This article is the third post in a mini-series based on my own LinkedIn overhaul during summer 2016.
In my previous post, I wrote about connections, how to give and receive endorsements, and adding skills. Today is about more overt ways to weave your narrative using the experiences, education, and volunteer sections as well as the “Add Media” function. New to this social media platform? Check out LinkedIn for Beginners: The 8-Step Profile Setup first.
Experiences + Education
Every “Education” entry has a “Description” box, which is ideal for listing study abroad and sources of recognition that matter but perhaps don’t merit a separate entry under “Honors & Awards.” If you add “Courses” to your profile, only include upper-level classes with their full names (i.e. “LT 399: Flamenco in Poetry of Lorca,” not just “LT 399”).
When adding “Experiences” to your profile, remember just how all-encompassing that word is. Your summer gig taking orders at a taco truck might seem like more of a “real job” than co-chairing Latin Club, but actually both of those positions are rich fodder for an entry. There doesn’t have to be money involved for it to be worth including.
When describing your myriad “Experiences,” write conversationally and remember that every detail isn’t necessary. LinkedIn is not a resume, so change your bullet points to complete sentences.
As you contribute to more organizations and themes in your work emerge, you can combine or eliminate entries. During my first year of college, I helped my coach consolidate Excel files and contact recruits. One day I spent an hour hand writing his cell phone number on his business cards. I haven’t included this job on my LinkedIn profile since sophomore year—while that experience was certainly foundational, my subsequent ones have been more robust.
After I graduated from Whitman I realized my “Experience” section was getting too long—only a dedicated viewer (re: my father) would read all of it. So, I condensed all of my volleyball coaching to one entry and made the “Company” a list of the four teams. This arrangement reduced scrolling and created cohesion: instead of sporadic, season-long time frames, my profile said I’ve been a coach since December 2013 (Note: I ended up changing this entry to emphasize the importance of my most recent coaching, but this is still a good technique for consolidation.) If you’ve had numerous on-campus jobs, it could be helpful to list them all with the “Company” of Whitman College and then write a couple sentences about each position within a single entry. For my student government work, because I eventually chaired the committee I’d been on for a year and a half, I briefly addressed my prior work at the end of the description by writing, “Training ground: Three semesters as the ASWC Communications Copy Editor and two semesters as a Production Artist for the Whitman Wire.”
Especially as a student with limited work experience, this section can be clutch. Search committee participation, community service, and club or religious group leadership could fit under this umbrella. Now that LinkedIn no longer allows users to arrange their profile sections, however, if you have a particularly robust volunteer story (running an annual ski swap four times or hundreds of hours at a food bank), consider including it in the general “Experience” section instead or choosing a more recent timeline so it appears higher on your profile. (Note: I am not suggesting you lie about currently volunteering somewhere where you don’t; rather, if you’re still involved in the organization, even in a different capacity, you could choose “I currently work here” or “I currently volunteer here” to locate the entry in a more prominent position.)
If you’d like to develop this section of your profile and learn more about Walla Walla, the Student Engagement Center runs Whitman-based volunteer programs and curates a list of other local opportunities.
LinkedIn’s “Add Media” function allows you to actually show people what you do. It is not necessary to upload every kind of file listed–choose quality over quantity. Whether you include the slides from a stellar class presentation or diagrams from your lab research (or a link to your film mini-series or a copy of your best rhetoric essay or…), showcase your highest caliber work. Because the LinkedIn media viewer looks like underdeveloped Facebook, it can also be a good idea to link to a separate portfolio of your work where you control the aesthetic and layout. Artists, writers, coders, playwrights, photographers–basically anyone who has projects that they’d like to collect in one place and show to the world–can especially benefit from curating an additional online presence in conjunction with LinkedIn.