Students with a profile on LinkedIn are wisely building connections early. But are those profiles the best they can be? Here are 5 tips to improve your LinkedIn profile quickly and effectively.
1. Get a professional headshot.
A high quality photo instantly says that you are someone to know. Wear what you would for a job interview or an important day at work. Many university career centers and job fair events offer photo booths to provide these photos – take advantage!
2. Add keywords to your profile headline.
Your profile headline is one of the most important pieces of real estate on your profile. It’s what determines whether someone will read further. Include keywords that a recruiter, hiring manager or other VIP would use to find someone like you. And there is no need for a complete sentence or perfectly crafted phrase. A headline such as “Marketing Student at Ohio State / Intern at Forté Foundation / Social Media expertise” or “MBA Student / Consulting Background / Expertise in Pharmaceutical and Medical Device industries” can be extremely effective.
3. List your skills.
LinkedIn’s new endorsements feature is very popular, so give your connections something to endorse. List at least 15 to 20 skills or areas of expertise that you possess. These are also important keywords that a recruiter might use to find you, so be sure to include words that appear in the job postings that appeal to you. Recruiters do look at endorsements to see what people in your network recommend as your top skills, so make sure you are happy with the choices you are providing your connections.
4. Add the Volunteer Experience & Causes Section.
LinkedIn has many optional sections you can include in your profile – Certifications, Publications, Patents and more – and the most important is this one. Volunteer experience demonstrates qualities like leadership, teamwork and community involvement, all of which are important to employers and other networking contacts.
5. Update your status on a regular basis.
I’ve heard the LinkedIn status box (which you can update on the LinkedIn home screen or directly from your profile page) referred to as a person’s “professional billboard.” It’s true: status updates are an effective way to stay on people’s radar screens in a relatively passive way. Post articles that would be valuable to the people in your network, share announcements about events you are attending and give people brief updates on your career. You never know when a short post might spark someone to reach out to you with an opportunity.
Above all, remember that your LinkedIn profile, like your resume, is a constant work in progress. Update it when you have changes in your professional experience and delete information that no longer serves your goals. Good luck and I’ll see you on LinkedIn!