By Brandi Britton, Executive Director, Contract Finance & Accounting, Robert Half
For young people looking for work, a polished LinkedIn profile is a crucial first step in your job search. LinkedIn is an important platform to network and connect with professionals. I use LinkedIn frequently to find and screen finance and accounting candidates and see details about their education, qualifications and career journey.
Nowadays, every professional needs to have a LinkedIn profile, which is a key tool to start developing if you’re a college student with limited experience. LinkedIn has more than 850 million members in 200 countries, so it’s important to make your profile stand out.
Here are some tips from a recruiter’s perspective to help your LinkedIn profile make a good first impression in the industry.
Upload a high-quality profile photo
A photo is one of the most important elements of your profile. According to LinkedIn, profiles with a photo receive 21 times more views, 36 times more messages, and nine times more connection requests.
You don’t have to get a professional headshot, but you do need to upload a high-resolution photo that includes only yourself (no family photos, company logos or photos with a drink in your hand) and projects a professional image.
Remember to dress professionally — business attire preferred — and cover bare shoulders with a blazer or another option with sleeves. Ask a friend or family member to be your photographer, as many cell phones can easily take high-resolution photos for you to upload.
Complete the summary section
Your summary is a personal introduction for recruiters and is a good place to add keywords. For college students and recent graduates, showcase your education, technical and nontechnical skills, and achievements.
Proofread for spelling and grammar errors
Your LinkedIn profile should get the same attention to detail as your resume when it comes to error-checking. One minor mistake could cost you a great opportunity.
Craft an attention-getting LinkedIn profile
These are some simple steps you can take to instantly make it easier for recruiters to find your profile and improve how effective it is at selling your skill set, personality and experience.
Make your headline count
Your name and your headline are two of the most important elements that help your LinkedIn profile stand out and attract the right attention. The recommended formula is to say what you are, say who you are, say why you make work/life better and give proof that substantiates it.
Use targeted keywords
You’ll need to add some keywords to your profile to make it easier for automated screening tools to pick up your skills. Consider what types of roles you’re looking for and appropriately highlight your skills in “Advanced Excel” or “advanced modeling techniques” if applicable.
Highlight your credentials
People often make a common mistake by using the experience section of their profile to talk about responsibilities they had in previous positions. Instead, use this area to advertise yourself and your brand and to highlight your achievements. For example, if you’re working towards your CPA license or certified management accountant (CMA) certificate, include that.
Ask for recommendations
Don’t be afraid to approach past and present colleagues for recommendations and endorsements. It’s a good way to strengthen the content on your profile and helps to “verify” your skill set
Don’t stress if you lack experience
Even if you don’t have previous employment experience, you can round out your LinkedIn profile with school projects, certifications you earned, languages you speak fluently, and volunteer projects to give potential employers a picture of who you are, your interests, career goals, and skill sets you have to offer.
Use these tips to reassess your LinkedIn profile and improve any weak areas. And, if you are looking for new opportunities, you can use your LinkedIn profile to upload your resume to the Robert Half website and maximize your hiring chances.
Follow Brandi Britton on LinkedIn.
A version of this post first appeared in New Accountant Magazine.