I love talking about the benefits of LinkedIN and how it can not only help begin your career, but continue to grow your career in the future. I bring up LinkedIN in almost every single one of my coaching sessions, but am so surprised to hear so many of my students respond “LinkedIN? No, I haven’t heard of that!” or “LinkedIN? Isn’t that a professional Facebook?” or my favorite response: “I’ve heard of that, but I heard it was only for old people who didn’t want a Facebook account”! These students are so great at making me feel so young (that was sarcastic :)) LinkedIN can be your best friend, as long as you use it correctly! Where else could you connect with 260 million professionals looking to do the same thing as you are – network, learn, and maybe get a new job while you’re at it!

Here are my top 5 tips on creating a professional, marketable LinkedIN page!

Say Cheese!

Your LinkedIN picture should be a headshot of you, wearing a jacket, in front of a solid colored wall or outside with minimum background and SMILING! LinkedIN is not the place to show off your humor, your unique fashion sense, your new tattoo, how popular you are, or the ever-so popular selfie. This is your first impression so keep it simple. LinkedIN is also step one of your Personal Brand, so make sure this picture is showing you for how you want to be portrayed for the job you want in the future.

Write a stellar summary!

This is your first opportunity to make a good impression with your words!! You’ll want to include your current status (college student), your major, brief description of experience you’ve already had (internships, part time), and future goals. You will also want to include your graduation date so employers know when to expect you to be ready to work full time. Don’t be too wordy here though, you’ll get the opportunity in the next section to really go in to more detail about your previous experience.

Here are some Summary examples from LinkedIN Insights – http://www.linkedinsights.com/3-stunningly-good-linkedin-profile-summaries/

Tell me a little bit about yourself…

One of my favorite things about LinkedIN is that you get more freedom and space to talk about your previous jobs in the “Background” section. This is your opportunity to shine and this is the bulk of

your specific employment history. Including company name, responsibilities and dates. Use as many specific words here as possible so your profile will come up in searches that recruiters might conduct. You have more flexibility and space to elaborate on LinkedIN than you do on your resume, which is a very good thing!

When I was a Recruiter, I used LinkedIN for almost every single position I recruited for. I would do a key word search to find profiles that had experience related to what I was recruiting for. It made my job so easy!! So make sure that your Background section is as detailed as possible so the recruiters out there can find you. For example – like I said, I was a recruiter for almost 10 years before coming to UCF, so my profile includes recruiting key words – sourcing, interviewing, hiring, onboarding, candidates, etc. Because of this, I get contacted quite often by companies who have Recruiter openings (don’t worry UCF, I don’t miss the Recruiting world just yet J)

Quality over Quantity!

I had a student in my office last week who hadn’t heard of LinkedIN before. So I opened up the home page, and showed him around. We talked about his career goals and some target companies he was interested in working for. We started searching for employees that work for those companies, and found a dozen that would be amazing connections for him! His face became hesitant and I think he started to feel overwhelmed. I explained to him how important it is to only connect with those that he is really interested in connecting with. You don’t want to go connect with every single employee at the company because you will look desperate and you will probably lose track of who you’re even connected with. If you’re interested in working in the Marketing department at Disney, then only connect with individuals that hire for that department or currently work in that department. But on the flip side, LinkedIN gives you a chance to be more brave and aggressive in networking because it’s all online and it doesn’t hurt as much to get rejected – so don’t be too picky. You don’t want to have 2000 connections, but you also don’t want to have only 40. The more connections you personally have will allow you to view a broader amount of possible connections. LinkedIN is a chain of connections, and when browsing you will see someone may be a second connection of yours, that means one of your connection is linked with them. This person may not have been someone you could have easily found before. You will also notice as you start to really navigate through LinkedIN that it will suggest people you may know from connections you already have. But as a reminder it’s not the size of your network, it’s the quality.

Last but not least, be social!!

In case you didn’t know, the UCF College of Business offers around 20 student organizations, which is amazing and I hope each and every one of you belong to at least one of them! Well, LinkedIN has the same type of thing, except online and there are thousands of them!! Anything from job search groups to high school alumni groups to yoga groups to social marketing groups. These groups are an amazing resource to you, so join as many of them as you can. You will learn from discussions brought up in the group, you’ll be able to easily network with others who have similar interests and career paths as you, and you’ll learn about jobs way easier than just being on LinkedIN alone. So join some groups, and start to follow some companies you are interested in.

I know LinkedIN sounds intimidating, but I promise you that building a strong, professional profile on LinkedIN will be one of the best things you can do to kickstart your career! And if you need advice or assistance in starting your page, stop by our office in BA2, Suite 101 and any of us would be happy to help!


Lindsay Bridges

Career Coach – Accounting