Here’s another summer ‘to do’ - create a LinkedIn profile

Creating a professional social media profile on LinkedIn is another activity you can do this summer to start building a network for future jobs and your dream career.

In our previous two CareerMash blogs we’ve given ideas for what you can do this summer even if you didn’t get a job like attending a summer tech camp or job shadowing and volunteering. Creating a LinkedIn profile should also be top of list this summer to establish a presence on the world’s largest professional social media network.

Don’t think you can only join LinkedIn’s network of 161 million members in 200 countries if you’ve already had some sort of work experience. Lots of other activities can be used in a LinkedIn profile to show the kinds of skills you’re developing that will be of interest to future employers. These include courses you’re taking, extra-curricular activities and even personal interests. You can also ask teachers, sport coaches, club leaders or professional friends of your parents to write recommendations about you to add to your LinkedIn profile.

In our July newsletter’s Toolbox, CareerMash’s Manager of Community Outreach, Stephanie Guthrie created a detailed ‘how to’ outline for building your first LinkedIn profile. You can download a PDF that will walk you through each step with examples of what to include. Here’s a brief summary below of what’s involved.

Building Your LinkedIn Profile

  • Summary: This is where you tell an employer who you are in a few short sentences. Focus on what you can offer to a team or workplace.
  • Education: Here’s where you describe the kind of education you’re completing. Most likely in your case, that’s an Ontario Secondary School Diploma or OSSD. Add any activities or clubs you’ve been involved with in the “Activities and Societies” section.
  • Experience: If you’ve ever had a job, detail it here. Under the “Description” section, be sure to mention any improvements you implemented, recognition you received, or higher-level tasks your boss entrusted to you.
  • Volunteer Experience: Add any volunteer experience here. Whether you walked dogs for the humane society, served as a companion for a local senior citizen, or helped raised funds for a cause - this shows you take initiative.
  • Skills and Expertise: Add any skills you’ve developed at school, work or through your extracurricular activities.
  • LinkedIn has lots of sections that let you add depth to your profile. Pick any that apply to your interests, talents, and experience like courses, honours and awards or school projects.

Building Your Network

LinkedIn wants to make sure its users don’t annoy each other, so when you add a connection, they’ll ask you to specify how you know this person because they’ll be contacting him or her to approve your invitation to connect. People you might consider inviting to join your network or provide a recommendation include: supervisors from a job or volunteer position; co-workers; teachers, club leaders and coaches; parents and family friends; and classmates.

Expanding Your Network

  • Join Groups: Using the Groups Directory on LinkedIn, you can search for professional groups based on industry or interest.
  • Follow Companies: Companies have their own profiles on LinkedIn, and if you’re looking to score a summer or part-time job, you can start learning about that company by following them on LinkedIn.
  • Social Media Connections: LinkedIn allows you to link your profile with your other social media accounts to create a holistic picture of who you are. If you are very confident that your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Tumblr account would say positive things about you to an employer, add them to your profile. Steer clear of this option if your Facebook or Twitter accounts are just about fun social stuff like partying, inside jokes and hanging with friends.

And there you have it - your own shiny new LinkedIn profile! Now you can share it with prospective employers and use it as a hub for building your professional network. Don’t forget to keep it up-to-date with any new skills, courses, awards, jobs, languages, or anything else that will improve your professional image.

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