If you’re not on LinkedIn yet, you should be. You don’t need to wait until you have an official job title or a clear career objective. LinkedIn has a lot to offer college students, even those who aren’t thinking yet about their plans for after college:
- Potential employers, mentors, contacts WILL look you up there.
- You can learn a lot about the successful career paths of other people with skills and interests like yours.
- It’s a great way to connect with alumni.
Creating a LinkedIn profile takes about thirty seconds. Creating a good one takes a little longer. At a minimum you should
- Make sure to include a professionally appropriate photo (doesn’t have to be a formal headshot, but it should depict a version of yourself that’s suitable for the workplace). Using the same photo on all the social media platforms you use can make networking easier.
- Give yourself a compelling headline and description. “Sophomore at the University of Illinois” can get you started, but think about ways to “headline” the particular skills you’re developing and the kind of work you want to position yourself for (employers care more about your skills and aspirations than your major).
- Move carefully past screens and pop-ups that invite you to “connect” by linking to your email or other social media accounts. You can cultivate your network more effectively (and irritate fewer random acquaintances) by waiting until you have your account set up and then “Connecting” directly with relevant individuals through LinkedIn.
- If you have a common name, create a shorter and identifiable version of your LinkedIn public profile URL and add it to your signature line on the email account you use for professional purposes–that makes it easier for employers to find you on the platform.
- Don’t get LinkedIn Premium–the free version will get you everything you need. That said, some students have found it helpful to take advantage of “free month” deals when they are making their serious push to land a post-graduation job.