With Halloween right around the corner, many seek out haunts, frights, and screams. While this search for external scares might bring pleasure, the lack of awareness of the value of LinkedIn in the job market from the perspective of an employer is truly scary. Looking at hundreds of college students’ LinkedIn profiles for potential hires, the outlook is frightening.
Too many college students are neglecting their LinkedIn profile. While having a strong resume and interview skills is important, employers look at LinkedIn profiles. And, bad profiles damage your chances to land your dream role.
Providing a more well-rounded view of you, which a resume or interview is unable to capture, is what LinkedIn is used for. It offers a meaningful way to build a valuable network to increase your marketability. The lack of understanding of this tool’s importance to you and to employers limits your opportunities in the job market.
As individuals prepare for graduation and look for internships, now is the time to focus on and enhance your LinkedIn profile. It does not have to be scary. Here is some basic and advanced advice on LinkedIn profiles and how to differentiate yourself in the marketplace.
Basic to Immediately Update Your LinkedIn Profile
#1 Change your URL to LinkedIn profile
Remove the numbers at the end of a generic URL to LinkedIn profile to be your “first and last name”, “first initial and last name,” etc. This is the easiest thing to do and will separate you from your peers. To quickly make this update go directly to LinkedIn.
#2 Update your professional headshot for business
LinkedIn is a reflection of who you are as a professional. Make sure your picture reflects this. While tempting, do not use pictures from high school, hanging out with friends, or vacation. These non-professional pictures detract a potential employer from picturing you on their team. Wear something that you would wear to work. Ensure that your professional headshot for business has good lighting and background. And, make sure your head takes up 60% of the frame. Here are some additional to follow.
#3 Pick a banner image that represents you
Your banner is the first thing someone notices when landing on your profile. Rather being a random image, this picture should connect with your professional goals and to you personally. For more insights into meaningful banners, check this out.
#4 Strengthen your headline
Visible under your name, you have 220 characters to capture a visitor. Use this space to define yourself and your value proposition to potential employers. It is a chance to highlight what differentiates you – your purpose, goals, etc. Avoid cliches and wasting space time with being a student or recent graduate. Here are some examples to get the creative juices flowing.
Advanced Tips to Enhance Your LinkedIn Profile
#1 Create a compelling bio
Each of us has a unique story. Your bio offers you the ability to showcase this roller coaster, which can be exhilarating, can make you sick, and can make you impatient (especially the lines). However, your journey makes you – you. And, it is what makes others inspired by you. Tell it in your bio. More than telling people what you do or are studying or your hope for a position, your bio offers you the ability to explain why you are doing what you are doing and how it can be a benefit to others.
#2 Fill up your profile
A resume is static. One page is not enough to provide a full picture of your work, experience, accolades, and interests. Similar to a resume, it is important to thoughtfully add experiences that connect with your goals, however, LinkedIn offers you the ability to expand upon your work. Adding interests, volunteer activities, and awards gives you the ability to show what inspires you, offers others an immediate way to connect with you, and highlights how you have worked to your purpose laid out in your bio.
#3 Comment and like interesting posts
Like 30 posts and comment on 15 posts a week. The comments should express what the article, video, or statistic made an impact on your thought process. Rather than simply commenting and liking friends posts, go beyond your network to find interesting people in industries that you are interested in learning more about. Rather than focusing on top executives or the most popular profiles, find individuals that currently or most recently had a role that you would like to pursue. As you find LinkedIn profiles that provide meaningful content for you to comment and like, save those individuals’ LinkedIn url in a spreadsheet to refer to later.
# 4 Increase your connections to 500
Use the LinkedIn search features to find people with/in specific roles, locations, or industries. Type in the search for example, jobs like “marketing coordinator,” “business analyst,” or “sales representative,” locations “Columbus, Ohio” “Memphis, Tennessee” or “Tampa Bay, Florida” or industries “financial services,” “marketing firms,” or “medical technology.” Spend 30 minutes each day reaching out to professionals that you are interested in learning more from and about. Instead of trying to connect with C-Suite, look for individuals that are in roles you want to pursue in the short-term including coordinators, managers, directors. Note: LinkedIn has limits to how many profiles you can look at and connections that you can make daily (even with paid accounts). With a free account, you can ask to connect with 10 to 15 professionals a day.
#5 Add a connection note to requests
Some of the best LinkedIn advice is to always send a connection note with your request. You have 300 characters to explain what makes you a worthwhile connection. State who you are and that you are a student, mention how you found them, and explain what from them you seek to learn. While there can be shared language in your reach outs, make sure it is not generic. Personalize each note to the person by adding an interesting tidbit from their profile or their feed. Here are some templates to help you get started.
Expand Your Marketability
As hiring for internships and full time opportunities starts to ramp up with the end of the year, it can be a scary and overwhelming time. However, dedicating yourself to updating and using your LinkedIn profile to your advantage can expand your marketability and open many more options. This way the frights can turn to thankfulness right in time for Thanksgiving.