How to make the ideal LinkedIn profile as a recent graduate

Guest posted by: Conrad Benz of Resume Genius

Congratulations, you’ve just graduated! Now what? Besides worrying about how to pay off your student loans fast, you’ll also need to figure out how to start lining up interviews.

Fortunately, you probably already have an account on one of the most valuable job-hunting sites around: LinkedIn. Having a strong LinkedIn profile is a great way to attract recruiters, build your professional network, and start nailing down job offers.

However, in order to make good use of LinkedIn, you need to know how to set up your profile in a way that makes you appear professional and strengthens your chances of recruiters finding your profile.

Let’s talk about four key ways you can make an ideal LinkedIn profile for job-hunting success.

1. Use a professional photo

Having a professional photo of yourself sounds simple -- but you’d be shocked by how many recent graduates ruin their chances of landing a job because they couldn’t bother to replace an old photo. Uploading a professional profile photo to your LinkedIn page is a must if you want recruiters to consider hiring you.

You may have strong skills, but at the end of the day LinkedIn is a social networking site. In order to catch people’s attention, you need to market yourself to employers. In fact, LinkedIn profiles without a picture are almost 15 times less likely to be viewed.

For reference, here’s an example of a professional looking LinkedIn profile photo:

Screen Shot 2020-04-23 at 12.36.21 PM

To create a professional photo, don’t overthink it. A good profile photo should be:

  • Simple: Take your picture from the chest up that clearly displays your face.
  • Legal: Be sure you leave out pictures containing alcohol or illegal substances or activities.
  • Friendly: Show off your genuine smile and relax in your photo.
  • Appropriate: Dress for your industry accordingly, but don’t fret if you don’t have a suit or work dress. Just remember to wear clean clothes without graphics or logos if possible.
  • Clear: A busy shirt with a solid background or vice versa should work best for contrasting and emphasis.
  • You also don’t need a high-quality camera or be an expert photographer to take a great LinkedIn profile photo -- you can take a professional headshot without spending any money using just your phone camera.

    And remember, it’s okay to show your unique style as long as it’s professional.

    2. Write a strong profile summary

    Your chance to make a lasting first impression is in the “About” section of your profile.

    By providing a concise overview of your goals, accomplishments, and experiences right at the top of the page, you’ll hook recruiters from the start and encourage them to read more about your qualifications.

    However, if your profile summary is too vague or too dense, it will decrease the appeal of your overall profile. So make sure to be specific about your qualifications.

    What to include in a LinkedIn profile summary

    Not sure how to write a job-winning profile summary? Don’t worry, here’s what you need to include to impress recruiters and make your qualifications shine:

    Introduction that grabs attention

    Start out with a clear synopsis of your overall professional background and goals. While you want your introduction to be concise, make sure that it’s also specific.

    Here’s an example of an introduction that’s too broad:

    General: “Looking to expand professional opportunities in marketing”

    Now here’s that same example, but with an appropriate amount of detail:

    Detailed: “Looking to help your company acquire organic traffic with relevant marketing campaigns”

    It’s also good practice to include one quick line about your professional demeanor such as “I create creative business solutions as an adaptable team player.”

    Quick background summary

    Think of the way a good cover letter shows off your background. In just a few sentences, you should showcase your professional accomplishments as well as educational achievements.

    If you went to Europe during your time in school to do a special research project, include it. Do you already have experience working at an on-campus job? Be sure to mention what you achieved while working there.

    Just make sure that it’s relevant to your employment goals.

    Employment goals

    What do you want to accomplish in your future career?

    Do you want to work as a grant writer for a nonprofit organization? Are you seeking employment for professional experience before graduate school?

    You should state your immediate professional goal in one sentence. Hiring managers love when applicants are direct and focused on their future.

    However, remember to be as specific as you can while stating your goals.

    For example, here’s a goals statement that’s too broad to be helpful:

    General: “I am seeking an opportunity with a great marketing firm to grow my skills.”

    Now, here’s that same example but with more specific information:

    Specific: “I seek to work for an established marketing firm that will help me expand my knowledge of marketing campaigns from creation to completion.”

    By offering some insight into your career ambitions, you demonstrate to employers how your goals align with their hiring needs.

    3. Emphasize your educational achievements

    As a recent graduate, your education makes up the bulk of your experience. That’s why it’s important to broadcast your educational achievements clearly, and demonstrate how the skills you learned in college apply to the type of position you want to fill.

    First thing’s first: fill out the “Education” section of your LinkedIn profile with all colleges/universities, degree type (such as Associate’s or Bachelor’s), and your major. Feel free to list your minors as necessary.

    Then, list any activities or societies that you were a member of.. Employers appreciate reading about your participation outside of college classwork.

    Activities can include any volunteer work, major papers, or events you were a part of.

    Societies include fraternities, sororities, and any school organizations with which you were involved like foreign language clubs or student government.

    Additionally, if you’ve decided to attach your resume to your LinkedIn profile, try tweaking the format of your resume in a way that puts greater emphasis on your educational achievements.

    4. Showcase your skills

    Showcasing your professional skills is a great way to round out your LinkedIn profile, especially if you don’t have a lot of work experience yet.

    Which ones do you choose? Base your selection on skills that directly relate to your employment goals. Look through some job descriptions for positions you’re interested in and take note of any specific skills mentioned.

    Oftentimes, hiring managers tell you outright what qualities they’re looking for in a candidate.

    And if you’re considering uploading your resume to LinkedIn, be sure to use a version that includes some general skills, so that you appear well-rounded and can appeal to the widest possible number of employers.

    If you’re not sure what types of skills would be general enough, here are a handful of expertise that are valuable in just about any industry:

  • Team Management
  • Public Speaking
  • Leadership Development
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Customer Service

  • An ideal LinkedIn Profile “Skills” section provides endorsement opportunities for your colleagues to attest to how well you perform a skill. Once you’ve listed a skill, reach out to your professional network to politely and professionally ask for their endorsements.

    5. Creating your ideal LinkedIn profile post-graduation

    Updating your LinkedIn profile is an easy way to significantly increase your chances of landing an interview after graduation.

    Just remember to always be concise yet detailed in your descriptions, and proofread everything. Scan your completed LinkedIn profile to see if there are opportunities to list unique skills, experience, and goals.

    You’ll thank yourself later for spending a little extra time on updating your online presence. So will the bosses looking to hire you.

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