5 Ways New College Grads Can Best Utilize LinkedIn Effectively

5 Ways New College Grads Can Best Utilize LinkedIn Effectively

If you’re a new college graduate, chances are that you’re deep into the job hunt, filling and sending applications while praying for a response. LinkedIn has become a fixture of the business world, especially when it comes to recruiting and networking. As a recent grad or someone just starting in their career, it can be a powerful tool to stand out and go the extra mile when it comes to finding a job.

Here are 5 ways new college grads can best utilize LinkedIn effectively in their job hunt:

Get a second set of eyes on your profile

When I was getting ready to graduate college, multiple people told me how important it was to proofread your resume and get someone else to do the same thing. One thing I was not told was to get a second set of eyes on my LinkedIn profile. 

That was five years ago and LinkedIn’s importance has grown significantly since then. It’s estimated that 95% of recruiters use the social media network as a primary sourcing tool for candidates. With that in mind, you need to make sure your profile is the best it can be. One of the ways to do this is to have someone take a look at your profile to not only proofread, but to offer advice on how to improve it. 

When I was working for a magazine, my boss told me that “everyone needs an editor.” That’s a lesson that’s proven true time and time again. While it can sometimes be painful to hear constructive criticism, having someone look at and critique your profile will help make it better.

Here are some things to double check for:

  • Do you have a profile summary and is it updated?
  • Is all of your experience on your profile? Is it optimized for keywords? 
  • Does your experience show contributions you made, not just the duties you performed?
  • Do you have any endorsements? Is there anyone you can ask for one (a professor, internship manager, coworker, etc.)?
  • Do you have your skills section updated and optimized for the jobs you’re targeting?

Research for the job you want

One of the great things about LinkedIn is how many different kinds of people use it. Because of this, you can research people who currently have the type of job you’re looking for, especially if they are a recent grad or have only been in the industry a year or two. 

When you’re looking to customize your resume and cover letter for a job application, go beyond just the job posting. Take a look at other profiles to see what skills and experience those individuals have so you can glean insights to apply to your application. If you have an idea of “the goal” or the “endpoint,” it will help you when you’re working to get there. 

When the profiles of people with the job you want all include similar phrases, skills, or accomplishments, that likely means that those are important for that job or industry. If you have any of that experience, you can then highlight that on your application and your own profile. 

A little snooping before an interview is okay

If you’ve succeeded in landing an interview, you’ll want to come in as prepared as possible. One way to do that is to research the individual(s) that will be conducting your interview. Some people might want to shy away from this because LinkedIn gives a notification when someone has viewed your profile. As someone who is a hiring manager, I’ve never minded this when I’ve seen it. To me, it means that someone is doing their research and working to be as prepared as possible. I take it as a positive when I see that a candidate has viewed my profile.

Here are some of the benefits of looking at the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile:

  • You’ll get a better sense of them as a professional and their company. What was their career path? When did they start? Have they been promoted or changed jobs within the organization?
  • Potentially identifying a connection. It’s a small world out there. Maybe your interviewer went to your college or maybe you have lived in the same city as them. Maybe you have the same major or minor. Identifying these similarities allow you to make a connection and standout. 
  • You’ll know about their work history and accomplishments. You can potentially reference it during the interview which will show you’ve done your homework and are well prepared.

A message can go a long way

When it comes to jobs, there is more than one way to find and apply for a position. Something that always stands out to me is when someone reaches out to me on LinkedIn to ask about an open position. Something I always like is when someone reaches out to start a conversation or ask questions. This shows that you’re motivated, thoughtful, and really care about learning about the position.

Sometimes it can be tricky to track down the right person to message, especially at a large company. If it is a large company, you might want to start with messaging a recruiter. They’re usually the first step in the hiring process anyway, so starting with them is a great idea. For a more medium or smaller sized company, it should hopefully be easier to find the hiring manager. Look for someone who is a manager in the same group you’re planning to apply to (e.g. if you’re applying for an entry level marketing manager, look for a marketing manager). 

Don’t worry too much if you message the wrong person. If it’s a good company with good people, they’ll usually direct you to the right person or send it to them themselves. 

Don’t be afraid to add to your network

Sometimes it can be difficult to know who to add to our network and how important it is to do it. I remember feeling anxious about it when I was a student. My advice: Add as many classmates as you can while you’re in school or recently graduated. This doesn’t mean you should spam invites or blast them out to every single person you had a class with, but it’s a good idea to add classmates you had a connection, multiple classes, a project, or anything along those lines. Building this network now, when you’re all in the early stages of your career, will only help you down the road. Perhaps there will be an opportunity to help each other out down the road as your careers grow.

Additionally, be sure to add any managers you had during an interview or job while in school. Sometimes it can be easy to forget to send them an invite. Another potential connection to make is with professors — some encourage this and others do not. It’s best to talk to them first before sending an invite. 

These types of connections can be valuable in both the short term and long term. As you progress further in your career, I’d recommend checking out this guide on sending invites.

The job hunt can be taxing, especially for new college grads who don’t already have a source of income and are potentially facing new costs, such as student loan payments. If you’re looking to stand out from other applications, make sure that you’re using LinkedIn to its full advantage. The above tips are just a few of the many ways that new college grads can utilize LinkedIn during their job hunt. Overall, it’s about making sure you present yourself in the best possible way while showing that you’re motivated and you truly want the job. These tips and pieces of advise can help you do exactly that. 

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David Cusick

David Cusick is a content marketing manager and PR professional for a digital marketing agency in Raleigh, NC and has a strong news background, having worked for a local TV station. His work has won multiple awards, including Interactive Content Marketing's award for Best Use of Content Marketing and the US Search Award for Best Use of PR in a Search Campaign. When not working or writing, he can be found hanging out with his dog, generally considered his pride and joy.
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