Almost everyone is on social media. Some people are active on their social accounts multiple times a day – I’m sure some of our readers are “serial Facebookers” and nodding their heads right now! But did you know that LinkedIn is one of the most important social media websites for students and graduates?
All students prepare to head into the workforce by going through the painstaking process of building a professional resume and cover letter that showcases their experience, education, and skills. But if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, or it is incomplete our out of date, you are missing a fantastic opportunity to show that you can put your money where your mouth is when it comes to your portfolio.
If you have never used LinkedIn or are unfamiliar with the site’s inner workings, don’t freak out. We have compiled our favorite quick tips to get you started building your professional network.
Build an informative profile headline
Your profile headline, found underneath your name, is the second thing people see when they view either your profile thumbnail or your full profile. Think of it like the slogan for your professional brand. For example, an MT/HDS student could use “Medical Transcriptionist/Healthcare Documentation Specialist Student, CanScribe Career College” or a new graduate could use something like “Honors graduate seeking Medical Transcription/Healthcare Documentation position.”
Upload an appropriate profile picture
Remember who will be viewing the photo – recruiters and other professional connections. This is not the place to post a cute photo of your cat. Try to find the clearest, highest quality photo of you, alone, professionally dressed. If you can’t find a photo you like, head to a well-lit area with a background that isn’t too distracting, and get a friend or family member to help you take one.
Show off your education
Head to your school’s LinkedIn page to add yourself as a student or alumni to their network – this is a great place to find and connect with your fellow students and alumni. Don’t hold back from sharing any distinctions that you received (e.g. Honors) – simply click add a section in your profile (each section has a unique colorful tile) and look for Honors and Awards. Mention anything else that might grab a recruiter’s attention. Have you earned a scholarship or won an award? Validate your accomplishments by adding it here. Were you part of any school groups or student organizations? This is also a great spot for CanScribe graduates to mention their practicum experience which is an aspect of their studies that will really set them apart from other new MT/HDS graduates. When listing different schools that you attended, make sure your college education is listed highest – similar to how you would display it on your resume.
Identify and list your skills and expertise
This is where you should consider your skills and keywords that recruiters might be typing when they are looking for the position you would like to have. Try adding at least 5 or 6 key skills. If you are unsure about what types of skills to add, ask your instructor or student services advisor at your college, or refer to your other connections that are in the same career as you.
Encourage professional endorsements from people you work closely with
Recommendations on your LinkedIn profile are almost like references on your resume. They give credibility to all of those skills and achievements that you listed earlier. They can add insight on what it is like to have you as an employee, co-worker, or classmate.
One of the biggest mistakes most people make on LinkedIn is assuming that they should just create a profile and let it sit dormant. LinkedIn isn’t just a “one and done” resume that you can update every time you are looking for a new job. Check your updates regularly, share content that interests you, constantly update your profile and skills…the more effort you put in, the more your professional connections will grow.
The above tips are just a short guideline to get things started – there are so many more sections and areas to your LinkedIn profile that you can utilize to showcase who you are as a professional. We love this LinkedIn Profile Checklist that visually displays each part of the profile and what you can include in each.
When you get your LinkedIn profile completed, you could also consider attaching a link to it in your resume. Think of LinkedIn as your own professional business card. Presenting recruiters with a professional, completed profile will impress them and set you apart from other applicants. You are an educated individual with skills to showcase – put them out there!