By Marcie Waters
LinkedIn can initially be a bit baffling. You may have heard it described as the “professional Facebook” but are unsure exactly what “professional” entails. It is important to remember that LinkedIn’s purpose is to connect employers with potential employees, so you should only include attributes and experiences that you would want an employer to see. Additionally, LinkedIn is a social networking site, meaning just like Facebook or Twitter, it is most effective at connecting you with others when you are actively social, posting statuses and contributing to group discussions. If you’re still not sure how to get started, here are a few essential tips:
- Add a high-quality photo. It does not have to be professionally taken, but make sure it is appropriate and is of only you. It should be clear and not over-edited (with filters, color distortion, etc.). Make sure you are dressed appropriately in the photo and look put-together.
- Get a custom URL. On your profile, under your photo, is a URL that directs to your LinkedIn profile. Click on it to customize the link with your first and last name to make your profile more easily searchable for employers.
- Fill in your profile completely. LinkedIn provides sections on your profile, like Education, Experience, and Skills & Endorsements. Fill as many sections out as completely as you can to reach “All-Star” status. LinkedIn will actually monitor your profile completeness with a circular meter on the right-hand side of the screen, so you know how well you’re doing. Having a complete profile increases your search ranking with employers, so it is extremely important.
Once you have your profile together, the best way to utilize LinkedIn is by joining groups and following employers related to the industries you are interested in. You can get started by joining the UW-Madison Letters & Science Career Services group. Once you join a group, you can like and comment on posts and discussions, creating a network! It is also helpful to gain “connections” to increase your visibility. Connect with past employers, teachers, and friends. No matter what industry they are in, they could be a mutual connection to someone in your desired industry.
Business Insider reported that in 2011, 10.2 million people found their current jobs through LinkedIn. By utilizing the above tips, you could be one of those people too!