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How to Turbocharge Your LinkedIn Account

By Jesus Ramos
On March 1, 2016

From what I’ve seen, many college students don’t use LinkedIn. The few that do have LinkedIn often have few connections and an incomplete file. I get it: you don’t really have a real industry job yet and there are more interesting things going on Facebook. I thought the same thing and believed that LinkedIn was a bit obsolete for the college student. I felt it was geared more towards people already in the industry. However, that all changed this summer, when I spent some time working with an oil and gas recruitment company. Turns out, the main source of finding candidates for jobs is through LinkedIn. After spending more than a month working there, I found out that the key to getting your foot inside the industry is building up your LinkedIn account early on.

Let me explain to you how a recruiter will search for a candidate for a specific job. LinkedIn has a paid service for recruitment companies that takes them to a powerful search engine where a recruiter can input certain specifications for the ideal candidate he or she is looking for. At the top is a Boolean search bar where they can input keywords they want to find in a person’s resume. For example, someone looking for a corrosion engineer who specializes in cathodic protection and corrosion failure investigations, has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, and has at least five years of experience (this is a general example, clients are much more specific), will type into the Boolean keyword search bar “corrosion engineer” OR “chemical engineer” AND “cathodic protection” AND “corrosion failure investigations.” Then he or she will check the boxes for the appropriate years of experience. What the search engine provides is a list of people whose profiles include the keywords typed into the search with the number of years of experience specified. The recruiter then can narrow the search down by school, company, type of degree, geographical residence, industry, and some others.

After hours and hours of looking through LinkedIn profiles, I put together a list of essential to-do’s to help make your profile more attractive to recruiters and people in general.

Photo credit: Jesus Ramos

Add a Picture.

One of the first things a person will see when looking through a list of profiles is your

profile picture. As much as you’d like to go “ghost-protocol,” you shouldn’t leave a sense of mystery as to who you really are as it may end up backfiring on you. I’ve noticed people who leave out a profile picture usually also have an incomplete or outdated profile. Recruiters know this too and will ignore your account if you don’t have a picture. However, you should follow some guidelines. First of all, don’t upload a selfie (no matter how good you look; this isn't Tinder) and, as tempting as it might sound, don’t upload a picture of The Stig (no matter how awesome he is). The point is, show your face. Also, unless you’re the CEO or VP of a major billion dollar international corporation, lose the tux and/or suit and tie. Jason Seiden agrees with this in his LinkedIn Talent Blog, saying, “You want to look sharp but approachable.” He also recommends that you make sure your profile picture sets an expectation that your time is valuable. Look for or take a picture of yourself in something relaxed or semi-casual, a polo shirt will do. Make sure the picture is clear and doesn’t look like you took it at a party at your friend’s frat house while you were drunk.


Make sure you fill out the basic info.

This one is pretty simple, just add the basic information to your profile. This will help recruiters know a little more about you and see if you fit the right criteria for the job. Add your name. This one is simple but you have no idea how many times I have looked through a list of profiles and found several that didn’t even include their names.


Add your school.

The majority of recruiters don’t really care that you were team captain of the Chinese checkers club back in high school or that you got a 3.6 GPA because of a bad grade in Chemistry AP. What recruiters really care about is what college degree you have. What I would recommend is to add your high school and indicate that you obtained a diploma. That’s it. For college, add your college and the degree you will graduate with (for example, ‘Bachelor’s Degree in Geology’ or ‘B.S. Degree in Geology). You can be a little more detailed in your college years, stating any societies you are part of or awards you have won. It won’t really help your profile in general unless it has relevant work experience but it proves you are involved. You should also add any internships you did in college or research programs you were part of to your work experience. Also, make sure you include the dates of attendance. Please do not add

your elementary or middle school experiences - that’s just sad.


Work Experience

This is the most important section of your profile, since this is where the recruiters will spend the most time on. There are some misconceptions about this section that I have noticed on people’s profiles. This section is about professional work experience, not part-time work experience. Recruiters don’t care about how you worked at cashier number three at Walmart in the summer of 2012, or that you know how to make 26 different types of smoothies because you work at Smoothie King after classes. They want to know about relevant work experience. I know you probably don’t have much work experience since you’re not actually working yet. However, there are a few things you could add to keep your experience section from looking empty. Did you do an internship or a co-op somewhere? Were you a research assistant or part of a research group at your university? Have you worked on an important project case in or out of school? If you responded yes to one or more of these questions then you have something to add to your work experience. The trick is to find something relevant or noteworthy that you have done. However, internships and co-ops look best.

Don’t stop there. Remember the second paragraph of this article? Explain your internship in detail. Be thorough but don’t add more than what it needs - you’re not Oscar Wilde. What did you do? What did you work with? The more relevant details you add, the more you’re likely to get a hit from a keyword search and increase the traffic on your profile (meaning you get more popular). As a last note, bullet points are not required, but preferred, as this helps recruiters review your profile more quickly and more accurately without having to read giant blocks of text.

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