Because many employers these days use Google searches to learn more about prospective candidates, it is crucial to make sure that your internet image is squeaky clean. In a previous post, I discussed how to Google yourself and clean up any extraneous information that you might not want floating around for an employer to see. In this post, I will discuss your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is usually the first thing a potential employer will click on if it comes up in a Google search of you, and it is also a valuable networking tool, so it is crucial that your LinkedIn profile be polished and professional.
If you do not have a LinkedIn profile, I recommend creating one. Let's look into a few important aspects of the LinkedIn profile:
1. The Photo. A photo is an important part of a LinkedIn profile. Do not leave the photo blank. People connect better with you when there is a photo in the profile; additionally, leaving the photo off will make your profile look incomplete. In choosing a photo, be sure to choose one that is professional. It should be a portrait of you rather than a candid photo that you have cropped. Your clothing should be professional, ideally a suit jacket (and tie for men). Dress as though you were dressing for a job interview. Your facial expression should be relaxed. Smiling is preferred, as it shows you are an open, friendly person--the kind of person people want to work with! Here is a great post about how to take a good portrait using a digital camera: http://lifehacker.com/159432/how-to-take-great-digital-portraits. Enlist a friend to take a photo or get together with another person and take photos of each other.
2. The Headline. The headline is the line that appears under your name in your profile. It is the first thing that people see when they look at your profile, so it is important that it be catchy and current. Most people choose to put their current employment position in the headline (e.g., "Director of International and Non-J.D. Programs at Fordham Law School"), but for students it is a bit more complicated. For students, you should include relevant information in a snappy format. Here are a few examples:
- Candidate for LL.M. Degree at Fordham Law School
- Chinese-Qualified Attorney and Candidate for LL.M. Degree at Fordham Law School
- Experienced German M&A Attorney and Candidate for LL.M. Degree at Fordham Law School
- Associate Attorney at Davis, Polk & Wardwell LLP and Candidate for LL.M. Degree at Fordham Law School (example for a student who is working full-time while attending school part-time)
3. The Summary. This is like a cover letter. It is your opportunity to explain your experience, give your "elevator pitch," and explain what makes you unique. It should not simply restate your resume. It can also be a good opportunity to show off your outstanding English language abilities, but you must make sure it is meticulously edited and well-written. The writing should be organized and succinct. Like a cover letter, it should be relatively brief. If it is too long, you risk that nobody will take the time to read it.
4. General--editing. All sections of your profile should be as meticulously edited as your resume. The Experience descriptions can, and should, be copied directly from your resume.