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LinkedIn is the coolest kid on the block. It is one of the best tools to utilize in your job search–hands down. How many of you have a professional, complete profile ready for potential employers to view? If you are a freshman or sophomore, you have some time to maximize your profile as you are still exploring and gaining experience. If you are a junior, senior, grad student or alumnus, the answer should be 100 percent. If not, you have homework to do so let’s get started.

The beauty of LinkedIn is that there are many, many ways to create an all-star profile.  It is the professional story of you, and you are a very unique person.  First, let’s focus on a few questions:

  • Who are you as a student? (major, areas of interest, extracurricular activities, clubs/organizations, languages, student projects)
  • What are you career goals? (target companies, target positions, city, lifestyle)
  • What are the stepping stones that will assist you in transitioning from college to the world of work?

Take some time and explore these questions. I also suggest discussing them with your mentor, faculty and career coach so you can review your goals objectively and receive honest feedback about yourself. Your LinkedIn profile is a balance of who you are now and who you are going to be in the future.

While you may use some creativity when branding your profile, there are also some common mistakes to avoid.  These are a few LinkedIn blunders to avoid:

  • Profile picture: be sure to use a professional headshot.
  • Your profile is not your resume. Think of it as the story of you as opposed to bullets and facts.
  • Keep your profile up to date and accurate.
  • Typos are a no-go.
  • Recommendations are based on professional experiences.

Next, accept a challenge. Don’t accept the status quo. Push yourself to create a profile that stands out among a crowd (LinkedIn has 277 million users as of February 6, 2014)! Imagine yourself at a career fair. You meet recruiters from your target company, have an amazing 3 minute conversation and then the recruiters speak with 300 of your classmates. How are they going to remember you? After the fair, you send a follow-up email to the recruiters and include a link to your LinkedIn profile. As the recruiters review your profile and discover that your goals, experience and projects match the company’s needs–you now officially stand out among the crowd. Your LinkedIn profile is a key component of your personal brand. Be sure to use key words and include statements that are consistent with your brand in these areas:

  • Headline
  • Summary
  • Skills
  • Experience

The final step of the LinkedIn profile challenge is to meet with your Daniels Career Services coach. The coaches will double check your profile for typos, grammar, and ensure the messaging on your profile matches your personal brand. You only get one chance to make a great first impression, online and in person. Make your appointment today!

Kathleen Huber is the Associate Director of Employer Relations for the Daniels College of Business representing both the Suitts Graduate & Alumni Career Center and the Taylor Undergraduate Center. She is responsible for developing and cultivating relationships with organizations that are interested in recruiting Daniels College of Business students and graduates. Katie joins us from the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, California, where she served in several Career Services roles over the past seven years. She holds a Master of Science degree in Counseling and Guidance, with an emphasis in College Student Personnel, from California Lutheran University. Katie’s Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance was received from Southern Methodist University. Katie brings rich experience in all aspects of career services as well as teaching, writing, public speaking, administration, and involvement in community organizations.