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Many students make the mistake of thinking that LinkedIn is only for stuffy or boring business people, so they avoid this social media website. However, they are missing out on amazing work opportunities. If you want to stand out from the crowd, consider using LinkedIn to help you find work. 


What Is LinkedIn Anyway and Why Should You Care? 

LinkedIn is a website with more than 500 million users from 200 countries and focuses on jobs. It is also a helpful tool for professional networking in many industries. Some people have the impression that LinkedIn is only useful for older adults who already have a lot of work experience. In reality, LinkedIn can be helpful for students who are either looking for internships or their first jobs. 

If you do not have a good profile on LinkedIn and are not actively looking for work on the website, you are missing many opportunities. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when you first sign up, but LinkedIn has created a special series of videos and tip sheets for students. LinkedIn for Students is similar to an online university without the tuition or expensive textbooks. Plus, there are no quizzes or tests, and you can study at your own pace.  


Build Your Profile 

Your profile is the way people find you on LinkedIn and communicate with you. This is why you have to focus most of your time on the profile when you first sign up. As you build the page, keep in mind that mobile traffic makes up 63% of how people view content online, according to Maryville University. So there is a good chance your LinkedIn profile will be viewed by someone on their phone. This means you need to fix your profile for mobile traffic by keeping the pictures the right size and avoiding big blocks of boring text. 

Start with the right profile picture. This is not the place for that cute selfie with friends when you went to the club together. Instead, get a headshot that looks professional and fix it yourself with picture editing tools like Canva to save money. Next, fill out the rest of your profile with your education, work experience, extracurricular activities and volunteer experiences. Make sure your name and headline look professional. Again, this is not the place for adorable nicknames. 


Start Connecting 

The first step to connecting with others on LinkedIn is making sure you have the right settings. If you are looking for work, keep your profile public and open to recruiters. Consider connecting with other classmates and professors if they encourage it. Next, look for companies that you want to work with and connect with their HR or recruiting departments. You can also import your contacts from email and connect with them on LinkedIn. 

Make sure you are doing research before connecting with someone on LinkedIn. Although it is generally a safe place, scams and spam can still show up. Use a company research tool like Owler to look up businesses that interest you and that may have job openings. If you cannot connect with a company, you can follow it and get updates. 

Some high school and college alumni are willing to connect with students on LinkedIn and help them out. Check with your career development office to see if they have a list of these places. Otherwise, use your online search skills to sleuth them out. Alumni may be willing to give you an introduction and connect you with someone else on LinkedIn who can help you get a job. 


Make the Job Search Count 

Like other social media platforms, it is easy to mindlessly scroll through LinkedIn without accomplishing anything for hours. This will not help you get a job. First, learn to use the advanced search features inside LinkedIn. Many companies post jobs on the website but finding them is not always easy. Figuring out the right keywords to get the work you want is important. 

Second, stay active on the platform. Do not post your profile and disappear. Instead, look for jobs and respond to ads on a regular basis. Also, interact with your connections and respond to their posts. You can make your own updates too, so keep communicating. Another option is to join relevant LinkedIn groups that may help you network with others or post jobs. Look for groups that are related to jobs in industries you want to pursue and ask to join them. 

LinkedIn is one of the biggest online platforms to find work. But it is not your typical social media website, so the impression you make can influence your ability to find a job. Stick to a professional photograph and profile page, and save the cute pictures and posts for Twitter or Facebook. 

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