LinkedIn, what some might call “professional Facebook,” is the world’s largest professional social network. It is used widely by recruiters, hiring managers, and professionals in hundreds of industries to find qualified candidates for open positions, including students like you. With hundreds of millions of members on the network, LinkedIn allows a user to:
|Create a professional profile||Network professionally
|Learn and share trending news||Get involved in groups|
|Find job and internship opportunies|
LinkedIn has often been referred to as “your resume online.” This assertion is not far off, as there are many similarities between a LinkedIn Profile and a resume. As such, some of the points covered here may sound like the advice we give about resume writing. However, where there are differences in the two is where it is critical to pay attention.
At the top of a LinkedIn Profile is a small box containing some of what you can consider the “fast facts” about each user. Since this box is likely the first thing that another LinkedIn user would see when landing on your Profile, this box is incredibly important real estate. Here are some tips to make the most of it:
- Profile photo: The best photo for you is a professional looking headshot of just you alone. Unlike resumes, it is important to include a photo on LinkedIn, as this is a social network.
- Name: First and last name are listed here.
- Headline: This is each individual LinkedIn user’s tagline. LinkedIn will automatically populate the Headline with the most recent position listed in the “Experience” section of a Profile, but this is a customizable area that you can change at any time. Think of it as your personal slogan. Consider including keywords and phrases in this section that are related to your desired industry or profession. When other users of LinkedIn search by these words, you will be more likely to appear in search results. You can also consider putting in something like “Villanova University student with a passion for (major)”
- Location & Industry: LinkedIn users can select their location and industry in these fields. It is a good idea to choose the industry you intend to enter and, if seeking a specific location for work, to choose that location for your Profile. This way, you will appear in searches for that area.
- Current & Previous Experience and Education: These fields are automatically populated based on what you input into your experience and education sections of your Profile.
- Contact Info: In this section, you can input things like email addresses, phone numbers, mailing addresses, Twitter accounts, and websites. If you have a personal website or public Twitter account, it would be a great idea to provide links to those here.
- Public Profile URL: This URL is a link which you can send to others, whether on or off LinkedIn, to view what is called your “Public Profile” – all of the information you wish to have publicly viewed when anyone online views your Profile. LinkedIn will provide every user with a URL, though it will likely contain a string of random characters. You can customize this URL to contain something easily recognizable, like your name or shortened version of your name. Consider customizing this link so you can easily include it in email signatures or on resumes.
Below the box on a LinkedIn Profile are various sections, many of which mirror what might exist on a resume. There are several options to categorize your experiences and skills in Profiles, including:
- Volunteering & Causes
- Skills & Expertise
- Honors & Awards
- Test Scores
- Additional Info
Throughout a Profile, no matter what the section, it is important to consider keywords and phrases relevant to your desired industry and goals, again, because of considerations for searches on LinkedIn. Many of the sections above are self-explanatory, however there are a few specific tips for you to consider in some of these areas:
- Summary: Although the Summary section may seem intimidating, it can be one of the most impactful sections of a LinkedIn Profile. Here, you have a blank canvas with which to describe yourself. Since your Profile is essentially a website, it is important to consider writing for the web: write in small chunks, use bulleted lists whenever possible, and avoid long paragraphs. Of course, error-free and clear writing is important, too. Summaries are often best when they describe your interests, both personal and professional, and are truly reflective of your voice. They also help other LinkedIn users by telling them how they can help you. Consider using your Summary to answer the question, “What information do you seek?” to turn up your networking on LinkedIn. It may even be helpful to think of the Summary like a cover letter.
- Skills & Expertise: This is a keyword and phrase hot spot for a LinkedIn Profile. LinkedIn also allows users to “Endorse” skills listed in a fellow member’s Profile as long as they are directly connected. Think of it like voting up a specific skill. Consider inputting at least 10 skills in this section to fill the list and so others can endorse you thoroughly. Think of skills that are specific to your industry like “Financial Reporting” or “Creative Writing” or “Photoshop.” Also, it’s important to consider that when you give into your network, you will gain. So, to get Endorsements, consider giving some (honestly, of course) first!
