Perfecting your LinkedIn profile

Social media isn’t just an opportunity for your mom to leave weird comments on your selfies. LinkedIn gives potential employers and recruiters real insight into your professional skill set, personality, and background. That is, if you use it correctly.

Businesswoman in glasses with PERFECT SMILE

Your profile photo

This is not the time to re-use your Instagram or Facebook profile photo. Your profile shot should be professional. Do a little digging around on LinkedIn and you’ll quickly notice the difference between professional headshots and fuzzy social media re-dos. Want to take your own headshot? It’s not as hard as you think!

  • If you have access to a good camera, use it. If not, your cellphone’s camera is adequate, but you’ll need to use the main lens, not the interior (selfie) lens.
  • Find a white or off-white background wall with lots of good, indirect sunlight, and take your shots on a bright day. You don’t want the sun glaring on your face, but the room should be bright.
  • Your head shot should be either waist or sternum height and up. Look directly at the camera, but angle your face slightly away. Then (this is going to feel a little weird, but it’s worth it!) smile and talk while you have a friend snap away. Working solo? Take a video and pull stills. Just remember that you’ll need lots of shots, so plan on taking a few dozen and picking your favorite.

Your headline

Think of it this way: if you could summarize everything you want a potential employer to know in the space of a sentence, how would you do it? If you want people to read further, pull them in with verbs and an interesting, accurate description. You’re a recent college grad with a retail job? “Target employee” isn’t going to have recruiters knocking down your door. Try “New grad with excellent internship experience seeking that first open door.”

Send the right signal

Make sure your email address and other applicable contact info is up to date, and signal potential contacts that you’re interested in opportunities. Check “contact me for employment opportunities” and make sure that it’s clear you’re looking for work. When possible, be sure to discuss the types of jobs that interest you, and be specific!

Give details about your skill set that will draw recruiters and employers to your page.

  • Don’t just list your degree, list specific coursework that separates you from the pack. If you earned excellent grades a series of upper-level courses, note that! Dean’s list? Honors? Awards? Student organizations? Recommendations from Professors? All relevant, and all should be included in your LinkedIn Profile.
  • Include volunteer experience and professional affiliations. If you don’t have much, join the LinkedIn groups relevant to your degree or interests. They’re good for networking and job postings, and they help to demonstrate your professional intentions. Involve yourself in discussions in these groups, always maintaining a professional tone.
  • Make sure to utilize the primary function of the site – connecting! Link up with professors, classmates, former co-workers, and mentors. The more connections you have, the more likely you are to come across opportunities. Interact with your connections to get the most out of them.

Your network is the single best way to find professional opportunities, and LinkedIn is a key resource. Put some time and energy into your professional web presence and give yourself the best possible shot at a career breakthrough!

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