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LinkedIn Best Practices for Students

Whether you’re an experienced Senior on the job hunt, or a Freshman just getting started, it’s probably time you start building your LinkedIn profile. Many recruiters are starting to use this in place of submitting traditional resumes, and that means it needs to be just as impressive – if not more – as that piece of paper. So here are a few guides to make sure you’re on the right track.

Photo: Having a photo on your profile should be a given, but you’d be surprised how many students skip this step. It not only shows you have put the effort into putting a picture up, but also puts a face to the name for employers. Most importantly, make sure it’s a professional photo – sans the crazy MySpace angles. Wear something nice with a clean background, focusing on the shoulders up (like I said, face with a name).

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Summary: If you choose to have a summary on your profile, keep it brief. Employers are likely to move on to the next candidate if they have to read through your life story before they get to what’s relevant. Focus on things like specific qualities you have that relate to your field or any specialties you have.

Experience: Keep this to a concise bullet point list of the key projects and responsibilities from each position you have had. Your more recent experience can be a little longer than your others, as employers are more likely to focus on that. Three to five bullet points is usually a good guide to follow.

Skills: Make sure you don’t overload your profile with a bunch of random skills. Try and keep it between seven to ten main skills that really highlight things that will be relevant to your career path. Since you have such a short time to prove why you’re the best candidate, make sure these skills have a high impact, and aren’t just fluff.

Endorsements: Having endorsements gives you much more credibility, and shows employers that you have taken the time to invest in your profile. If you’d like to get more endorsements, endorsing others in your network is always a great start! They’re usually willing to return the favor for skills they’ve seen you complete.

Recommendations: Having a recommendation on your experience is one of the best ways to get the attention of future employers. It shows that other people were willing to take the time to write about how amazing you are, which says a lot about your accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations for the quality work you’ve done! If your colleagues are impressed with your work, they’re usually more than willing to help.

With that, you should be ready to put your best foot forward in the job search! Is there anything I left out? Let me know in the comments below.

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Our computers II (Photo credit: aranarth)
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