Your LinkedIn Profile: Getting Started

In my last post, “How To Find an Entry Level Job”, I talked about the different strategies and habits to focus on to help you find an entry level job. In that post, I briefly mentioned setting up a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a powerful tool because a lot of recruiters source candidates directly from LinkedIn.

Simferopol, Crimea – May 25, 2014: LinkedIn is a social network for search and establishment of business contacts. It is founded in 2002.

 In today’s post, I’m going to review how to get your LinkedIn profile started by reviewing how I got my LinkedIn profile started. Today we will just cover the basics so that recruiters start noticing you on LinkedIn for the jobs that you want. I will dedicate a future post to focusing on how to really optimize your LinkedIn profile so that you can build a brand for yourself.

Starting out, you want to treat your LinkedIn profile as a more concise version of your resume. You want to think about what types of jobs you want and to focus on tailoring your LinkedIn profile to highlight how you are a strong fit for those jobs.

The first thing you want to do is add a professional photo. I know this may seem like an obvious thing. However, I can’t tell you how many people either don’t put a photo or put an unprofessional photo as their LinkedIn profile picture. Just keep it simple. Just put a headshot of you smiling in work appropriate clothes. I literally had my mom take a picture of me on my phone wearing a suit. You can also use corporate headshots. Those are great to use because they usually have higher quality. Having a picture on your LinkedIn profile makes your profile look more complete and professional, making it more likely that recruiters will feel comfortable reaching out to you.

Next, you are going to complete your introduction section. When entering your name, ensure that you include any relevant degree, license and/or certification at the end of your last name. For example, since I have a Master of Arts degree, I put “M.A.” at the end of my last name. If you have more than one degree, license or certification that you want to highlight, you can separate them by using a comma. I would just put the most important/specialized degrees, licenses and certifications you have. For example, it is not common for people put “B.S.” or “B.A.” at the end of their last name to indicate that they have a Bachelor’s Degree. It’s meant for more specialized degrees such as Masters degrees, Ph.D’s or field specific licenses or certifications that are vital to your job.

Once you complete your name, you will then complete your headline section. Most people will usually list their current position as their headline. There are a few articles out there that advise that you put more content in the headline section such as providing more description behind why you do you what you do. While I do believe that there is some value in adding this information later on when you are trying to build a brand for yourself, when you are starting out, you can just list your current job title as your headline. Most recruiters are looking for relatable job experience. This will suffice in the beginning. If you are currently enrolled in school and don’t have a job, you can put “Aspiring Accountant” or “Graduating Accountant Student”. Some recruiters will look for these keywords as they may be trying to fill an entry level role. 

Next, you will enter your job-related experience. It is key that you only list relevant work experience. Think of your LinkedIn like a magnet. What do you want it to attract? What you attract is largely based on what you put out there. If you are looking for an entry level accounting job, then put those accounting or business-related internships that you had in college. There is no need to put that you worked at a retail store or were a lifeguard one summer in high school or during one of your college breaks. Those experiences might be more relevant if you were applying for an entry level customer service job, not an entry level accounting job.

As you list each relevant work experience, you will be given the opportunity to list your responsibilities in each role. Similar to my “Resume Writing: How To Win” post, it is key that you fill this section with keywords from job postings that you are interested. For example, if you find that “Filing tax returns” is a key responsibility that you see listed in many job postings that you are targeting, then put those exact words in the responsibility section. When sourcing for candidates on LinkedIn, many recruiters will do keyword searches for candidates that have these terms in their profiles. This is also a great section to quickly list any major accomplishments you achieved in each of your previous jobs. However, just be cautious that you are descriptive but concise. Your LinkedIn profile is not your resume. You should avoid just copying and pasting the responsibilities and achievements you have in your resume onto your LinkedIn profile. You should pick the 5-7 most important responsibilities from each job and list them in a concise manner.This way recruiters have a good sense of what you have done but are not overwhelmed by the amount of information you put on your LinkedIn profile.

Next, you are going to list your education and industry.These are both very straight forward. If you have a college degree or higher than list all education degrees that you have from college and higher. If your highest level of education is a high school diploma than you can just list that. When listing your industry, be sure to the list the industry that you want to work in. Many recruiters will search candidates based on this field.

You can also decide to put a link to any websites or online profiles that you may have. I would strongly recommend this for individuals that are looking to get into graphic design. This gives prospective employers an insight into some of the awesome work you have already done.

Lastly, you can opt to complete a brief summary of yourself.There are a number of blogs out there that will advise you to fill this section out. While I do believe there is absolutely value in adding this as you build your brand out more, it may be hard for you to complete this section when you are just starting out. I personally didn’t complete this section when I was looking for an entry level job. However, if you feel like you can add valuable content in this section,then by all means complete it. The more you add to your profile the better.However, if you don’t feel like you have valuable content, I honestly wouldn’t stress it. Most recruiters are looking at your job experience, educational level and how organized your page is.

Once you complete your introduction section, you will then list any certifications that you have in the certifications section. Again,just focus on any important industry specific certifications that you have.

You will then list any major awards or recognitions you have received under the accomplishment section. This is a great place to highlight any academic, athletic, community or work-related awards you have received. For example, I listed that I received the “Industrial-Organizational Psychology Department Award” while studying for Master’s Degree. Other great examples include merit awards, community service awards and awards for research or other academic related work. In hindsight, this was a section that I wish I filled out more because I feel like I could have listed two or three other accomplishments that I am really proud of.

Once you have completed this section, you have completed all of the basics to getting your LinkedIn profile up and running! By no means is your profile a finished product. However, if you have followed the advice in this post, your profile is definitely strong enough to start getting looks from others LinkedIn. In my next post, I’m going to talk about how to take your LinkedIn profile a step further by building connections and joining different LinkedIn groups.

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