Congratulations, new graduates! No more classes, no more tests! Time to head to the beach, soak up some rays, ride some waves. You deserve it, right?
I’m sure you remember the story of Pinocchio¹ and his excursion to Toyland (Pleasure Island, for those who’ve only seen the movie). If not, here’s a brief recap:
Pinocchio finished school with high honors, after many mishaps. The good fairy planned to reward him with a party, and sent Pinocchio to invite his friends. On the way, he ran into Lampwick, who had a much better idea: a trip to an amusement park called Toyland. Off they went, and before they knew it, five months had passed. Pinocchio and Lampwick wake up one morning to discover they had grown the ears and tail of a donkey — the penalty for having played and not worked while guests of The Coachman.
Pinocchio’s first job? Donkey slave in a circus.
Why don’t we rethink that beach trip?
Three Things To Do Right Now
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of R & R. Before you head out, why not get a head start on the rest of your competition in the job market? Remember all those people who stood around you wearing robes and mortarboards at graduation? They are your competition.
Do these three things first, and then take a bit of a break.
- Create an all-star LinkedIn® profile
- Put LinkedIn to work finding job opportunities that match your qualifications
- Download the LinkedIn app for your smart phone
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Let’s create an all-star LinkedIn profile that will work for you while you’re working on your tan. Why LinkedIn? It’s the largest professional networking platform, boasting over 300 million users, a third of whom are decision- makers.
- Your email address. What kind of email address do you have? Surfbuddy92? You need a professional-looking email address, even if you forward it to your surfbuddy92 account. It’s best to build the email address with your name elements: email@example.com, or a similar variation.
- Your photo. You need a clear photo that shows you from the shoulders up. You should be the only one in the photo, and there should be no extra hands or limbs. In other words, don’t crop yourself out of a crowd photo. (However, if you’re skilled with Photoshop, you might make that work.) If it’s not a studio portrait, make sure the background is not busy.
Create your Profile:
If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, create one using your new, professional email address. If you already have an account, add your professional email address. Set up the 2-step validation for security. This YouTube video by Anson Alex provides a great tutorial for setting up your LinkedIn profile. Keep these tips in mind:
- Headline. Don’t use LinkedIn’s default headline, which tends to be your title at your current job. You don’t have a job. So what should you put? Here’s an excellent headline from Undercover Recruiter:
- Psychology Graduate, Specialising in Survey Design. Interested in Market Research and Analysis
- “Area of study” Graduate, major focus, Interested in (career field)
- Edit your LinkedIn URL, removing those slashes and numbers. Keep it professional, as you will put this on resumes, business cards and email signatures.
- Summary. You can shine a bit here. Write a few short, well-edited paragraphs about what kind of opportunity you’re looking for, and what you will bring to the table. Do you have a few specific skills that can be highlighted? Use bullet points to make them stand out.
- Experience. If you have very little experience, you may want to move this section down. As a new grad, it’s fine to list the jobs (work study and others) that supported you. Make sure to highlight internships, assistantships, and volunteer work.
- Education. Don’t list your GPA unless it was outstanding. As a college grad, you don’t need to list your high school.
- Other areas to include:
- Honors and Awards
- Organizations you belong to (past and current)
- Courses that support your degree
- Voluteering and causes
- How to contact you
- Put your email address here
- Phone number (only your connections will see this)
- Your social media and website links
- Keep all the kinds of contact you’ll accept open
If you follow these steps, you will have made a very good start. But we’re not done.
Recommendations, Skills and Endorsements (oh, my)
Recommendations are similar to old world references. (Similar; not the same as.) The person giving you a recommendation will need to be a member of LinkedIn, and you’ll have to request their recommendation using LinkedIn’s link, Ask to be recommended.
- Think about the professors, tutors, mentors, and bosses that you’ve worked with. You need a short list of people who know you and your work.
- Ask (in person, by email or by phone) if they would be willing to recommend you on LinkedIn
- If yes, send them the LinkedIn request
- Even then, you have to approve the recommendation before it can be posted to your page. Check it for accuracy – the right year, length of time, etc.
- Be sure to thank the person for their recommendation. And do invite them to your network.
Endorsements are not recommendations. Endorsements are built from the skills you select. Think of these skills as keywords that will improve your discovery in searches. You may want to turn off endorsements, but select your skills first. LinkedIn’s drop downs will include the most frequently used keywords.
Show Me the Jobs, LinkedIn!
LinkedIn has a job recommendation engine that will feed opportunities to your news stream. LinkedIn’s Jobs section can be tailored, so that the jobs appearing in your stream will be better fits for your career ambitions.
Click on Jobs on the navigation ribbon. Next to Jobs you may be interested in, you’ll see Preferences, followed by three icons tagged Location, Company Size and Industry.
- Location. If you need to be in a specific area, you can limit the jobs you see to that area. If you are open to relocating to other areas, you can broaden the listing. Or, you can leave it open. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be contacted by recruiters from other parts of the country (or world). It simply means the jobs appearing in your feed are more likely to be for the areas you select.
- Company Size. What size company would you like to work for, or doesn’t it matter?
- Industry. You are limited to the industry categories within LinkedIn. As a new grad, you may want to leave this open. If you are looking only for positions that are with NGO’s or non-profits (for example), check the Organization and Non-profit box.
You can adjust these preferences at any time.
Monitoring LinkedIn by the Pool
Download LinkedIn’s app for your smart phone, and use it to monitor your professional activity. You can view jobs, keep up with industry news, post updates, make connections — all while sitting poolside.
You can also use it to apply for opportunities, and not just the ones that show up on LinkedIn. Other job boards will use the “Apply with LinkedIn” button. This is the reason you want your LinkedIn presence to be the best. The “Apply with LinkedIn” button is very convenient, and very powerful. It pushes your profile to the employer immediately.
No More Donkey Tails
There is much more that can be done to improve your LinkedIn presence. LinkedIn’s profile monitor will suggest ways to get to the All-Star profile, and it actually doesn’t take much.
You will also want to follow companies, and join groups in your industry, and your alma mater.
One last word: Remember Pinocchio? He was in Toyland for five months before he grew his donkey ears and tail. You may not be in danger of turning into a donkey, but you can turn into a delinquent when your college loan company sends you a payment booklet six months down the road and you don’t have a job.
Congratulations again on your graduation, and best wishes for your continued success!
~Catherine Buck Morgan
Corporate Media Specialist, DPP
¹ The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi (Wikipedia)