Elena Dennis sips her Starbucks coffee in her office and searches for the perfect candidate to fill the Digital Strategist position at The Richards Group. This time she isn’t sifting through endless résumés and cover letters – she is looking to LinkedIn for someone highly creative, whole-brained, and deeply analytical.
“LinkedIn is a treasure trove of résumés,” Dennis, a recruiter at The Richards Group, said. “It is the first place I go to search for potential candidates for a job.”
LinkedIn allows people to discover professional opportunities, get the latest news in their career field, and build a professional identity online. With more than 300 million members, LinkedIn is the largest online network of professionals. According to Forbes, 90 of the Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn to find future hires, making the site a hot commodity for college students.
“I use LinkedIn every day to search for jobs, seek new connections, and to update my work,” SMU senior Spanish and journalism major Leilani Duran said.
The Richards Group is the largest independent branding agency in the nation with clients such as Chick-fil-a, The Home Depot, and RAM Trucks. For students looking to snag jobs with top employers like The Richards Group, LinkedIn is the place to be.
“LinkedIn profiles stand out to me when they have something unique, not just job titles and dates, but an explanation of what someone actually does. Description is key,” Dennis said.
Making a LinkedIn profile stand out is as simple as 1,2,3. First, create a personal brand, then show off work, and finally, connect with professionals in the chosen career field, Assistant Director of Employer Relations for the Hegi Family Career Development Center Devon Skerritt said.
“You need to know what makes you stand out, and how you can contribute to a corporate brand. LinkedIn is the place to let employers learn who you are,” he said.
To create a personal brand, take full advantage of the “summary” section on the LinkedIn profile. This section should highlight the work students have done, their leadership, involvement with the community, and classes they’ve taken that contribute to their career. This gives students the opportunity to describe themselves and their goals to set themselves apart from other candidates. SMU senior accounting and sports management major Trent Barnes uses the summary section to tell employers about the skills and experience he has.
“This section allows me to relay to potential employers that I’m a well-rounded candidate by summarizing my skills, work, and goals for my future career,” Barnes said.
His profile includes his skills in time management, Microsoft software, customer service and finance, as well as the work he has done as a Student Assistant at the Cox Career Center. Barnes plans to work in the field of accounting in the Dallas area.
Not only should students talk about the work they’ve done, but they should also show off their work. Students should visually illustrate their skills with pictures, videos, and links by including them on their profile. This will help job recruiters see what type of talent they can bring to their company. Duran does this by using her profile to showcase her portfolio.
For instance, she included her blogs for the Dallas Morning News, features published on the Daily Campus, and a link to a package on the Bishop Arts District on Vimeo.
“LinkedIn is the doorway to opportunity for students, which is why I make sure to include the links to my blogs, clips that have been published, as well as videos I’ve shot on my profile,” Duran said.
Students hope that professionals will want to connect with them on LinkedIn after they have created a personal brand and added examples of their work to their profiles.
Senior markets and cultures major Daniel Weinberg has connected with professionals within his industry on LinkedIn who have helped him advance his career through internship offers. He believes that LinkedIn is important for students, because it offers them a way to create and manage their network for when they are seeking jobs.
“Employers are looking to see that an individual has a strong network, and that they are growing and continuing to increase their productivity in their industry,” Weinberg said.
Weinberg has used LinkedIn to create a strong network and converse with professionals in the legal field, because he has been accepted to the Dedman School of Law for Fall 2015.
A connection request on LinkedIn should include details that connect the student to the professional, such as something they both have in common, and it should also include a reason why the student wants to connect with them. This offers the professional a more engaging connection that could result in an interview leading to a job offer. Barnes always makes sure to personalize his connection requests and has benefitted by doing so.
“After sending personalized
connection requests, professionals have looked into my profile and reached out
to me about various opportunities that I may not have gotten had I sent just a
general request,” he said. Because of this, Barnes has connected with
professionals such as an investment officer at Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC.