What is a LinkedIn Account and Why Should You Have One?
According to the LinkedIn website, “LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network on the internet. You can use LinkedIn to find the right job or internship, connect and strengthen professional relationships, and learn the skills you need to succeed in your career.” At its core, LinkedIn is a social media platform for the business world. Just like you use Instagram to connect with friends and family, a LinkedIn profile can be used to connect with professionals from all around the world.
On LinkedIn, you can connect with other individuals and organizations. This includes students, professors, co-workers, small business owners, large companies, nonprofits, job seekers, recruiters, and more. After connecting with someone, you can view their profile and learn more about them. This includes skills, interests, accomplishments, experiences, and other valuable information. Not only can you connect with people you already know, but you can also make new connections with people, These people can potentially help further your career.
It is a Resource
In addition to learning more about others, “Once you create a LinkedIn profile, it will allow you to share your professional background online, such as your work experience, education, skills, and recommendations. You can also use LinkedIn to organize offline events, join groups, write articles, post photos and videos, and more” (LinkedIn). Along with creating a free LinkedIn profile, you can also access different basic services such as LinkedIn ProFinder. This program aids you in finding freelancers you can hire for help. They can help with items such as career coaching, resume building, getting a headshot taken, preparing for an interview, and more.
Overall, having a LinkedIn profile makes it incredibly easy to connect with other professionals. Also allows you yo learn more about the business world and different industries. Additionally it can display your accomplishments for job recruiters and hiring managers to see. The same way that you put your best self forward on Instagram you can use LinkedIn. Think of LinkedIn as a platform you can use to showcase your best professional qualities and accomplishments. No matter what your age, industry, or experience level is, LinkedIn can be an extremely valuable. It is a resource and I highly recommend taking advantage of it.
How to Utilize Every Section of Your LinkedIn Profile
Here is a brief layout of the various sections on a LinkedIn profile and the types of information you should include under each one:
Intro – Basic personal information that falls under the categories of Full Name, Professional Profile Picture, Headline, Education, Location, Industry, and Additional Contact Information.
Job Preferences – If you’re currently looking for work, you can use this section to show recruiters what types of jobs you are searching for. In this section, you will provide various details including:
> Job titles – What kinds of roles or positions do you want? Examples include Marketing Intern, Social Media Manager, Graphic Designer, Mechanical Engineer, etc.
> Job locations – This tells recruiters what specific cities you are open to working in.
> Start Date – Based on how soon you would like to start a new job, you can select either “Immediately” or “Flexible”.
> Job Types – What kind of job do you want? Examples include internship, full-time, part-time, contract, remote, temporary, etc.
> Who You Want to Make This Information Visible to – You can choose to let your job preferences be available to all LinkedIn members or only to official recruiters.
This is basically a short summary of the most important information you want someone who visits your profile to know. This can be anything you think is important such as your current level of education, major and minor, current job and/or leadership position, valuable skills, most impressive past experiences, and any job types you may be seeking.
Background – This is where you will give detailed information (ex. dates, locations, tasks performed) about your work experience, education, and volunteer experience. Under this section, you will also list any licenses and certifications you may have.
Skills & Endorsements – Here you will list any skills you have that may be useful in a professional environment. Make sure to list both hard skills (ex. Photoshop, WordPress, Microsoft Excel) and soft skills (ex. Leadership, Time Management, Organization).
Accomplishments – On LinkedIn, accomplishments listed under this section are placed into one of the following categories: Publication, Patent, Course, Project, Honor & Award, Test Score, Language, and Organization.
Interests – This openly displays what companies, organizations, charities, and schools you follow.
Tips to Help You Create a Professional LinkedIn Profile
1. Don’t Rush the Process
> Know that properly setting up your LinkedIn profile takes time, but it is worth it. Whenever you first go in to make your account, be sure to do it on a day when you have plenty of time and can give it your full attention.
> Try to think of your LinkedIn profile as a type of digital, public resume. Take the time to fill it out properly and be willing to give it the same amount of dedication you would give a job application or important assignment. If you wouldn’t hurriedly throw together a resume for a job application, why would you do that for something that job recruiters and other professionals are likely to see?
2. Pick a Professional Image to Use as Your Profile Picture
> Choose a high-resolution image and avoid picking a blurry picture.
> Remember that due to the professional nature of LinkedIn, your profile picture will likely need to be different than what you typically use for your profile picture on other social media networks.
> Make sure you are dressed in a professional manner. If you would not feel comfortable wearing an outfit in a business setting, then you shouldn’t be wearing it in your LinkedIn profile picture.
> Avoid using selfies and instead try to use a headshot. If you don’t currently have a picture you think will work, try to find any business attire you may have and take a headshot at home.
3. Try to Include Dates
> Try your best to put specific time periods for any events or experiences you list on your profile. This helps give recruiters a basic timeline of your professional life and makes it easier for them to understand the extent of your skills and experiences.
> For example, if you’re listing an internship on your profile you may want to format it like this: Blogging Intern at GirlSpring, June 2020-August 2020.
4. Regularly Check Your “My Network” Tab
> Under this tab, you will find any pending “invitations” you may have. On LinkedIn, an invitation is essentially the equivalent of a follow request. If you know or want to get to know the individual inviting you to connect, simply hit the “Accept” button on the invitation. If it is someone you do not know or do not want to connect with simply hit the “Ignore” button.
> It is important to note that having a larger number of connections on LinkedIn is not necessarily a good thing if they are not quality connections. Who you choose to connect with is a reflection on you and your professionalism, so make sure to be thoughtful when accepting or sending out invitations.
> In addition to any current invitations you have received, LinkedIn’s “My Network” tab will show you suggestions for groups, individuals, organizations, businesses, events, newsletters, and more that it believes you may want to connect with or follow.
5. Update, Update, Update!
> Just like with a resume or any other form of social media, your LinkedIn profile needs to be updated regularly.
> Imagine if someone new started following you on Instagram but you hadn’t posted anything to your account in five years. Would they really be able to tell what kind of person you are today? Probably not, and the exact same goes for your LinkedIn profile. If you don’t regularly update your LinkedIn account, individuals won’t be able to see all the ways you’ve grown and what all you’ve accomplished since the creation of your account.
> Make sure to add it to your profile whenever you do anything that clearly demonstrates your growth, professionalism, or dedication. This could be any wide variety of things including joining a club at school, getting a new job or internship, participating in a volunteer activity, learning a new skill, taking a useful class, etc.
> Anything important enough to be listed on your resume should also be listed on your LinkedIn profile. Just like your LinkedIn profile, make sure to update your resume on a regular basis.