I had passed the flyer in the hall several times before it finally sank in.
“LinkedIn Photobooth,” it read in big bold letters. “When: November 5-11, Where: SPH Office of Career Services.”
This flyer had likely been up for a solid week by the time I noticed it on the afternoon of November 9th, which didn’t leave me much time to work it into my schedule. But I managed. And unfortunately, that’s precisely the impression my picture gave off: I managed. The picture screamed a thousand synonyms for ‘tired’, ‘stressed’, and ‘unprepared’. Not exactly how I want to present myself to potential employers and colleagues. While I was disappointed I couldn’t fool the camera into portraying a well-put-together, super employable college student, I had to laugh, because ironically it perfectly reflected the state of my LinkedIn profile. I made it out of utter haste once I realized that everyone had signed up for the professional networking site (Shaq! Gucci Mane!). Though the “everyone’s doing it” argument is one I typically avoid, in the case of joining LinkedIn it is one of the strongest arguments you can make. The site is essentially a very detailed digital Rolodex, and so the greater membership grows, the greater access members have to potential connections and employers within their field of choice. Boasting 4 million members this year worldwide, LinkedIn has become a must-have for professional networking.
But just being on LinkedIn isn’t enough. In order to stand out, you need an impressive profile. Consider the following as you build your LinkedIn profile:
1. Profile Picture
The major difference between traditional resumes and a LinkedIn profile? The picture. Unless you’re seeking employment as a model or actor, you should never include a picture with a traditional resume. On LinkedIn, however, doing just that can increase your profile views up to 14 times. If you didn’t have a chance to get your picture taken at the LinkedIn photobooth, or if you squandered the opportunity like I did, fret not! Put those mad selfie-skills to good use! Just adorn your most professional garb, find a clean, calm background and some good natural lighting and snap away!
The summary section is your best opportunity on LinkedIn to express yourself. While the rest of your profile could be easily comparable to thousands of others, the ‘summary’ is your chance to stand out. Though many people on LinkedIn can boast that they attended IUB (217,231 to be exact), there’s only one you in that sea of educated, employable professionals. The ‘summary’ is your place to shine!
If you’re like me, filling out this section will be the hardest part of this process. My advice? Take a copy of your traditional resume to Career Services and go over it with a Career Services staff member. I did precisely this recently with Dr. Susan Simmons, Director of Career Services, and I’m so very glad I did. While writing resumes may feel like pulling teeth to some of us, Dr. Simmons made the process look like a piece of cake. In a matter of minutes, she helped me rework my entire resume. Then, it was just a matter of typing it all into LinkedIn! Visit Career Link to make an appointment.
By including your educational background on your profile, you will receive 10 times more views than profiles without this information. This is a super simple way of increasing your views and potential connections. Besides, with all the effort you put into school, may as well reap every benefit you can!
5. Volunteer experience
As college students, it’s not uncommon to be lacking an extensive and impressive work history. We’re in college, after all! That’s a fulltime job in itself! However, many college students still find time to volunteer. Luckily, a LinkedIn survey found that nearly half of hiring managers equate volunteer experience with work experience.
This is a fairly new feature on LinkedIn, but one of the most heavily utilized. By adding skills to your profile, you will get 13 times more views. You can add up to 50 skills on your profile, each of which increases your searchability. And while endorsements from others are nice, don’t rely on them to build this section for you. Take control of it and make it what you want!
Not only does this feature allow you to connect with like-minded members, simply joining a group will increase your profile views, and being active in them will do so by 5 times! IUB’s School of Public Health group is one of many excellent groups available to members.
Though it may seem like a lot of work, a good LinkedIn profile will certainly pay off! Utilize resources offered by Career Services to help give you a competitive edge. Keep up to date on opportunities, such as the LinkedIn photobooth, by keeping tabs on their Facebook page.
Erika Wheeler is a Junior pursuing a degree in Community Health. As a native of Bloomington with no college aspirations, she grew up thinking of Indiana University as nothing but a big pain in her small hometown. She has since changed her mind.
IUSPH Career Services
Job opportunities for Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington majors are diverse and expanding as the emphasis on living a healthy lifestyle grows around the world. Career Services experts in each of our academic departments will provide one-on-one counseling and career building opportunities throughout your academic career, from choosing the right major to developing a strategy to find a job. They can assist you with:
•resume and cover letter preparation
•graduate school preparation