Embrace LinkedIn on Your Career Path

By Alyssa Smith, Madeline Dodenhoff & Peter J. Titlebaum, Ed.D.


LinkedIn should be on a student’s regular social media rotation, so they can benefit from posting and reposting. The advantage is being a member of different groups of like-minded individuals. Why wouldn’t you want to be active on a platform that could potentially lead you to a job/internship opportunity?

Most students don’t understand how much networking, contact growth and job opportunity information is on the site, just by scrolling on this platform for 10 minutes a day. If it is built into a daily routine, students are closer to a new experience.

We will share ways to enhance a profile and ensure you know the actions you should take to maintain your LinkedIn presence.


Professional Photo and Banner Photo


Having a professional headshot for the profile is a must. Please ditch the hat and sunglasses and avoid the photograph where you cut your prom date out of the picture. It is recommended to use a plain white background in a well-lit location. This is done to make a good impression.

The banner is the extra touch to make the profile stand out and help brand yourself. It could be a school or city photo, or even your favorite quote. Connecting with a professional on LinkedIn is like making a good first impression during an interview. Having a professional image and brand on the profile is equivalent to offering a strong handshake at the start of an interview.


LinkedIn Profile


When considering the actual LinkedIn profile, put information on it that would make you stand out to employers and professionals. From volunteer positions to internships to part-time jobs to leadership, these roles will make the profile look professional. Skills, awards and certifications will be highlighted in the profile if recruiters or employers are searching for these components.


Do You Send a Personalized Message When Connecting?


A key benefit of this platform is the ability to find professionals and build a network. However, just wanting a LinkedIn contact is never enough. Many users make the mistake of simply clicking the button requesting to link with a professional. This is too generic, demonstrates poor judgment and can be seen as a mistake. Instead, include a message each time you are requesting to link with a professional. This message is like an elevator pitch and also the chance to explain why they should agree to accept the connection invitation. Think about how excited you are to open mail at your home that is addressed to “occupant.” This is the same feeling contacts have when they see a LinkedIn request without a message.

Each unique message a student sends to a new connection is one more opportunity to stand out to a possible employer. The best way to craft an intro message is to keep it short and to the point. Professional messages can be a way for a professional to see that a student is serious and ready to play. Start the invitation message with a welcoming intro, and then write something interesting from their profile that is in the realm of your dream career. This invitation, if done well, should lead to a connection gained and the beginning of a positive networking journey.

Follow and keep up with your contacts. Most of us have gardened and appreciate how nice it looks when things begin to bloom. What people fail to remember is the hard work it takes to keep the garden thriving and the weeds out. Similarly, by making sure to maintain the profile and remove all the “weeds” in it, you will see major benefits to your professional aspirations. It will take effort. To get you started, we have laid out the four things that will make a positive impression:


  1. Do more than just “like” a post.
  2. Reach out to organizations, companies and people.
  3. Make recommendations to contacts.
  4. Keep your profile up to date.


Provide Content


It is about having an identity. People who view the profile have a better idea of what you value professionally. Your LinkedIn identity should not just be about starting a new job or getting promoted. Providing content means posting articles that contacts could benefit from reading. Responding to a group discussion you have participated in could encourage others to connect or respond. In the end, you are building a connection.


Join Groups


A way to expand the student network through LinkedIn is by joining groups to find more people with similar interests or career goals. People can post, repost and comment on other professionals’ posts to be more involved and develop connections. Joining groups will enhance knowledge and understanding of specific group interests.


LinkedIn Is Like a Resume


Similar to building a resume, LinkedIn should be centered around “branding experience and one’s brand.” It's not bragging if this work has been accomplished. This social media app can help expand networking. Even if you are just starting out with a small experience and the profile is not as robust as you would like, it is better to get started early with your LinkedIn profile. Continue to gain experience and add to it rather than not having a profile at all. There should be no reason for you not to take advantage of how easy it is to show off all your accomplishments. Your resume and LinkedIn profile should be handled the same way, as a living, continuous document. 


Use LinkedIn as a Job-Search Tool


LinkedIn is a job-searching tool, and you must utilize the group and job tab within the app. Joining groups that are of interest to either your dream job, career or hobbies can help you network and find more professionals to relate to or seek advice from. The job search tab within LinkedIn can be customized to your skills and preferences so that auto-matched openings are an optimal match.


Reviewing a LinkedIn Profile Before an Interview


Looking at the person’s LinkedIn profile before you meet them for an interview allows you to better understand the professional’s background. During an interview, you could ask about their profile and formulate questions to ask them about experiences that stand out. Most updated profiles will have past job experiences, education and volunteer positions that you can bring up in an interview.


Determine How to Share LinkedIn Profile Contacts


Who you share your LinkedIn connections with is determined by how valuable your connections are to you, your network growth and how hard you worked to network with all of these professionals. Share contacts only with people who will respect your efforts and the value of the connection with that person. 


Should You Accept Contact Connects?


When looking at someone's profile and deciding whether you want to accept their invitation to connect with your profile, consider the following questions:


  • Did they connect with you, and have a note attached to the invitation?
  • Do they have an updated professional profile picture and a clean-looking profile?
  • Do they have mutual connections to professionals you trust?
  • Do they have mutual interests so you will benefit from connecting with them because their connections or experiences match your areas of interest?
  • Are they on a career path that you see yourself in, or are they pursuing something that interests you?
  • Do you believe that professionally connecting with this individual will help you in the long run when using your LinkedIn connections in the future to find job opportunities?
  • Don’t just accept connections with individuals who will not benefit your LinkedIn goal to make meaningful and strong professional connections.


Advantages to the Paid Version


There are many advantages to paying a monthly or annual fee for the LinkedIn premium account, but it is not necessary for finding success on LinkedIn. Many tools are available with the upgrade such as premium career help, sales navigator, premium business help and LinkedIn learning resource. All these tools are set up to provide the user with in-depth courses and resources to support learning and development. There are advanced features when searching and reviewing your profile to see who is looking at your profile without connecting. Another premium feature is having the ability to make as many connections in one day as you wish, and you are able to send unlimited characters on your invitation connection notes. 

The premium version of LinkedIn could be beneficial if you can swing the annual subscription, but it is not a necessity to be successful with networking; you just have to learn how to play the game and use all your resources.

About the Authors

Alyssa Smith is pursuing a bachelor’s degree from University of Dayton in Sports Management and Minor in Business Administration. 

Madeline Dodenhoff is pursuing a bachelor’s degree from University of Dayton in Health and Wellness with a concentration in Community Health. 

Peter J. Titlebaum, Ed.D., is a professor in the School of Education and Health Sciences: Health and Sport Science at the University of Dayton.