It’s not just about resumes anymore…
When applying to college and potential jobs, experts now advise you take it a step further. Creating or updating a LinkedIn profile as well as examining your social media pages can save your reputation and make sure you are putting our best foot forward. It’s good practice to check a few times a year, and remove potentially embarrassing or damaging information. Removing information from the web doesn’t mean it’s gone forever — you should be ready to account for it — but at least you are taking control of the profile that everyone will see. You are updating your online persona to reflect who you are today.
Ann Yates, principal with the executive search firm Witt/Kieffer, explains, “In my work as a search consultant, there isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t speak with candidates for administrative jobs about a personal or career misstep they’ve made and how to handle it in the hiring process. Because so much information is available about job candidates today, search committees must think carefully about how it influences their decisions.”
“They are going to click on your profile,” says Alan Katzman, the chief executive of Social Assurity, a company that offers courses for high school students on how to shape their online images. Last year, Mr. Katzman’s company advised a high school senior in the Washington area to create a detailed LinkedIn profile and include a link on his application to Harvard. Soon after, LinkedIn notified the student that someone from Harvard had checked out his profile. Mr. Katzman says that high school students who use social media to showcase themselves may gain an edge with colleges. “No one has quantified the power of this,” Mr. Katzman told me recently. “But I maintain that it is very powerful.”
Vicky Rideout, a researcher who studies how teenagers use technology, says “Using LinkedIn on college applications, she says, “is yet another way for there to be a disparity between the haves and the have-nots.” A recent study from Kaplan Test Prep of about 400 college admissions officers reported that 40% said they had visited applicants’ social media pages, a fourfold increase since 2008.
Some high school students are establishing LinkedIn profiles to give the colleges that do look something they would like them to find. Students who naturally tailor posts for their peers on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook told me they used the professional network as a separate space to market their accomplishments to adults.
“I did not make a LinkedIn profile for my friends,” says Matthew Martratt, a 17-year-old high school senior in Marietta, Ga., who is an Eagle Scout and a member of his school’s marching band and organizes community service projects. “I made it to show people who don’t know who I am what I am about.”
Mr. Martratt, who took a LinkedIn course from Social Assurity, said he followed colleges to which he intended to apply on LinkedIn and Twitter and posted about them. “It’s like sending them an invitation to look at my profile,” he said. “When I get likes or notifications back, it shows that they are looking.”
LinkedIn has proven it’s the place to find and be found. The site has well over a million and a half student jobs and internships. And more than 9 in 10 companies use LinkedIn to recruit new hires.
Want to make your profile stand out?
Follow these top tips:
1) Upload an appropriate photo. Profiles with photos get 14x more views.
2) Write an informative but catchy profile headline.
This is a short, memorable professional slogan. It’s the one thing you want a recruiter, hiring manager, or future co-worker to know about you.
3) Make good use of the Summary statement.
Think of the Summary like the first few paragraphs of your best-written cover letter: Concise about your experience, qualifications, and goals. Describe what motivates you, what you’ve done and are skilled at, and what makes you unique. Be clear and confident!
4) Be smart about your experience.
List the jobs you’ve held and a brief description of what you were responsible for and what you accomplished. This section can be more or less detailed than your resume. What really matters is that you’re not leaving out critical details about your work history.
And don’t forget your volunteer activities. 20% of hiring managers in the U.S. say they’ve hired someone because of volunteer experience. It’s also a good profile addition because it reveals your passions and rounds you out as a human being.
5) Show your work.
You can now add real examples of your writing, analysis, design portfolios, or other work directly on your profile. Upload or link to rich media, documents, or presentations. This helps make your profile more visual and interesting, while demonstrating your value as an up-and-coming professional.