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A LinkedIn profile – really? Do I honestly need one? I already have so much on my plate - -

finishing school, writing my resume, taking the certification exam.

I just don’t have the time to build a LinkedIn profile.

Is this you? Are you the one asking, “Do I need a LinkedIn profile?” In a word - - yes. And here is why: notorious bank robber Willie Sutton was once asked why he robbed banks. His answer? “Because it is where the money is.”

Now if you are a job seeker, recruiters are your “money.” They are the gatekeepers, the guardians of the job castle. Without them, you are stuck outside the moat. And just guess where the recruiters are? That’s right - - on LinkedIn! Recruiters will search all the professionals in the world who have a profile on LinkedIn with one click, then contact the 20 who are perfect for the job they are hoping to fill. Boom - - candidate found!

Bottom line: be like Willie and go where the money is.

So how do you go about building a great student profile? What do you need to do to showcase your experience and professional interests on LinkedIn?

Step 1: Write an informative profile headline. Your headline is a short, memorable professional slogan. For example, “Honors student seeking marketing position.” It’s okay to check out the profiles of students and recent alumni you admire who are in the same field for potential ideas.

Step 2: Pick an appropriate photo. LinkedIn isn’t Facebook. Upload a high-quality professional photo. Your profile will be seven times more likely to be viewed if it is of you alone, professionally dressed, with no party shots, cartoon avatars or puppy pics.  And smile - humans like smiling faces!

 Step 3: Show off your education. Include all your schools, major(s) and minor, courses, and study abroad or summer programs. Don’t be shy – LinkedIn is an appropriate place to show off your GPA, test scores, and honors or awards.

 Step 4: Develop a professional Summary. Your Summary statement is like the first few paragraphs of your best-written cover letter: concise and confident about your qualifications and goals.  It is also the place for you to tell your story, focusing on things that make a great story like passion, anecdotes, and a clear point. 

Step 5: Fill “Skills & Expertise” with keywords. This section is the place to include keywords and phrases that recruiters search for. Find words in relevant job postings, and profiles of people who have the kinds of roles you want. Be sure to include skills you have learned in school, as these are just as important.

Step 6: Update your status regularly. Posting updates helps you stay on your network’s radar, as well as build your professional image. Mention your projects, professional books or articles, or events you are attending. Remember that many recruiters will be reading your feed.

Step 7: Show your connectedness. Groups you join appear at the bottom of your profile. Joining groups shows that you want to engage in professional communities and learn the lingo. Start with your university and industry groups.

Step 8: Collect diverse recommendations. The best profiles have at least one recommendation from each position a person has held. Recruiters are most impressed by recommendations from people who have directly managed you.

 Step 9: Claim your unique LinkedIn URL. To increase the professional results that appear when people search for you online, set your LinkedIn profile to “public” and create a unique URL (e.g., www.linkedin.com/in/JohnSmith).

Step 10: Share your work. You can also add actual examples of your writing, design work, or other accomplishments on your profile, where you can share rich media or documents. What better way to sell your skills than to show employers exactly what you can produce?