I've attended a few presentations about getting internships in the STEM field and how to write absolutely horrible resumes (and then good ones). This time I wanted to learn a little about how to get into professional networking through LinkedIn.
Side note: the career advisers here at EWU are fantastic, including the person I talked to most, Stan Pichinevskiy. He’s extremely cool and professional, and he can help you with LinkedIn. Getting smart, professional advice is one of the best parts of Career Services!
So first of all, what is LinkedIn? It’s a huge social media site designed to help you connect with professionals, find a job, and learn job related skills. It’s the largest professional networking site in the world.
Okay so that sounds super cool. So what are the rules, according to Career Services? Let’s first start with some basic do’s and don’ts.
- Write your profile as someone ready for that job, especially if you’re going for an entry level job. Instead of writing “I am studying ___”, write “I studied ___”.
- Update your profile regularly! Employers will look at your profile, and if they see an outdated profile from years ago they won’t bother looking any further.
- Don’t link your other social media accounts. Just … don’t.
- Don’t use the default connection request. Always attach a brief note to requests to keep it from being stale and awful.
- Don’t downplay your skills and experiences.
- Don’t use unprofessional photos. It shouldn’t look like a selfie.
Time to get started
Before you start building your profile, type it up offline. This will help you check for grammar and spelling errors, and you can edit your content without worrying too much about whether or not someone will see what you’ve written.
Once that’s done, LinkedIn will help you set up the basics: name, occupation, and other generic information.
The next thing you’ll write is your summary. This is the “Elevator pitch” you may have heard of before: you’re in an elevator with a business executive and you have thirty seconds to impress them. You’ll want to be quick, to the point, and clear about what you do.
As a college student, you’ll want to write your degree. If you’re still in college, there’s a place for when you expect to get it. List the courses that were most applicable to your career and write a little about them!
Use your privacy settings and filters. Even though your content isn’t public, operate under the assumption it is. Don’t post your address and social security number on your profile!
Once you’ve added what you want, it’s time to mess around with your title at the top. Be specific about what you do: instead of “designer”, I’d probably go with “photo restorer” or “guy with Photoshop” (actually, that’s exactly what I went with!).
Wait! Who should I add to my network?
Add people you know, new people you meet, and people who are introduced to you. Beware of fraudulent users. If you aren’t sure if you know someone, you don’t need to add them.
LinkedIn is not like other social media. If you aren’t professional contacts with someone, you shouldn’t feel the need to add them, especially if you think they’ll expect an endorsement!
Only endorse people you know have the skills. If you haven’t worked with someone else and they endorse you, or if they endorse you in every skill you have, that won’t look good to employers. You’ll want your skills to be as authentic as possible. Endorsements from people who actually know your skills will be far more useful than endorsements from people who don’t.
That should be enough to get you started! Remember to keep your profile clean with as few grammar and spelling mistakes as possible. As a student at EWU, you can even have someone at Career Services take a look at it for you!