For the Millennial generation, an active social media presence is almost a requirement. Whether it's on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or some other social network, college students and recent grads are constantly posting and sharing about their day-to-day lives and connecting with friends and family. But are they active on LinkedIn, where it counts for their career?
"Many employers and contacts won't take you seriously unless you have a strong and highly professional online presence," said Christina Allen, director of product management at LinkedIn. "Seventy percent of employers have rejected a job candidate because of information they found about that person online."
For recent grads especially, joining and participating on LinkedIn is an important part of the job search. Allen offered these tips for making the most of your LinkedIn account. [7 LinkedIn Job Hunting Tactics That Work ]
Your LinkedIn profile is an opportunity for you to create a professional brand for yourself.
"A LinkedIn profile, often a top hit on search engines, is a great way to put your best foot forward," Allen said, adding that your profile should showcase all of your experience and expertise in detail.
If you're creating your profile for the first time or in need of some serious updates, make sure you do the following:
- Upload a professional profile photo. According to LinkedIn's data science team,your profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed if you have a photo. The key, Allen said, is making sure your profile photo is appropriate and professional.
- Make your headline and summary keyword SEO friendly. Your headline should state who you are, if you're searching for a job, and what you want to do. Your summary should contain at least 40 words and include key phrases that appear in the job descriptions that interest you, Allen said.
- Detail your experience. You may not have a lot of formal work experience, but including pictures, videos and presentations you've created in school and at internships, as well as volunteer experience, can have a huge impact on how potential employers see you. According to LinkedIn's data, 42 percent of hiring managers on LinkedIn said they view volunteer experience as equal to work experience.
- Create and share content. "Publishing content on LinkedIn demonstrates your unique point of view and expertise, as well as showcasing your writing skills," Allen said.
- Take advantage of endorsements and recommendations. Adding skills to your profile that allow your connections to endorse you is important, because, according to LinkedIn's data, profiles that do are 13 times more likely to be viewed. Allen said that getting recommendations from people you've worked or volunteered with, or from professors and teaching assistants whose courses you took, is also an excellent way to boost your profile.
- Join relevant groups. Join groups that are specific to your industry or related to schools you've attended, but don't just join them – be sure to participate in discussions to help further establish your professional brand, Allen said.
Joining groups is only one way of getting your name out there. Once your profile is filled out with all of your skills and experience, make sure you connect with people and start building relationships.
"Seventy percent of jobs are found through networking," Allen said. "It's about who you know, and more importantly, who they know."
To jumpstart the networking process, Allen suggested taking three important steps. First, add your email contacts with LinkedIn's address book uploader. Then, go through the "People You May Know" section to add people you want to connect with. After that, check out LinkedIn's Alumni Tool. The alumni tool allows you to explore other alumni career paths from more than 25,000 colleges and universities worldwide, Allen said. From there, you can build relationships with alumni in similar fields and see where they live, work and how they could be connected to you.
When it comes time to search for jobs, take advantage of LinkedIn's Student Jobs Portal. This tool is set up specifically for current students and recent graduates and has more than 60,000 entry-level jobs and internships. You can also keep track of companies you're interested in working for by following Company Pages. You can see who works there and what other LinkedIn users have to say about them.
"The best part is you can see who you know who works there – so you can go from just another applicant to a 'warm' lead," Allen said.
Originally published on Business News Daily.