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How New Graduates Can Jump-Start Their Job Hunt on LinkedIn

June 19, 2017

 

LinkedIn is the professional space to live online.

Whether you’re a high school or college graduate, you need a robust LinkedIn profile as much as you need a polished resume. One is not more important than the other; they need to complement one another.

Most college and university graduation ceremonies have ended and, as I write this, high school graduations are wrapping up, too.

My eldest son just graduated from high school last week, and during the ceremony, it was so interesting to hear the career and college plans of the many graduates.

Varied opportunities exist today to continue one’s education, even if it doesn’t include going on to a post-secondary institution. Many students have unique opportunities to go right into a career post high school.

LinkedIn should play a part in these graduate’s lives now and as they evolve in their career. I wish more high school and college career centers would realize the importance of LinkedIn to their students.

Most young people look at the platform as something they don’t really need until it comes time to apply for colleges during their junior year, senior year, or when they’re on the cusp of entering the job market.

Realizing the need for a strong, optimized LinkedIn profile usually happens as their post grad journey begins. It’s never too late to build and nurture your online presence. But being aware of how to use it to your advantage as you go through your educational career can jumpstart your job search long before you’ve even received your diploma.

People always prepare and complete their resume or C.V. first. Many who know they also need to create a LinkedIn profile do so as an afterthought or, worse, just throw up a cut and paste version of their resume. (The latter, by the way, is not a good practice.)

I’m connected to many recruiters, hiring managers, and head hunters and they all tell me that when they visit a person’s LinkedIn profile, that they want to see something different from their resume. They want a “value add.”

LinkedIn is the best place to showcase your portfolio of experiences from academic to volunteer, and from sports to internships, to experiences abroad. It’s a place where your human side can live, as well, vs. just a laundry list of accomplishments and chronological timelines of work experiences.

If you learn to use LinkedIn effectively – beyond just a place to send and received invitations – you’ll take your game to the next level.And I can guarantee you that you’ll be leaps ahead of your peers if you develop and nurture your profile.

Building and writing a solid profile is not a “set-it-and-forget-it” effort. Because LinkedIn is an online platform, you can update it and maintain it in real time vs. a resume, which needs to be thoughtfully crafted and updated.

LinkedIn’s membership just reached over 500 million users in April. At the same time last year, the professional network’s membership was under 450 million. It continues to grow at a pace of two new members joining every second. That’s a LinkedIn statistic worth paying attention to!

How a High School Graduate Can Use LinkedIn Effectively

• Write a summary focusing on the major you intend to pursue in college, and why you selected that path.

• Include any sports, extracurricular activities or clubs to which you belonged and what your role was in those groups.

• Did you earn any honors or awards? Show them off here and be specific about what they represent. Describing what the honor or award stands for helps showcase why you were selected for that specific accomplishment.

• Were you a tutor, a mentor, a reading buddy? Describe it.

• You don’t have to be a star student to find ways for you to stand out on LinkedIn. Share your other experiences, your summer jobs, your community service.

• If you attended a technology and career center, share your story of how traditional high school wasn’t for you but how you found your place at tech school. Highlight your vocation or trade.

• Ask for recommendations from teachers, mentors, summer employers, club leaders, or even your peers. I KNOW this is not something that is done very often on LinkedIn but when it is, it’s recognized and will set you apart on that one aspect alone.

How a College Graduate Can Use LinkedIn Effectively

• In your summary section, tease out your personal story to begin building your personal brand. Share a turning point in your college career, something that transformed you, or how you faced a challenge whether academic or otherwise.

• Highlight the clubs or activities of which you were a part in college.

• Did you complete a year abroad in other studies? If so, share those experiences and highlights.

• Were you a volunteer for an on-campus event or club? Tell your readers about it.

• Were you a DJ for the college radio station or a reporter for the college newspaper? (If you were involved with the school paper/website or social media, share those articles or photos as media in your profile.)

• Share the honors and awards you received during college and how they made you feel, what you learned, how you helped solve a problem.

One of the common denominators for any grad is to show your personal side, the human you vs. just the person on paper and what you did. This is part of the “value add” I referred to above. Recruiters and hiring managers like to learn a little more about a person and see how they may fit into their company culture and beyond. Your slice-of-life story could be the one thing that captures the attention of a hiring manager.

If you think LinkedIn is just a place for introductions and invitations to connect, then you’re not using LinkedIn as powerfully as you could be. This is the time to get it right.

Searching for opportunities online is the way of the world now.

Take advantage of the opportunity to differentiate yourself among all that social media and Internet noise to stand out from your competition. Standing out online is within your reach as a graduate and as a professional. Begin to build your digital footprint as soon as you can, you will make it that much easier for a future employer to find you, and hire you for your dream job.

Want to give your grad – or a grad you know – a gift to give them a head-start in their job search? I'm offering an exclusive coaching consultation through the end of June 2017. Check it out! (Thank you in advance for sharing this article.)