How about a little less Facebook, and a little more LinkedIn?
In all honesty, do you live for “likes”? Because while your popularity on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram might seem like the most important thing right now, it really isn’t. Social media sites are fun, granted, but they have some major drawbacks when it comes to building your career. First off, they can be a massive drain on your valuable time and energy. Secondly, some posts can actually do damage to your reputation on the Internet (i.e. tagged picture of you head-first in the toilet on your 21st birthday). So take note: your LinkedIn account should definitely be more of a priority nowadays, especially for juniors and seniors approaching the end of their carefree college days.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the site, LinkedIn is a professional networking website that has over 120 million users from all around the world. Users create a profile that displays all of their professional experience and use it to connect with friends, colleagues, and industry leaders. That said, the website is a unique opportunity to build your personal brand. You control every aspect of your profile, so there’s no chance of tagged photos or thoughtless wall posts coming back to haunt you. You’re able to portray yourself as a young business professional in the best possible light. You also get the chance to build connections that’ll help you later in life through existing relationships—you never know what kind of valuable business contacts your friends have until you join.
Lastly, LinkedIn is a great way to get ahead on the post-college job hunt. Thousands of employers have accounts on LinkedIn and they regularly use the site to scan for potential job candidates. A solid presence on LinkedIn gives you a leg-up over recent graduates who don’t have an account. Also, don’t think that maintaining your LinkedIn account is completely boring; I’ve found that it can actually get really addicting. It’s fun to watch your network grow, and spending time on LinkedIn feels infinitely more productive than spending a zoned-out hour staring at your Facebook newsfeed.
Here are some tips for creating your best LinkedIn profile:
- Put a headshot in—eye-tracking studies show that people’s eyes are drawn to the picture on a LinkedIn profile more than any other section. However, make sure said headshot is tasteful and reserved—no bikini shots or frat party pics, please.
- List ALL of your previous experience, even if it was a menial customer service job. Unlike a paper resume, you’re not limited to one page on LinkedIn, so take advantage of this. You can spin almost any previous job into “gained experience” that will be attractive to potential employers.
- Take your time when filling out the “About Me” section. This is one of the first things people see when viewing your account. Treat it like a more general version of a cover letter and fill it with information about who you are and what you can accomplish.
- List some of your more impressive coursework. Since college students generally don’t have a lot of real-world experience before graduation, this is a way of letting people know what exactly it is that you know. Skip the underwater basket weaving class though.
- Follow companies within your industry and participate on group discussion boards. This is an easy way to get your name out there, and it increases the chances that you’ll get noticed by the right industry professionals.