6 Things Every New Grad Should Have On Their LinkedIn Profile in 2017

Congratulations! You've made it through grad school and while some lucky students have jobs lined up, the majority of students are still looking to land their first job as soon as possible. To speed up your job search you need to be on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has become the go-to job search tool in today's job market for both employers and job seekers. It is mandatory to be on LinkedIn when 94% of recruiters are using it to search for and vet job seekers. And if they can't find you, they can't hire you.

Since LinkedIn is so widely used you want to make sure that you have a professional presence. Your profile is your virtual business card. This is your face to the business world so let's make sure you are making a great first impression.

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6 Ways To Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile In 2017

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1. A Professional Looking HEADSHOT

Everyone is checking you out. This shouldn't be surprising. You know you do it too. We are visual creatures and according to heatmap software, recruiters spend 19% of their time looking at your photo. But this isn't just about looking good. Having a photo also means that you will receive 21 times more profile views than someone without a photo. Bottom line, if you're going to be on LinkedIn, put up a good photo of yourself.

So let's define what a good LinkedIn profile photo looks like.

  • Professional Looking: You don't have to spend money on a professional photographer but you should look like a professional in your photo. This means a business suit or whatever is considered business appropriate for your company or industry. Avoid the cute photos from graduation day with your cap and gown or from your best friend's wedding reception. Save those for Facebook and Instagram.
  • Head & Shoulders: Look straight into the camera and smile. Then crop the photo around your head and shoulders. Avoid full body shots, action photos, or looking off to the side. This isn't where you want to revive your modeling career.
  • Clean background: Stand in front of a clean wall with no distractions. Avoid busy backgrounds, no paintings, no pictures, no book shelves, no trees, no monuments, no friends, no parents, no spouses, no children, and no pets. Just you and a clean, distraction-free background.

Here are two articles with good examples of picture Do's and Don'ts.

DO: 5 Tips For Picking The Right LinkedIn Profile Picture

DON'T: The Ten Worst LinkedIn Profile Pictures Ever

2. A Descriptive Headline

The headline is the line right below your name and is the next most viewed piece of real estate on your profile because this is the line that tells people what you do or what you want to do. So you want to make sure it is descriptive enough to catch the attention of a recruiter who is scanning profiles for the right candidate.

Here is the formula for a compelling headline for a new grad according to Catherine Fisher, Senior Director of Corporate Communications at LinkedIn: "What you are doing now." + "What you hope to do."

For example, "2017 Law Grad Seeking Position In Entertainment Law", or "Marketing Major Seeking Position With Social Media Start Up."

It is important to keep this updated and use keywords that are relevant to the industry and role you want to be in. For clues as to what keywords to include look at the headlines of other professionals who have the job you want.

Be aware that LinkedIn will use your most recent job title as your default headline if you don't fill it in yourself which means you risk having a vague headline like "Intern" or "Assistant".

Also, don't use generic headlines like "Student" or "Graduate". And please don't use "Unemployed Seeking Work." Remember the point is to impress employers with your professionalism not to depress them with your sad headline.

3. A Summary Worth Reading

Talking about yourself is never easy, except for those people who always talk about themselves. And if that's you please stop doing that. But for the rest of us writing the summary can be an awkward exercise.

However having a great summary sets you apart from the average job seeker. Just like a cover letter, this is your chance to tell your professional story in a way that highlights why someone should hire you. It should sum up your experience and accomplishments as well as give a little taste of your personality.

I find having an example to look at is the best way to write your own summary so here are a few links to my favorite ones:

4. Complete Your Work Experience To Get Found

Your experience is what gets you hired and just like your resume you want to have your experience descriptions tailored to your ideal job and list your jobs and internships in chronological order starting with the most recent.

The big mistake people make here is that they don't include their list of job duties, responsibilities, and accomplishments. They only include the bare minimum of the company name and job title. But what most people don't know is that by filling out your experience section completely you improve your position in LinkedIn search results. For example, recruiters type in search-related keywords like "tax associate", "accountant", or "data analyst" and if these keywords are in your experience section you are more likely to come up in their search.

Another great way to highlight your experience is to include a list of skills you want to be endorsed for. By listing your relevant skills this serves as another way to increase your chances of being found in search results.

Follow this guide to add your skills:

5. Recommendations That Prove You're Great

In the land of social media, social proof is how you get people to believe how great you say are. On LinkedIn, recommendations are like Amazon reviews for employers. They serve as proof that your past employers actually liked you and appreciated the work you did. And just like a product, a good recommendation can be the difference between an employer choosing you or someone else. The recommendation option is one of the features that makes LinkedIn more than just your online resume and it would be a waste for you not to take advantage of it.

As a new grad you should ask past managers, colleagues, and professors for a recommendation. A good recommendation explains how this person knows you and shares your strengths or key accomplishments. Here is an example of what a good recommendation looks like. If you haven't given one to someone yet I would encourage you to try it out, it is a great way to show your appreciation and it is a great way to get someone to return the favor.

Here are some great examples of how to ask for a LinkedIn recommendation:

Purely for your enjoyment here are some hilarious LinkedIn recommendations that I'm not sure are real but are worth checking out for the laughs.

6. Include Your Full Education Experience

In addition to adding where you went to school and what you studied, you can also add your praiseworthy GPA, honors, awards, or merit-based scholarships you received. You can also add the relevant classes you took, special projects you worked on, or competitions that you participated in. Don't be afraid to show off how hard you worked to get to graduation day!

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About The Author

Mo Chanmugham, Esq., CPCC is a former attorney turned certified coach and the founder of MGC Coaching. He helps ambitious professionals who are feeling stuck gain the clarity and confidence they need to create more fulfilling careers.

#coaching #careeradvice #jobsearch #careerchange #networking #linkedin #personaldevelopment