As an international student, you may think that LinkedIn is a social networking site made only for experienced professionals. However, it can be an incredibly useful tool for international students and new graduates, especially those looking to make their way as professionals in the U.S. To show you how valuable LinkedIn can be, we’ve pulled together a list of the benefits to international students by creating a stand-out LinkedIn profile.
Listing Your Skills and Experience
It has become common practice for employers to request LinkedIn profiles as part of the application process. This is good thing; although you are typically limited in a résumé to fitting everything on one page, your LinkedIn profile gives you more freedom to be detailed with your experiences and interests. On LinkedIn, you can write a short summary about yourself, insert a professional photo, and list your achievements, passions, relevant college courses, volunteer activities, and more.
Tip: When you’re looking at a career in a particular field, it helps to look at other professional profiles that have a similar background to your own. Take note of their experiences and how they present themselves on LinkedIn to see ways in which you can improve your own profile according to your career goals.
Building Your Network
The time you spend in school is one of the most opportune in your life for networking. Making connections early on with your colleagues on LinkedIn is a good practice because you never know who they could connect you with later on when you are looking for a job, and LinkedIn makes it so easy to stay in touch! You can congratulate your colleagues on new jobs, work anniversaries, send personal messages, and share posts.
Tip: If you have strong relationships with people you’ve worked with in the past, consider asking them to write a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile; this shows employers you have people willing to refer you without them even needing to make a phone call.
Applying for Jobs
Many organizations now post their jobs on LinkedIn to find the right candidates. With LinkedIn’s search tool, you can look up jobs by title, filter by location, and more. Many organizations don’t even require a formal résumé, but will instead ask that you apply with your LinkedIn profile (although you should always have that résumé prepared!).
Tip: When you are looking at a job with a specific company, LinkedIn will show you if any alumni from the school you attended currently work there. Look up those alumni profiles and see if you have any common connections who could put you in touch with any of those people.
Demonstrating Your Knowledge
Do you have a lot to say about your industry? LinkedIn Pulse lets you publish and share your own articles, and other LinkedIn users can read them based on the interests they select. The more views your article gets, the more exposure you have as a noteworthy student and professional. This increases your chances of industry leaders and prospective employers noticing you and can be a great way to make new connections and expand your network.
Tip: When you publish an article to LinkedIn Pulse, make sure to publish it to your personal profile too, so people who are already part your network can read it and share your insights.
Now you have the tips to help you create a great LinkedIn profile! Remember, LinkedIn is a professional social networking site, so the way you share information about yourself and interact with others will be slightly more formal than with other social media channels. At the same time, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through your profile page and posts. Use it as a designated place for colleagues and employers to get to know you beyond your cover letter and résumé.