I’m amazed at how poorly many new college graduates are using LinkedIn to support their job searches. Whether you love it or hate it, LinkedIn is the primary source for companies to find you. While after a few years of work you'll earn the right complain about InMail recruiter spam, as a new graduate, LinkedIn should be your new best friend. Here are my 7 tips on how to make LinkedIn work for you.

#1: Write A Compelling Summary

The summary is the first thing a hiring manager is likely to read about you. I’ll confess to having reached out to potential candidates based on their summary alone. A good summary should succinctly tell who you are, what you want, and what motivates you. Here is an example of a good summary that recently caught my eye:

LinkedIn Summary

#2: Stick To Relevant Work Experience

When it comes to work experience, more is not better. I’ve seem new graduates pack this section with numerous jobs that had no relevance for the job they were seeking or to help a hiring manager better understand who they are. If you have a relevant internship, co-op experience, or even some cause you’re passionate about, put it in this section. But do us all a favor and don’t tell us about your job bagging groceries and as a RA in your dorm.

#3: Highlight the GPA

In hiring for engineers, I’m looking for two things in the education section: that you have a relevant STEM major, and that you did well in your major. I understand if you did not graduate summa cum laude, but am less understanding of not doing well in your major. New graduates are the highest risk hires a company can make, since their work ethic, drive, and ability to work with others are not fully tested. In the absence of data, hiring managers look for leading indicators. If you want a job in software but didn’t do well in your computer science classes, well that’s an indicator. If you have a good GPA in your major, let us all know it. If you don’t, make up for it in the other sections of your profile.

#4: Showcase Your Projects

This may be the most underutilized section of a new graduate’s LinkedIn profile. This is your chance to show that you actually care about the industry and/or profession you seek. Highlight three or more cool projects you worked on either in or outside of school (with a strong preference toward outside of school). Do not be worried that these may not be directly relevant to the specific jobs for which you will be applying. The mere fact you have personal projects / interests in your field shows a level of engagement hiring managers like.

It’s always nice if you make it easy for hiring managers to find your GitHub profile, blog, and anything else you do on the internet that might be related to your professional interests. We’ll find it anyway, so you may as well make it easy for us.

#6: Join Relevant Groups

While I confess to not being a big fan of LinkedIn groups, I do sometimes find a candidate highlighted in a search because we share the same groups. Take a moment to find relevant groups that reflect the type of company you want to work at (e.g. startups), your target industry (e.g. cloud computing), your potential role (e.g. software engineer), technologies you know (e.g. Python) and/or target locations for jobs (e.g. Boston). You don’t necessarily have to engage in these groups - being a member is usually enough.

#7: Add Quality Connections

In spite of all the technology we use in our job search, the most likely source of a job is still someone we know (e.g. the manager at the company you interned at your sophomore year, the entrepreneur you met at a local meetup, your former roommate who just found a great job). Expand your LinkedIn connections with people you know and have worked with. Focus on the quality of the connection (i.e. people who will actually know who you are if a hiring manager asks about you) over quantity of connections.

Last Words

While having a LinkedIn profile is not going to guarantee you get a great job after college, it certainly will help build your pipeline of potential job opportunities. If you need more help, feel free to reach out to me directly.