your biopic. What is the one thing you want recruiters to remember about you
3. List your experience — List the jobs you’ve held and a brief description or bulleted list of what you did there. Experience doesn’t just mean paid jobs, it also includes unpaid internships and even volunteering. Volunteering is a great addition to your profile because it also gives a recruiter or hiring manager insight into you who are as a person, and what you are passionate about.
4. Build your network — One of the biggest benefits of using LinkedIn is the opportunity to grow your network. Connect with your friends, previous and current managers, even your Mom’s best friend. You never know who might be connected with who. Alumni can also be a great networking tool. Take advantage of the Alumni Tool on LinkedIn, which lets you search for Alumni from your school by where they work, live, and more. Most alumni are happy to respond to a request from a fellow Terp or Retreiver. When you connect with anyone on LinkedIn, it’s more likely to be accepted if you attach a personal message. For example:
I am a current UMD student and see you graduated a few years ago. I admire your career in ________ and hope to pursue a similar path. Would you be available to talk with me and provide advice as to how to get into the field?
5. Get endorsements and recommendations — This is how you can prove you have the skills you say you do. People who you connect with can ‘endorse’ you for certain skills. Did you just complete a group project where you put together the PowerPoint? Ask your team members to endorse you for Microsoft PowerPoint. This is your network confirming “Yes, they are good at this.” These skills in your profile should include relevant keywords or phrases from job postings that you are interested in. You can also ask people to write longer recommendations that can be added to your profile. Recommendations from direct supervisors or people you worked closely with are especially beneficial. This article has step-by-step instructions on how to ask someone for a recommendation on LinkedIn.
I know this might sound like a lot to start, but I promise, investing a little bit of extra time in setting up your LinkedIn profile will be worth it — it doesn’t matter if you are just starting at USG or about to graduate, LinkedIn can be a huge asset to showcase who you are as a professional, and can greatly enhance your job search and help you build your business network.
If you want to learn more about LinkedIn, or are just still a little confused about what all the fuss is about, come to Link Up with LinkedIn on November 15th. Throughout the day, CISC will be hosting a variety of events to help you learn how to market your digital self using LinkedIn. Plus, we’re offering FREE professional headshots!
I look forward to seeing you all there! If you have any questions reach out to CISC at 301.738.6338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.