Career Corner: LinkedIn

By Manal Janati,  Peers for Careers Correspondent

(As originally published in the Ticker:

For students pursuing a career in business, one common piece of advice is to create a LinkedIn profile. However, the next steps to take are often unclear; after all LinkedIn is more than just an online resume. As LinkedIn users know, there are many ways to maximize its benefits. From connecting with professionals to emphasizing specific skill sets, it is imperative to create and continually develop a strong profile.

To clarify, LinkedIn is a professional social networking site where individuals can showcase their resumes and respective strengths. The site also facilitates networking, applying to jobs, researching companies and sharing information.

LinkedIn offers many great features, including the fact that job seekers are no longer limited to a one-page resume. It grants individuals the scope to upload documents and presentations to create a portfolio of their experience. Thus, you can display all of your undergraduate work and leadership capabilities on your profile.

Furthermore, you may choose to add a professional story, through which you can creatively communicate your professional objective, expertise and career goals to potential employers. You can also feature certain recommendations or endorsements on your profile. Thus, it can be helpful to ask colleagues and previous managers to write a few sentences on your skills.

Yet another way to feature skills on your profile is to list them yourself. This is a great way to add transferrable skills, such as public speaking, teamwork and leadership, all of which can apply to a broad set of career paths. Using these keywords will increase the likelihood that your profile will be found in searches, and you may even find that people will endorse your skills.

Whether you are creating a profile just now or have one already, be sure to upload a professional photo. Try to refrain from using cropped photos after a night out with friends. First impression matters, so make it a good one.

This also extends to LinkedIn connection requests. When connecting with professionals, it is recommended that you tailor the message specifically to the recipient. It may help to read their profile beforehand to find commonalities or material for questions to ask them. People have different policies when connecting with others, and some are more willing to connect with strangers than others. By customizing your LinkedIn request, you may increase the likelihood of actually connecting with that person.

On top of everything, LinkedIn serves as a personalized informational tool. As you use the system, LinkedIn will start recommending articles you can read, jobs you can apply to and groups you can join.

Getting involved with groups that relate to your career interests can help you learn about the professional world and can catalyze your networking. Once you join a group, you should also try to participate in the group discussion.

LinkedIn, like most social media tools, is constantly changing and adding more features. The best way to stay updated on new features that will strengthen your profile is to visit the Official LinkedIn Blog. There, professionals offer advice ranging from ways to improve usage of LinkedIn to the interview process and job search.

Strengthening your LinkedIn profile is an ongoing process. Investing time into the aforementioned steps will ensure that your profile is more than just an online resume.