Office of Career Services

Maximize your LinkedIn presence

Campus spokesperson for LinkedIn and Gen Y career and workplace expert Lindsey Pollak offers valuable advice for the powerful professional social networking site,  Learn how you can build a professional online presence, build and enhance your brand and connect in a meaningful way with other SU alumni and other “warm” contacts.

Through 2008, more individuals are using social networking sites than email, according to Pollack, author of Getting from College to Career.  With more than 43 million users - nearly 40 percent outside the United States - is a fast-growing and powerful tool to connect job seekers and employers, as well as those individuals seeking to learn about a variety of career options.  For a detailed guide to LinkedIn for students and grads, click here.

At a recent meeting of the Austin Career Development Network, speaker Doug Whatley,Executive Vice President of SP3 Group, and Austin human resources solutions firm, estimated that 80 percent of recruiters are using LinkedIn as their primarly resource for finding candidates.That means if you’re searching for a job, you should be using LinkedIn!  Even if you’re only in the scouting stages, did you know that LinkedIn offers more than 160,000 company profiles?

In a recent webinar for career services professionals, Pollak provided valuable tips for students and alumni about LinkedIn:

Build and enhance your brand

When people Google you, it’s important to have a profile that shows you in a good light.  Because of the high traffic on LinkedIn, LinkedIn profiles tend to show up higher on search engine searches.  Besides just creating a profile, here are other ways to build a visible “brand”:

  • Use the status update feature (just like in Facebook or Twitter) at least once per week.  This action helps keep you on your contacts’ radar.
  • Claim your URL for your public profile, rather than keeping the random letters and numbers that’s initially generated when you create a profile. This more memorable and streamlined URL that you choose can be added to email signature files, business cards and other correspondence to help direct individuals to your profesional profile.
  • Complete the summary section with good keywords.  Review the profiles of professionals you admire to get ideas.  Use white space effectively to make the summary easier to read.  Think about all your activities, including professional association involvement, articles you write, etc. as potential fodder for your profile.
  • Be sure to complete your profile to 100 percent, including a photo, meaningful headline, keyword-rich summary and completed experience section.  Join a few groups, claim your custom URL (see above), request recommendations from colleagues and keep your information updated.
  • Answer discussion questions posed through groups you belong to on LinkedIn to help build credibility.

Build a professional presence online

Employers want to reach out to you on LinkedIn.  Consider using a headline that states your career ambition or goal or area of study instead of just your actual title.  This is particularly important if you are underemployed at the moment (e.g. Barista).  In the summary, use keywords from internship, volunteer and leadership experiences as well as relevant work experiences.

Connect in a meaningful way with alumni and other “warm” contacts

On LinkedIn, every contacts is a “warm” contact, explained one career services director. Since you must ask for an introduction through an existing contact to a new one, you are not “cold” calling anyone. Be sure to join the Association of Southwestern University Alumni group as one of your choices.  More than 500 SU grads are already part of this group.  Because of SU’s small size, many employers don’t officially recruit at Southwestern. However, finding a networking connection to one of these companies can be a good lead toward employment there.  In addition many of the non-profit and governmental employers that interest SU grads don’t have the finances to operate large on-campus recruiting machines, so reaching out through individual contacts is a key way to approach the job search at these organizations.

Use LinkedIn to research companies and career paths

More than 160,000 companies offer profiles on LinkedIn.  You can also look at individual’s profiles to get ideas about their career paths.

LinkedIn etiquette

Finally, remember that LinkedIn is a purely professional social networking site, unlike Facebook and others.  Be sure to use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation - no txt msg spk :) LOL!  Always customize your connections requests with a personalized message, not just the standard, automatically created one.  And to contribute to the integrity of the “personal referral” process that is the core of this technology, be sure that you are making every effort to make offline connections with your contacts as well.  We can physically manage only so many contacts, so be sure yours is one that is meaningful to your link.

LinkedIn resources

Student Training Videos - Series of six 5-minute training videos exclusively for student users of LinkedIn.
How to Build a Great Student LinkedIn Profile - Downloadable handout
Top 5 Profile Tips - Downloadable handout
How to Network on LinkedIn - Downloadable handout
Q&A: LinkedIn Etiquette - Downloadable handout
Conduct Employer Research - Downloadable handout
Top 10 Online Job Hunting Tips (using LinkedIn) - Downloadable handout