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LinkedIn 101: A Quick & Easy Guide for College Grads

Where do I start my job search? After graduating college, that question sinks in like a bowling ball thrown into a tar pit. Though it’s clear you need to be exploring job boards and networking, your launch point isn’t always clear. What if you could do both with a website that reaches over 350 million users?

That’s the full potential of LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a great tool for job searching, networking, and even keeping up with industry news. And just because you’re new to it doesn’t mean you’ll be relegated to the sidelines. There are a number of easy-to-follow LinkedIn tips for recent college graduates that can get you noticed (and even pursued) by employers.

LinkedIn Photo

What’s the first thing anyone notices? It’s your profile photo. Think of it like a gourmet meal: if the presentation isn’t good, you probably won’t get anyone to take a bite.

As a job seeker, a good photo is a professional one. No quirky avatars or pictures of anyone but you. Employers should be able to pick you out in a line-up (or if you’re sitting in their lobby).

Photo quality should be clear and crisp (no mistaking you for a fleeing sasquatch). Avoid using photos in front of windows, in your car, or near blinding sources of white light because it can overpower your image.

What does an ideal LinkedIn photo look like? You in professional attire with your face and shoulders in the frame standing before a blank wall or natural scene (a tree line, coastal view, hilly vista, etc.). Always take a photo your ideal company would want for a meet the team page.

LinkedIn Keywords

Unlike a resume, which goes out to employers, your LinkedIn profile is meant to draw people to you. That magnetism is achieved through a savvy use of optimized keywords.

What are your keywords? It depends on your field and specialization. As a recent college graduate, your keywords will be the technical skills you gained in your coursework and internships.

Can’t think of the right keywords? Do a LinkedIn search on anyone in your profession. The top profiles are optimized for that specific job title, repeating it and other keywords enough times to boost their search ranking.

There are several places to put optimized keywords in your profile:

What if you just repeat your keyword 35 times in a row? Can you jump to the top? Not if LinkedIn catches you. They use an algorithm to pick up on spammy usage of keywords and can deactivate the accounts of anyone trying to game the system.

Endorsements and Recommendations

What others say about you speaks volumes. LinkedIn provides space for your classmates, professors, peers, and coworkers to vouch for your abilities in two unique ways – through written recommendations and endorsed skills.

Written recommendations hold the most sway because they take thought, effort, and genuine appreciation of your skills. Instead of waiting for someone to give you a recommendation, you need to take the first step in one of two ways:

In both cases, only reach out to people you know. Requests from mere acquaintances or strangers tend to get rejected.

Endorsements are less complicated. You list a number of technical skills and soft skills you possess under skills and endorsements. From there, people can simply click on those they agree you have.

Get the ball rolling by endorsing the skills of a few people in your network (don’t do it at random, stick to those people you’ve actually seen at work). And don’t get too crazy. If you start endorsing people for Bird Control or Glitter Tattoos, they probably won’t do you favors any time soon.

LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn groups are one of the main ways users network on the professional platform. By joining any of the hundreds of Groups available, you give yourself access to discussion forums where industry news, strategies, and innovations are readily shared among members.

When choosing a group to join, take a close look at three different things:

Once you’ve joined a given group, it’s time to get active. Respond to conversations. Post your own discussions. Once you’ve got a conversation going, reach out and work to build a stronger networking partnership. You’ll be surprised by how easily conversation can build bonds and help you grow your overall networking connections.

Taking LinkedIn to the Next Level

We’ve come to the end and there are still plenty of things LinkedIn tips for recent college graduates we’d love to put in here. (Here’s an extra freebie: include your volunteer experience. It’s can be as appealing as plenty of jobs in your work history).

If you want added resources, one of your best is LinkedIn itself. Yep, LinkedIn has its own tips for navigating its advanced features and their editorial team regularly posts updates. It’s a great way to get acclimated to the website and quickly get working on your first job.

Why just look there? At IDR, we’re constantly looking for new team members who bring their passion and adaptability to every situation. Find out more and apply here.


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