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How to Use LinkedIn for New Graduates
Posted on May 9th 2013
If you're a college grad who doesn't have a job yet, spending your summer searching can be terrifying, demoralizing, and heartbreaking. Yikes. At least you can use all that time at your parents' place to do something you're probably doing anyways: hang out on social media.
I've written before about how social media landed me my first job out of college, and I've written before about how to use LinkedIn. In this article, I'll focus on LinkedIn for new, job-seeking graduates. Every year at about this time, I get a huge flow of connection requests from recent grads. And they're all making the same mistakes and missing the same opportunities. Below, I'll cover how you can use LinkedIn to help you land your first job.
- Use an aspirational headline. For heaven's sake, don't say you're unemployed in your headline. Don't even say you're a new grad. Try: "Aspiring Marketer," or "Mechanical Engineer." This is the LinkedIn version of "fake it 'til you make it." Make sure your headline communicates what you want to do, and use keywords so that recruiters who are looking for talented folks like you can find you. You can add "Seeking New Opportunity" at the end of your headline to make folks even more likely to reach out to you.
- Post as professional of a photo as possible. Your duck-face Facebook profile picture is not a good fit here, nor is your action shot from the club field hockey team. And absolutely no selfies. Your senior photo can work, but brands you as a young'un, which is sadly a huge disadvantage in the professional world. Spending the money on a professional photographer can make a huge difference. You could even get a group of friends together to help lower the cost. If you can't find a pro, spend a while with mom or dad and a camera. Hey, if it gets you to move out sooner, it will be worth their while.
- Get someone to proofread your profile. Recent data shows that people with fewer grammar mistakes in their LinkedIn profiles get more promotions. Get someone to proofread your LinkedIn profile. You should have plenty of unemployed English major friends that can take care of this for you, or you could work with a professional.
- Join alumni discussion groups. Many colleges have alumni discussion groups on LinkedIn. Use this friendly space to figure out how LinkedIn groups work, and to keep your eyes peeled on alumni who are hiring. A shared alma mater can help you get out of the resume slush pile.
- Include your college classes on your profile. If you don't have much work experience, you can include your college classes on your LinkedIn profile. This is especially helpful for fields where specific skills are essential, such as engineering.
- Include student leader volunteer experience on your profile. If you were the secretary of the Badminton Club or volunteered at the local elementary school, include that in your profile. It will show that you were able to juggle outside responsibilities with your college course load. And modern jobs require lots of juggling.
- Include your test scores, if they're good. LinkedIn now lets you add test scores to your profile. Now, I'm somewhat torn on this. While sharing good test scores can make you look awesome, it can also make you look stuck up. At the same time, test scores could help fill out an otherwise meager profile. If your test scores are merely average, leave them out. They won't do much to help your case.
- Search by school. LinkedIn makes it really easy to filter searches by education. This can be a great way for you to find people who are working in your industry who went to your school. Most people are willing to answer questions from a fellow alum via email or phone even if they aren't hiring. Then, when a job comes across their desk, they'll send it along. That's how I got my first job!
- Always explain why you're connecting. Once you've found someone to connect to, DO NOT just send them LinkedIn's staple connection request. They will click DELETE. Instead, take the time to explain your situation, and what you'd like to learn from this person.
- Research recruiters and interviewers. If you're sending your job application to an individual, LinkedIn is a great resource to do some research and personalize your cover letter. In my cover letter for my first job, I pointed out my college sports rivalries with my future bosses. That cover letter got me an interview. It showed my attention to detail. Do your homework and it will pay with a salary, not just an A.
- Procrastinate with purpose. If you learned one thing during college, I bet it's how to procrastinate. The good news about LinkedIn? It's a wonderful procrastination tool. Don't want to work on revising that cover letter for the tenth time? Just spend some more time connecting on LinkedIn.
What advice would you add for new grads to use LinkedIn? Comment and let me know, or connect on LinkedIn (but tell me why)!