Even with the hours spent polishing your resume, you may not be ready to attack the job market. Did you know that 94% of recruiters and hiring managers are active on LinkedIn, but only 36% of job seekers are? (Jobvite Survey)
For some reason, LinkedIn seems to attract the 30 and older crowd but this needs to change. LinkedIn is a great way to learn more about a company by hearing what its employees have to say, to find and apply to job openings from your ideal company (without having to fill out hundreds of fields of data), and to spread the word about your skills and abilities with minimum time spent.
This brief series outlines the best LinkedIn profile tips for recent graduates. We've already shared why LinkedIn is so important for graduates to join in Part 1, how to create a killer Professional Headline in Part 2, and how to write a job-winning Career Summary in Part 3. In honor of Social Media Day, we're sharing another chapter of our LinkedIn series this month.
What Is The Most Underrated LinkedIn Feature?
LinkedIn profiles feature essential sections that, like your resume, tell your story and organize your background in a way that resonates well with employers. One of these sections is your Skills and Endorsements section.
You can add up to 50 skills to this section. Fill this section with keywords, traits, and professional strengths that employers are looking for. Start with your job-related skills.
Examples of Job-related Skills
General Manager: Staff Training, Budgeting, Customer Service
Physicians Assistant: Diagnosis, Immunization Administration, Patient Recordkeeping
Software Engineer: Application Design, Software Installation, HTML/CSS/Java/C++
Fitness Trainer: Exercise Program Development, Nutrition, Kinesiology
Territory Sales Representative: Lead Generation, Account Management, Product Knowledge
Examples Of Soft Skills
Don't neglect your soft skills or professional strengths. These are easily transferable skills that apply to a wide range of roles. These skills would include:
- Time Management
- Team Leadership
Lastly, make sure to add your computer skills especially if your career goals will require you to need specific technical skills. Computer skills to add would be Microsoft Word or other Microsoft Products, PC or iOS, social media platforms, and industry-specific software.
Why College Graduates Need Endorsements and Recommendations On LinkedIn
As a recent college graduate, you likely don't have the professional experience to support your immediate career goals. While you may think dissecting your education for relevant skills will be enough to flesh out your profile, you'll need social proof to back up the skills you claim you have. So who should endorse you or write a recommendation?
- Coworkers who are familiar with your work ethic, have seen you improve, and want to see you advance in your career
- Former supervisors who know how well you learn new things and how well you work with others (both customers and management)
- Professors or instructors who have already acknowledged how well you apply what you've learned both in and out of class
- Colleagues and peers from class who would gladly attest to your professional strengths and desirable personal traits
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What You Don't Know About Endorsements
In earlier posts, we introduced you to LinkedIn "tiered" Connections. The people you are directly connected to are your 1st Connections. The people who are connected to your 1st Connections but not to you are your 2nd Connections, and so on.
It's really important to connect with people you know and who are familiar with your skills. Coworkers, former supervisors, clients, and peers from college are great connections that can endorse your skills and boost your credibility. When a connection endorses one of your skills, you will see an increasing number to show how many endorsements your skill has and a new profile photo next to the skill.
Endorsements are connected to actual profiles, so employers and recruiters can see how many of your colleagues recognize your abilities. However, if you have 99+ endorsements for Sales and you've only had a sales job for 6 months, employers and recruiters will know something is not adding up.
Use endorsements to your advantage by connecting with people you know and managing your endorsements strategically. You can manage your Skills and Endorsements section by removing skills that are not relevant to your career goals and hiding endorsements from people who may not know you or are not familiar with your abilities.
How To Ask For Endorsements
On the LinkedIn home page for logged in members, you will find a section that recommends skills that you can endorse for your 1st Connections. While this is one of the best and worst ideas from LinkedIn, this can be a tempting way to help and unhelp your connections. Go out of your way to endorse the skills of connections that you know and the skills that you are familiar with.
This feature will give your 1st Connections the ability to do the same for you, but you may find that you are being endorsed for skills that are not exactly relevant to your career goals. LinkedIn may recommend "related" skills based on other keywords in your profile. For example, you may have described leadership roles in your experience but your immediate career goals are focused on entry-level positions in a new field. Having an endorsement for "Training" will not be as effective as asking someone to endorse you for a skill that applies to your immediate career goals.
Message Your 1st Connections
When you update your profile with new skills, private message a few of your 1st Connections and ask for an endorsement. In your message, tell your connection that you are spending some time updating and improving your profile. Fill them in on your career goals, what you've been doing to boost your skills, and what's coming up for you in the next few months.
Ask the connection to endorse a specific skill or two. Explain that their support will help polish your profile and that you would be happy to do the same. Ask for an update and which skills they would like to see endorsed to help boost their profile as well.
Endorse A Connection's Skill First
A more passive but slightly less effective approach is to endorse a 1st Connection's skill first. It's likely that you will receive a quick "Thanks!" in a message and even likely that the connection will return the favor without being asked.
The downside to this approach is you don't know if that endorsement will fulfill a need or if it was an empty endorsement. You also don't get a chance to share which skill you would like to see endorsed. Make the most of your endorsements.
Graduate To Asking For Recommendations
While Endorsements are great social proof of your skills and professional strengths, think of Recommendations as a review on the "Yelp for Professionals." Recommendations give personal accounts and specific examples of how you have applied your skills and attributes.
Recommendations are just as easy to request as Endorsements. Keep the request personal and current, and you can even include a direct link in the private message to streamline the process: www.linkedin.com/recs/give.
If you have been applying all of our LinkedIn tips for college graduates to your profiles, then your that much closer to securing your dream job on social media! Our final chapter will be published next month and will share innovative ideas that will help your profile stand out from others. Stay tuned...