I had the most delightful experience teaching a workshop on using LinkedIn to more than 20 San Jose State MIS students recently. They were bright IT students with a great work ethic in their Junior or Senior year and should have employers trying to beat down the doors to hire them or give them internships. Of course this would only be so if the potential employers knew they existed and could find them.
So – for starters they needed a LinkedIn profile account. Nowadays, it’s almost as if you don’t exist if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile. I wonder if recruiters and hiring managers are aware of just how many potential new graduate candidates don’t even have LinkedIn profiles, let alone such things as key words or education status.
Advice to Students
It’s not enough to have an account. You need to set up your profile. LinkedIn tries to make it easy for people but actually makes it harder by assaulting us all with too many suggestions and sections to add. And, by automatically adding one’s latest job title to the headline, some of these great young folks were listed as everything from Radio Shack sales people to Dog Walkers. It’s great that they are entrepreneurial and working hard to help put themselves through school but these are not the kinds of headlines to get the kind of attention they want for jobs and internships in high tech companies in Silicon Valley.
I recommend you ignore everything but the basics:
What to Add:
- First and foremost – have one! Though a professional headshot is best, it’s still best to have something rather than nothing and students are given some leeway
- What you can do for your future employer – not necessarily what you’re doing now
- Include your key words and your availability
- Your 30 second elevator speech about who you are and what you have to offer
- Include your key words and a call to action (what you’re looking for and your availability)
- If you’re a student, make that your current experience and move your waitressing and other part-time jobs down
- Include your expected graduation date
- If you’re a student or recently graduated, by all means include some (but not necessarily all) of your coursework
- Be sure to get at least 50 as quickly as possible – a reasonable amount of connections makes you look like a “real” person and maximizes visibility. Start with your classmates for a quick boost. TIP: Don’t be a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) who accepts all connections requests but consider linking to a LION in your professional or geographic area which will put you just one or two degrees away from tens of thousands of connections which will greatly increase your visibility
- Add at least a dozen but no need to add all 50 and don’t include skills that aren’t relevant to the work you’re seeking
- Join a few related to your industry (there are many reasons that I’ll cover in another blog)
If you want to add other sections I recommend that it’s best to concentrate on the critical parts that most contributes to searches on LinkedIn and would represent you appropriately if someone finds you.
What not to add:
- Marital status (this is not a dating site!) Just because LinkedIn has a section for it, it doesn’t mean you need to include it.
- Birth year. If you want to include the date and month so that people can wish you a happy birthday, that’s up to you, but there’s no reason to include the year – even though you are so delightfully young!
- Your high school jobs (unless they were pretty special (intern on Capitol Hill?) or prospective job related (Java coding boot camp?)
- An unprofessional email address. Harrypunkrockstar@gmail.com might be amusing to your friends but not appropriate for your job search.
As students in a “hot” professional area, students should be high demand and can broadcast their availability for employment. Some chose to put that availability in their headline and others in their summary. I see a good number of them now showing up with a “graduating” LinkedIn search for the Bay area. Those chose their own way of representing themselves – young adults hate cookie cutter approaches as much as I do so we have everything from “MIS Student at SJSU | Graduating Fall 2015 | Seeking IT Internships” to “Honors MIS Student seeking full-time position.” In the short time we had together, not all the participants could complete their profiles but you can now at least find most of them. You’d be lucky to hire them.
I would love to talk with you about taking control of your profile on LinkedIn® and how I could help you with your professional goals. Or if you have a college student who will soon be graduating, consider giving them a gift certificate for a LinkedIn creation/transformation session to get them employment-ready. Please schedule a free 30 minute consultation to see how I might be able to assist you.