LinkedIn Profile Reviews
Creating Your LinkedIn Profile
Creating a Strong Profile and Personal Brand on LinkedIn
LinkedIn has often been referred to as “your resume online”. This assertion is not far off as there are many similarities between a LinkedIn profile and a resume. Your resume is generally a one or two-page document which is concise and only lists skills and experiences which are relevant to the position for which you are applying. Your LinkedIn profile is much more comprehensive listing all your past experiences and education including your high school and activities that you may have participated in which are not relevant to all opportunities you may be interested in applying towards.
LinkedIn Profile Box
At the top of a LinkedIn profile is a box containing fast facts about you. Since this box is the first thing another LinkedIn user would see when looking at your profile, this box is incredibly important real-estate. Here are some tips for making the most of it. The section headings for your profile are listed below.
The best photo for students is a professional-looking headshot of just you alone. Unlike resumes, it is important to use a photo on LinkedIn, as it is a social network. As a freshman, you may want to use your high school graduation photo, as an upperclassman you can utilize a headshot taken against a blank background where you are dressed either in business casual or business professional depending on your major.
A student should use their first and last name. Refrain from nicknames. LinkedIn does give the option to provide a former or maiden name as well. You should also download the LinkedIn app on your cell phone and take advantage of the “name pronunciation” option. This can only be completed on your cell phone. You are given 10 seconds to record and then it will show up on both your computer and cell phone profiles.
These are the words appearing directly under a name, essentially a LinkedIn user’s tagline. LinkedIn will automatically populate the Headline with the most recent position listed in the “Experience” section of a profile, but this is a customization area. Think of it as a place to make a concise professional statement. Students may opt to list their year and major at NAU. “Sophomore Marketing Student at Northern Arizona University”, or they may choose to list their current title and job position, “ Student Intern at the Career Development Office”. It is important to consider keywords and phrases in this section that are related to a student’s desired industry or profession. When other users of LinkedIn search by these words, you will be more likely to appear in search results. One could consider putting in something like “XYZ University student with a passion for [major/niche interest].
It is a good idea for students to choose the industry they intend to enter and if seeking a specific location for work, to choose that location in their profile. This way they will appear in searches for that area. It is good practice to explain the desire to relocate to that location in the “Summary” section of your profile.
These fields are automatically populated based on what a LinkedIn user inputs into their “Experience” and “Education” sections of the profile. Unlike your resume, you may choose to add your high school and all previous work experiences you have had. You may have attended high school, grammar school, or community college with someone who now owns a company and is looking to hire. The power of common shared experiences goes a long way. Additionally, adding all your previous work experience may establish the fact that you have been working since the age of 15 and can show your time management and organization skills. Positions can also establish increasing responsibility and the fact that you have worked in both high school and college while attending school and maintaining your GPA.
This URL is a link that users can send to others, whether on or off LinkedIn, to view what is called a public profile. It includes all of the information a user wishes to have publicly viewed when anyone online views the profile. LinkedIn will provide every user with a URL, though it will contain a string of random characters at first. You can and should customize your URL. First, click on the “public profile & URL” pencil in the upper right-hand side of the page. Second, click on the pencil in the “Edit your custom URL “box. Third, remove the random letters and numbers following your name. Finally, think about adding your major or interest area following your name, or if you have a common name, you can add your middle name to the URL. Once you have saved your new URL address, you will now be able to include this link in your resume and email signatures.
In this section, you can input things like your email addresses, phone numbers, mailing addresses, Twitter accounts, and websites. If you have a personal website or a public Twitter account, it would be a great idea to add them here. Below the box on a LinkedIn profile are various sections, many of which mirror what can exist on a resume. There are several options to categorize your experiences and skills in your profile, including:
- Summary * Skills and Expertise
- Experience * Honors and Awards
- Organizations * Languages
- Volunteering/Causes * Certifications
- Education * Publications
- Courses * Test Scores
- Projects * Patents
Throughout your profile, no matter what the section, it is critical to consider keywords and phrases relevant to your desired industry and goals due to the algorithm for searches on LinkedIn. Many of the sections are self-explanatory, however, there are a few specific tips for you to consider in some of these areas. It is also important to note that LinkedIn allows you to move profile sections up and down on the page, providing flexibility in how things are displayed.
