Why do I need to be on LinkedIn?

  • Imagine a platform where the best cover letter you ever wrote and your amplified résumé work for you 24/7.
  • Imagine it has access to colleges, companies, business experts, and people who work at those colleges and companies.
  • It has groups you can join that share information about industries and causes.
  • It has articles about companies and business issues and working.
  • It allows you to connect with people you just met networking, who you met at your college interviews, who your friends work with, who your parents work with.
  • It gives you a way to connect with people who work at companies you’re interested in.
  • It’s free.
  • It’s LinkedIn.

So, to help you figure out the appropriate LinkedIn strategy for you, I’ve created this series. It’s not intended to be all encompassing. Instead, it’s a way to jump start your LinkedIn makeover, or in the case of rising high school seniors and current seniors, a jump start to creating your first profile.

Just a note, I have heard from many college students that about half the companies they are applying to for internships and co-ops no longer want to see résumés. Instead, they rely on candidates’ LinkedIn profiles. And, only 13% of 18-33 year olds are on LinkedIn. Hmmm……….

Use your college essays to build your profile.

Phase 1 – Getting your feet wet. College, internships, co-ops.
You’re headed to college in the fall. You think it would be great to have an internship this summer or next, but I don’t know how to find one! Guess what? There are 42,000 internships in the United States listed on LinkedIn! If you’re not on LinkedIn, who knows what you’re missing?

Your junior summer and senior year of high school are great times to create your first LinkedIn profile. You’re already thinking about who you are and who you want to be in your future work world. You’re figuring out how to present yourself to colleges. So, why not use the knowledge you’ve gained from writing essays for your college applications to build a LinkedIn profile?

Your LinkedIn profile is the first impression you make on companies

Before you walk in the door, potential employers check out your online presence. If you have a LinkedIn profile, it will come up in the top 3 hits on your name. Take advantage of this. LinkedIn is social media, so it’s a good place to give potential employers a taste of your personality. You want them to be able to imagine you working in their offices. You can’t do that in your résumé or in your cover letter. On LinkedIn, your profile photo, headline, and summary do it for you. Your summary gives you an opportunity to let prospective employers know something about how you work, your personality, and what you can do (including your hard and soft skills).

Your Summary: Don’t waste all that work on college essays!

You’ve probably figured out some good stories from your life that show who you are, what you value, and what you offer the colleges you’re applying to. It’s a perfect time to re-frame that information and use it to build your LinkedIn summary and headline. Your summary can be up to 2000 characters (spaces included).

Pull-out your top skills and highlight them. Figure out the adjectives that describe you best. Don’t use the old standbys – motivated, prompt, responsible, hard-working. That’s what everybody says. Jazz it up a little. Show some personality! Take the time to get creative.

What pain do you cure and why do you want to cure it?

Next, frame your story in terms of how you cure a company’s pain/problem. How do you cure pain? The way you answer support calls and interact with customers. The way you organize the work on projects you’re assigned to. The way you get people interested in the service or goods you’re representing. These are all cures for pain that a company is experiencing. Tell your story so you highlight how you have cured the pain in the past. Oh, and you can’t just talk about the pain you cure; you also have to tell why you like to cure it. What skills do you like to use to cure that pain? What result makes you feel great? Your story gives potential employers a way to connect with you. To understand what makes you tick.

LinkedIn Headlines

It’s 120 characters in prime space (by your photo) that you use to grab people’s attention. It’s one of the top searchable fields in your profile. Create an exceptional headline by including your top adjectives from your summary and your top skills. If you have particular jobs in mind, or particular companies, use key words from job listings and the company website in your headline.

No photo, no views

If you want people to connect with you and companies to see you, include a photo on your profile. This is social media. Visuals matter. Do not use your senior picture!! Instead, have someone take a photo of you dressed appropriately for the type of job you’re interested in. Check out other people’s profile photos. Look for people who are working in a job or field you aspire to. See what looks good. Copy it.

Note: no photos with sunglasses, no memes, no cartoons, no caricatures, no party photos, or family pictures cropped down to just you. Use a quality photo of you alone. Quality photos can be taken with smart phones. Interesting backgrounds are good just make sure they’re business appropriate. Smile. Make the photographer tell you jokes, make fart noises, or do whatever it takes to get a photo that makes you look approachable.

Take control of your career – before you even start it!

Be an explorer. Start following companies you’re interested in, see what they’re doing. Connect with your parents. Your parents aren’t on LinkedIn? If they’re currently working in a professional field, they should be – if not for themselves, for you. Your parents’ connections have the potential to connect you with companies and jobs. You can also connect with your friends’ parents, your older siblings, any one you know who is working – just search for them using LinkedIn search. Don’t forget to connect to your former teammates and their parents. The power of LinkedIn is that it gives you access to people you know and the people they know so you can network your way to a job.

Companies are working harder than ever to attract the best employees. That makes it easier than ever to check out industries and job titles you’ve been wondering about. Companies want you to find them on LinkedIn. Make yourself easy to find by being there. Take control of your career – even before you officially start it! LinkedIn puts power in your hands.

Watch. Read. Learn.

Read: 5 LinkedIn Summary Templates
Read: Mistakes Job Seekers Make with Their LinkedIn Headline
Watch: LinkedIn for Students: Your Career Starts Here
Watch: LinkedIn for Students: Top 5 Profile To-Do’s