It is almost spring, and that means job and internship application season for many graduate students. Now is a great time to start updating your resumé and LinkedIn profile. Since LinkedIn is ultimately used by 90 percent of U.S. companies at some point in the recruitment or hiring process, it is important to make sure that your LinkedIn profile makes a good first impression.
The student organization Beyond Academia recently held its fourth annual Professional Profile Clinic, which helps graduate students take their first steps to prepare for a career outside of academia. The event featured a keynote presentation by Andrew Green, Ph.D. Counselor and Associate Director at the Career Center, on “Leveraging LinkedIn in the Job Search Process.” In his presentation, Green shared how easy it can be to get more visitors to your LinkedIn page with a few quick and simple changes.
Five Tips to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out
- Include a good headshot. Profiles with a headshot get significantly more clicks, so adding a picture is a fast way to make a big impact by highlighting your personability and confirming your identity to the potential recruiter. The clinic also offered professional headshot photos for students in attendance.
- Make your personal summary shine. The summary is usually the first piece of text that the reader encounters after your name when they click on your LinkedIn profile. This headline can be used not just to say who you are and what you currently do, but, perhaps more importantly, where you see yourself going. You can also describe specific skills that you have, especially if these skills might not be obvious from your degree title listed further below.
- Showcase your broader skill set. Unlike a tailored resumé, a LinkedIn profile should showcase a variety of qualifications and skills that you possess. A successful LinkedIn profile will contain embedded links to your articles, code, or other tangible achievements, and may feature further photographs of you at work, especially if you want to emphasize your experience with outreach or interpersonal communication.
- Make it easy to navigate. The easier you make it for recruiters to read your page, the more likely you are to get favorable responses to your efforts to connect with them. Green recommends breaking up your information into small, digestible bullet points, making it easy for the reader to take it all in and quickly find what they are looking for.
- Be proactive and use interactive functions. Take a proactive stance on LinkedIn by reaching out directly to people with similar backgrounds working in fields that you are interested in entering. “LinkedIn helps you to find people you’d like to have coffee with,” says Green, who also recommends following professional groups on LinkedIn or commenting on blog posts to become more active in the professional community.
After Green’s presentation, students at the clinic broke out into small groups to get one-on-one critiques and advice on their resumés from reviewers with business, nonprofit, and tech backgrounds. Green shared some useful tips at his own table.
How to Create a Strong Resumé
- A resumé is not a biography. A useful resumé should feature only the information that is most relevant to the job that you are applying for. “Just because you’ve done it, doesn’t mean it belongs on your resumé for this position,” said Green.
- Make it glanceable. Leave lots of open space, and don’t cramp the page with too much dense text. Recruiters may only glance at your first page for a few seconds, and you want to make those seconds count. Pick just four or five bullet points that really matter for the position you are applying to.
- Highlight interpersonal skills. Graduate students may tend to think of themselves as independent workers, but it’s important in a resumé to highlight teamwork experience and the ability to work well on collaborative projects.
- Tailor your format to the job. Label your section subheadings and break up your bullet points in ways that are relevant to the specific position that you are applying for. Ask yourself: What is the function of including this piece of information? Is it arranged in the most useful way?
If you have questions on any of these tips, or want feedback on your resumé, you can also make an appointment at the Career Center.
Good luck getting those job applications out!
Maelia DuBois is a Professional Development Liaison at the Graduate Division and a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History with a specialization in German history.