Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile

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Whether you’re a student in college applying for internships, a recent graduate searching for an entry-level position or already a professional in the working world, chances are, you’ve got a LinkedIn page with your name on it. No matter where you are in your career path, it’s important to optimize and maintain your LinkedIn profile. Doing so will allow you to become more visible to other students/colleagues in your industry and will also help you increase your connections to the industry. Here are some key areas of your LinkedIn page to pay extra attention to:

Profile Photo

If your profile photo on LinkedIn is currently a white shadow of a bald person, I recommend that you upload a photo of yourself as soon as possible! Without a profile photo, if your profile comes up in a search, it’s unlikely that someone will choose to view it, under the assumption that you probably haven’t logged on to your LinkedIn in awhile.

What makes a good profile photo? Your picture should be a professional headshot– it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just remember to smile, because everyone loves an approachable face. Stay away from selfies and modeling photos, as well as photos with a limb cut off because you had to crop out the person standing next to you.

Headline

Make sure that your headline is not only search-friendly, but also says who you are and what you specialize in and speaks to your audience. Maybe you’re a ‘Detail-oriented public relations student eager to learn from a corporate PR internship‘ or a ‘Seasoned public relations professional specializing in managing crises.‘ Whoever you are, make sure that stands out in your headline– leverage those 120 characters!

Summary

Write your summary in first person– LinkedIn, after all, is a social media platform– let some personality shine through! Who are you? What experience (and how much) do you have? What are you passionate about? What are you hoping to gain from a connection? Answer these questions here, but try not to get too lengthy; two to three short paragraphs is perfect.

Experience

Similar to your resume, current experiences should be bulleted in present tense, while past experiences should be bulleted in past tense. Don’t resort to ‘fluff’ in this portion of your profile– highlight responsibilities (clear, concise & straight to the point) that will make a recruiter or potential connection go, ‘Wow, he/she accomplished that?!

Advice For Contacting

How can someone contact you outside of LinkedIn? In what instances would you like he/she to contact you? Type it out in this section. Think of something along the lines of ‘Interested in working with me? You can contact me directly at _____.’

Which section do you think is most vital when it comes to leveraging your LinkedIn profile? Let me know by leaving a comment, or by tweeting me at @thisjenngirl!

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Getting An Internship Part 1: Preparing Your Resume

In this “Getting An Internship” portion of the series I’ve been preparing for you, there will be three separate parts, each with its own tip sheet– Part 1: Preparing Your Resume, Part 2: Preparing Your Cover Letter and Part 3: Acing Your Interview.

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Before applying to an internship that you’ve found, you should make sure that you have a resume on file. If you haven’t created one already, this sample template should assist you in compiling the information you need for a functional resume:

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If this is your first internship that you’re applying to, chances are, you don’t have a whole lot of substance to put onto your resume. But if you carefully read the description of the internship position, you may find that you have experiences that are relevant. Have you participated in any volunteer opportunities within the past two years? Are you an active member of an organization on campus? Have you had any part-time jobs that taught you about responsibility, organization, multitasking or taking initiative? Any of these experiences can be included in your resume, so long as the skills that you took from them are related to that of the internship you are applying to.

When you begin listing the responsibilities of each experience, be sure to utilize strong action verbs, such as communicated, compiled, organized, produced, assisted with, etc. If the position that you are describing is one you held in the past, be sure to list its responsibilities in the past tense. If you still hold that position currently, list its responsibilities in the present tense.

You’ll want to organize your resume with your most recent experience at the top, with the rest in reverse chronological order. Although a lot of resume samples list the dates numerically (05/2009 – 06/2010), I recommend that you list your dates with the month spelled out, followed by the year (May 2009 – June 2010). Using this method makes it easier for the reader and reduces any unnecessary confusion.

A lot of resume samples that you’ll find online include an ‘objective’ section, where you include (in sentence form) the position that you are seeking, along with any skills you feel are appropriate for that position. Personally, I think that this is unnecessary, as your email subject line will answer the question of what position you are applying for and your cover letter will explain in detail the skills that you encompass that make you a good candidate for the internship.

As far as the ‘skills’ section of your resume goes, ask yourself: What skills do I possess that are relevant to the internship that I am applying for? What software are you familiar with, do you know how to use Microsoft Office, Adobe Illustrator, InDesign or Photoshop? Are you good at writing, familiar with AP Style? List your skills, in bullet form.

After you complete your resume, check, double check and triple check for any errors. Once you feel confident in the way it sounds and appears, ask a variety of people to look it over for you: an advisor, a friend, a mentor, a professor, etc. Your university’s career center is also a very helpful resource if you’re stuck on how to effectively bring your skills out on paper.

Good luck on your search for an internship, and be sure to check back for part two, which will cover the topic of preparing your cover letter!