Like thousands of other students, I will be graduating in May with a degree in communication. Many of us are wondering, how can I stand out when applying to jobs? A great start is signing up for a LinkedIn professional profile. It is a great way for you to find job openings as well as job recruiters to find your profile based on your skills.

Here are some tips to getting the most use out of your LinkedIn profile:

1. Determine the skills you have based on your interests and the type of jobs you are applying to. I suggest purchasing Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath and taking the quiz on the Strengths Finder website. You can also use a Google search to find out more information about your specific field of interest. Once you have completed your research, add your skills to the Skills and Endorsements section of your LinkedIn profile.

2. In order to get updates about companies that you are interested in, make sure to follow their LinkedIn pages. If you are interested in PR, some interesting companies to follow are Edelman and Burson-Marsteller. They offer a lot of information about the PR field as well as job openings for their company.

3. Make sure your profile is complete. This means including specific information like which schools you’ve attended, previous jobs you’ve held, a personal bio, awards you have earned, etc. Companies will take notice when you do not have an active profile and this may turn them away.

4. Use a professional photo. Your picture should be a headshot with a neutral colored background. You can have a friend help you take a picture or different conferences and professional networking events can take these photos for you.

5. Connect with everyone and anyone you may know. Even if you do not know someone but you are interested in their position in a company or previous companies they have worked for, connect with them. This is a great way to make professional networking connections that can help you find future jobs. Add professors, co-workers, other students, your parents’ friends, etc. The People You May Know section is a great way to find people that are similar to you based on networks or different skills you have in common.

6. Even when you have landed a job you enjoy, do not abandon your LinkedIn profile. You never know when or where you will make new important professional connections.

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