LinkedIn, I believe, is still an untapped resource for undergraduates looking for their first job. They bust their ass for four years, volunteering for non profits, pursuing dreams, learning a skill, but they don’t know how to use their university network as a stepping stone to success. You paid for it, use it.
This series is going to outline the process—and trust me its a process—of landing your first (or second or third) job using LinkedIn. Of course there are no guarantees that reading this will actually cause you to get employment, but it will get you pretty darn close. It will take time, energy and patience, but it’s going to expand your network, increase your people skills, and teach you something about yourself. Here’s a guide to landing your first job using LinkedIn.
Building your profile
Your profile is your first impression. It’s the handshake; it’s the “nice to meet you, I’m your next rockstar employee.” Make it count.
You know how teachers tell you to have a hook in your essay introductions? Your LinkedIn summary is your hook, your elevator pitch. It’s your moment to make yourself unique and define your business narrative. Spend time on creating something original that grabs the readers attention (in about 3-5 sentences).
Ask yourself some question before you start:
- Who are you writing to?
- What do you want them to learn about you?
- Why are you special?
- What are some qualities that make you someone great to work with? Let them shine through.
Outlining your work history
We’ve all been involved in clubs, teams and organizations in college. Make them translate; make sure you adjust your phrasing so your responsibilities read like they would at an established company in an established industry. It doesn’t matter how insignificant you think the organization or club is. Squeeze out what you can.
Just imagine you were looking to hire yourself. What would you like to see as an employer?
In work experience you have the ability to embellish a little, because, honestly, employers don’t know whether you booked a room to meet once a month or scheduled and organized weekly meetings aimed at promoting social inclusion to foster a better working environment. Okay, maybe don’t embellish that much, but you get the point. And always make sure you can back it up. If its on your resume, they can ask you about it, so know your sh*t.
If you have a hard time coming up with things to say or how to structure your sentences, do not be afraid to look at other profiles from professionals in your field. Snag a strong verb here or a cool title there. Sell yourself as best you can.
Adding media to your work history is also a great way to show, rather than tell, employers about your experience. Links to websites, blog articles you’ve written, photos of events are all great additions to your overall brand.
Also, make sure there is consistency across your profile. If you have bullet points for one job, your entire work experience should have bullet points. Every detail counts!
Connections and recommendations
LinkedIn is all about connections. Spend a day or so just adding as many people in your close network as possible; the more the better. If you connect with somebody you worked with or under, request a written recommendation. A positive recommendation will add a significant amount of credibility to your profile and work experience. It’s like a human yelp review, people tend trust those. In return, ask if you can write them a review.
The right picture
A nice, clear picture of you looking professional will do. No beards, no girlfriends or boyfriends in the picture, and no blurry photos that reflect the level of drunkenness. Don’t you love those?
By now, you should already have a focused target industry and job you might qualify for from your background in college. Your profile should be tailored to that industry, whether its marketing, event production, web design, financial advising, teaching etc. The profile you build is going to dictate the people you reach out to.