(Originally published April 2016, updated April 2020)
New graduate job seekers, despite how it may feel at times, employers really do want to hire you.
They just need some reassurance because your resumes are a little skinny, even though you yourselves are full of experiences and potential.
Before the new grad interview jitters, comes the process of getting your name and resume out there. This starts by fine tuning exactly how you portray yourself both virtually and in-person.
Many new graduates overshare on Instagram and under share on LinkedIn, a mistake that comes to light the second a hiring manager reviews your digital footprint. By utilizing LinkedIn for personal branding, you can build your professional image and overcome the resume hurdles many fresh-faced, new graduates meet.
Why is personal branding important for new grads
Many employers fall into the “2-5 year experience trap”. By looking only for candidates with 2-5 years of experience, they severely limit their pool of available candidates. We feel the pain of both hiring managers who can’t fill their openings and new grads with little to no experience. Hiring managers can overlook a lack of work experience, if you bulk up your personal brand on social media.
In other words, focus on building your personal brand to strengthen a LinkedIn profile with no professional work experience.
Another great option that’s becoming increasingly popular, especially for those in digital fields, is creating a personal website. A website serves as a portfolio to showcase your best coursework, creative hobbies, and freelance projects.
Tips to craft personal branding on a Linkedin profile
Here’s how new grads on LinkedIn can spruce up their personal branding.
1. Start with the headline
Start building your LinkedIn profile by choosing a strong headline outlining your ideal position. Choose an industry that most closely matches the field you plan to pursue and use common wording. You can always change your headline and profile section later. Once you have a draft of a profile, have a friend or career coach proofread it.
One single typo can wreck yur first impression. Ruh-roh.
Examples of new grad LinkedIn headlines:
- New Grad Seeking Software Engineering Opportunities
- New Grad with Marketing and Sales Experience
- Recent Graduate Seeking Management Consulting Role
- Recent graduate, Digital Marketing + Product
2. Upload a clean headshot
Include a headshot. Not a photo that includes your dog, unless you’re a dog trainer, or a glass of wine unless you’re a sommelier. If you plan on working in financial services or in another highly professional arena, suit up for the photo. If you’re in tech or marketing, you can be business casual. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a professional photo, but it needs to be clear and of good quality.
And, with the quality of phone cameras nowadays, it’s almost an expectation to have a clear, well-lit photo. No cropping an old wedding guest photo!
3. Personalize your LinkedIn URL
Personalize the web address for your LinkedIn URL. This gives a much more polished look when you share your LinkedIn profile on your resume or in emails.
4. Request and give recommendations and endorsements
Give LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements to friends and co-workers, and ask them to recommend you. To make it easier, give them a bullet list of the strengths you’d like to highlight, such as problem-solving, leadership, or teamwork. New grads on LinkedIn are always hungry to build up their profiles, so endorsing your peers could lead to a snowball effect of endorsements on your own.
5. Highlight field-related experience, even if it’s not “official”
In your profile, highlight internships, volunteer work, and school projects that relate to your chosen field. If you don’t have any of those, go find a nonprofit that needs your skills. If you have entry-level experience in an unrelated field, point out your key learning from that job. You may be completely over being a server, but you probably learned some good problem solving and customer service skills in your first job. Make that work for you.
6. Connect and network with those in your dream field
Reach out to connect with many people on LinkedIn. Include a brief comment such as “I’d be honored to have you in my network”. Include not only your peers, but more experienced people. Your parents’ business associates are generally happy to help. Alumni networks are awesome, since you have built-in credibility. Also, don’t underestimate your friends. Even though they may not be in a position to hire you, they are going to be job hunting too and will meet people who might hire or refer you.
7. Join industry LinkedIn groups
Join LinkedIn groups relevant to your industry. Ask and answer questions in those groups. Post content relevant to your field at least weekly, in groups and on multiple social media platforms. You can re-tweet or share existing content; it doesn’t have to be original, just smart. You can build a reputation as an up-and-coming expert.
8. Clean up your other digital profiles
Google yourself and see what comes up; you can bet that your next boss will. Clean up your Facebook and Instagram accounts. Always holding a red cup? You’re building an image, even if in reality you don’t drink that much. Highly political or profane content could damage your credibility. Change your accounts to private so that your more personal or controversial posts are only seen by a limited audience.
9. Follow companies and engage with their updates
Follow companies you’re interested in on LinkedIn and on all social media platforms. Even though LinkedIn is THE professional networking site, you’ll find great companies on many social platforms.
One company you should definitely follow is BestCompaniesAZ. There, you’ll find specific information on award-winning companies and how to get hired by the best. These companies are growing and they want to hire millennials. BestCompaniesAZ can also help coach you as you launch our career.
10. Engage with your networks’ updates and post yourself
New grads don’t have to be experts on a topic to write about it. Personal branding also comes down to how inquisitive and dedicated you are to a particular area. You can ask questions on your networks’ posts, comment with your own thoughts, or just keep yourself visible as you like updates. All of this activity shows on your profile and in others’ feeds.
You can’t control past experience, but you can control how you present it
You may not be able to change the fact that you’re just coming out of college. However, if you have a LinkedIn profile with no experience, then you can definitely clean up exactly what recruiters see and how you portray yourself. Whether you’re in the post-grad slump or about to graduate, it’s never too late to fine-tune your personal branding.
See who’s hiring at Arizona companies near you to explore a diverse array of entry-level positions across all industries!