Are you a college student or recent college graduate looking for a job?

Focus your attention on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has steadily grown into a networking and job-seeking powerhouse. More than 26 million companies are represented on the platform with more than 15 million open jobs.

Great, you say. Where do I start?

I’m glad you asked!

These are my best practices for young people looking for employment on LinkedIn:

1. Be more than a student, a graduate, or an intern.

This may be the Millennial in me talking (the old-geezer Millennial), but please own your expertise. I recognize your expertise has a long way to go, but categorizing yourself as a student, graduate, or intern screams inexperience.

As much as Millennials get a bad rap for thinking highly of themselves, it is critical to properly represent your knowledge to compete in the LinkedIn job market.

Use your 125-character LinkedIn headline to sell yourself.

Circa 2004, I was the “New Media” intern with the Detroit Lions, editing the team website and helping with content creation. Instead of using “New Media Intern for the Detroit Lions” as my headline (yawn), I could have used:

Content Creator for the Detroit Lions | Photographer | Editor | Website Manager | Graphic Designer

Don’t get me wrong, my skills were nowhere near polished, but this headline represents the areas I could have contributed to another organization. Had a human resources professional conducted a LinkedIn search (had it existed back then) for “content creation,” this version of a headline gives me a chance of being found and contacted.

Also make sure your profile is optimized and you have a complete set of skills – you can use my free checklist as a guide.

2. Connect, connect, connect.

As a young person in a competitive job market, it’s all about who you know. (After that, you better know what you’re doing, but that’s for another blog post.)

The bandwidth of who you can know is wider than ever, but social media shouldn’t be your primary objective. Reaching professionals via LinkedIn and other digital platforms must be a gateway to connecting in the real world.

Start with who you know and spider your way out.

As a college student or recent graduate, leverage the influencers in your real-world network. Begin with professors, employers, or professionals you’ve helped as part of an internship or class project.

  1. Ask for introductions. Do you want to work with a particular company? Search for the right people in that company and see if you have any common LinkedIn connections. If you do, ask your common connection to make an introduction.
  2. Ask for a promotional post. If you know someone with a large and active network on LinkedIn, ask that person to post about you and what you are looking to accomplish as a professional. These posts not only help you, they help the person sharing about you!
  3. Ask for a recommendation. While these are less prominent than they used to be, having recommendations from professionals on LinkedIn can help immensely when potential employers are vetting you out by looking at your profile.

3. Make up a job.

This is on the up-and-up and it applies to anyone out of work and looking for a job on LinkedIn. If it is applicable to your industry to be a consultant, be a consultant, even if it’s only on your LinkedIn profile.

Current experience sections on LinkedIn are weighted heavier for SEO than past experience sections and the additional section allows you to promote yourself and your skills. 

Consider what you could offer as a consultant and be ready to actually consult.

If your industry doesn’t allow for consulting, try to find something you can do to keep yourself current. Volunteer with a local business or a local professional, for example.

As much as we wish it weren’t the case, a current experience section is critical to avoid the dreaded “gap.” Thankfully, LinkedIn provides flexibility with what can be presented.

4. Have a presence.

Have a presence and an identity on LinkedIn beyond searching for a job! Post on the platform to generate trust and likability, and to showcase your expertise.

Stand for something without ruffling any feathers (make sure you play the part of good representative of your future employer). If you are a writer, write. If you are a teacher, share ideas or articles about your teaching philosophy. Add value by commenting on the posts of others.

Be seen.

I could argue that No. 1 thing valued by all employers is proactivity because of what it represents. Proactive people are making an effort, they clearly care about what they’re doing, and they have a fire in their belly to succeed.

Show up on LinkedIn and experience the fruits of your labor.

5. Be patient.

Last, but certainly not least, recognize that this will be a process. If you are a student now, you have an advantage because you aren’t in a rush. 

Know that you are investing in potential job opportunities by having a high quality headline and profile, connecting with relevant individuals, properly representing your skills and abilities, and engaging on the platform.

Follow these steps, and you will be on your way to a robust and fruitful LinkedIn presence.

About Chrissie Zavicar

Chrissie Zavicar is a LinkedIn visibility expert and lead generator working with six- and seven-figure businesses. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or contact page.