What do John McCain, Bill Gates, Kevin Bacon, Sarah Palin and Barak Obama all have in common? They all have LinkedIn pages- and you should too. Read on to find out how you can become part of the LinkedIn community, population 43 million.
It is currently home to 43 million users with one new user sign-up per second! The site boasts employers from 150 industries and Executives from every Fortune 500 firm; as well as 37,000 college and university ‘Groups’- I’ll get to Groups later.
- To begin building your LinkedIn presence you must first HAVE a LinkedIn account. Set up is very easy and somewhat similar to Facebook or MySpace. Log on to www.linkedin.com to get started. REMEMBER- LinkedIn is a professional networking site. It is not a site for you to post photos from your weekend or write on friends’ walls. This is a site for you to network with other professionals and gain leverage during your job search.
*LinkedIn has created a wonderful tutorial for students & graduates who are setting up their page. I encourage you to watch the tutorial video by clicking HERE; afterwards you can follow the information below to fully complete your profile.
- Summary: this is a short paragraph or two explaining who you are and what you do. Be sure it is easy to read- leave a space in between paragraphs- and gives the reader insight into your skills and abilities. You can also “view examples”, or insert pieces of your resume! Pollak suggests this bio be “keyword rich” so prospective employers can find out how you could fit into their organization.
- Experience: this is a listing of your past employment as well as an area to list the duties you held at each. Again, this is similar to a resume so be sure you highlight your skills and abilities effectively so a potential employer can learn all about how fabulous you are.
- Education: show off your College education! Include where you went to school and the dates you attended. Add notes about accomplishments, GPA, awards as well as activities or societies you may have been involved in.
- Recommendations: these are a KEY component to having a complete profile on LinkedIn. You may ask for recommendations from your work or school and ask for as many as you would like. Recommendations must come from someone you are linked to- so you will not be able to do this right away. It’s a good idea to get recommendations from people at all levels- peers, co-workers, supervisors, instructors; this will give an employer a good idea of how well you work with people in all levels of an organization.
- Additional information: This is an area to give a bit more ‘personal’ information about yourself; this is where you may list other websites you have (remember, this is a professional site) where people can find out more about you or your work. You can also list some interests/hobbies in this space and it will also show your “Groups and Associations”.
- Groups & Associations: A great way to begin making connections and finalizing your profile is to become a part of some groups. “ New users need to join groups and participate. I see too many people that start a profile, but have only one connection and are not part of any groups” , shared Lana Temple ton, “L inkedin is a great way for students and graduates to find potential mentors and learn from professionals”. Lana is a Career Services Advisor at an online college and I received this comment from her by posting a question to the Career Services Professionals Group, of which I am a member. To search out groups that you may be a fit for simply go up to the top of the page and select “Search Groups” from the dropdown menu. You can leave the search space open or type in a keyword (such as Graphic Design or Accounting) to find groups specific to your field of study. Simply click “Join this group” and a request will be sent to the manager/moderator of the group for approval.
Once you have been approved you may pose questions to the group- such as “What advice do you have for me as a new graduate in this field?” or “I’m relocating to Boston, MA next month; does anyone have a connection there I could be introduced to in the Nursing field?”
You can also join ‘Subgroups’ within a group. Let’s say you join the Accounting Association of America (no, I do not know if that is a real group). Suggest a Subgroup to the Manager of the Group - maybe “Banking” - for those people who are Accountants in a bank. WOW- very cool.
- Groups to join: It’s a good idea to join groups that you have an affiliation with- such as your college or company group. This will enable to you become connected to others in that group…then connected to their connections…and so on. Try to also think of national organizations that may have good discussions going on; for example, I joined the “Career Services Professionals” group as well as “NACE”. These groups were a fit for me because they consist of professionals all over the country (and the world) who I can chat with regarding Career Services and assisting our students/graduates to find the career of their dreams. What type of group would you like to be a part of? Check out the Rasmussen Alumni Group!
- Honors & Awards: This takes us back to “editing your profile” and can be used to list specific honors and awards you have received. Most of your honors from College will be listed in the Education section so try to think of honors and awards you have received from work- Employee of the Month; Safety Award; Highest Customer Satisfaction Rating and other awards you may have received.
- Personal Information: Just like any other site- use caution here. You may not want to list your home address or other highly personal information. You may want to list your phone number, email or IM so people can touch base with you regarding job opportunities. As you can see, I’ve chosen not to share some portions of my information. Another option for you is to choose to have your ‘Birth Date, Year & Marital Status’ viewable by only your connections if you’d like.
You can also customize what is viewable on your profile by selecting “Edit Public Profile Settings” when you are in the “Edit Profile” screen of your page.
- Contact Settings: This gives you a chance to select what you are “Interested In”- essentially why did you join LinkedIn? Select all that apply to you and leave advice for those who want to contact you. What would you like them to know? You can also ‘see examples’ here when you first get started.
- Photo: Once you have updated and entered all of your information it’s important to upload a professional photo of yourself. People like to know who they are talking to and want to be sure you are a real live person. Ask a friend or family member to take a digital photo of you from the shoulders up. Take a few if you are picky…download them and choose one to have as your profile pic. If you change your look drastically (like when I got bangs) you will want to update your picture to reflect the change. You can edit your photo, name or any other area any time by going to “Edit Profile” and clinking on the small “edit” links in each section.
