Six Ways College Students Can Optimize LinkedIn to Find Jobs

by B. Simmons
University of Denver

Behind the Scholarship

In modern society, technology has led the millennial generation in ways unimaginable to our parents and grandparents. Among many other things, technology has allowed us to connect with people around the world, celebrate personal and professional triumphs, and create in-depth online portfolios of ourselves to display to the world. LinkedIn is a great tool for all three of the aforementioned advantages technology has made possible. Creating the best profile, one that will catch the eyes of a potential employer, is an art. I've had a LinkedIn account for years now and like many others I created one because that was the thing to do at the time. I didn't realize the vast amount of opportunities available on the other side of the screen. But, over the years I've learned how to tweak my profile to fit my needs and improve potential job prospects. There are six key areas to making this happen.

Your profile picture is the first impression you offer a potential employer. You should put your best foot forward. Your profile picture should display exactly what you hope your potential employer will perceive you as. Leave the party pictures in your cell phone’s photo gallery and go for a professional picture that shows you can be taken seriously on the job. 

If the profile picture and adjacent qualifications meet their satisfaction, it is likely your potential employer will view your summary next. Remember the elevator speech you had to learn for all those networking events. Once again, put it to use. Your LinkedIn summary is a great place to elaborate on your elevator speech. Invite your profile page viewers into your accomplishments and further ambitions. Use the summary as an opportunity to tell who you are and why you are best qualified for the job. Treat your summary as a job application cover letter. 

By this point you’ve drawn the employer in with all you’ve had to say. Now, it’s time to show examples of the work you’ve accomplished. This can be done in several ways. There is an option to upload examples of your work for viewing on your profile. You could also display awards and honors you’ve received. Listing your educational accomplishments is a given, but go a step further and discuss the specific things you learned during your time at an institution. Go beyond that to talk about the organizations you are/were involved in to display your engagement with the university. Don’t settle for telling your potential employer all the great things you can do, show them that you‘ll be a great asset to their company. 

A potential employer may be greatly impressed by activity of your LinkedIn page. Interact with colleagues via your LinkedIn page, for professional purposes, just as much as you would use your Twitter or Facebook. A good way to do this is by keeping up with your colleagues and their professional lives by congratulating them on a new job or promotion. You could also reciprocate skills and endorsements between LinkedIn friends. 

As mentioned before, employers are looking for assets to their company. By my definition, an asset is a person who does their job and does it well, yet still maintains a bit of personality that offers a bit of fresh air to the workspace. An employer should feel as though it would be enjoyable to work with you. Tell your viewers about some of the things that make you human. If you have a family or a pet as a companion, love working out in your spare time or can’t get enough of action movies, share these details in the additional info section. This showcases glimpses of your personality and you may have something in common with a viewer on your page. Present only a few aspects to not take away from the professionalism of your LinkedIn page.

Lastly, reach out. If there’s someone who you’d like to connect with or a company you’re interested in, do not be hesitant to go for it. Send a professional and personalized message requesting to be connected and follow up. Making contact to say you’re interested or ask a question is harmless and may be the first step to employment with the company of your dreams. Many employers appreciate the eager initiative of college students so take advantage of it. It may be just what you need to set you apart from the rest of the crowd.