By Brittany Collins, Indiana Commission for Higher Education

Even in these times of uncertainty, it’s still important to keep your future career plans in mind. Take advantage of this downtime to refresh your online branding by creating or updating your LinkedIn profile! 

Why get on LinkedIn? Great question! The platform boasts more than 167 million active users in the US and 30 million businesses. You can use it to find a job or internship, connect with alumni and mentors, and even stay up to date on industry information. These are the things that help you “get the experience when you don’t have experience.” 

Will Smith

Let’s walk through some key tips and tricks:

Get a profile picture. 

This doesn’t have to be done by a professional or at a studio. Simply pose in front of a clear, uncluttered background, make sure your phone is on it’s highest quality setting and put on your brightest smile. Try to prop it up instead of straining for a selfie.

Big Smile

Create an effective about section. 

This is your chance to provide a bit of detail about who you are and what you can offer an organization. Think of this as your written elevator pitch. Talk about relevant skills, relevant accomplishments and career aspirations. Just three to four lines will work for this section.

Big Deal

Example: I’m a junior currently majoring in sociology with an interest in working for a non-profit that supports youth who are in foster care. I’ve taken several courses that focus on assessing resources in communities, researching the social problems today’s youth are most vulnerable to, as well as electives in grant writing, counseling and program development. Additionally, I’ve volunteered for three years at the local women and children’s shelter to not only give back, but to shadow and learn how these types of organizations operate. 

Highlight your experiences.

Mark down current or past roles that you’ve held. This can include relevant paid and/or unpaid positions you’ve had while in college. In those descriptions you can utilize bullet points (five or fewer) or a short narrative of your accomplishments or skills used in those roles. Make sure that you’re using strong action-based skill verbs, and discuss how you’ve been able to achieve goals and make improvements in that organization. Don’t just talk about day-to-day tasks, but what you brought to that position by using percentages, dollar amounts, or numbers. Learn more here.

Examples:

  • Planned events and activities for parties of 20 to 100 people. 
  • Provided excellent customer service, maintained the cashier drawer and ensured accurate daily cash records.
  • Tutored one on one with 10 students and provided positive feedback to increase confidence in their reading skills.
  • Lead groups of prospective students and campus guests (10-15 people) on personalized tours of campus.

Dazzle them with your education.

LinkedIn allows you to put in more than your GPA and degree. You can list relevant coursework, upload notable projects or links to campus achievements.

Graduation

Showcase your skills and accomplishments. 

In this section, you can list transferable skills you feel confident in and your connections can provide endorsements for you having those skills. There’s also a feature that lets you take quizzes to assess your skills in certain areas LinkedIn will endorse you. The skills you list will also help LinkedIn find jobs that you’d be a good match for. In the accomplishments section, you can list an assortment of things from certifications to test scores (list what’s relevant to your career interest).

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Recommendations are key! 

The endorsements are quick snapshots of people who can vouch for your skills, but a recommendation allows a faculty member, supervisor, mentor or others to talk more in-depth about what it’s like to work with you. See if one of these individuals will write one for you when you wrap up an experience with them. Try not to ask randomly out of the blue because you want them to have what you’ve done fresh on their mind.

Tony The Tiger

Follow organizations and individuals who inspire you. 

The great thing about LinkedIn is you can set your preferences to allow the information you see on your feed to be the most interesting to you. This also can help you stay up to date on what’s happening in the industry, which can come in handy as you network and go through job interviews. Also, did you know you can contribute to the knowledge by publishing blogs through your profile, too?

Knowledge Is Power

Once your profile is good to go, you can start leveraging even more features in LinkedIn. We’ll cover those in a follow up blog! 

For more tips and tricks you can also use the LinkedIn student guides.

We know that many Hoosier students, families and educators are coping with school day closures and elearning for the next several weeks in response to COVID-19. Over the next month, our blog will be dedicated to college and career readiness activities that can be done from home. And, don’t forget to explore our classroom materials page for grade-specific college, career and cost activities.

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