We’re living in uncertain times, and this is especially true for soon to be college-grads expecting to enter the workforce. With most of the world under some sort of shelter-in-place order, now’s the time to do things you’ve put on the back burner; like working on your personal brand and updating your LinkedIn profile. Similar to your resume, employers use LinkedIn profiles to make quick decisions about a candidate, and it’s good practice to put your best foot forward even if you may not have a lot of experience.
Here are a few things to include in your profile if you want to stand out in a sea of other applicants.
This is not the time to show off your new car or to repurpose your profile photo from Instagram—it’s your first professional impression. Tip: If you’re taking graduation photos, remember to ask for a professional headshot. Leave out your cap and gown for this one, and make sure it’s taken in a well-lit spot.
Many seasoned professionals, still to this day, forget to add a background photo. Aside from your profile photo, this is the second visual element that people will look at. Since it takes up a fair amount of space, use this as a way to start conversations with your network, stay memorable and stand out from your competition.
Unless you’ve already scored a post-grad job, use your headline as a way to let potential employers know what you’re looking for in a role. Once you’ve landed a job, your title and a short sentence about your focus area and what you do in your role will usually suffice.
A good bio omits buzzwords! This is your only chance to tell your story and what makes you special on LinkedIn, so make sure it’s captivating. Don’t just list skills, try explaining how your skills differentiate you and make you qualified for your future position.
Before graduating, it’s good to connect with your classmates, professors, and other mentors. When you’re job hunting, search for employees of the companies you want to work for and send them a message to connect. Your network ends up being a great resource in the future when you’re looking for your next career move.
Similar to when a company’s website boasts testimonials and reviews, endorsements are crucial when it comes to your personal brand. Having 1-2 of these is a good start, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your connections—that’s what they’re there for. Giving endorsements also encourages your connections to return the favor!
You can usually get away with pulling this content from your A+ resume. If you were employed for less than a month in a retail or fast food position, I would go ahead and leave that out. As for your internship experience or any roles you held in clubs, Greek life, etc., make sure to include them all!
If you’re just graduating, it’s not likely that you’ll have a portfolio of work to show off, but still try to include one or two papers or projects that you’ve completed. If you’ve helped with any projects while interning, first ask the person who was leading the project for permission to include.
Skills and Certifications
Took a Photoshop class in college? Make sure to add it and any other certifications you’ve completed! LinkedIn also provides a list of skills to choose from, so all you have to do is choose which ones are relevant. Word of advice: Don’t claim to have a skill you don’t have! A long list of meaningless skills just takes up space.
Once you gain more experience and become situated in a permanent role, maintaining and updating your LinkedIn remains important. Doing so can help you stay in touch and up-to-date with business connections, be a part of professional groups that include like‐minded individuals, establish your expertise and research other businesses for future career moves.
Are you graduating soon and curious about another topic? Let us know!