Do you have a profile on LinkedIn? You know, that little site that has 161 million users in over 200 countries and territories. Here’s a fun fact: As of March 2012 (end of their quarter), LinkedIn was growing at a rate of two new users per second. So, if you take 3 minutes to read this post, chances are, 360 members created a profile on LinkedIn. Want to guess where recruiters and hiring managers are looking for top talent? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not Facebook. (Not yet, anyway.)
Based on some quick research among college students, here’s the #1 reason why most haven’t created a profile on LinkedIn: lack of experience. You know what? That’s OKAY!
I’ve been there and I bet I know what you’re thinking: “I’m in college. My current jobs aren’t relevant to list and I don’t have any other work experience to list on my profile. After all, LinkedIn is just your online résumé, right?” To that I’d say, “WRONG!” The opportunities are HUGE with LinkedIn. I’ll confess – it wasn’t this clear a few years ago. With the launch of new student-centric features, the site now allows for a much more dynamic profile, regardless of actual “work experience.”
[BONUS RESOURCE: Why Students Should Join LinkedIn]
Showcase your work. Have you been published? Think of your capstone research project, thesis or freelance work. Don’t have anything published? Reach out to someone who can help! In today’s world of blogs and online news sources, it’s much easier to get published. TIP: Don’t just highlight everything you’ve done. Highlight the strongest pieces or those that have the most hits regarding readership.
Add your (course)work. You’re most likely working as part of a team in some of your classes. Whether it’s leading or following, highlighting some of the projects (and the results – don’t forget the results,) this can help provide some relevant content to your professional profile. TIP: Don’t just list out “relevant coursework.” In most cases, it really isn’t relevant to most people. Rather than just providing a laundry list of classes, highlight a few that show leadership, project management, communication, etc.
Call attention to volunteer and/or extracurricular experience. Do you hold a leadership role with a campus organization or club? Are you part of a fraternity or sorority? Don’t forget to list these! Whether it’s collegiate athletics, the campus business club, or volunteering for local organizations, these can help you stand out in the crowded marketplace of candidates. Highlight your leadership, perhaps a project or two (and results), and make sure you’re calling attention to the fact that these are ADDITIONAL activities. Not all students sleep, go to class (sometimes), party and go back to sleep. In fact, today’s generation of college students not only go to school they’re holding down a job or two to pay the bills AND are part of cause bigger than themselves through their involvement in the community. Add that to a relevant major and decent GPA and you’re going to make an impression. Don’t shortchange yourself on your LinkedIn profile or résumé!
[BONUS RESOURCE: Be a Gutsy Grad: LinkedIn Tips for the Class of 2012]
To help you create the best LinkedIn profile, here are some great resources. Some are from Campus to Career and some are from other excellent members of the blogging community. Check them out:
Corn on the Job’s The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to LinkedIn
Have tips? Please leave a comment below so everyone benefits! As always, thanks for reading.