Although the “Summary” section may be intimidating for students, it can be one of the most impactful sections of a LinkedIn profile. Here students have a blank canvas on which to describe themselves. Since the profile is essentially a website, it is important to consider writing for the web: write in small chunks, use bulleted lists when appropriate, and avoid long paragraphs. Of course, error-free, and clear writing is paramount. Summaries are best when they describe a person’s interests-both personal and professional- and are truly reflective of the individual’s voice. It is key here to state what skills and abilities you possess that you have learned during your university and/or job positions. Think about your transferrable skills and meet with a career coach at the Career Development Office if you need additional help. Here is an example:
“I grew up in Connecticut where my formative years were spent competing in athletics. My competitive nature continued through high school and college where I was able to hone my skills of leadership, organization, motivation, and goal-setting. I had the opportunity to compete in several international competitions which only increased my desire to become involved in coaching, advising, and counseling college students.
Following graduate school, I have worked in several realms of a College and University interacting with all levels of an institution. I have worked in career development, academic athletic counseling, coaching NCAA swimmers, and as an academic advisor. During my 27 years in Higher Education, I have further developed my strategic thinking, relationship-building, and student engagement skills.
I have placed thousands of college students in internships, externships, experiential learning opportunities, and full/part-time work. Additionally, I have coached many NCAA qualifiers, National Champions, and several Olympic swimmers. I have worked with many students and student-athletes on time management, study skills, goal setting, and career development, providing assistance for successful careers both in the pool and in the world of work. As all student affairs professionals understand, fulfillment and satisfaction come through working with our students and finding success.”
Within these sections, students can consider including things like internships, externships, part-time jobs, student club/organization involvement, and volunteer experience inside and outside of NAU. It is important for students to display these things here, just as it is on their resumes. The inclusion of industry-relevant keywords and phrases is important as well. Feel free to look at other LinkedIn profiles in your preferred industry as examples and for ideas that you can utilize.
Some sections of a profile-most notably the “Experience” section-users have the ability to upload media: photos, video, hyperlinks, documents, class presentations, and more. These files and links can provide a complete picture of the student’s abilities because they add the option to demonstrate skills and successes.
This is a keyword and phrase hotspot for your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn allows you to endorse skills listed in a fellow member’s profile as long as they are directly connected. Think of it as highlighting a specific skill. Aim to display at least 10 skills in this section to fill the list, and so others can endorse you. As you think about your own skills, remember to endorse others if warranted.
LinkedIn will display your top three skills on your profile before an individual has to click “see more”. You have the ability to move your skills around and pick the top 3 skills which you want to be seen first. Simply click on the three dots to manage your list. You can re-order up to 50 skills. Additionally, you will want to select where you have learned each skill. A list will self-populate to give you your experiences from which to pick.
For more information about best practices for LinkedIn Profiles, visit: 21 LinkedIn Best Practices for Business Professionals to Follow (nealschaffer.com) 20 steps to a better LinkedIn profile in 2023 (3) LinkedIn Profile Checklist – Success in 10 Steps | LinkedIn Create a great profile (linkedin.com) (3) LinkedIn Profile Examples: How To Create A Professional & Client Focused Profile | LinkedIn and check out the videos and handouts located there. The LinkedIn Profile Checklist is a great way to get started.
Creating a strong profile on LinkedIn is only the first step in turning this network into an ongoing professional resource. The next step is to start connecting and communicating with other users about professional interests. Being active on LinkedIn is a crucial step to getting recognized, learning about a field of interest, and establishing an on-line identity.
