This article was originally published on USA Today College, written by Dean Ku, and is republished here with permission.
In my experience as a career counselor at Santa Clara University, it’s clear that most students have heard about LinkedIn and many even have profiles — but few students fully take advantage of all its tools and features.
Did you know that employers regularly recruit and screen candidates from LinkedIn and some will only search the profiles of students with 100% complete profiles? Or, that if you upload a high-quality photo, your profile is 7x more likely to be viewed?
Here’s how to maximize LinkedIn’s tools and features to get a job:
1. Make sure your profile is 100% complete
A complete profile demonstrates to an employer that you take your professional training and experiences seriously — and they should too. A 100% complete profile is 40x more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn.
Be sure to include keywords that recruiters use to search for candidates. Look at job descriptions that you are interested in and compile a list of keywords and make sure they appear frequently in your Summary, Experience and Skills & Expertise sections.
Also, make sure to show — not tell. Good with people? Demonstrate that with the number of connections you have. Great graphic designer? Upload your best work on LinkedIn. Does your supervisor appreciate the work you do? Have her write a recommendation through LinkedIn and it will appear on your profile for recruiters to see.
Here’s a checklist to make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete.
2. Use the LinkedIn Alumni Tool to see who’s hiring from your school
The Alumni Tool allows you access to a huge database of your school’s alumni. You can search by all types of different criteria including years attended, major, geographic location, job type and more.
This data will be invaluable as you explore your options given your major and area of career interest. For example, you can discover the following:
- What are the top 10 companies that hire from your school? You may have connections to alumni at these companies that could refer you to recruiters.
- What are political science graduates from your school doing? This may give you some new ideas for potential careers or may help you identify possible mentors.
- What do the profiles of students who are employed by the top companies look like? Perhaps reading about their experiences will help you to better highlight skills you gained from similar activities and organizations on campus.
3. Network with other students or alumni through LinkedIn
Seventy percent of jobs are found through networking according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and there’s no better way to reach out to professionals than through LinkedIn.
Start building your network on LinkedIn by uploading your email address book to connect to friends, family friends, classmates, and professors that you know and trust. Also, try to make contact through people that you know personally. For second degree connections, you can “Get Introduced” by someone you are directly connected to.
Also make sure to personalize your message and ask for an informational interview. Many alumni are happy to share their experiences with students and will help when they can.
4. Join LinkedIn groups associated with your industry of interest
By joining LinkedIn groups like your university’s alumni association or business or engineering groups, you can start building relationships with professionals in your field of study.
Participate in discussions and engage with group members to demonstrate your interest and curiosity in a field of study. You may be surprised to learn how many professionals might be willing to help a bright, earnest student seeking career advice and help with an internship or job opportunity.
5. Use LinkedIn’s student jobs portal
Search jobs by criteria like location, company, industry, job function, salary and even experience level like “entry level.” You can save and label up to 10 searches and have LinkedIn email new search results to you on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. This allows you to both customize and automate your search to save time.
You may be missing out on job opportunities if you aren’t using of all these LinkedIn features. Be sure to set yourself apart through your LinkedIn presence and facility with its tools.
Good luck job hunting!
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feature image via Getty