While résumés are still valuable tools in your search for a job or an internship, another resource has emerged that might be even more valuable: LinkedIn.
“People are constantly looking at LinkedIn. It has become a very common research tool,” said Michelle Alvarez Romero, assistant director at Career Management Services. “So whether you are actively looking for a job or just keeping it up to date, it’s really important to have the most current information because it really is a new version of the yellow pages.”
The problem is many neglect their pages, checking in only a couple of times a month and leaving information outdated and incomplete. This can be a big mistake, especially with companies now more than ever are looking at the professional online presence of potential employees and using LinkedIn to do so.
“Treating your LinkedIn like a Facebook account is one of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen students make,” Romero said.
Here are some ways to give your LinkedIn profile a boost:
1. CRAFT A SOLID HEADLINE
Your headline, located right under your name in your LinkedIn profile, is a terrific opportunity to stand out to potential employers right away. Romero, who leads workshops to help students improve their LinkedIn profiles on campus, says that using key words in your headline help employers find you easier on LinkedIn.
For example, a headline that says “Business student seeking accounting position” quickly sums up what this student is studying and passionate about now and what they are looking forward to doing in the future.
2. USE A PROFESSIONAL PROFILE PICTURE
No selfies or duck faces. Save those for your Instagram profile! Depending on the career you are looking to get into, have a profile picture that fits the kind of job you eventually want to have.
If you are a business student looking to get into the business field, a dark suit and power tie go a long way. If you are going into the arts, something a bit more casual and creative might fit better. Find a friend who can take decent photos and ask them to snap a few photos of you for your profile.
3. CLEAN UP YOUR SUMMARY
The summary portion of your LinkedIn profile is the best place to offer employers a taste of who you are as a professional.What motivates you? What are your skills? What do you envision as the next step in your journey? What are you hoping to accomplish? This is where you would articulate that in a concise and personable summary.
“This is a chance to have essentially a little blog about yourself,” Romero said.
4. DESCRIBE – DON’T JUST LIST – YOUR WORK EXPERIENCE
When you are listing the job experience you have already attained, even the part-time gig you held over the summer, don’t forget to describe your responsibilities and what you accomplished in each position. If you can include documentation or the results of your work into your Linkedn profile, even better!
5. JOIN FIU GROUPS
There is a large FIU presence on LinkedIn that is available to you. You can follow the university to find out what FIU alumni are up to, check for networking events, or search for job opportunities and internships connected with the university. You can join the FIU Alumni Association group and others to help you stay in contact with alumni locally, nationally and globally.
6. FOLLOW ORGANIZATIONS YOU’RE INTERESTED IN
Do you have a dream of working one day for Microsoft? ESPN? Royal Caribbean? Or maybe some other well-known organization? Chances are they are on LinkedIn and you can follow them for updates. They often post different job and internship opportunities along with other relevant topics of conversation.
Make it a point to check their LinkedIn pages and see if anything piques your interest. Even engaging in conversations on their pages could garner their attention.
7. LIST NOTABLE COURSES, SKILLS AND EXPERTISE
Throughout your college career, hopefully you’ve been taking advantage of different courses, jobs and internship opportunities that have helped you develop your skills as a student and potential employee. List at least five skills – such as writing, research, social media and project management – you learned or developed.
8. ASK FOR RECOMMENDATIONS
Ask your professors, colleagues, classmates and supervisors to write a short recommendation to put on your page. It will help shore up your credibility and provide some backbone to the skills you list. It’s always a good idea to have people put in a good word for you.