So You're on LinkedIn, Now What?
Written by: Rawan El Moghrabi, 3rd-year Software Engineering
Do you have a fear of LinkedIn? When I first made my account, I was very intimidated by the platform and had no idea what to do next. But navigating LinkedIn is easier than you might think. To help you build your profile, I’ve compiled a list of necessary steps to have a glowing profile.
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a social media platform used for professional networking. LinkedIn can be used for:
- Researching a company you’re interested in
- Researching people in your field who you want to connect with
- Learning more about various roles, fields, and industries. For example, if you’re looking for a specific position, researching someone who has a similar one could tell you what kind of characteristics and experience are valued for the position
- LinkedIn has over 706 million users in over 200 countries, making it such a valuable networking tool
If you haven’t joined yet, you should. If you have joined, here are the next steps for you to make the most of LinkedIn.
1. Add a photo
Photos are essential because they are the first impression of you that recruiters get. The whole point of pictures is so recruiters and colleagues can see what you look like. Here are some things you should and shouldn’t do for your LinkedIn picture.
- Make sure you have good lighting
- Ensure your head takes up around 60% of the frame
- Choose a simple background so that the focus is solely on you
- Try to capture a genuine smile
- Dress according to your field or how you would dress in the office. If you’re stuck with choosing an outfit, a simple dress shirt is always a good choice
- Tip: showing some teeth can make you seem more likable and approachable
- No selfies
- Don’t use pictures taken from a distance
- Stay away from group pictures; recruiters won’t be able to tell which one is you
2. Include a Headline
The headline is a quick description of who you are. Make sure the headline you choose is clear, concise, and short. Try to stay from writing “seeking (position of choice).” It is more helpful to write something like “Social work student” or “social work professional.” It makes you more likely to show up in search results.
3. Write a Summary
The purpose of this is to quickly tell recruiters what you’re about and what you’re looking for. this is equivalent to an elevator pitch. This is a good place to put what job you are seeking. Here, you can expand more on who you are and your goals.
4. Add Your Education
For the education section, you should add any education you’ve had after high school unless high school is your very last education experience.
5. Don't Forget to Add Contact Info!
Adding contact info is very important because you don’t want to miss out on possible messages. This section is also a good place to add any links to external portfolios if you have them.
6. Mention Your Skills
Don’t forget to add a skills section with all your skills. LinkedIn has a wide range of skills for you to add to your profile. Some are technical and some are soft skills. You could even endorse your colleagues’ and friends’ skills and get your friends or colleagues to endorse some of your skills. This shows that people you’ve worked with agree that you have the skills you say you have. For some technical skills, LinkedIn offers assessments that show up on your profile if you pass them. If you don’t pass them, don’t worry. You can redo assessments every 3 months and it won’t show that you didn’t pass.
7. Customize Your URL
This makes it easier to put your LinkedIn on a resume and it looks more professional and polished. To edit your URL, go to your profile and click Edit public profile & URL (on the right). It’s best to choose just your name but if it’s taken, you can add something simple to help you stand out. For example, “https://www.linkedin.com/in/janedoe/” or “https://www.linkedin.com/in/janedoe-uwo/”
8. Update your Experience
Add any recent experience you have and your current position. In this section, you must exercise your judgement. For example, if you worked at a fast food restaurant when you were 15, that’s probably not related to your future career and therefore unnecessary. You don’t have to add everything you’ve ever done to your experience. As always, relevant experience is the most important but if you don’t have any, other work experiences could display your transferable skills and show that you don’t have a gap in your work timeline. Don’t forget to always have your current position in your profile. When adding descriptions, a lot of people prefer writing it in point form as you would on a resume, but you could also write a small paragraph instead.
9. Build Your Network
To build your network, you can add your classmates, your professors, people you meet at networking events, and even people you don’t know. Following companies that you’re interested in and are related to you career is also important to stay in the loop and help LinkedIn give you suggestions relevant to your field. The prospect of adding people you may have never talked to before is daunting but don’t worry, that’s what LinkedIn is for. Here's some ways you can start expanding your network:
Add someone on LinkedIn that works at a company you’re interested in, or has a position similar to the one you want
Believe it or not, it is not weird to add people you don’t know on LinkedIn (that’s the whole point of LinkedIn). But when adding people you’ve never met, you should add a personalized message stating why you added them.
Chances are if you add classmates (even ones you’ve never talked to), they’ll recognize you and add you back. A lot of students and young professionals are eager to add other students in the same field as them. Adding professors is also a good way to expand your network and most professors are happy to add their students.
If you’ve been to a networking event or met someone in your field recently, it’s a good idea to connect with them on LinkedIn. This is an example of a message that conveys your interest in the person’s work not just what they can do for you.
If you want to connect with a recruiter, always add a personalized message to help you stand out and be more genuine. Recruiters get a lot of requests and you’d be surprised at the amount of people who don’t add a personalized message when adding them. Like before, try making your message not just about all the things you want.
There are many other sections you can add like awards, languages, volunteer experience, projects, etc. Add these sections at your discretion. They help recruiters and connections learn more about who you are and what you’ve accomplished. Don’t forget to download the app so you can browse through your feed and checkout pages faster. LinkedIn may seem a little scary at first but don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it seems.