How to stand out on LinkedIn
When I first got started, LinkedIn was a relatively new social network (if you can call it that) that I often overlooked and took for granted. Sure, I made a page because that's what everyone else did, but I always figured my resume and cover letters should be my focus.
Over the years, I realized the importance of LinkedIn and the impact it can have on my job search. In fact, 87% of all recruiters today use the site as a tool for finding their next job candidate. That's no joke!
As the world goes increasingly digital, it should be no surprise that recruiters increasingly use technology like LinkedIn or the ATS to quickly and efficiently screen candidates (Note: If you're not familiar with the ATS, click here to learn more). LinkedIn lets recruiters search for their next candidate through robust search tools that check keywords and other information on your page. That's way easier that skimming through hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes!
So how can you get started on your LinkedIn page?
First, let's start with creating your account. When first creating your account, you'll need to input basic information like your email, phone number, location, and demographic information. While this is self-explanatory, make sure what you put is accurate, especially your contact information. Recruiters will use this information to get in touch with you, and if it's an email you never check, you might never see the opportunity they send you!
Quick tip: If you don't have a job or internship yet, mark your employment status with optimistic, "go-getter" phrases like "Senior finance student looking for a challenging opportunity."
After you enter your basic information, LinkedIn will ask you to choose between a Basic profile or their Premium options starting at $25.95 a month. My recommendation for beginners is to go with the free version, and utilize the free-trial for the upgraded accounts as necessary. Premium accounts provide additional search filters, additional information on jobs (like salary), and expanded profiles. It doesn't hurt to upgrade when you're ready to apply, but I managed to find my roles without any upgrades!
Quick tip: If you look in your profile settings, you are able to personalize the URL. Instead of a bunch of random letters and numbers, you can put your name (or anything else you want)! This will help optimize your page and let recruiters find you easier.
Next up, your profile picture. If you've browsed LinkedIn at all, you'll immediately notice profiles that have professional pictures and those that do not. Cropped out pictures from your latest formal? Big no-no. Like a handshake, your profile picture is your first impression, and I strongly encourage you to have a professional picture taken. At my school, there were several opportunities to get a free professional photo taken, so look out for those!
Now, it's time for the content. LinkedIn lets you upload your resume or type in your job experience yourself. Either way, you'll want to make sure to use industry-relevant buzz words and keywords throughout your experiences. Unlike your resume, it's okay to add extra context and detail on your jobs, and if you prefer, it's perfectly fine to write a concise paragraph instead. As always, ensure that your experiences are written in chronological order.
The next section is the Skills sections. The standard advice is to try and have at least 5 skills listed in order of your proficiency. My recommendation is to take a step back, think about the skills and strengths you've developed through past experiences, and add skills that you think are applicable to your next job. Don't leave anything out, but recruiters will specifically search for Skills relevant to their role.
At the bottom of your page, you'll be able to add your education. Include all schools you've attended, as you will be able to search and find other classmates and alumni from the same school. Make sure to join any alumni groups specific to your school!
Quick tip: LinkedIn has a great search and filter tool to help get in touch with alumni. You're able to search by location and professions at a very granular level. Check it out!
Now that you've completed the majority of your page, it's time to write your Summary and Headline sections.
The Summary portion should highlight your key experiences and skills in a short, simple paragraph that stands out to recruiters. Make sure to include keywords, as your Summary will show up to recruiters in searches. Like your profile picture, this is also a part of your first impression!
The Headline appears right next to your name, and should capture as much as possible in just a few words. This also appears in searches, so don't over look it!
Here's an example:
Software Engineering Student | Graduating 2021 | Expert in Data Science
Last but not least, LinkedIn gives you the option to add additional information about yourself, such as volunteer work, community service, and interesting hobbies. While it may not make or break your page, it's an opportunity to showcase your experiences and talents outside of the workplace! However, I'd strongly suggest making sure that what you put is at least somewhat relevant and appropriate for a job interview (e.g. playing video games is probably not too interesting to a Finance recruiter, unless, of course, you play professionally).
That's about it! I hope you enjoyed our tips for creating your LinkedIn profile and standing out from the others! If you need any help getting started, don't hesitate to sign up from our free LinkedIn review!