Developing a great profile is the core of your LinkedIn presence and the most important part of your account to develop and maintain. You should invest as much time and thoughtfulness on this as you do your engineering resume. In each area of your profile, you should consider skills-based work impact statements that show your technical and professional skill set. LinkedIn is designed to help you connect with people, groups, companies, and jobs that match closely to the experiences, traits, skills, and resources that you list in your profile. The more detailed and descriptive your profile is, the more LinkedIn will find you targeted connections. There are five main areas of a LinkedIn profile that are outlined below. You are able to add multiple sections within each area, and best practices for what to include in each section are explained below.
This is a professional networking site and the primary image of you should also reflect your professionalism. Dress up in a nice shirt/blouse or suit and have someone take a picture of you with a background that compliments your outfit and highlights you as the important part of the photo. Often students will use their campus as their background or another backdrop that reinforces the professional attitude you are reinforcing.
Many people give a descriptive account of their current role but you are allowed to be creative with this area while still being professional. Often people put their career goals and use descriptive action verbs to show that they are forward-looking and dynamic. Examples, “Pioneering vehicle designer” or “Motivated software developer of adaptive mobile platforms”.
Think of this as your “elevator speech” written out. It is a current reflection of what this profile is meant to represent and what you are trying to achieve within LinkedIn and your professional path. Usually you would describe your current career status, show your motivations, describe your skills and their experience level, and expand on your career objectives. If you are looking for work, this may be a section focused on highlighting your summary of qualifications for engineering positions. If you are employed and looking to network this would be a great area to describe your motivations for professional networking and highlight the resources and skills you can provide to a professional partnership. Whatever you write, your language should be positive and forward looking – employers want to hire, and people want to connect with, positive people.
You should write out descriptive phrases that, similar to your engineering resume, use action verb-technical jargon-results oriented language. But, one of the huge advantages of LinkedIn is the opportunity to add pictures, videos, diagrams as a supplement with your well-written resume quality experiences. These might include project schematics, layouts, flowcharts, sections of code, finished products, or detailed feedback from your teammates or professor concerning your project management contributions. The ability to visually demonstrate the impact of your work or leadership could provide an advantage over other job seekers.
Present in a similar fashion (institution, degree level, major, and dates of attendance) to the information on your resume, except that your GPA is not required. Remember that your GPA is protected school information, and you may not want your friends, and the world, to see it. Unlike your resume, it is recommended that you list titles of technical electives and advanced courses to help differentiate you from other students and add keywords to your profile.
Employers look for volunteer activities for several reasons. First, it indicates that you took the initiative to get involved and engage with other people. Second, you likely have character traits that will lead to you being a good employee. Third, these types of experiences often lead to skill development, especially soft-skills, that an employer will benefit from.
Evaluate the list of skills options and pick ones that align with your strengths as well as ones that others will endorse. Endorsing is a process in LinkedIn where your connections can confirm that you have the skills you have listed. If you are targeting your profile for a certain industry or skill set, this section offers a great opportunity to highlight your skills and have professional colleagues substantiate that you have those skills.
This section should be used to highlight technical electives and specialization courses that might differentiate you from others in your major. It is also a great place to list any short courses where you learned a specific knowledge or a tool/process but did not receive school credit for it.
As mentioned above, this is an area that is often a good supplement to your resume because you can demonstrate the technical and project management skills used on course or personal projects. LinkedIn has a nice feature here where you can highlight team members that are also on LinkedIn. This is good for you and for your teammates because it also links to other pages and often shows up on news feeds when updates are made.
This is an area to highlight special awards, scholarships, or competition results.
List the organizations you are a part of, and in particular, those where you have leadership and project responsibility. Not only do these areas show your professional breadth but they also help the artificial intelligence of LinkedIn find people, groups, and companies to recommend you connect with. This will potentially expand your professional resources within that topic area as well as expand your professional network with alumni that also participated in those groups.
In addition to the four main sections of the ‘Accomplishments’ area mentioned above, consider adding others (e.g., Publications, Certifications, Patents, Languages, etc.) if they are applicable to your experience and career goals.
This valuable section of your LinkedIn profile allows you to receive recommendations from professional co-workers or managers. It helps to authenticate the information that you provided in your profile and also demonstrates that you have developed quality relationships with other professionals.