Ten tips for making the most out of LinkedIn

By Sarah Robertson

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Professionals have been increasingly using the online resume site LinkedIn to find prospective employees and interns. It is the premier social networking site for the professional world and has been gaining popularity since its launch in 2003. An estimated 74 million people in the U.S. and 200 million worldwide currently have LinkedIn accounts in 19 different languages.

Shaina Mishkin/Daily Collegian

These accounts function not only as resumes, but altogether as a network connecting professionals and employers which creates a database of skills, experience and references. In a world where who you know is just as important as what you know, LinkedIn has created one site that blends these aspects seamlessly.

Recently, University of Massachusetts journalism professor Barbara Roche prompted the students in her Journalism Success seminar to create LinkedIn accounts to prepare for their internship search. She spoke of the increasing importance of connections, especially in the journalism field, and said that LinkedIn will soon replace the traditional resume. Creating a profile is the easy part, she said, but representing yourself professionally and gaining the experience to get employers to look at you is the important part.

“It gives you the chance to build up your own professional digital footprint,” she said.

Creating a LinkedIn account is just as easy as signing up for any other social networking site. When creating an account, the site first asks for basic information about your education and work experience. A user may add their skill set and any important information or accomplishments that may be of interest to employers. In addition, adding a personal picture, editing content and forming “connections” bring a LinkedIn page to life.

Once a profile is created, a user can search for potential connections through companies, groups or mutual friends, and then ask them to “connect.” Following a request for a connection, immediately shown are how many mutual connections, or how many tiers of connections (in other words, friends of friends), exist between the user and the person who requested the connection.

Advertising itself as the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn offers users many more tools than just an easy way to share a resume. The site allows users to request and publish letters of recommendation, search for jobs and internships and learn about other areas of interest. When used in this way, LinkedIn can open up opportunities unforeseen in the traditional job market.

Roche provided her students with a list of tips for creating the best possible LinkedIn profile, put together by former peer advisor Samantha Denette:

1. Customize your URL: It makes it easier for people to find you if you have a common name. It looks much more professional than the generic URL with tons of numbers.

2. Use a separate e-mail address: Set up your LinkedIn with your professional e-mail address. If someone sends you a private message, you can respond from your e-mail.

3. Link to your blog: Add any links to blogs or online portfolios.

4. List to your skill set: List any experience or skills that are useful in the workplace.

5. Look classy: Hire a professional photographer or take a nice picture that you would want employers to see.

6. Don’t connect with everyone: Keep connections professional; don’t connect with people you don’t know or would not vouch for professionally.

7. Get recommendations: Ask former employers and teachers to provide you with a recommendation on LinkedIn. Ask them to comment on specific projects you did for them to help you stand out from the crowd.

8. Join groups: UMass alumni group, any campus organizations and former places of employment can provide important connections.

9. Search companies: You may have connections that you never knew existed, and these connections could provide important opportunities.

10. Learn more about LinkedIn: New features come online all the time. Keep up with the changes at sites like careerealism.com.

Roche explained that a good LinkedIn profile really pays off. With the site, not only can one find connections or internships, but the connections and internships can also find you.

 

“At a certain point you start to have jobs sent to you,” she said. “Now when employers are looking to fill a position, the first place they look is LinkedIn.”

Whether you are a college student or already a professional, LinkedIn is a useful site for making connections and advancing your professional career.

Sarah Robertson can be reached at [email protected]