LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools used in successful job searches today.  With over 120 million users, it can be used as a sourcing tool for recruiters as well as a networking tool for job seekers.  I recommend creating a LinkedIn profile as early as sophomore year in college and continue to build it throughout college.

In spite of its growing popularity, I continue to get questions from young professionals on how to use LinkedIn.  Here are a few tips:

  • First, make sure your profile is 100% complete.  “Complete” means including a professional picture (does not have to be professionally taken), your complete educational and work history as well as internships and volunteer work.  A minimum of 3 recommendations is required by many recruiters to be considered for jobs.
  • Next, make sure your tag line at the top of your profile lists the keywords recruiters are looking for.  For example, a job seeker who wants to find a consulting job might write, “Recent college graduate with demonstrated analytical and verbal communication skills looking for consulting opportunity.”
  • Reach out to anyone you know on LinkedIn and ask to connect with them.  Although LinkedIn provides a standard note that can be sent to request a “link”, it’s far better to customize the invitation and let them know how they know you.  Example:  “Good morning, John.  I met you at a recent alumni presentation and was hoping we could connect.”
  • Join groups, especially your college and alumni groups.  Start a conversation with the group as a way to increase your visibility.
  • Finally, before you network or interview with anyone, be sure to research them on LinkedIn.  A critical part of network/interview preparation is knowing who you will be meeting with.

For more information, join Career Treking for a workshop on LinkedIn on Tuesday October 4, 2011 at 2:00 pm EST.  For those would-be participants, conference call capability is available.  RSVP to

Susan Kennedy is the Founder of Career Treking, a job coaching firm that specializes in helping college students and graduates identify and find the right job. Since 2005, Susan has helped countless college grads find their ideal position and career path, regardless of college major. Susan has also published a book, The Job Coach for Young Professionals. You can find Susan on Facebook and follow her on Twitter at @SusanCareerTrek.