In today’s world of the internet and connectivity, it’s not hard to believe that there are online platforms for almost anything. For the working world, where networking and connectivity play a vital role in the dynamics of the workforce, an online tool to aid in making these connections exists by the name LinkedIn.com. This professional networking website is similar to the social media platform, Facebook, in that users create profiles, make connections and share content. With these profiles, users can search for and connect with others on LinkedIn to expand their networked connections.
“Every CEO of a fortune 500 company is on LinkedIn. You have more access to opportunities than you ever have in the past,” said Tina MacKenzie, assistant director of internships in Career Services at Elizabethtown College.
Through this network, people have the opportunity to learn about positions that those in their connections may have heard about. Employers also take a peek through LinkedIn looking for potential employees.
A set of tips has been compiled for users of LinkedIn to go through as they create their professional profile to help make the most of the professional networking site. These tips are to aid in beefing up their profile as well as create a guide for first-time LinkedIn users.
When you first navigate to the “Join Now” section of the LinkedIn website, there is a textbox that prompts you to get started.
Areas are open for you to fill in your intended email and password. Once these are all filled in click the “Join now” button to finish getting started by filling out your first and last name.
A page will load that greets you and intends to get to know you more so your profile can start to be fleshed out. It asks for your country/region and postal code.
The next page asks your most recent job title and company—but there is also an “I’m a student” option that lets you fill out your school, intended degree and years you’re attending said school.
Importing your email contacts is also an option. Next, you can skip this if you’d like or you can go ahead and import them. To try and broaden your network LinkedIn will give suggestions as to whom you can connect. These will be a variety of people, though the website will try to give you people you may already know—such as others at your school or workplace. After making a few connections, you’ll be prompted to add a profile picture. This picture can also be from your Google or Facebook account.
You’ll want to make sure to add a photo to your profile. This photo doesn’t have to be fancy or over-the-top, as long as it’s appropriate, you’re smiling, and have a modest background any photo taken with your phone camera could work just fine.
LinkedIn wants to know what some of your interests are! This is to help populate your home page feed with posts and articles. At least a dozen hashtag buttons will be presented on this next page. When you click on the hashtag, another box will drop down with suggestions on who else you could follow.
For instance, if the “#motivation” button is on your suggested interest page, some of the profiles you may see in its recommendation tab are Bill Gates, Wounded Warrior Project or LinkedIn Daily Rundown. By following these tags and profiles, you’ll have more things populating your home page. You’re brought to your home page after you select an interest! Congrats, you’ve now completed the basic LinkedIn profile set-up.
With this barebones profile now created, there is an opportunity to add more. On your new profile page you can add a headline, a summary, your experience, any organizations you’re part of, your education, any volunteer experience and causes, your skills and expertise, any honors and awards you’ve received, courses you’ve taken, projects you’ve been part of and any recommendations from connections in your network.
Each of these pieces serves a different purpose on your LinkedIn profile page. The headline is among the first things seen when someone pulls up a profile on the networking site. This acts as a way to catch people’s attention and state what your titles are in your most current position. The summary follows the headline and acts as exactly as it implies, it encapsulates your experience, describes what motivates you and what your skills are.
The experience section is much like the experience section on your resume.
“Build your resume, then [students] come into Career Services and we can work with you to represent the items properly on LinkedIn. We want to showcase the skills people have and organizations are looking for,” MacKenzie explained.
In many ways, LinkedIn is like an online resume, but with the opportunity to expand upon it. With this professional networking site, you can add as many professional experiences you’ve had; you don’t have to leave any of them out for the sake of page length restrictions. Much like on a resume, you can also add your educational background.
“You’ll always want to keep your profile updated,” Brian Sacco, dining services and students human resources recruiter for Ann’s Choice in Warminster, Pennsylvania.
On your LinkedIn profile, you can also add skills that can be validated by your connections. Your connections can also give you recommendations, as you can for your connections. Beneath these good words are your accomplishments. These accomplishments can be anything from having an article published to a test score. Below the accomplishments section is the interests section; this piece is where you can follow organizations or people—much like on Facebook.
From having this account, you gain access to tens of thousands of people, job postings and internship opportunities. When reaching out to potential connections, be sure to make the optional message a more personal one. By using a customized message, the recipient is more likely to remember your message.
MacKenzie’s most important piece of advice? “It’s not enough anymore to just apply for a job.”