LinkedIn recommends that users connect with those whom they know and trust. This advice is best for students just starting out on the network, and then they can expand their connections to include people they are getting to know or would like to know. Here are a few suggestions of types of people with whom it may be good to connect:
- Family members
- Friends and fellow students
- Internship/Externship or job supervisors and co-workers
- Professors, advisors, coaches, and former teachers
- Family friends
Any of these people could be great references and connections on LinkedIn. What’s more, LinkedIn helps an individual see connections of his or her connections, enabling them to understand which of their trusted contacts can introduce them to someone at an organization of interest. A good initial suggestion is to consider connecting with at least 50 people on LinkedIn to make the network’s web of connections work well with LinkedIn’s algorithm. Growing a network after that can happen naturally. It’s not important to race to get hundreds of connections.
You can utilize the search box in the upper left and enter a name. Additionally, you can make sure all of your contacts are connections. To find connections on LinkedIn, you need to:
- Open LinkedIn on any device.
- Tap on the search bar at the top.
- Type the name of the LinkedIn user whose connections you want to see and hit the search button.
- Click on the “View full profile” button.
- Click on “[number] connections” underneath their location.
- Go through the list to find someone you are interested in connecting with.
An important note about this method of adding connections—The list of potential new connections that will result from the search will likely be large. It will be tempting to simply ask them all to connect. However, doing so will not give the user an option to customize a message in the connection request. This is a critical misstep. You will learn more about customizing messages to connect below.
One often cited tool on LinkedIn that can help students find connections is called the “Alumni” tool. Type in Northern Arizona University in the search box. Click on “View Page” and then “Alumni”.
With this tool, any user of LinkedIn can search for information about alumni from colleges and universities around the world. Searches can be done by any keyword or by the predetermined categories on LinkedIn, which can include the following:
- Where they live
- Where they work
- What they do
- What they studied
- What they are skilled at
- How you are connected
If a student is interested in learning more about a potential connection found on this page, it’s a good practice to encourage the student to view the person’s full profile to gain as much that can be known as possible. The full profile may explain more connection points and can provide detail that would be important to strengthen the relationship. It should be noted that when connecting with others on LinkedIn, a user will be prompted to describe how they know the other person, as seen in the screenshot below.
There is also the option to include a personalized note along with the connection request, a message that the person will be able to see on the other end. It is essential to customize this message, to describe the nature of the intended connection. The message cannot be long (300 characters); however, including a brief note about how you know the other person, or commonalities that you have, and/or interests if you are reaching out to an unknown individual will go a long way in facilitating the connection. You should consider the following information.
- An introduction
- An explanation of the common ground or shared affiliation
- The “ask”-what you hope to learn or do
- Sincere thanks
Click on the connect button and the invitation screen will pop-up.
The next step after making connections is to consider a plan for communicating on LinkedIn. A good place to start is with a status update where a user can share thoughts, questions, or ideas with those who are in their network.
Here are a few ideas that students can consider sharing as a status update.
- Questions about their field of interest or perhaps a topic from class
- An interesting article they’ve stumbled upon. It would also be good for students to share a thought or opinion on the piece to let others know their point of view
- An update on an academic achievement, project, or paper
- A success story from an internship or job
- A blog post they have written or other content they have created and added to the internet
It is a good idea for students to share statuses often, as these statuses will appear in the feeds of other users on LinkedIn with whom they are connected. Students can also comment on or like the status messages of others in their networks on LinkedIn. This is a great way to engage with professionals and learn about trending topics of interest.
In addition, LinkedIn allows any user to follow stories from around the web and from influencers whom LinkedIn has asked to write articles about ideas critical to their fields. Go to your LinkedIn account and click on the house icon. Once there, at the top, you will see the option to start a post, a photo, video, event, etc. You also will have the option to write an article.
One of the riches resources on LinkedIn comes from its members; the millions of people around the world who share ideas and information. This often happens inside LinkedIn Groups-communities of people who come together based on a specific affiliation, interest, profession, identity, and more. There are millions of groups on LinkedIn, so there’s a good chance that a community exists where students can jump in and learn. Examples of groups are the W.A. Franke Career Development Office, NAU alumni, and Professional Organizations such as the American Management Association. Every business major has a professional group that is associated with their major. Another suggestion for students is to find people on LinkedIn that they know and admire (professors, recruiters) professionally, then take a scan of those individuals’ group memberships on LinkedIn. This can be seen at the bottom of the of person’s profile, provided that the individual allows group memberships to be publicly viewed.
