How to Build a Great LinkedIn Profile for Recent Grads (and for anyone honestly)

Congratulations to the Class of 2020! But how do we get a job?

Image for post
Image for post

I made a LinkedIn in high school because someone told me to. “Okay, I have one. Now what?” I thought. I then proceeded to sit on a mostly empty profile well into college. I hear people compare having a LinkedIn presence to having an emergency bank account: if you build it when you need it, it’ll already be too late. So how did I build mine? When building your profile, keep in mind that your goal is to have it viewed by other professionals.

Setting up your LinkedIn

profile URL

I set my profile URL to end in my full name without trailing digits or characters. Often when you visit your own profile on a site, it’s not your profile URL but your editor URL. However, with LinkedIn, you are able to copy and share your profile with the same URL you land on when visiting your own profile.

profile picture

Your LinkedIn profile picture should correspond with what information you want to visually display about yourself; it may look different if you are a photographer as compared to a CTO. However, it should always be clear, well lit, with only you in it against a background that isn’t busy, and you should be dressed appropriately for the platform.

It isn’t necessary to pay extra money for a certain type of headshot but stay away from selfies that are very clearly selfies. Because my dream is to do a speaking tour, I have my profile picture as a candid of me speaking to my graduating class. This also allows people to know that I am a recent graduate in order to calibrate their expectations of skill/experience level. This picture will definitely change in due time as my role and experience change.

cover photo

You can utilize Canva.com to make a graphic to drive attention to your podcast, blog, website, hustles, or company’s mission/projects.

headline

The headline comes up with your name every time so include what you want to be closely tied to your name. People tend to put “(currently) seeking” but from an SEO standpoint, this isn’t particularly useful. Who is your target viewer? What would they be searching for? Although it is true that you are currently searching for a position, a recruiter is not going to type “currently seeking opportunities in x” because…they are not. I place industry-relevant key terms between pipe symbols (which is | ) which makes it clear what I do, what I’m aiming for, and what I can be contacted for.

bio/summary statement

Some people put summary statements on their resumes but there’s limited space. LinkedIn’s summary section allows 2000 characters of freedom to speak to your experience in terms of the value you add in measurable results, accomplishments, ambitions, personality information (into dogs, going vegan, avid traveller, etc.) and a closing statement about what to be contacted about and how.

contact info

List your company phone and email if you’d like. Otherwise, people will contact you via LinkedIn messenger. If you’d really like to reach someone, find their company email on their website or company site. You can use this to contact others since they may not necessarily get around to all their LinkedIn messages.

links & media

Connect to your website, GitHub repositories, portfolio, etc.

job experience

You can rearrange the order of items to place them in order of priority with the thing you find the most relevant for someone potentially viewing your profile at the top.

Like a resume, the description of these typically involves quantitative (integers) or qualitative results from specific actions (verbs). Read your goal job’s application description to match the way you articulate your previous experiences with the skills they are hiring for.

education

You can rearrange the order of items to place them in order of priority with the thing you find the most relevant for someone potentially viewing your profile at the top. Listing activities, clubs, and teams may allow someone to feel a connection with you; you were both in the same greek organization, for example. You can put your GPA if it’s something you’re proud of. GPA doesn’t matter as much as actual projects and experience but it can help.

volunteer experience

skills

Supposedly listing at least 5 skills will allow you to come up in the search algorithm. You can pick the top 3 skills you want to be featured at the top of the skills section of your profile.

certifications

If you’re a lifelong learner (as we all should be), those certifications and continuing education programs that you complete can go here. LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) is LinkedIn’s online course platform that also grants you a certificate that can be published to your LinkedIn certificates section.

recommendations

Ask people for written recommendations, guide them in what to highlight, and you can follow up to ask for edits after their recommendation is published to your profile. Write them one too!

interests

The groups you’ve joined (for example, LinkedIn alumni networks for your institutions) and influencers or companies you follow appear here.

You can rearrange the order of items throughout your profile to place them in order of priority with the thing you find the most relevant for someone potentially viewing your profile at the top. You have the option to toggle off certain parts of your profile from view or certain skills from being endorsed.

Although I’m not an expert recruiter, these are the things that I’ve learned in my own experience. It may not be an exhaustive guide but it’s a great place to start for all of us starting to get our footing in the working world.

Now that you’ve built out an All-Star profile, USE IT.

Written by

Product manager | Leading with empathy.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store