Monday, May 23, 2011

Getting Started on LinkedIn: Advice for Recent Grads

Congratulations to all of the May grads!

Lindsey Pollak, our friend and LinkedIn spokesperson, posted a great blog this weekend about how to effectively use LinkedIn. Remember, we are open all summer and here to help. Enjoy!

In honor of LinkedIn’s IPO on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday, I thought it would be a good time to share some reminders about why the site is valuable to young professionals and how to use it effectively.
As the largest and most vibrant professional social network in the world (100 million members in over 200 countries and counting), LinkedIn provides a wealth of opportunities for personal branding, networking and finding jobs.
As a spokesperson for LinkedIn for the past two years, I’ve learned a lot about how to get the most value out of the site. My biggest piece of advice is this: LinkedIn doesn’t work unless you work it. You must take control of your profile and visit the site frequently to get the most benefit.

Here are some tips for getting started, especially if you’re new to the professional world:

Make your profile heading pop. Far too many young professionals insert a generic term such as “Recent graduate” or “Job Seeker” as their LinkedIn profile headline. This is a big mistake. Your profile headline is the first thing people will read on your profile, so you need to think of it as a marketing tool. Be as specific and keyword heavy as you can. For instance: “Honors Marketing Grad from UCONN Seeking Opportunity in Consumer Packaged Goods” or “Recent LSU Grad with Extensive Nonprofit Experience.” For ideas, check out the profile headlines of other recent grads or entry-level employees you admire.

Write a professional Summary statement. Your LinkedIn Summary statement should resemble the first few paragraphs of your best-written cover letter — concise and confident about your goals and qualifications. Remember to include all of your experience, including internships, volunteer work, and extra curriculars. You should also include key words and phrases that a recruiter or hiring manager might type into a search engine to find a person like you. The best place to find relevant keywords is by researching the job listings that appeal to you and the LinkedIn profiles of people who currently hold the kinds of positions you want.

Display an appropriate photo. Remember that LinkedIn is not Facebook. If you choose to post a photograph on your LinkedIn profile, opt for a professional, high-quality headshot of you alone. You don’t necessarily have to wear a suit, but baseball caps, party photos, cartoon avatars, and glamour shots from last weekend’s formal don’t fit in the professional environment of LinkedIn.

Share your (career-related) news. Like other popular social networks, LinkedIn provides the opportunity to share brief status updates with your connections. But again, remember to stick to the professional. I think of my LinkedIn status updates as brief conversations I would have at networking events: “I just read a really interesting article you might enjoy. Here is the link…” or “I’m attending our industry conference next week. Are you going too?” You never know what nugget might catch someone’s attention and spark a conversation or opportunity.

Connect with friends and family. Once you have a great profile, start building your LinkedIn network by uploading your online address book and connecting to friends, relatives, internship colleagues, and professionals you know in the real world. The best networks begin with those you know and trust, and then grow based on personal referrals.

Customize your connection requests. As you build your connections on LinkedIn beyond your friends and family, don’t use the generic “I’d like to connect on LinkedIn” note. Instead, always customize your connection requests with a friendly note and, if necessary, a reminder of where you met or what organization you have in common. You’ll impress people with your personal touch.

Join groups. To get even more out of LinkedIn, join groups related to your professional interests and communities. I recommend joining your university’s LinkedIn group first, and then search for industry groups related to the career or careers you want to pursue.

Don’t be a stranger. Once you have a great profile and have joined some groups, your work is only beginning. Set reminders in your calendar to visit the site on a daily basis to reach out to connections (with informational interview requests, check-in notes, etc.), to read through and comment occasionally on group discussions where you have something to add, to update your status and comment on other people’s updates and to research available job and internship opportunities in the Student Jobs Portal.

For more information about making the most of all of LinkedIn’s features, check out and the student video series at

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tips for Your First Year on the Job

With graduation in sight, one of my classes has been preparing us to move on to new roles. I recently had some assigned readings on tips for new professionals and preparing for the transition to working at a new place, and thought it would be great to incorporate some of the tips into this blog post. Enjoy!

Do Your Research

Take time to do as much research on the company as possible. Read the organization’s annual reports or new initiatives that might be taking place. Read company magazines and study the organizational chart. The more you keep up to date on the organization, the better equipped you will be to fulfill the duties of your role and be a competent employee.

Ask questions and listen attentively

Do not be afraid to ask questions! Your supervisor and colleagues understand that you are transitioning from student to professional and will be willing to help you when needed. Asking questions will not only continue your learning process but also create the positive image of a hard-working and motivated employee.
Make sure to always listen once you asked the question, because asking the same question twice will diminish the positive impression you’ve established.

Be organized and develop time management skills

Although you may have successfully finished a paper after pulling an all-nighter, this will not suffice in the workplace. Set deadlines, and give yourself ample time to not only complete the task, but complete it well.

Seek opportunities for development

Many employers offer in-house trainings as well as access to professional development events to further educate their employees. Participating in such activities will show your commitment while also giving you the skills, resources, and competencies to excel and advance in the organization. The opportunities will also give you the chance to network with other professionals.

Be ready to work extra hours

Being new to a position usually means that you will not be the most efficient at your job right away. During your first year plan to put in extra hours as you learn the ins and outs of the job. Your hard work will be noticed and appreciated.
Be prepared for meetings

Meetings are often a forum for your colleagues to get to know you and assess your capabilities. Make sure to be well versed in the topic you are discussing, have something to contribute, address your comments to the entire group, and listen to others’ questions, comments, and concerns. And never show up to a meeting empty handed. Always bring writing materials.

Find a mentor

Seeking out a mentor in an organization is a great way to receive meaningful encouragement, constructive criticism and feedback. Mentors help you understand the workings of an organization and can provide you with an abundance of knowledge and resources.

Be friendly and get to know your colleagues

Avoid office gossip, and be nice to ALL staff. Getting to know different individuals will give you an array of information from different perspectives. Never pass up the opportunity to participate in office social activities. This allows you to create relationships. Always remember that your behavior at social events will reflect the type of employee you are!