As a returning adult student in a competitive job market, you want to get noticed by employers. In 2023, that means focusing on your LinkedIn job search. Starting the process as a student will help you keep track of the connections you make during school, showcase your accomplishments and land jobs after graduation.
Before you dive into LinkedIn, be sure to put your best foot forward online. It is common for employers to look up candidates, so take down any content that doesn’t reflect your professional image.
After you’ve done that online audit, here are some tips to polish your LinkedIn presence:
Brand your profile
LinkedIn profiles are divided into sections with different uses and character restrictions. Your 220-character headline is the place for a short description of how you see your role. Think of it less as a job title and more like your professional slogan.
The 2600-character summary is where you tell your story. Don’t leave it empty or fill it with industry jargon. Write in first-person, give your elevator pitch, explain career changes and describe why you’re passionate about your field. A well-written summary can set you apart from other candidates who have similar skills, so write several drafts and have a friend or colleague review them.
When it comes to the experience section, many people are tempted to copy and paste directly from their resume. Resist the urge! This section should be an abbreviated version of your resume. Embrace bullet points. Don’t be afraid to include internships and volunteering to add value and skills.
For the skills section, do your research. Look at postings for jobs you’re interested in and note what desired skills are listed. If they are skills you have, list them on your profile.
Once your profile is up to date, find connections and engage. Start by connecting with people you know: professors, colleagues, recruiters or speakers from events you’ve attended. Keep track of people you meet and remember to regularly send connection requests.
Joining LinkedIn groups is a great source of networking. Search for groups based on your industry, area and school alumni network. You’ll also want to follow industry influencers and company pages. A company’s social media can tell you a great deal about their culture and job openings.
After building your network, start interacting with content and posting your own. Share your thoughts on industry trends, and reshare insightful articles.
For your own content, post regular updates celebrating your achievements. As a student, these could include finishing your capstone project, making the dean’s list, winning a scholarship or posting about a conference you attended. It’s not all about accomplishments: Consider writing a thank-you post to a great professor or highlighting the work of a place you volunteer.
Preparing LinkedIn for a job search may take some work, but investing in it will only increase your visibility, network and opportunities. Take the time to update and optimize so you can shine online.
The Lifelong Learner is a monthly feature written by UW–Madison’s Continuing Studies staff. Moira Kelley, an educational counselor, can be reached at email@example.com. This article first appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal on June 11, 2023.