Optimizing Your LinkedIn Account As A College Student

"Please add me to your network." Let's face it; this is a notification that pretty much every college student receives each week. We view each other's profiles, edit ours based on how we compare to peers, competitively apply to jobs, and connect with leaders in our industry, but how many of us know what makes a "good" LinkedIn profile that recruiters will notice? How many of us know how to optimize our LinkedIn usage in a meaningful way that helps us land our next job?

These are questions that I have pondered as a second semester senior who visits their Linkedin profile multiple times per day. I am constantly struggling to figure out how to improve my profile to make me stand out and connect with people who might have connections that will land me my first post-grad job.

I've come to learn that there is no "perfect" LinkedIn profile. Each profile will look slightly different based on people's experiences, education, and industry. On the other hand, using LinkedIn as a valuable networking site has some more explicit guidelines. I want to share some of the best tips that I have found helpful for enhancing my profile and growing my network of professional contacts.

Here is my top four tips for upgrading your profile:

  1. Use a professional photo. One of the first aspects of your profile that a recruiter will notice is your profile picture. Put on your best work outfit, find a good background, and snap a photo that makes you look like a prepared and professional student who is ready to enter the workforce!

  2. Write a summary that will tell a story of who YOU are. Tell the story of you. Avoid just putting your major, school year, and buzzwords. Use this space to showcase your talents, relevant experiences, and career goals. It can be hard to write about your career goals and aspirations if you are unsure of what you want to do. However, expressing what you are currently passionate about is an excellent place to start.

  3. List and describe all of your college and work experiences. Listing these experiences, no matter how big or small, along with descriptions of what you did in each position will help highlight your strong points and let employers see your passions and knowledge levels.

  4. Add to your featured section. Linkedin is a platform to showcase your accomplishments. Consider adding any relevant links—such as resumes, portfolios, and projects—that will be accessible for employers.

Next, I want to share my top three pieces of advice for making the best use of your account:

  1. Quality NOT Quantity. A larger network does not necessarily mean the doors are open to your dream career path. Focus on developing strong connections, rather than many random ones that will not get you anywhere down the line.

  2. Join alumni groups and follow companies you are interested in. Networking groups and companies often post job opportunities that may interest you!

  3. Scroll through your homepage once a day. You might learn some valuable career insights from your connections, peers, or industry leaders that can inspire you and your career.

  4. Test out LinkedIn Learning. This feature offers online video courses in business, software, and technology skills to help you gain a competitive advantage! You can highlight your completion of these courses on your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Mastering LinkedIn is no easy feat, but taking the time to update your profile and put the best version of yourself out there for future employers will help you get noticed. Remember to stay engaged to get the most out of what the site has to offer. You are only one connection away from landing your next job and enhancing your career!

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