4 Fantastic Ways to Spice Up Your LinkedIn Profile (While in College)

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If you want to improve your chances of getting a great job after you graduate, you need to start creating an optimized LinkedIn profile while in school.

You see, an optimized LinkedIn profile can help recruiters find you when looking to hire interns or new college grads.

Here are four ways to spice up your LinkedIn profile to get noticed:

1. Ask your professors for recommendations highlighting your skills.
One of the best ways to build credibility is to have professional recommendations on your LinkedIn profile.

When asking for recommendations, make sure youre specific with what type of recommendation you want. If the person knows youre skilled in a specific area, ask them to mention that in the recommendation. You dont want a generic he/she is a great student recommendation, but rather one that calls out specific skills you have. Remember, the goal is to show a recruiter about the value you bring to a company.

The more recommendations you have, the more youll stand out to a potential employer. You just need to start asking to get them.

2. Add media links to show examples of your student projects.
Just because you dont have a professional portfolio of work yet doesnt mean you cant showcase the work youve done in college.

Have you ever been published in the college newspaper? Ever interned or donated time to a specific non-profit group? Ever worked on projects for a college organization?

Upload logos of the organizations youve worked with and visually show what youve done.

You dont want to just list out your accomplishments like a resume, you want to visually showcase your work on LinkedIn.

Ideas:

  • Create a video talking about a project youve worked on
  • Add images or illustrations of some of your achievements in school
  • Upload a PowerPoint into SlideShare and add that link into your LinkedIn profile

Check out these helpful slides to give you some ideas:

3. Join relevant professional groups and display on your profile.
One of the best ways to build relevant connections and get more eyeballs on your LinkedIn profile is to start networking in LinkedIn groups.

There are thousands of different types of professional groups on LinkedIn so start joining groups where professionals youd like to work with are hanging out. Joining a LinkedIn group will display that group logo on your LinkedIn profile and reveal more about your professional interests with recruiters.

The Harvard Business Review group is filled with professionals discussing articles and sharing insight:

Just make sure to add value when joining these LinkedIn groups dont spam or simply post links without thoughtful commentary.

4. Strategically add relevant keywords in your professional headline and throughout your LinkedIn profile.
Your LinkedIn headline is what will appear in the LinkedIn stream when a recruiter is searching out potential new employees. You want to be specific about what youre looking for to attract the right kind of recruiter.

Your professional headline should reveal your career goal or type of profession youre interested in (e.g. Computer Science Major, Graduating 2014 interested in Tech Startups in San Francisco).

Use relevant keywords throughout your profile; including in the: Skills & Expertise section, Test Scores section, and Courses section.

How are you going to improve your LinkedIn profile? What suggestions do you have for college students?

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How to Use LinkedIn to Get Your Resume into the Right Hands

Applying for jobs through a job search engine (e.g. Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com) or blindly emailing in resumes to human resource departments is almost worthless. You might as well just print out your resume and stick directly into a shredder.

Busy recruiters at top companies get hundreds of resumes every week if not thousands. It doesnt matter how perfect you are for the job, your resume is just not likely to get seen by the right person. Its a numbers game and youre probably just one resume in a thousand.

This is why you need a strategic approach to get your resume and/or online LinkedIn profile reviewed by the right person.

Let me share with you 5 creative ways to use LinkedIn to bypass the HR email inbox and get noticed:

1. Study the company LinkedIn profile to find employee list.
Once youve identified the job you want, go to the LinkedIn Company search page and find the company you want to apply to.

If youre applying for a company that has offices in multiple locations, use the advanced LinkedIn search features to find the offices closest to you (and those offices where you have 1st and second degree connections if possible).

When you arrive at the company profile page, look on the right-hand side to see the How Youre Connected box and click on the See all link.

2. Use LinkedIn advanced people search to identify employees who work on the team you want to work on (and recruiters hiring for that position).

Once youve identified the company and see the full list of employees, use LinkedIn advanced search to find people who work in the business unit youre interested in. You could avoid the first step by going straight to this people search section, but I find it easier to start with company and location search first.

When conducting searches, try relevant keyword queries based on the person who might be involved in hiring for the position you want.

Here are a few queries to try:

  • [Business Unit] + [Title] (e.g. Marketing Director, Marketing V.P.)
  • [Business Unit] + Recruitment (e.g. Sales Recruitment, Sales recruiter)
  • Recruiter

You can also find people youre closely connected with at that company by finding relevant Groups you share with employees.

3. Get noticed by viewing recruiter profiles regularly.

Recruiters and those hiring use LinkedIn all the time to find potential candidates. One way to get noticed by them is to make sure youre visiting the recruiters LinkedIn profile and those senior leaders that work in the department youre aiming to work in.