- Experience, Organizations, Volunteering & Causes: Within all of these sections, consider including things like: internships, part-time jobs, student club & organizational involvement, and volunteer experience inside and outside of Villanova. Just like on your resume, employers will like to see your involvement in all of these things. You do not need to have 10 years of full-time work experience to make a positive impression on LinkedIn, so allow yourself to let go of the concern that you “don’t have enough to say” – you do! The inclusion of industry-relevant keywords and phrases is just as critical here as in other sections of a Profile.
Creating a strong Profile on LinkedIn is only the first step in turning this network into an ongoing professional resource for you. The next step is to start connecting and communicating with others users about professional interests. Being active on LinkedIn is a critical step to getting recognized, learning about a field of interest, and establishing an online identity.
Connecting with Others on LinkedIn
LinkedIn recommends that users connect with only those whom they know and trust. This is a good suggestion for you when you’re starting out on the social network. Here are a few suggestions of types of people who may be good to connect with:
- Family members
- Friends and fellow students
- Internship or job supervisors & coworkers
- Professors, advisors, coaches and former teachers
- Family friends
Any of these people could be great references and connections on LinkedIn. What’s more, LinkedIn helps you see the connections of all of their connections, thus enabling you to understand who of their trusted contacts can introduce you to someone at an organization of interest. A good rule of thumb to follow is to consider connecting with at least 50 people on LinkedIn to make the network’s web of connections work well for you.
One very powerful tool on LinkedIn which can help you find connections is called LinkedIn Alumni. This page can be found at www.linkedin.com/alumni and looks like this:
With this tool, you can search information about Villanova alumni on LinkedIn all around the world. You can search the alumni by any keyword or by the predetermined categories on LinkedIn, which include the following:
- Where they live
- Where they work
- What they do
- What they studied
- What they’re skilled at
- How you are connected
It should be noted that when connecting with others on LinkedIn, you will be prompted to note how you know the other person, as seen in the screenshot below. There is also the option to include a personalized note along with the connection request, a message which the person will be able to see on the other end. It is essential to customize this message. A customized message request is like writing a thank you note after an interview – it is critical to be known as a polite professional. The message cannot be long, but including a sentence or two about how you know the person or what you hope to learn from the person will go a long way in facilitating the connection.
The next step after making Connections is to consider a plan for communicating on LinkedIn. One place to begin is with a status update – a place where each user can share thoughts, questions, or ideas with those who are in their network.
Here are a few ideas you can consider sharing as a status update:
- Questions about your of interest or perhaps about a topic from class
- An interesting article you’ve stumbled on – it would also be good to share a thought or opinion on the piece to let others know your point of view
- An update on an academic achievement, project, or paper
- A success story from an internship or job
- A blog post you’ve written or other content you have created and added to the internet.
It’s a good idea to share statuses often, as these statuses will appear in the feeds of other users on LinkedIn with whom you are connected. You can also comment on or like the status messages of others in your networks on LinkedIn. This could be a great way to engage with professionals and learn about trending topics of interest. In addition, LinkedIn has a feature called “LinkedIn Today” which allows you to follow stories from around the web and from influencers whom LinkedIn has asked to write articles about ideas critical to their fields.
LinkedIn Today is customizable area where users can find trending stories in specific industries, which may be great to share as Status Updates as well. You can customize this area for fields relevant to you by clicking on the blue words “LinkedIn Today” at the top of the feature. On the next page, near the top and on the right-hand side, click on “All Channels” and “All Influencers” to search each of LinkedIn Today’s Channel options and Influencers to get updates of interest delivered to your LinkedIn home page.
One of the richest resources on LinkedIn comes from its members; the millions of people around the world who share ideas and information. This often happens inside LinkedIn Groups – communities of people who come together based on a specific affiliation, interest, profession, identity and many more. There are millions of groups on LinkedIn, so there’s a good chance that a community exists where you can jump in and learn quite quickly.
