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6 Keys to a Professional LinkedIn Profile

6 Keys to a Professional LinkedIn Profile

This post originally appeared on June 30, 2016.

Statistics show that about 80 percent of today’s jobs are landed through networking. But how, exactly, do you go about finding opportunities to network? Robert Yale, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business, spoke to Director of Career Services & QEP Julie Janik’s career development class about making professional connections and building your personal brand through LinkedIn. “LinkedIn is not Facebook for the over-40 crowd,” said Yale. “It’s a social network for professionals with over 450 million users. It can be the bridge between you and potential employers if you work diligently to create a profile that sets you apart.”

Here are the dos and don’ts that make for a successful student LinkedIn profile:

Get a professional photo
Eye tracking studies show that recruiters spend 20 percent of their time focused on the photo in a LinkedIn profile. Because of this, Yale says you must use a professional image: “Use a tightly cropped photo. Wear business attire and make sure you’re recognizable.” And make sure you’re the only person/animal/object in the photo: “Don’t use an image of you with a dolphin unless you’re a dolphin trainer.” And beware: if you don’t upload a photo, LinkedIn will choose one from another of your social media accounts. What first impression do you want to make?

Don’t list your class year
According to Yale, listing your class year (freshman, sophomore, etc.) can exclude you from a recruiter’s searches. If, for instance, you forget to update your status from sophomore to junior, any keyword searches looking for juniors will bypass your profile. Another note about searches: list your degree by its acronym (BA, MBA). That’s what automatic searches are programmed to look for.

Complete the experience section with future employers in mind
This means don’t list your title as “student” in the experience section. “College is about more than being a student,” said Yale. “So in the experience section, list all of your volunteer and extracurricular activities, as well as your internships and summer jobs.” Think hard about what you learned and how those experiences translate into transferable skills. List those skills in your profile.

Don’t sell yourself short
When writing about your experience, don’t minimize the work you did by over-clarifying the position. If you were a student worker, list your job title only — do not list it as “student worker for XYZ Department.” Don’t describe your work at a day camp as a “short summer job.” Instead, focus on how you met your employer’s expectations and what skills you gained as a result of the experience.

Be definitive and declarative in all your profile entries
Don’t say you are “planning to go to graduate school” or “hoping to land an internship with a large accounting firm.” Instead, show the steps you are taking to reach that goal. Statements like “preparing for medical school” or “completing course work required to secure internship” are straightforward and goal oriented. As Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Make connections
Yale hears many students say they don’t have connections beyond school. “So get creative,” he said. “Start thinking about your parents and their friends, aunts, uncles, and your friends’ parents. Once you make your first layer of connections, the doors are open for you to connect with their connections, and so on.” This is also where networking comes in. When you go to a job fair, pick up cards from employers that interest you and add them to your network. If you notice that one of your connections is linked to a person that could help you or a company you’d like to work for, ask your connection if they will introduce you. “Be diligent, and your network will grow exponentially,” said Yale.

Visit the OPCD website for more career advice.

College of Business Newsletter Notes from the OPCD: Does Your LinkedIn Impress?

College of Business Newsletter Notes from the OPCD: Does Your LinkedIn Impress?

In case there is any question about this topic – LinkedIn is useful. In my role, I regularly use it to recommend candidates to my connections, ask professionals from in my network industry-specific questions, solicit speakers for campus events, and more.  With more than 2,000 connections, I am always surprised at what a useful networking tool LinkedIn is (when it seems like it could be so overwhelming). Here are a few of my thoughts based on my experience with LinkedIn.

Update. Seriously. Be smart about it though. 
Even if you are not actively looking for a new position, updating your LinkedIn profile makes good professional sense. I receive lots of requests to link in, and I see that more and more candidates are adding their LinkedIn address to their resumes (also smart).
 
