This season's college grads might have Instagrammed their way through school. But there's a social media platform they've no graduated to, and it could be the difference between getting a job on the sooner side or living with mom and dad for a while. I'm talking about LinkedIn.
Your LinkedIn profile is your online resume, career portfolio and networking tool all in one. It's time you build a profile that compels recruiters and would-be managers to take a good look at you. How to do it? Here's how in 10 steps -- whether you're new to jobhunting or an old pro.
1. Get a professional-looking headshot.
You don't have to hire a professional photograher, but your profile photo should look professional. Get someone to snap a pic of you -- head and shoulders -- in natural light against a neutral background. Upload, and boom, you can expect 14 times more profile views when you have a profile photo, according to LinkeIn.
2. Upload a cover photo.
If Insta has shown us anything, it's the power of photos. Put that knowledge to use by uploading a cover photo to your profile. It shows personality and an attention to detail as too many peole leave this spot blank and boring.
Go to royalty free photo sites like Unsplash.com or Pixabay.com and start searching. Maybe you choose a pic of your city skyline, your college campus or something that represents what you do -- rows of books for a librarian or computer code for a software engineer.
3. Be thoughtful about your headline.
I'm a fan of straightforward headlines that tie directly to your job title -- junior analyst or retail associate, for example -- or cleary state what you do -- teacher or freelance writer.
But if you don't have a job yet, it's hard to be straightforward. Use the headline space to describe the role you'd like to have. For example, if I just graduated, maybe it would be Ohio University J-School Grad Seeking Newspaper Job and Writing Assignments or Journalism School Grad with Internship Experience Seeking News Job.
Just remember to change it when you land a job.
4. Write your summary story.
Don't waste the summary space. This is your professional bio. Use it to make your case for where you see yourself and what you learned in school or during college internships. Update it as your career progresses.
5. Include your volunteer experience.
If you have volunteer experience, by all means list it. If it applies to your chosen field -- like you are a finance major who has experience as treasurer of your sorority -- then spell out that connection and how you applied your knowledge.
6. Ask for a recommendation.
Ask your college advisor, work-study manager or anyone who has overseen your work and can say nice things about you to write you a LinkedIn recommendation.
7. Don't forget your contact information.
Captain Obvious here telling you to make sure to include current contact information. You do want recruiters and hiring managers to be able to find you.
8. Fill out your career interests.
In the career interests section, make sure to mark yourself open to new opportunities and fil in details about the opportunities that interest you.
9. Make -- don't collect -- connections.
The networking part of LinkedIn is about getting to know your connections, not merely collecting them. So keep in touch with those you know. Check in to see what's new with those in your network and ask about catching up by phone or in person.
10. Log in regularly and engage.
Now and throughout your career, make sure to log in regularly to LinkedIn and engage. Like and comment on posts that interest you. Congratulate people on new jobs and promotions. Post your own content -- status updates, articles worth reading and maybe even articles you write. Check and reply to your messages.
Bonus tip: As you advance in your career, keep your LinkedIn profile up to date. That way you are always ready to seize a new opportunity. Plus, it's really hard and time consuming to try to chronicle every career moment and highlight years after the fact. Get on it and stay on it, because nobody will ever care as much about your career as you. Invest this time in you and your career.