- Custom URL: Now it’s time to grab your own URL so others can easily find your public profile. For example; I have my own URL: http://www.linkedin.com/in/summerhagy to get your own URL, simply click the ‘edit’ link and grab your name. If you have a common name and yours is already in use- try something similar such as Jane.Anderson, JAnderson, Jane_Anderson and so on…
- Moving on up: You’ll also notice when you are in the “edit your profile” area- you can move around the sections how you want them to be viewed; just click and drag each section to the area you would like it to be shown. This is similar to some sections of a Facebook page. This will help you highlight areas that you want an employer to see first; just like you would move categories around on your resume.
- Headline: This is just like updating your status on Facebook or Twitter. This headline however, can really give people an insight into what you WANT. For example “Jane is a new graduate seeking employment in an Accounting firm”. This is a great way to state who you are and what you want in 1-2 sentences. Don’t be afraid to list what you are looking for, or ask a question here. My headline often reads “Seeking opportunities in MN for Medical Assistants” or “Need a qualified Surgical Technician on your team? Contact me today!”
- Link Up: Now it’s time to start Linking with others; it’s very easy. You can use LinkedIn’s contact importer or search for someone you know, like Summer Hagy. When the profile comes up, click on the name; this will take you to their public profile- now you have some choices. If you are in a group or connected by another person you can select “Add Summer to your network”.
Here is a bit of insight into how people could connect with you; this is located under your “CONTACT SETTINGS”:
However, if you do not know this person but want to know them, you can choose to “Get introduced” through another connection. Let me explain- when you “Add” someone to your network you will have to “prove” you know them. If you don’t know them, or don’t belong to a similar group or business, you will be unable to add them. This is where the “Get introduced” feature comes in to play. This allows you to write a message to the contact you want, and a short note to the contact you have…they can then link you up! Here is the screen you will see when trying to add someone to your network:
Be sure when you link with someone you are being genuine and offering a “how can I help you” attitude. Networking is more than someone helping you….what can you do to help someone else in the process? To read more about this “pay it forward” concept, check out a great interview with Chuck Hester- a LinkedIn guru!
- Company Research: Search for a company you are interviewing with, or applying to. Gather interesting information about them so you have something to talk about in the interview. You can also research hiring trends and other business issues by subscribing to the LinkedIn Blogs authored by a number of professionals including Lindsey Pollak and the CEO of LinkedIn.
- Job Searching: Not only can you update your Headline and Summary to list you are seeking employment, there is also a job board featured on LinkedIn. There are over 50 pages of job listings across the country; many of which are only listed on LinkedIn. This feature is GREAT for those of you thinking of moving to another region of the country. Employers may also use LinkedIn to seek out potential employees. According to Grads.Linkedin.com; “ A 100%-complete profile includes your education, work experience, a customized url with your name, etc. It also is 40 times more likely to get seen by employers, and increase your chances for an employment offer.”
Having a LinkedIn page will also help improve your ‘online persona’ standing…so-to-speak. Given that 44% of employers will Google your name before an interview even takes place, it’s important your online persona is a professional one. Try Googling your name and see what comes up. Once you finish your LinkedIn page- Google your name again…hopefully your LinkedIn site will pop up somewhere on the page. You can also set up an Alert on Google to monitor when new content with your name goes virtual ( go to www.google.com/alerts).
Sripad Sriram, Student Program Manger at LinkedIn described his success with LinkedIn when it came to his job search: “ I was very, very passionate about joining a Internet start-up - a field I had no prior experience in. By using LinkedIn, I could reach out to alumni, current students, and friends and former colleagues in the industry to build relationships and learn. Eventually, through my relationships, I learned about opportunities that weren't necessarily posted on job boards, and I ended being "first-in-line" for consideration for those positions”.
- Applications: A relatively new feature on the site; allows you to download various applications to show others what you are reading, where you are going or find out what people are saying about your company- COOL!
- Update, Update, Update: If you choose to log on and get LinkedIn, it’s very important to update your headline and keep your profile in tip top shape. Just having an account will not get results; you’ll need to connect, ask questions to your groups and update your status. Include your LinkedIn site on your resume so employers can get a look at what you are up to; this is a great way for an employer to see your list of accomplishments that didn’t fit on your one-page resume.
Spread the word- get your friends on LinkedIn (remind them this is a professional site) and get connected with fellow students, staff members, co-workers, supervisors…anyone you can think of that will give you an edge in the job market.
The webinar was hosted by LinkedIn and moderated by Lindsey Pollak. I first heard of Lindsey when she was featured on CNN.com to talk about the job market. She mentioned her book “Getting from College to Career: 90 Things to do before you Join the Real World” and I was intrigued. My Campus Librarian was able to get a copy of the book from another library in the system and I quickly dug in. The book is FILLED with great information and tips for students (and alumni) on how to find the career you’ve always wanted. Pollak shares wonderful ideas, tells great stories and even gives scripts to follow when sending emails or leaving voicemails. The final pages of the book list several resources for students and alumni to take advantage of during their search. As you can tell, I’m a fan of the book…and Pollak…drop by your local library to check out a copy soon!
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