With millions of groups, your first question might be: where do I begin? Our first suggestion for you is to search for “Villanova” groups. The “Official Villanova University Network” is a group which all students & alumni can join and is kept up to date by the university. We strongly encourage you to join this group. Within that group is a subgroup called “VU Alumni and Student Mentoring” which would be another great group to join. Here, students and alumni of Villanova are sharing career advice and opportunities that may help you land an internship or job.
Another suggestion for groups is to find people you know and admire professionally on LinkedIn, then take a scan of that individual’s group memberships on LinkedIn. This can be seen at the bottom of a person’s LinkedIn Profile, provided that the individual allows group memberships to be publicly viewed. Consider joining some of the groups that person is in to learn more about what’s going on in those communities.
Finally, there is the Search feature on LinkedIn, which allows users to search everything on LinkedIn by keyword, including Groups. It’s a good idea to find groups relevant to your professional interests as well as groups that match other affiliations or identities you have had in the past or currently have, such as community organizations, honors societies, or volunteer groups you’ve joined.
Once inside a Group, there are plenty of professional development opportunities and ideas to go around. Here’s a walkthrough of what it looks like inside a Group.
- Active Discussions – As a member of a Group, you’ll have the ability view and comment on Discussions which other group members have started. These discussions are often posts about hot topics in a field or even questions to gather opinions and feedback. Getting involved in some of these Discussions could be a great way to learn and get recognized by others in the field.
- Searching Group Members – By clicking on the “Members” word at the top of a group, you will be taken to a page that lists all other members of the group. This is a great way to find those in a specific group whom may be particularly helpful for you. Users can search by keyword, job title, and company to locate a fellow member. One great thing about joining groups is that you can send a private message to another group member without being directly connected. This allows you to get in touch with professionals of interest without requesting to connect with them.
- Manager’s Choice – The Manager’s Choice area is a section where those who own or manage the group can feature specific Discussions. These may be critical announcements for the group or a particularly hot conversation about something of broad appeal to the group.
- Latest Updates – Here, you can see the all of the most recent information about the group, including a briefing on all of the Discussions posted and a list of all of the people that have joined the group.
- Posting a Discussion – Of course, you also have the option to post your own Discussions for others. Depending on the group’s norms, it may be a good idea to post Discussions about:
a. Your job or internship search (i.e. “_________ student seeking advice about securing an internship in __________ industry”)
b. A question about a specific idea or topic in a field of interest
c. An article of interest. It would be good to add your own commentary or thoughts on the article in order to communicate your point of view.
It is also worth noting that LinkedIn allows you to see “Group Statistics” – information about how active the group is, where most group members are geographically based, what level of seniority they have in their organizations, and more. It would be wise to investigate the statistics before and after joining groups to help understand whom you will be communicating with while a member of a group.
As the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn is home to not only people and conversations, but job and internship listings. There are several ways to explore these opportunities and specific features of LinkedIn that enable you to go beyond viewing a traditional position description.
Searching for Companies
One of LinkedIn’s greatest assets for any job seeker is the ability to view employment-specific information about an organization on what are called “Company Pages.” These are landing pages on LinkedIn which are created and maintained by individuals whom have a LinkedIn Profile and work for the company. There are millions of them. Company Pages contain information like: a brief overview of the organization, a listing of products and/or services the company provides, job and internship opportunities currently available, a listing of recent promotions, ideas about similar companies, the skills most often cited in Profiles by those who work there, and a place to explore “Who You Know” at the organization based on your LinkedIn network.
Let’s take a look at a specific Company Page to explore what you can do there. For example, if you are definitely interested in opportunities at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, you can type in the company name into the search box and select the company when it appears in search results.
- Recent Updates – Here, the company shares updates about itself and who they are. Often, as you can see here, they post jobs for which they are hiring.
- Products, Services, & Insights – In addition, any company can provide information about products & services they offer as part of their business. In the “Insights” area, you can see things like employees with new titles, skills cited most often in Profiles by employees, and other companies whom LinkedIn users also viewed. Likely, these other companies are going to be competitors or organizations in a similar industry, which can help you gather a list of other organizations to consider in your job search.
- Follow button – The yellow “Follow” button in the top right-hand corner allows you to follow a company and receive updates from the organization in your Home screen after logging in to LinkedIn. This is a great way to learn what is happening in real-time at an organization and to understand its culture.
