Getting started with LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a professional networking site that can be used to help you connect with alumni and other professionals in the organizations and industries that relate to your career interests. LinkedIn is a social media platform on which to present your professional brand, share your living résumé, find job opportunities, research organizations, and most importantly, network with professionals and alumni. You can utilize LinkedIn to do all of the following:
- Build your professional network (an essential aspect of any successful job search)
- Conduct research on organizations and industries of interest to you
- Locate job opportunities
- Create a personalized, professional brand
Create your Linkedin profile
Your profile should highlight the knowledge and skills you have developed that relate to your interests and career goals. It should only include professional information relevant to your internship or job search. Be sure to avoid personal information, such as the year you were born, your address, and your marital status. Before you add information to your own profile, spend some time looking at the profiles of other professionals in your field of interest to get a feel for what is expected in your particular industry.
Along with your name, this is the first thing others will see when they view your profile. This can be your job title or it can be a summary of your professional identity. If you are in the middle of a job or internship search you should use a short phrase that highlights your career objective along with your skills, experiences, and interests.
- Health educator
- Recent public health graduate
- Healthcare operations analyst
- EHS engineer
- Student | aspiring environmental safety and health officer
This is the first image a potential employer or alumnus will see of you. Therefore, your photo needs to project a mature and professional image. Take a photo in which you are wearing business professional attire (see Professional Attire Handout). Do not use a photo from another social networking site, such as Facebook or Twitter. Avoid photos that were taken at social events or where someone else has been cropped from the picture. The background should also be pleasing, professional, and not distracting.
The summary section should outline your key skills and experiences that are relevant to your industry. This is where you give a brief description of who you are as a professional. This could include highlights of what you have accomplished, your personal brand tagline, and/or your professional goals.
Example: Engaging community health student at IUPUI dedicated to making a difference in the Indianapolis community.
Include the institution that you will be receiving a degree from/have received a degree from, your major(s), minor(s), and concentration(s). You may also want to include any honors or awards you received here. Additionally, feel free to highlight any relevant courses, papers, projects, etc. You do not want to include your GPA on your LinkedIn profile.
Include a list of your experiences that are relevant to the career you are seeking. Avoid putting everything you have ever done onto your LinkedIn profile. This section might include work experience, internship experience, volunteer experience, and/or extracurricular experience. Under each experience, give a brief description of what you accomplished. There are two options when it comes to how to describe each of your experiences. (1) You can list bullet points directly from your résumé. (2) You can briefly describe your experience in a few short sentences that focus on your skills and accomplishments.
There are many other sections that LinkedIn allows you to add to your profile such as skills and recommendations. These are two of the best sections you can add to a profile. The more skills you add to the skills section, the more you brand yourself and allow your profile to be found in keyword searches. View other professionals’ profiles to see what skills they choose to highlight.
Recommendations are also a crucial tool on LinkedIn. Your goal should be to have at least one recommendation for every position that you have held. When requesting recommendations of other individuals, be sure to write personalized messages instead of using the generic message that LinkedIn will send as a default.
You also want to be sure that you are asking the right people for recommendations. Ask yourself if the person can really speak to your abilities or not. Avoid asking people for recommendations for the sake of having recommendations. You want each recommendation to add value to your LinkedIn profile. Be prepared to write recommendations for others as well.
Once you have completed your profile, preview it as a PDF. This is how most employers will view your profile.
Joining groups is a quick way to connect with a large number of individuals. Groups allow you to discover new people to connect with, learn about current issues and trends in specific career fields, and provide you with access to job listings that are only posted within LinkedIn groups. Below are a number of groups that might be of interest to you:
- Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health
- IUPUI Alumni
- Indiana University Alumni Network
- American Public Health Association (APHA)
- Public Health Professionals
- Healthcare Administration Students & Mentors
To find additional groups to join, conduct group searches for industry and career fields of interest, student groups and professional organizations, and/or other interests you have. Under the groups tab at the top of the webpage you will also find an option for “groups you may like.” Also look at the profiles of professionals in your industry area to see what groups they belong to.
The more people you have in your network, the easier it is to connect to others in a variety of career fields, locations, and organizations. Start by connecting only with people you already know. You can search directly for people and then scroll through their lists of connections. When you ask to connect with anyone it is always wise to write an individualized message. Do not just send the generic message that LinkedIn offers as a default.
To connect with people you may not know, you can request a connection through a group. When making these connections it is imperative that you write an introductory message explaining who you are, how you found them (i.e. the group you share membership in, as an alumnus, etc.), and why you would like to connect with them (see the Networking Handout).
Additionally, you can request introductions. This is perhaps one of the most powerful aspects of LinkedIn. For example, let’s say you find that John Smith has your ideal job and you would love to request an informational interview with him. You should start by seeing if you are already connected to someone who knows John. When you look at John’s profile, over to the right you should see a link that says “Get introduced through a connection.” This link means that you know someone who knows John and by clicking that link you can request an introduction to John.
Search for alumni and professionals
Under the “Connections” tab on the top menu bar, there is a tool called “Find Alumni.” When you open this tool, LinkedIn will automatically pull data from your most recent education institution. You can then select keywords, locations, employers, and industry areas as filters to search alumni from your school.
Once you have set your filters, scroll down the page and see the alumni who match your filters. Remember, the number of alumni who show up in this search is dependent on the number of connections you have on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is all about connections and the spider web of a network. The more quality connections you have the more search results you will see.
A second way to search for alumni or specific industry professionals is through the “Advanced Search” feature, which can be accessed by clicking on “Advanced” next to the blue spyglass button on the top of the page. The advanced search will let you put in a school, such as IUPUI or Indiana University, and/or keywords, job titles, employers, etc. Use these filters to find alumni and professionals to connect with.
Other LinkedIn tools
Under “Interests” on the top menu bar, you can select companies. This is where you can search for companies to follow and interact with. When you follow a company, announcements from the company will show up on your LinkedIn homepage. You will be able to see positions posted by that company and will also have access to a list of current company employees you have some connection to through LinkedIn. Oftentimes, company HR representatives oversee these pages and answer questions through these pages.
The “Jobs” option on the top menu bar will take you to LinkedIn’s job board. This is a highly visible job board that is mainly used by major companies and organizations that can afford to post positions through LinkedIn. If you aren’t seeing jobs from nonprofits or smaller organizations of interest to you, don’t be surprised. Those organizations will rarely choose to post to LinkedIn. However, if you are interested in larger companies such as Eli Lilly, hospital systems, etc. they are likely to post through this site.
For more information on getting up and running on LinkedIn, either schedule an appointment with the Career Development Office or check out LinkedIn’s help page.
Download a printable Getting Started With LinkedIn handout