LinkedIn for New Grads: Kick Start a Kickass Profile

For new grads, one of the first steps they'll take in embarking on their career seeking path is to write their first LinkedIn profile. Writing a LinkedIn profile can be an intimidating task for any professional, let alone a recent grad with little to no work experience.

The most important principle to start with is this: “whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.” – Philip Stanhope. Your LinkedIn profile should be a meaningful representation of your brand. It is, after all, the online ‘you.'

Here's how to kick start a kick-ass LinkedIn presence from day one:

Tip #1: Make it Multimedia

Here's the first golden rule of LinkedIn: have a professional profile photo. Please, if you stop reading this right now just do one thing for me — add a photo. Your photo should be reasonably close up with you looking at the camera. Smiling is a nice touch, too. Steer clear of photos of you and your family members or anyone (or anything) else unrelated to your professional brand.

You also want to utilize the multimedia functionality built right into the LinkedIn platform and add in any relevant examples of your work. From adding Powerpoint slides to a link of you demonstrating your public speaking skills, take the opportunity to give your profile viewers an experience.

Finally, on the topic of utilizing the platform to it's full extent, be sure to customize your URL and make your profile public. If you're on LinkedIn but your profile is private, well, why are you on LinkedIn?

Tip #2: Engage your Viewers

In the modern workplace, you are more than just your job title which is why you need to have a profile summary. A profile summary is your story, beyond generic job titles and work or education history. The summary is a powerful piece because you can showcase what you do, why you do it, why you like it, and where you’re going. It’s boundless.

Write your summary in first person, conversational tone, and keep it simple. While you have 2,000 characters to work with – you probably only need 3-4 sentences to capture someone’s attention. Also, avoid big blocks of text. Keep paragraphs concise and easy to digest.

Tip #3: Experience Highlights

Beyond listing your job titles. the key to successfully writing about your experience is to highlight the stuff that matters. Summarize your key responsibilities and add in reporting structure, achievements, measurable outcomes, accolades, awards, etc.

If you're a new grad dealing with little experience or mostly entry level, here's the opportunity to highlight why the experience matters. Summarize what you learned, what transferrable skills did you gain, or why you liked the job.

Tip #4: Build your Network

LinkedIn first and foremost is a social network so connect with people you know such as teachers, former colleagues, or supervisors, teacher's assistants, family, and friends. Yes, family and friends-  why not? If your aunt happens to be connected to a recruiter at your dream job then wouldn't you want her to introduce you? Because she will.

When it comes to connecting, you'll read a lot of back and forth on whether to connect with people you don't actually know in real life. While this is a personal preference, I rarely connect with folks who I haven’t met in real life. Why? I want to establish a credible network.  If I want to be introduced to someone or someone wants me to do the introducing, I want to connect with people who I know to be good, solid professionals. I also want to be associated with reputable professionals and not the latter.

Tip #5: Join In

Again, LinkedIn is a social network so….. get social. Join relevant groups, engage in conversations, share articles, and so forth. As a new grad start off by joining an alumni group from your university. By engaging with folks online who are in your current or desired industry, field, or company – you might just get invited for a coffee with your next boss. Be aware that your conversations are public so in everything you do, make sure it’s a positive reflection of you and your brand.

Do you have any LinkedIn tips for new grads or established professionals to add?

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