You see, simply by visiting those key LinkedIn profiles means that they can see you in the Whos Viewed Your Profile section. And recruiters usually have LinkedIn premium versions so they can see everyone who is viewing their profile.

Just make sure youve optimized your LinkedIn profile so that youre profile matches the type of employee they are looking to hire. Also make sure you have privacy settings that allow others to know who you are when viewing their profile.

TIP: If you want recruiters to view your LinkedIn profile, you need to view them first.

4. Send a brief and polite message to the recruiter or hiring director.

Your first impression with a recruiter or hiring manager is key. You want your first message to be clear, concise, and nice.

Remember hiring managers are very busy and receive lots of email. Just send them a brief note on LinkedIn informing them of your interest in the position they are hiring for.

Here is a template you can use:

Remember to be respectful of his/her time. Dont bug them with another message if you dont hear back. The point is that youve established contact and let them know your interest.

Most of the time, recruiters are looking to build their LinkedIn connections, so they will probably connect with you. And then youll have more 2cnd degree connections at the company you might be able to reach out to with questions.

5. Mail in your resume to the hiring manager.

Now that youve identified the hiring manager, you know the name of the person to send your resume to. Most people dont use snail mail anymore, so thats why youll break through the email clutter and get a physical copy of your resume on the desk of the hiring manager.

Key takeaways:

  • Use LinkedIn to find employees at the company where you want to work
  • View and study profiles of hiring managers and recruiters
  • Optimize your LinkedIn profile to highlight the applicable skills and experiences that fit the job you want
  • Be clear, concise, and polite in your LinkedIn messages
  • Dont bug anyone just share your interest and build connections

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5 Ways Students Can Sabotage Their LinkedIn Profile

Getting a great job after you graduate college is difficult especially when your resume is competing against hundreds or thousands of others.

This is why you need to create an optimized LinkedIn profile while in college and begin building meaningful business relationships as early as possible.

And you want to make sure you dont sabotage your job search on LinkedIn by making these 5 mistakes:

1. Youll sabotage your job search by lying on your LinkedIn profile.
A recent study found that 70% of college students surveyed would lie on a resume to get the job they want, so just graduating from college can make you a prime suspect of lying on your resume.

Lying on your resume (or on LinkedIn) is not only unethical, but youll get fired once the lie is exposed. Recently, Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson lost his job after only four months on the job since he lied about his educational background and Teresa MacBain lost her job at Harvard because she misrepresented her education.

Avoid the guilt and worry by just being upfront and honest on LinkedIn. Besides, Human Resource professionals will conduct a background check on you and may conduct a more thorough investigation after youre hired if they suspect youve lied and/or arent qualified for the job.

2. Youll sabotage your job search on LinkedIn by making spelling and/or grammatical mistakes.
Its easy to make a typo or grammatical error when completing the different sections on your LinkedIn profile. This is why its important to have one or two colleagues proofread your profile for any errors. Ask him or her to give you suggestions on how you can make your LinkedIn profile even better. The more people reviewing your profile for errors, the better. You dont want to make a poor impression online simply because you accidentally misspelled something.

3. Youll sabotage your job search on LinkedIn by linking to unprofessional social profiles.
At the top of your LinkedIn profile, you can add links to your web content (social profiles, blog, etc.). How do you appear on social profiles like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or even Yelp? What is your attitude like? What are you sharing?

34% of employers found content that has caused them not to hire a candidate due to social media activity (e.g. making discriminatory comments, evidence of drug use, poor communication skills, bad mouthed previous employers, etc.). Realize that the content you share on public social platforms can hurt your chances of getting your dream job. Be mindful of what youre doing online and think ahead about the consequences. If youve made mistakes, delete those posts if possible.

4. Youll sabotage your job search on LinkedIn by writing vague descriptions about your job history.
Dont simply write that you helped increase sales or increased the bottom line describing your accomplishments. Be specific and add detail for what you actually did. How many projects did you complete each month? How much revenue did you help the company make? What percentage of increase did you achieve for a specific metric? Be specific so that recruiters know exactly what you accomplished for the company. Boring and vague LinkedIn job descriptions will hurt your chances of getting recruited.

5. Youll sabotage your job search on LinkedIn by not having any endorsements or recommendations.
LinkedIn recommends that you have at least two recommendations on your profile (and that is a minimum). If you want to show companies that youre a highly driven and productive, make sure to have colleagues (or even college professors) recommending and endorsing your skills on LinkedIn. Even if youve never had a real job because youve been focused on getting through college, you probably have some professors that can recommend your expertise in a certain field.

Often, you wont get recommendation unless you ask, so start asking now. And make sure to return the favor by recommending people you know do excellent work.

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How to Build a Strong Network on LinkedIn (While Still in College)

LinkedIn can help you get into your dream job after college by helping you find and network with professionals who work in career fields youre interested in.

