LinkedIn 101: Preparing a Powerful Profile

Whether you’re revamping your job search or conducting a job search for the first time, you can’t ignore LinkedIn. Regardless of the profession you’re pursuing LinkedIn is a valuable tool for finding job leads and connecting to others working in your industry.

Why is LinkedIn so important? Consider the facts:

93 percent of recruiters surveyed in 2012 tapped into LinkedIn to find qualified candidates;

89 percent of recruiters surveyed hired someone they found or were introduced to through LinkedIn.

Additionally, when you have an interview scheduled, if you don’t think recruiters are checking you out on social media beforehand, think again.

Just like other job search tools – resumes, cover letters and interviews – make sure your LinkedIn account stands out. Here at the CPCC Career Services blog we’ll be spending the next few weeks discussing LinkedIn to help you get started.

The first step in using LinkedIn is completing your profile. Like a resume, your profile summarizes your professional and education background. An effective profile contains the following items:

Professional photo. People look favorably at a profile containing a headshot of the person dressed professionally and wearing a smile on their face. Make sure it doesn’t contain another individual. Have a friend or family member snap your picture that can be uploaded into LinkedIn in a matter of minutes.

Catchy headline. Like a newspaper headline, your profile headline should capture what you’re all about. Examples might include “Dental Hygiene Student,” “CPCC Dental Hygiene Graduate,” or “CPCC Dental Hygiene student seeking job in Charlotte, NC region.”

Summary stacked with keywords. Similar to a Summary of Skills section on a resume, your profile’s summary is a concise snapshot of your overall qualifications. Be sure to include keywords from your field of interest. Mention relevant years of experience, accomplishments and other relevant details.

Well-written Experience section. List items in this segment in reverse chronological order. Like the resume, use keywords and action verbs when describing your duties and responsibilities. Don’t forget relevant internships and volunteer experience.

As your profile begins taking shape, LinkedIn will start suggesting people you should connect with. These suggestions are based on all of the information you add to your profile. When it comes to connections, quality is just as important as quantity. We’ll talk about connecting to others next week, including joining relevant LinkedIn groups.

In the meantime, the first group you should join is the CPCC Career Services group. Group members include the Career Services staff, employers, as well as CPCC students and faculty. Lots of great career-related discussion. Be sure to check it out!

10 tips for creating a top-notch reference list

“References available upon request” is a statement that can make or break a job offer. A person serving as a reference talks favorably about your skills and abilities regarding job performance. Make sure your references can confirm your potential to a prospective employer.

Here are 10 tips for assembling a successful reference list.

1. Don’t assume someone wants to be a reference. Ask. Some people aren’t comfortable talking to strangers in this context. Others may feel their schedule is too busy. Get an honest answer. Neutral is the same as negative, so make sure the person you’re considering can give you a positive recommendation.

2. Use professional references.  Don’t list friends or family. Good sources include previous supervisors, co-workers, professors, or advisors.  Think outside the box:  If you volunteered to coordinate an organization’s fundraiser, the organization’s supervisor could be a great reference.  It doesn’t matter that you weren’t paid. An exception to this tip is if you were employed in a family business. But reiterate to your reference the importance of focusing on you as an employee, not a family member.

3. Avoid name dropping.  A reference’s name or job title is insignificant compared to the information he or she provides regarding your strengths and weaknesses.  CEO may be a loftier title than supervisor; however, who can talk best about your abilities?

4. Provide references with the appropriate tools.  Give references a copy of your resume so they know your background.  Provide a description of the job to which you’re applying.  Knowing the duties and responsibilities ahead of time prepares references for questions and help them relate your experience to the job.

5. Alert references to potential phone calls from employers. If you believe your references may be contacted by an employer, let them know. Tell them the name of the company and the position for which you interviewed. If you know the name of the person who will check your references offer that information, too.

6. Keep references informed. Were you offered the job? Did you accept? When will you start?

7. Thank your references. When you accept a job, take time to write each of your references a thank-you note. They played a valuable part in you receiving an offer.

8. Keep in touch. Don’t end contact with your references. Send an e-mail, call, or meet for lunch on occasion. You never know if and when you may need to contact them in the future.

9. Update your list. Reference lists become outdated like resumes do. As your career builds, keep your reference list up-to-date.

10. Return the favor. Your references may have been the deciding factor in your job offer. When you are asked to be a reference for someone else, say yes.


What’s next? Job search tips after a career fair





Career Services hopes you were able to attend last week’s CPCC Job Fair. It was a busy day with representatives from over 90 companies talking to job seekers about full-time and part-time opportunities.

So what’s next? Here are some additional tips to keep the job fair an ongoing success in your job search:

  • Send thank you notes. Ideally this step was completed within 24 hours after the job fair, but it’s not too late. Many applicants may not take the time to send a thank you note at all. Doing so could be the difference between you landing an interview or not. Recall specific talking points from your conversations and reference them in the thank you letters.
  •  Develop a system to keep track of recruiters, companies and job leads. Mark dates you speak with people, send your resume to someone or have an information meeting with a person. Set reminders on your calendar to follow up with them.
  •  Follow up with recruiters about two weeks after the job fair. Touch base to find out the status of jobs you spoke about and to reiterate your ongoing interest in the positions.
  •  Contact companies you didn’t talk to. Whether you weren’t able to attend the career fair or couldn’t speak with all of the companies on your target list, reach out to them now. Check out the company websites for information about job opportunities. If an employer lists a recruiter’s name and email address, don’t hesitate to contact him or her directly.
  •  Review your job search tools. Your resume, professional wardrobe and elevator speech are three key components in every job search. If you have concerns about your success with any of them, schedule an appointment with a career counselor to review how you’re marketing your qualifications to employers.
  •  Use other job search strategies.. The career fair is just one job search outlet. It’s critical that you use all options available to you. On-campus recruiting and employmeNC are two examples of job search resources Career Services offers. Be sure you’re also reviewing regional and industry-specific job search websites, as well as developing a network of people to talk to through LinkedIn and informational interviewing.