Be sure to format your address so it reflects your NAME..  Go to “Edit your public profile,” and by clicking on “Edit public profile URL” you can edit yours to reflect your name.  Mine is linkedin.com/in/julieajernigan (feel free to link in with me, by the way).
And that’s just the beginning. Updating sections takes diligence, reflection, and strategic thinking. You also have to decide when to attach a copy of your resume. For example, I typically do not attach a copy of my resume to my LinkedIn, but if I began to seek a SPECIFIC type of position, I would tailor my resume to the skills and experience that recruiters would look for in that industry and post it.  If you know that you want a specific type of role with skills and experience that are generally accepted within that field, then you might want to keep a copy of your resume updated and attached to your profile.
 UPDATE all sections of your profile frequently and with accuracy and with the dual intent of impressing recruiters and serving as a professional resource within your field to the LinkedIn community.
A word about your photo – read THIS posting from Dr. Yale, and if you still don’t think the photo you choose is important, read THIS.
Read THIS advice about LinkedIn from a recruiter’s perspective.
Caution: LinkedIn sloppiness, errors, and lack of content make a bad impression…
Your profile is a marketing tool and you will either build credibility with your profile or… NOT.  Personally, I am skeptical of profiles with strange or grainy photos, lack of detail about accomplishments, out-of-date and missing information from the education and employment sections.
Read some Do’s and Don’ts about LinkedIn here (all shared with us by Dr. Yale).
When to Link and when to wait…
Link in with folks you can help. Link in with folks who might be able to help you.  That’s what this site is for.  If your page is not aligned with some of the professional interests of the person with whom you want to link, they are more likely to ignore your request.  As an example, I receive requests from people who do not seem to have connection to my past or present professional and educational background.  I ignore these.  At times, I receive requests from candidates who have really poorly constructed pages, and upon looking at their profile I am able to ascertain that they are UD students.  I (reluctantly) accept these, but I am concerned that the candidate is not someone I can refer to one of my colleagues.
Link in at will UNLESS you are submitting an application to the person with whom you want to LinkIn. For example – if I am applying for a job and know that Mr. Jones from ABC company is receiving my resume, I will hold off on linking in with him. Preferably, I will be selected for an interview at which time I’ll ask if I might link in. If I don’t hear back about the position after applying, I might wait a week or so and send a cordial message to accompany my LinkedIn request.  If he accepts – well, that’s not a bad sign!  An even better sign?  If you are seeking a position, and the recruiter or hiring manager asks to link in with you, at least you know that you are on their radar!
Know that if you are in the midst of applying for a job, the folks receiving your resume will look at your LinkedIn sites. My recommendation is that you build the best LinkedIn page possible and edit your settings to PUBLIC – making for easier viewing.

Do you have questions about your career search?  Ask Amy Young, Associate Director of Career Services: ayoung@udallas.edu

LinkedIn from a Recruiter’s Perspective

LinkedIn from a Recruiter’s Perspective

As a recruiter for a national hospital system, UD alumna Anna Sowder (Business ‘15) sees LinkedIn profiles every day. Unfortunately, many fall short for a variety of reasons. In hopes of helping out UD students and grads, Anna has given us a recruiter’s perspective on how to improve your LinkedIn profile.

Anna Sowder
Anna Sowder

Post a picture!
While Anna acknowledges that some people think a photo might allow an employer to discriminate, she believes that it actually shows that you cared enough to take your time in building your profile: “It makes it more personal and allows people to see you as a PERSON, which is what we all want.” Make sure to dress professionally in your photo–that means no T-shirts for men and no low necklines for women.

 
 
Always keep your profile updated with your current role
This is one of Anna’s pet peeves: “Even if you aren’t really in the market for a job, you should ALWAYS update your profile! We message people all the time with opportunities to see if they would be willing to make a switch.” Anna says that although having the right contacts will often get you a job, recruiters are now actively emailing potential candidates based on the roles listed in their LinkedIn profiles: “You don’t always know what other people see in you until you get that email that says, ‘Hey, we think you’d be a good fit for this job. Wanna check it out?’”

If you really, really, really want/need a job, attach a resume or cover letter
Anna says that a resume gives a recruiter something to print out so she can compare you to other candidates. “It also makes it easier to pass on to the hiring manager/executives,” she said.

Remember, LinkedIn is NOT social media  
Anna is adamant about this point: “Your LinkedIn profile is your professional face to the rest of the world! So make it that way! Show that you have good judgement, can be professional, and should be trusted!” According to Anna’s HR Manager, her company’s head recruiter, this is the most important aspect of a LinkedIn profile.

Click here for more information about OPCD or to make an appointment with a career adviser.