You see, the stronger your network, the more reach youll have to connect with others at key organizations you want to work at. Youll also have the ability to request introductions to those you dont know by asking someone in your network to introduce you.

Here are three powerful ways to build a strong network while in college:

1. Join your college alumni group on LinkedIn to connect with professionals in careers youre interested in.
If you havent joined an LinkedIn college alumni group, youre missing out. There are often dozens of alumni groups for each college based on:

  • School (Engineering, Business, Economics, Law)
  • Region (Cities where grads live now)
  • Career field (Alumni who work in specific career fields)
  • Athletics

I just did a quick search to see how many alumni groups existed for UCLA and see 665 at the moment. This means UCLA alumni can probably build a very strong network very quickly by spending time engaging in a number of relevant groups.

Simply by joining relevant college alumni groups on LinkedIn, youll get a chance to meet and build relevant connects with dozens if not hundreds of alumni. Take the time to build connections especially with those that work in career fields youre interested in.

These groups can be a great place to ask your career questions and get advice from those who work at companies where you want to work.

2. Use LinkedIn College Alumni Search to learn where alumni are working and how many live close to you (so you can possibly meet up for coffee).

Many people dont know that LinkedIn has a college alumni section to help you quickly find professionals who attended your college. This search tool is a great way to find alumni based on location, career field, and companies they work at.

In seconds, I found out there are 1,091 alumni that live close to me and 393 of them work in a similar career field as me.

This college alumni tool is a gold mine for helping you connect and find alumni that you can relate with on many levels. Take advantage of this tool and start building some key business relationships.

Tip: Focus on building relationships with alumni who live close to you so that you might have opportunities to meet-up at some point.

3. Connect with consultants and professionals who write articles that help you learn more about your targeted industry.

Its important to be strategic in how you connect with others on LinkedIn. You might find value in connecting with anyone (to increase your reach), but its most important to connect with those professionals that bring you value and those that you might be able to help as well.

If youre focused on getting into a specific career field, make sure youre reading blogs and articles from those professionals who work in it. Read their articles and leave thoughtful comments regularly so that he/she gets to know a little bit about you. So when you finally do reach out to connect on LinkedIn, he/she knows who you are and a connection will be made.

Tip: Make sure to always write a thoughtful note when making an introduction. You could thank the person for their articles and/or help with your future career plans.

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How LinkedIn Can Help You Choose the Best College for Your Career

Are you wondering what colleges to apply to?

Are you curious where alumni at those colleges end up working? Or what career paths are most common?

Well, the LinkedIn College navigation tool provides you real-time data on what college alumni are doing and where they work.

Here is a peek at where U.C.L.A. alumni work (if studied there between 2000 and today):

And if you select a specific company, you can get data on what types of jobs alumni have there. For example, here are the types of roles U.C.L.A. alumni have at Google:

You can also drill-down further by creating filters by location (if interested in knowing what alumni are doing in your area).

For example, U.C.L.A. alumni in San Francisco work at Google, Cisco, Stanford University, Kaiser Permanente, etc. And many alumni in the Bay Area work in engineering, entrepreneurship, research, sales, and education.

The LinkedIn data is not complete since it is only based on what alumni have revealed about themselves on LinkedIn, but this is still a great tool to see where many alumni work. You can dig even further by seeing the LinkedIn profiles of alumni that work in those occupations in specific areas.

The LinkedIn education section can also help you choose a college based on student/faculty ratio, graduation rate, student population, and % admitted and graduated.

Here are stats from LinkedIn about U.C.L.A.:

You can also get a snapshot of how many students are receiving financial aid as well as cost to attend each year:

Where you attend college does not dictate what youll do or where youll work. However, if youre interested in working in a specific professional field, this college navigation tool can help you choose a school that fits your career goals.

The LinkedIn education tool is still in its infancy so not all data is available on all colleges. And there is a lot more this tool can help you with in the future as you build your alumni network.

How will you use this college navigation tool? How would you like to see this improved?

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A Students Guide to Creating a Great LinkedIn Profile

A great way to help you land your dream job after you graduate is to spend time building relationships in LinkedIn.

And one of the first ways to get started is by creating an optimized LinkedIn profile for yourself.

You see, creating a great profile can help you network with professionals at companies where you want to work – and an optimized profile can help you attract the right kind of recruiters.

Here are 9 ways to create an optimized profile for yourself while still in college:

1. Make an attractive headline to attract a recruiter.
There are many ways to use the headline in your LinkedIn profile. You can list your college major and when youre graduating. You can list the career field that you are seeking to get into (based on keywords you researched). Test out different headlines to see if certain headlines get you more traffic than others.

Some examples:

  • Computer Science Major, Graduating 2016. Seeking Employment in San Francisco, California.
  • Computer Science Geek, Graduating from U.C. Berkeley in 2016. Seeking Employment.
  • English Lit. Major, Seeking Jobs in Journalism. Graduation 2015.