- How You’re Connected – A critical piece of the Company Page is this “How You’re Connected” area, where you can see exactly who is in your network and works at the organization. As you can see in the screenshot above, this LinkedIn user has 67 second-degree connections at Enterprise, which means the user is not directly connected to anyone who works there, but is only one person away from a total of 67 people there. That would make for quite an easy introduction and open door to learn more about Enterprise from someone who actually works there.
- Careers – Finally, the Careers area allows you to see more about what it’s like to work at the organization and what kinds of job opportunities are open right now.
What if you are not sure about specific companies of interest? Or what if you are considering a variety of fields or majors? A great recommendation here is to conduct a “Company Search” and filter by specific options. Here’s a look at the Company Search page and some ideas to help you explore it:
- Searching by Location – Perhaps you are from the Chicago area and would like to be there for work. You can start by narrowing the Company Pages by Location. There is an “Add” button here to add any area of interest, including international locations. Searching LinkedIn Company Pages in this way can help you do some geographic-based organizational research.
- Searching by Industry – Another option is to search by industry. Let’s say you wanted to live in Chicago and work in the marketing industry. After selecting the Chicago area in Location, you could then select the Marketing and Advertising option in the Industry area. Now, you would be able to see all of the organizations in Chicago who work in marketing and could tell if anyone in your already existing network might be able to connect them. There are hundreds of industries listed on LinkedIn, so there is likely one for your field already.
Searching for Jobs & Internships
Beyond searching for companies, you also have the ability to search jobs and internships posted by people and organizations. LinkedIn has created the “Student Jobs Portal” (located at linkedin.com/studentjobs) which specifically filters job postings that would be appropriate for you. This is a great place to help your get started in your internship or job search.
Within the Advanced Search page, you can also target job and internship listings relevant to you. Let’s take a look at this page and some suggestions for searching.
- Searching by Keyword – One place to begin is to search by keyword. Perhaps you know of an interest in jobs related to “sports” but you’re not sure where or how to apply it. By searching for jobs with that keyword, you could start to explore what positions could look like.
- Searching by Location – Similar to a search for Company Pages, this is a great field to search if you know or have ideas about working in a specific area of the country or world.
- Searching by Job Function – Using this field, you can search for positions that fall within a certain job function. For example, perhaps you want to work in writing or editing, but do not yet have a preference of industry. You could select writing/editing in the job function area to find positions in which that would be a primary role.
- Searching by Industry – Similarly, if you know which industry or field is a target for you, then you can select an industry in this area to find only positions within organizations who identify with that industry.
- Searching by Experience Level – We recommend checking off the “Entry level” or perhaps “Associate” box to look at appropriate full-time positions or the “Internships” box for internships (not shown here) as you search.
Job searching on LinkedIn allows you to go beyond the traditional job listing because each post is tied back to a Company Page and the individual Profile of the recruiter or hiring manager who posted the job. Here’s how that looks.
- Position Title, Company, & Location – This is the lead information about this job posting, including title of the position, organization, and location. Note that you can click on “Panasonic” and explore the Company Page of Panasonic for more information.
- Job Description – The full description of the position and the description provides information about Panasonic as well.
- Posted By – Here is where you can see who actually posted this position. In this case, it is a Recruiting Specialist at the organization, and you can see her Profile to know more about her.
- You’re Linked to _______ – Here, you can see who in your network can help get you connected to Panasonic, so you can perhaps set up an informational interview or talk to a friend about what it’s really like to work there.
There’s little doubt anymore that LinkedIn has given job seekers access to more information about jobs and internships, the companies who offer them, and the people who make up those organizations. Using this network, you have unique ways to make connections with information and opportunities that can lead to satisfying career paths. Consider LinkedIn no matter where you are in their career development. Whether you are trying to identify the possibilities of an academic major or you have very specific interests, you can benefit from the world’s largest professional network.
For more on LinkedIn and help with your Profile, visit the Career Center and talk with a Career Assistant or Career Counselor. We look forward to talking with you about all the ways you can make the most of LinkedIn.