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Two people join LinkedIn every second. That’s nearly 500 new people on LinkedIn by the time you finish reading this blog post! So how are you going to stand out? Let’s optimize your LinkedIn profile to help jump-start your job search.

Profile Photo
Adding a professional photo to your profile makes you 14 times more likely to be found and 36 times more likely to receive a message. You want a close-up shot, but not a selfie. Try to avoid an awkward crop – take the time to take a photo specifically for your profile. It doesn’t have to be an official headshot, but as close as you can get. You want to look professional, so wear what you would wear to work.

Headline
This is your first impression. You only have a few characters to express who you are, who you help, and how you do it in your headline. Even if you’re a full-time student looking for work, you can use this headline as a way to position yourself in the right direction.

Summary
This is your story. Talk about your accomplishments and class projects, go beyond your resume and add more detail about your skills and experience. Be personal – use “I” and “me” to help personalize your summary. Know your audience – who are you directing this towards? And finally, make the ask – include what you want the reader to do next. Do you want them to visit your website? Reach out via email? Explore your profile more? Tell them what you want them to do.

Skills
You’re 13 times more likely to have your profile viewed if you list skills. This is an opportunity to go beyond your education or experience and really hone in on where you excel. Maybe your job doesn’t relate to project management, but through your other experiences you gained that knowledge. List it! The goal is to be thorough, honest, and to sell yourself. You also want to be discovered, so use phrases that are common and are likely to be searched.

Projects
We live in a visual age, so it’s important to add some visuals to your profile in the form of videos, images, presentations, or documents. In your summary, add a project that you are most proud of. You can also add supporting documents to your experience section for each job you list.

Experience
This is the bulk of your profile and you have a great opportunity to dive deep into your roles. Don’t just copy and paste your resume here, get more detailed! Start with an overview – a few sentences about your job and the role. Use action words – managed, led, grew, saved. Think in verbs! Use bullet points to list your achievements so they can stand out. You’ll also want to include any volunteer experience since according to a LinkedIn research study, 41% of LinkedIn recruiters say they consider volunteer experience on par with full-time paid work experience. So be descriptive when it comes to your volunteer experience!

Education
Here’s where you can really shine on LinkedIn. If you haven’t graduated yet, still include your education and just give your projected graduation date. You have an opportunity here to express what you learned and why you chose to pursue your degree or program. Explain your college experience, include your contributions to any groups or activities, and list the classes you’ve taken that relate to the job or field you’re interested in.

To wrap up, use LinkedIn to tell your story. There are nearly 500 million people on LinkedIn, so think about how you can stand out and get discovered. Be unique. Be you!

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