Use keywords that will help recruiters identify the types of jobs and locations youre interested in.

2. Write a professional summary statement.
Your summary statement is a place to write down some basic information about yourself and the career field youre excited to enter. This is not a place to litter with keywords in hopes of getting more traffic to your profile. This is a place to sell yourself within a few paragraphs. Respect the readers time when writing your profile by keeping it brief and to the point.

3. List college courses to show the range of your skills and knowledge
A great way to add meat to your LinkedIn profile is by adding relevant college courses youve taken for the career fields youre interested in. Dont laundry list every class, but just the courses that might help you stand out from others seeking the job you want.

I was an English Major as an undergrad, but also took a programming course just so Id have a little knowledge in the area. Even though I could never code well (and have the utmost respect for all the programmers and hackers out there), this background made me stand out a bit and served very useful later when working as a writer in a web team.

4. List your skills that fit the job youre looking for.
There is a Skills and Expertise section on LinkedIn that allows you to add the subjects and skills youre competent in. Dont make the mistake of just writing keywords without doing research. You need to add the relevant skills that will attract the right kinds of recruiters filling jobs that you want.

There are several ways to find the right keywords for the skills you have

First, spend some time in the LinkedIn Skills & Expertise section doing keyword research on the skills you have.

As you research your skills, youll find lists of other high-demand skills that you might have, but never thought of adding. This is also a great approach to finding skills in your career field that you dont have (and need to learn before you get out of college).

For example, many college students are blogging (which is a popular skill in LinkedIn). When studying this section, youll not only see information about this skill, but also a slew of other related skills others are adding in their profiles.

If you blog, you might also have these popular skills: Engaging Content, HootSuite, Microblogging, Video Blogging, Blog Marketing, Blogging Software, etc. You might have never thought of adding these keywords to your profile without doing this critical keyword research.

Now, dont just study these skills and create a list based on whats popular.

You need to do one more step to stand apart.

Find professionals in career fields you want to be in and study their profiles. In fact, make it a goal to study dozens of seasoned professionals that are in career fields you want to be in.

What are some common skills they list in their profiles? And what keywords and topics are listed in their introductions? Also note what networking groups they are part of while youre studying their profiles. Those are LinkedIn groups you may want to join when youre ready to start networking.

Take time to study their online resumes because this not only helps you discover related skills you might have already, but more importantly what skills you dont have. This can give you a laundry list of skills you need to start learning or getting some experience with.

Lastly, as you add skills for the job you want, make sure youre listing actual skills you have. Deceiving others on your profile is not only unethical, but can destroy your reputation and potential job offers in the future. Be real on LinkedIn (like Louis Freese).

5. Add professional tests and scores to make you stand out.
If youve taking any big tests, you can list them on your LinkedIn profile. Just make sure to be accurate when you list scores and other info because this will get verified if youre courted by a company and they do their background investigation on you. This is not a necessary component to your LinkedIn profile, but can help you stand out if youve never had a job before.

6. Add experiences that show your passions, work ethic, and leadership abilities.
Just because you never had a professional job doesnt mean you dont have useful experiences to add in your online resume. Think about any clubs or organizations youve been involved in. List your role, what you did, and why you joined the organization.

Companies like to see well-rounded individuals who give back to their communities, so make sure to list all the work you do.

If youre not involved in any organizations, then find a club or organization at your college or community that you can get involved with. Helping others and serving the community is rewarding in many ways so get involved in one or more organizations if youre not already.

Community service isnt something you do just do get into the college you want, its something that you should do for life. Never stop helping others.

7. List the causes you care about.
When recruiters are comparing individuals with similar skills, you can stand out by the causes and organizations you volunteer time with. So if youre passionate about certain causes, please list them on your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn allows you to select from a handful of different causes so choose the ones youre passionate about.

Dont just check causes just because you agree or like it (otherwise everyone could mark each one). Simply choose the few that are meaningful to you and possibly already do work with. You can also list organizations or nonprofit groups youre currently working with here as well.

8. Stand out by offering pro bono consulting or desire to join a nonprofit board.
If you have time in your school schedule to dedicate to a nonprofit group, consider checking the boxes under Joining a nonprofit board and skills-based volunteering (pro bono consulting) as a way to help others. Checking these boxes can help organizations find you and get your help based on your skills. This is a great way to build your experiences, recommendations, and personal network. So consider doing this.

9. Upload a recent professional picture of yourself.
Make sure to upload a professional picture of yourself. If you plan on dressing for success in interviews, then consider wearing a suit for your head shot. Consider going to a local photography studio to get some pictures done, or have a friend take some good pictures of you.

How are you currently using LinkedIn? What tips can you share for other students? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.