Professional Development and Events

Grad15: Improve your professional profile on LinkedIn

professional development Grad15 graduate students linkedin
By Zach Reeves-Blurton on July 6, 2020

As the job market for academic professionals grows more competitive, a strong resume on its own won't cut it. During the latest Grad15 session, Amanda Athey, Director of Student Support Resources at the Graduate College, shared tips for leveraging your LinkedIn profile to build an online professional presence, learn about an industry, make connections, and build a personal brand to market yourself effectively to prospective employers.

Why LinkedIn?

LinkedIn has over 300 million active users and functions as an online resume with free advertising. By curating your profile thoughtfully and maintaining a presence on the network, you are putting your professional expertise in front of a lot of potential employers. With some intentional effort, you can begin building a bigger network of professional connections. 

LinkedIn also employs Google search engine optimization (SEO), meaning that your profile will come up near the top of any Google search of your name. It's also optimized for searching by job recruiters, making you searchable for future HR offices, potential colleagues and others. 

LinkedIn essentials: Getting started

Creating a LinkedIn profile is easy but take your time. This is the most visible part of your LinkedIn presence, and likely the first part a prospective employer will see. Take your time, consider your audience, and think about the story you want your profile to tell about you:

  • Use concrete examples. If, for instance, your headline states that you have management experience, speak to that experience here. Include relevant details. Who did you manage? In what capacity? How many years of experience doing so? 

  • Use specific and direct language, avoiding jargon or buzzwords. Don't say you think outside the box, for instance, but state plainly (with examples) how you do so.

  • Use industry-relevant skills and keywords to ensure that your profile ends up at the top of searches.

  • Don't forget to reference your career interests -- not just what you want to do next, but longer-term. 

The work in progress: increasing your visibility

It's important to remember that setting up your profile is only the first step in establishing your digital professional identity. Your profile, for the most part, is static. To more fully express your range of interests and areas of expertise consider sharing content the reflects your professional interests and actively connecting to and engaging with others within your network. 

Link into networks

The old adage 'it's not what you know, but who you know' has some truth to it. In expanding your personal professional network, you will gain insight into industries, come across potential job opportunities, and increase the chance that your name will come up when people in your network (or their bosses) are looking for experts in your area. 

  • Grow your network by starting with contacts you already have like your colleagues and peers.

  • Allow LinkedIn to search your email contacts will help you 'seed' your network with folks you already know in some capacity. 

  • Consider reaching out to your peers for connections and skills recommendations (making sure to provide recommendations in turn!).

  • Browse alumni lists for previous institutions for (relevant) lost contacts or others pursuing similar academic or career interests. 

  • Connect with faculty in your academic area.

Embrace the discomfort of the cold call

if you come across an individual at an institution or in an industry you're interested in learning more about, don't hesitate to reach out for a quick informational interview. 

For more details, watch a recording of this session or download the slide deck at the GradConnect canvas resource site. Note: first-time visitors will need to click Enroll in course.

July is Info Session month at Grad15. Visit our website to register for upcoming mini-webinars on the Graduate College’s Preparing Future Faculty and Scholars (PFx) program, Knowledge Mobilization initiative, and upcoming Career Navigators program.