At this point, you’ve probably heard from friends, professors, and supervisors how important it is to have a presence on LinkedIn. Employers from all industries are now turning to LinkedIn to communicate their brand, post jobs, and, most importantly, find talent. Even if you’re not actively searching for a job or internship, having a LinkedIn profile gives you an advantage over people who don’t; employers will continue to connect with you to network, or share new opportunities you may not have been aware of, simply by being an active member of the LinkedIn community.

Understandably, creating a LinkedIn profile can be daunting if you’re just starting out. The good news is that LinkedIn makes it easy to create a profile from scratch, and their handy Profile Checklist is a solid starting point. Read below for additional tips that employers have shared with us in the Career Center on creating a strong profile.

Headline

One of the first things visitors to your profile will see is a headline, which is placed directly below your name. This headline is intended to be a few words that quickly establish your brand. If you’re a current student, it can highlight your academic status; e.g. “Accounting Major at DePaul University.” If you have a firm grasp on the type of job you want after graduation, feel free to lead with that; e.g. “Aspiring Public Relations Specialist.” For anyone currently employed in an internship or job, you can list your current position title; e.g. “Graphic Design Intern at [company name].” Regardless of your experience level, you can use the headline to quickly identify yourself to new professionals who visit your page.

Summary

The headline will only provide a quick snapshot of your professional identity, so it’s important that you take advantage of the Summary section to provide a lengthier introduction to your profile. One of the greatest benefits of a LinkedIn profile is that you can highlight as much information as you want; in other words, anything you can’t fit onto a one-page resume such as relevant courses, volunteer work, awards/recognition, etc. The summary, then, is a way for you to bring it all together.

Consider this: Introduce yourself first by talking about major/minor information, followed by some of your experiences, and concluding with the types of opportunities you’re seeking in the short-term, such as an internship or a full-time job. If you decide to pack a lot of information into your LinkedIn profile, employers will appreciate that you’ve created a summary that provides insight into the types of experiences they will find.

When browsing LinkedIn, you may notice that everyone’s summaries vary in length; some people may only use one sentence, others may have three paragraphs. A happy middle ground is ideal. The example summary included in the Profile Checklist is a good template to follow.

Skills & Expertise

This category allows you to list a variety of different keywords that describe your professional experiences and identity. LinkedIn has a pretty deep vocabulary to choose from, so if you were to type in “marketing,” you will also see more specific examples you can add to your profile such as “social media marketing,” “product marketing,” “marketing strategy,” etc. Identify keywords that are most relevant to your background and start building out this section of your profile.

The other benefit of building out this section is that anyone you’re connected with can endorse you for those skills. An endorsement from a contact is like a mini-reference; if you receive an endorsement for the skill “social media marketing,” for example, it means the contact is vouching for your expertise in that particular area. These endorsements can be a powerful way to visually represent your skills and expertise, as seen here, and to prove that not only are you saying you have these skills, but that your contacts can verify that they’ve witnessed these skills in action.

Professional Photo

Even if you are brand new to LinkedIn, it is important that you include a photo of yourself. Recent employer feedback suggests that people who don’t have a LinkedIn photo give the impression that they don’t know how to use LinkedIn. So, adding a picture right off the bat is recommended. While a professional headshot would be ideal, this isn’t always feasible to achieve quickly or cheaply. These 5 tips provide additional considerations for taking a profile picture that’s professional, whether you go the selfie route or ask a friend to snap one for you.

Next Steps

The Career Center offers two workshops dedicated to making the most of your LinkedIn presence: “LinkedIn Basics for Job Searching” and “Leveraging LinkedIn: Using Your Profile to Create Results.” You can search for workshops on DePaul Handshake through the “Events” tab.

Alternatively, you can meet with your career advisor to learn how to customize a profile for your industry of interest. With more and more employers turning to LinkedIn as a hiring tool, we can share tips to help you stand out from the crowd.