Finally, there is a search feature on LinkedIn that allows users to search everything on the site-including groups-by keyword. It’s a good idea to find relevant groups to your professional interests as well as groups that match other current or past affiliations or identities. Once inside a group, there are plenty of professional development opportunities and ideas. Here is a walkthrough of what it looks like inside a group:
- Active discussions-As a member of a group, LinkedIn users have the ability to view and comment on discussions that other group members have started. These discussions can be posts about hot topics in a field, or questions to gather opinions and feedback. Getting involved in some of these discussions can be a great way for you to learn and get recognized by others in the field.
- Searching Group Members- By clicking on the number of members at the top of a group, LinkedIn users will be taken to a page that lists all other members of the group. This is a great way to find individuals in a specific group who may be of particular interest to you. One great thing about joining groups is that any user can send a private message to another group member without being directly connected. This allows you to get in touch with professionals of interest without requesting to connect.
- Subgroups- Many large groups have subgroups or communities within the community. This can be a great place for specific discussions around practice areas or within different regions of the country.
- Posting a discussion- Group members also have the option to post their own discussions for others. Depending on the group’s norms, it may be a good idea for students to post discussions about: Their job or internship/externship search “______________”, student seeking advice about securing an internship in the “_____________ industry”. A question about a specific idea or topic in a field of interest or an article of interest. It would be helpful for students to add their own commentary or thoughts on the article to communicate about themselves.
It is also worth noting that LinkedIn allows people to see statistics about groups when searching for them. This information displays how active a group is and how many members it already contains. It would be wise for students to investigate the statistics before joining groups to help them understand what to expect if they decide to join it.
As the world’s largest “professional network”, LinkedIn is home to not only people and conversations, but to job and internship listings that appeal to students. There are several ways to explore these opportunities and specific features of LinkedIn that enable users to go beyond viewing traditional position descriptions.
Searching for Companies
One of LinkedIn’s greatest assets for a job seeker is the ability to view employment-specific information about an organization on “company pages.” These are landing pages on LinkedIn that are created and maintained by individuals who have a LinkedIn profile and work for the company. Company pages contain information concerning:
- A brief overview of the organization
- A listing of products and/or services the company provides
- A follow button
- Job and Internship opportunities currently available
- The number of employees, employee growth, and upcoming events
- The skills most often cited in profiles by those that work there
- A place to explore who you know at the organization based on your LinkedIn network
Search For Internships and Jobs
- You can search for internships and jobs on LinkedIn. Check out companies and the job search section to uncover opportunities in a career field and location of interest. You can also reach out to your connections to lead you in the right direction.
- LinkedIn now makes it easier to apply for a position. If you find an internship that you just can’t pass up, you may be able to apply directly through the site. LinkedIn has an “Easy Apply” button that allows you to upload a cover letter and resume that will go directly to the recruiter. If a job doesn’t have that button, the “Apply” function also makes it easy to put your name in the hat. It may direct you to the company’s website, landing you on the page for that specific internship.
- A lot of companies will also take out the guesswork in who is doing the hiring by posting the recruiter’s name and profile on the internship opportunity on LinkedIn. If you need to, you can message the person directly with any questions you may have.
- You can search for positions by:
- Job Function
- Experience Level
LinkedIn gives the job seeker access to more information about jobs and internships, the companies that offer them, and the people who make up those organizations. Utilizing LinkedIn allows students unique ways to make connections with information and opportunities that can lead to satisfying career paths. The W. A. Franke Career Development Office encourages our students to utilize LinkedIn no matter where a student is in their career development. As a freshman, we strongly advocate having your LinkedIn profile started. Please make an appointment with a career coach for further assistance and guidance. We look forward to working with you!
Information compiled in this document has been offered through the National Association of Colleges and Employers Career Counselors Guide to LinkedIn and Mary Anne Gerzanick-Liebowitz.
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