By Kelly Martin, Toppel Peer Advisor

Our generation is incredibly social media savvy, but one of those most common questions I get during walk-in advising besides resume help is how to build a LinkedIn profile and then how to utilize it. While there isn’t necessarily a way to beat the system and guarantee that you’ll find a job on LinkedIn, or that a recruiter will find you, there are things you can be doing to make sure your name is getting out there.
While the average LinkedIn user doesn’t have to pay to use the site (unless you choose to upgrade), there are companies that pay serious amounts of money to search through the around 300 million users on LinkedIn. So make sure your profile is as detailed as possible, with all of the sections filled out, because you never know what search criteria or keywords are going to get you noticed by your dream company.

Usually the first section on your LinkedIn account is your summary. This can be tough because if it’s the first thing that somebody sees on your profile, obviously you want it to be unique, well-written, and an accurate summary of your skills and qualifications. A great example of a summary can be found on the profile of Toppel’s own Carly Smith, who supervises us Peer Advisors: “I am a new career services professional, working at the University of Miami Toppel Career Center as the Assistant Director of Campus Outreach. One of my favorite parts of my job is helping others to create and build connections, whether it be student to employer, student to alumni, or student to student. I love what I do and am excited to continue gaining experience in the field.” She clearly and concisely explains what she does and what she is passionate about, creating a great introduction to the rest of her profile.

From there, you can copy and paste a lot of the text from your resume, particularly in the experience section. Your education section will be similar as well, and be sure to include any study abroad experiences. With resumes, we recommend not including any information from high school, but my high school happens to have an alumni network on LinkedIn, so in this case I am connected with that network and have my high school listed on my profile. There are also sections on LinkedIn for organizations you’re a part of, courses you’ve taken, honors and awards you’ve received, skills, certifications, and languages, and you can also connect with various groups and organizations on LinkedIn. It’s best to fill in all of these sections as much as you can, as long as the information is as relevant to your field as possible. For example, as a marine science major I follow companies like Oceana, Ocean Conservancy, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and more.

The next step after building your profile is to connect with other people on LinkedIn; you never know what people within your close network may know other people at a company you apply to one day. Once you start making connections and following different companies and organizations, you’ll get updates about job postings, current events in your field, and more great information that will put you ahead of the pack when it comes to using social media to search for a job.