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Top 5 Mistakes College Students Make On LinkedIn

By Chaim Shapiro

August 30, 2016

While it is imperative for everyone to create a winning LinkedIn profile, it is especially important for college students.   Most college students are in the job or internship market, and LinkedIn is an essential part of promoting their professional brand.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of avoidable mistakes college students make on LinkedIn that end up hurting them.  To help you avoid these, here are  the Top 5 Mistakes College Students Make On LinkedIn.

1)      Outdated Accounts   Will Rogers’ famous quote, “Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there”  provides a powerful LinkedIn lesson.  Being on LinkedIn is not enough.  You have to effectively use LinkedIn.  Even if you create a great LinkedIn profile, it has no value if it is not kept up to date with new internship and job experiences, etc.  Keep your profile up to date at all times!

2)      Stagnant Accounts Even when you are careful to keep your LinkedIn profile up-to date with the latest career and school information, how does the average recruiter viewing your account know that it is up-to-date?  Recruiters are taking a professional risk by reaching out to you, and the last thing they want is to be surprised by incorrect and outdated information!

Recruiters are more confident in the accuracy of your profile when they see that an account is active. Your LinkedIn activity remains visible to users for only two weeks, so it is imperative that some activity is always visible.  Make sure you post a “Status Update” or post to a Group at least once every two week to avoid a stagnant account.

3)      Not Syncing Your School Name   LinkedIn has a great auto-fill feature.  When you start typing your college’s name into the education field, LinkedIn will auto-complete the name for you. This is a bigger deal than it may seem.  When you use the LinkedIn auto-fill, your schools logo will automatically appear on your profile and will make you much easier to find in school name searches.  This will also set your default “Alumni Search” to your institution.

4)      Hey-We are BOTH Alumni!  The Alumni Search, is a very powerful tool that allows users to search for alumni from their school in positions of authority in fields and at companies of interest.  Networking is the most effective means of finding a job, but I advise against reaching out to alumni just based on school affiliation.  Trust me, you are not the first one to come up with that idea! 

I recommend a much more targeted approach.  Before you reach out to alumni, check their profiles and other social media accounts to identify other connections and shared interests aside from your school.  Finding a way to engage alumni on multiple levels will make your request stand out from the rest.

5)      Irrelevant Test Scores LinkedIn has a nice feature that allows you to add a “Test Scores”section to your profile.  While I understand that you may be very proud of that 97% you received on your political science midterm, LinkedIn is not the place to highlight that.  Only include test scores that make you more marketable as a professional.  My advice is to only add impressive test scores on professional certification exams such as the CPA, actuarial exams or others in that category.

Chaim Shapiro, EdD is Director of Student Success at Touro College