We’ve all had that college professor or career adviser who urged us to create a LinkedIn profile. But for first-time users, it’s can feel overwhelming. And how do you actually create meaningful connections on the platform? There’s no doubt that getting All-Star status on LinkedIn can help you maximize your visibility in your desired field and start you on your dream career path—and according to LinkedIn, users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities. With that in mind, here’s a step-by-step checklist to setting up a great All-Star LinkedIn profile from scratch.
Start With the Basics
Choose a professional profile URL. This is important as it will determine how easy you are to Google. Set a personalized URL and keep it simple by using your first and last name for increased search results and professionalism. Using title case and capitalizing the first letter of your first and last name will help your name pop at a glance. Once you set your profile URL, you can include it on your résumé and business cards.
Opt for a standout profile picture. Go for professional and put-together here. Be sure that the image you choose is high-quality and ideally in front of a simple background. You can use some subtle photoshopping to polish your photo, but you don’t need to go overboard with editing or filters.
Perfect your headline. Think of this as the equivalent of your answer to the job interview question “Tell me about yourself.” You might have a headline like “communications major seeking PR internship in a fashion company” or “aspiring journalist with a passion for digital media and the beauty industry.”
Provide your contact info. You can use InMail, but having a direct email is always easier for communicating with future mentor or employers. Place this in your contact and personal information section, along with a link to your social media profiles and a personal website, if you have one. Also, add a call to action with your primary contact info at the end of your summary that encourages employers to contact you. This ensures maximum visibility.
Fill in the details about each position on your résumé. When documenting your experience, be sure to give details rather than just job titles. Think about the duties and responsibilities that can translate into valuable experience for your industry. Be sure to share the impact you had in that position and how you made a difference in a job or organization; if you can quantify your impact through numbers or data, be sure to include that.
Complete your education details. List your school name, major, graduation date, school activities, and any societies you belonged to. Filling out this section will help you connect with your alumni network as well as other students who have similar career goals.
Reach for All-Star Status
Make your summary as detailed as possible. This is the place to tell future employers what you’re all about through a short paragraph that speaks to your current achievements and your goals for the future. Include your college major and current job title as well as any special talents, passions, and interests you have. Your personality can really shine here, so be personal and authentic, and pay attention to word choice. When listing your future goals, make sure you’re specific—if you’re seeking a internship, write something like “seeking an editorial internship for summer 2018.” If you’re a senior about to graduate, you can write something to the effect of “college senior seeking full-time job as copy editor post-graduation.”
Highlight organizations that you belong to. This is where you get to show off all of your extracurriculars, both on campus and off. This gives a potential employer a better idea of who you are, what you’re passionate about, and what you can bring to an organization that maybe another applicant cannot.
Show your values through your volunteer experiences and causes you care about. Give future employers an idea ofyour personal brand and what issues matter to you outside the classroom or office. Many employers value volunteer experience, so if you’re active in your community, make sure to highlight it.
Spotlight your honors and awards. Don’t be shy about listing your accomplishments! Mention any honor societies, competition awards, press mentions, or certifications you’ve received. This section emphasizes how you stand out from the rest of the crowd.
Note relevant courses you’ve completed. Listing relevant courses can often make up for a lack of job experience, but be sure to keep it short and industry-relevant. Avoid listing intro classes or classes that are unrelated to your desired field. Think of this as just providing the highlight reel of your four years on campus.
List the skills you’ve mastered. For All-Star status, you need to list at least five skills on your profile. Choose skills that are relevant to the field you want to work in, and make sure to ask your connections to endorse you. Are you a photographer? Note if you are an expert in Photoshop or Lightroom. Write for a fashion magazine? Add that you understand brand voice, utilize SEO, and have researching skills.
Wow them with multimedia examples of your work. Unlike your résumé, LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to showcase visual media. Use this as a chance to demonstrate the amazing skills you listed with a link, blog post, video, or presentation you’ve worked on. This is a must, especially if you’re in fields like multimedia production, journalism, fashion design, and visual arts. You can include your clips for the school newspaper or a fashion website and provide a link to a photography portfolio. Did you help create a marketing/PR campaign? Include a presentation that showcases it.
Network, Network, Network
Ask for recommendations. Glowing references are a green light to any recruiter, so a recommendation will give further credibility to the skills and experience you listed and show your value as an employee or student. After completing an internship you had a positive experience with, make sure to ask your supervisor for a quick Linkedin write-up.
Make connections with former or current co-workers, professors, alumni in your industry, and other students seeking work in the same field as you. Try to keep up with your LinkedIn as much as you do with other social media sites and keep it as a database of your contacts. Staying up to date on the platform is a great way to keep tabs on industry news and notice, for example, if your former supervisors move to other companies you’re interested in working for. Seeing the accomplishments of others on LinkedIn is also a great motivator.
Get active in your field. Finally, start following your dream companies, leaders, and influencers that inspire you. Try joining a LinkedIn group and participating in discussions to meet other candidates and potential employers, and like and share relevant posts about your industry on your personal feed to showcase that you’re up to date on industry trends and news.
How are you using LinkedIn? Tell us your tips and tricks for the career platform in the comments below.
Featured photo by Hannah Bertolino.