With over 700 million users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, LinkedIn has claimed the title of the largest professional social media networking site. The site has become the go-to place for hiring managers and recruiters who are looking to find and hire top talent in their industry. College students, who are on the path to becoming professionals in the near future, can utilize this network to their advantage by building a professional online brand that sets them apart from the competition, and hopefully land their dream job.
Susan Landolina, a career consultant for the School of Business Career Development Office, hosted a LinkedIn Workshop to help students create a LinkedIn profile and take advantage of the many great opportunities available on the site.
“It is a form of your resume, but this is the opportunity to jump out of the box and definitely accentuate the experiences that you would want a recruiter or employer to know about you,” Landolina said.
Landolina shared how LinkedIn is an extension of your resume and allows you to elaborate on the various volunteer experiences you have had, courses you have taken, awards you have received and internships and jobs you have held. You can be more creative in the description sections and allow your true self to emerge. For recruiters, this platform is a great way to learn more about candidates that will potentially be joining your team.
“LinkedIn allows you to be a tad more elaborate than on your resume,” Landolina said. “This allows you to go ahead and build that professional brand.”
There are many features to LinkedIn that make it a beneficial resource to students. By connecting with fellow students, UConn alumni and other professionals in your desired field, you can build a vast network of contacts that could lead to an internship or job offer in the future. Furthermore, if you are preparing for an interview, you can conduct research on LinkedIn by visiting a company or individual profile to learn more about them and brainstorm possible talking points.
There are some basic guidelines you should follow when creating your LinkedIn profile. In the past, Landolina said, profile pictures were expected to be professional headshots. However, she said that recently there has been a shift toward having more informal pictures. This could include a high-quality selfie or some other photograph. Landolina said to avoid using a picture where you have to crop someone out, and rather remember solo shots are preferred. Another key area for your profile is the ‘About’ section where you essentially give your elevator pitch. This allows you to add personal details and context to your future goals and also include a solid conclusion with an action step.
As many of us are on the hunt for an internship, co-op or full-time job opportunity, it is important to utilize LinkedIn to help build a professional brand and create a strong network of connections that can prove to be vital to future success. If you do not currently have a LinkedIn profile, Landolina recommends reading this article from The Muse to learn more about the best practices in creating a “cohesive, compelling personal brand.”