With the entry-level job market continuing to grow more competitive, it is crucial that millennials take all steps necessary to stand out in the job application process and increase their chances of landing their dream job. LinkedIn is the main social network for the job search and networking process, and if you’re a university student, it is your best resource for finding a job, internship, or work experience. For all students, university or beyond, these are our LinkedIn hacks that you should be doing now!
1. Have a professional headshot, preferably on your university’s campus
The first of our LinkedIn hacks is by far the most important, as your profile photo will be the first thing anyone sees on your profile. Having no photo sends a message that your account is probably inactive or not worth interacting with, and an unprofessional photo (i.e. a good solo shot of you from your Instagram) could tell employers that you aren’t serious about your future.
I would recommend dressing as you would for a job interview, or even in a University gown if this is traditional of your school, and taking your headshot behind a landmark of your University. For example, if you attend the University of St Andrews, you could pose in St Salvator’s Quad in your red gown.
2. Add any and all experience you have
Many students fear that they shouldn’t make a LinkedIn account because they don’t have a lot of experience with jobs in their dream industry or internships. However, most students don’t have a ton of experience either! A lack of experience shouldn’t stop you from marketing yourself for future experience.
On your profile, you should always add your high school and university and include any leadership positions you held, awards you received, or excellent grades you made. There is also a separate section for awards and grades on LinkedIn that you can utilise.
Additionally, if you hold or held a leadership position that relates to your ideal industry, add this under the experience tab! For example, if you want to go into journalism and you work on your university’s newspaper, add this as you would add a job or internship, and be sure to include your specific roles and duties in the description.
3. Write a strong headline and summary
One of the LinkedIn hacks that even some professionals fail to utilise are the headline and summary on your profile. Along with your name and profile photo, these are the two most important pieces of information as this is where employers will look first to learn more about who you are and what kind of role you are interested in.
For your headline, the small “About Me” blurb that appears when you search for someone, focus on who you are and what you want. For example, if you were News Editor on your university’s newspaper and you were looking for a journalism internship for the summer, your headline could be, “News Editor at ____, seeking journalism internships for fall semester 2019.” Another example for a graduating student could be, “Computer science student at [your University], seeking entry-level position in tech industry.”
The summary section on your LinkedIn profile is where employers would go to learn more about who you are, similar to a personal statement on a job application. Don’t be afraid to make this quite lengthy — though it may look aesthetically pleasing to have it all fit in three lines and not carry over with a “Show more” tab, a longer summary can actually increase how often you appear in searches!
Some topics to cover in your summary can include your greatest accomplishments, what you want your future to hold, why you are passionate about your dream industry or current job, and why you are a strong candidate in your dream industry.
4. Connect with alumni, students, parents, and past coworkers
While many people instinctively connect with people they know on LinkedIn, this is among the 10 LinkedIn hacks because oftentimes this step can be misused, with students connecting with everyone under the sun just to reach the “500+ connections” label on their profile.
Instead of this, students should be making valuable connections on LinkedIn; this includes connecting with other students at their University (particularly those students studying your same degree or with similar aspirations), friends’ parents who work in your desired industry, people you met during past part-time jobs or internships, and alumni from your university who are working in an industry you aspire to be in.
If you’re connecting with people you may not personally know, be sure to send them a personalised connection request (a message attached when you ask them to connect) that explains why you are wanting to add them to your network. For example, if you aspire to be a lawyer and you’re connecting with alumni who work at a law firm, explain that you are attending their same university and you would love to learn more about law because you are interested in pursuing it as a career.
5. Share your achievements with your network
Whenever you achieve something great career-wise, like having an article published by your campus paper, taking on a new internship or job, or being elected to a leadership position on campus, share it! This not only comes in the form of adding this to your profile, but you should also write a short post explaining this achievement.
If the post’s privacy settings are on public, this post can appear to employers and others in your industry, and it could invite other people to connect with you and increase your future successes.
6. Add a banner
One of the more simple LinkedIn hacks, yet something which many people do not do, is adding a banner to your profile. When you first make an account on LinkedIn, you’ll be given the generic LinkedIn banner that looks bland and makes your profile appear incomplete.
I would opt for a simple marble white banner, or photo of a white brick wall, as these will make your whole profile appear textured and clean, and the white in your banner will draw focus to your profile photo and other info.
7. Interact with people in your network
This is another one of the simple LinkedIn hacks, but it has tremendous value as this is a basic form of networking! When other people you’re connected with post about their achievements, be sure to like the post and comment a “Congratulations!” or something similar.
Actions like these will remind your connections that you exist and support them, which is an easy way to stay on good terms with them in case you may one day need a recommendation or favour from them. Also, it’s just a nice thing to do, and kindness pays off!
8. Make a unique LinkedIn URL
I didn’t even know about this step until I was trying to advance my LinkedIn profile and read this on a different list of LinkedIn hacks. In the settings of LinkedIn, you can customise the URL of your LinkedIn profile, also giving you a username. Something as simple as your name plus a number or period will do just fine — keep it short! — but this can go a long way for future success. Also, if you want to share your profile with others while networking, this simplifies the process.
9. Endorse your connections on their skills
Though this is among the LinkedIn hacks, it is similar to the tip of interacting with your network as it is also a hack for life: whether or not you believe in karma, being kind and helpful to others will almost always benefit you as well.
When you make a new connection, particularly someone with a career you aspire to have or with successes you want to replicate for yourself, visit their profile and under the Skills section, endorse them on a few of their skills. LinkedIn will ask you how you know they’re qualified in that skill, so it is often helpful to endorse them on skills you are familiar with. Some of the options you can choose from include whether you worked on a team with them or if they managed you in a job.
Oftentimes if you endorse someone for a skill, they will, in turn, endorse you for some skills as well, so this hack can help both of you simultaneously.
10. Include your LinkedIn on your CV
Now that you’ve put all this work into your LinkedIn profile, you might as well include it on your CV! After all, your LinkedIn is basically an online CV but with more information on who you are, so it should only benefit you to include it when applying for jobs or internships.
And if you completed hack #8 and made a custom URL, you can easily add your username to your resume.