How to Update Your LinkedIn Profile to Land a Job with Your New Master's Degree
Congratulations on completing your master's degree! You've worked hard to earn your degree and you're now ready to start the next chapter of your career. But what's the best way to showcase your new credentials and make sure you land the job you want? The answer is LinkedIn. In today's post, we'll share some tips on how to update your LinkedIn profile so that you can land the job you want with your new master's degree.
Update Your Profile Picture
Your profile picture is one of the first things recruiters will see when they visit your profile, so it's important to make sure that it's professional and up-to-date. This image should be a high-resolution photo of you looking professional. Avoid pictures you took at a wedding, graduation, or other special events. Make sure to also avoid images where other people are in it or they are cropped out.
If you don't have a professional headshot, now is the time to get one taken. To do so, you don't have to spend a lot to get a high-quality image. You can have someone take the photo for you and use filters/photo editing tools. There are also several on-demand photo apps that connect you with established photographers at a reasonable rate.
Add a Background Image
Your background photo is another opportunity to make a good first impression. LinkedIn recommends using a photo that's 880 pixels wide by 200 pixels tall. This image should be relevant to your industry and/or profession. The best cover photos provide a visual cue as to who you are as a professional. This could be what you do, your industry, your location, etc.
Make sure that you pick an image that you can use. There are plenty of free stock photo sites out there. You can also use an image that you took or a collage to reflect your message. Whatever you pick, you can always change it as your career progresses.
Include a Professional Headline
Your headline is one of the most important elements of your LinkedIn profile. This is because it appears right under your name in search results and shows up with you everywhere on LinkedIn. This means that people see your headline, name, and profile photo before they look at your profile or resume (if using LinkedIn recruiter).
The default headline is your current job title and organization. However, for most new master's grads, that title will sell you short. Instead, you should change that headline to convey your skills or message for what you want next.
Headlines can use up to 120 characters. This gives you quite a bit of space to convey a message that piques interest. For most new master's grads, the best strategy is one that uses keywords. Doing so will maximize your message and improve your visibility for want you want to do next.
Write a Compelling Summary
Your summary is an opportunity to tell potential employers who you are, what you're passionate about, and what makes you stand out from the competition. Take some time to craft a well-written summary that gives employers a sense of who you are as both a professional and a person.
The About section on your LinkedIn profile enables you to tell your story. This means communicating the details about your new degree and how that connects your prior experience with your desired next steps. It's also an opportunity to share your personal brand. Are you known for being a go-getter? A change agent? An innovative thinker? Share that here.
The Summary section on your LinkedIn profile also isn't really a short summary. You can use up to 2,600 characters at this point. That is a lot of room to tell your story, what you have done, and your strengths. And, you should. Most people drop off your profile at this point to message you or to go to the next profile (if a recruiter). So, use this opportunity to give your audience a complete pitch about who you are as a professional.
Highlight Your Accomplishments
In addition to sharing your work experiences in your summary, be sure to highlight your accomplishments in each role using the "Accomplishments" section of your LinkedIn profile. Did you lead a successful marketing campaign? Did you increase sales by X percent? Be sure to include these types of accomplishments so that potential employers can see the value you would bring to their team.
Provide Details under the Professional Experience Section
Under each of your past positions, you'll have the opportunity to share more details about your actual day-to-day responsibilities. This is your chance to show what kinds of skills and experiences you have that are relevant to the types of jobs you're pursuing next.
LinkedIn allows 2,600 characters in the description field for each of your professional experience entries. This means you can include details about your responsibilities, achievements, and skills. Don't waste this opportunity.
You should also make sure that the story under each entry is consistent with your resume. This will create consistency for those that are looking at your profile in the hiring process. It will also improve your visibility on LinkedIn because you will add many keywords to your profile.
Be careful not to disclose anything you shouldn't in that explanation. Your professional experience descriptions should explain the relevant details from your experiences - not the organization or its clients. You should also make sure that these are written in a way that shows how it positions you for the next step in your career with your new master's degree.
Update the Education
This seems obvious, but many new master's graduates will forget to update their education. Make sure to update your education section so that it includes information about your new master's degree. You should use the drop-downs to properly tag your institution. This will expand your potential network and connections with other alumni. You will also want to use the drop-downs to pick the best name for your degree. This ensures that people using that section can find you (and that you aren't excluded from their search results).
You can also add a description and other details about your education for each degree you hold. This information is most relevant for your new master's degree. If you went straight from your undergrad to your master's, then you'll want to leave the details under your undergrad degree. For those that worked between degrees, the details under your undergrad or other prior degrees are less relevant.
Update the Skills
Don't forget to add the skills you gained from the master's program to your profile. You can do this as keywords throughout your profile. But, the skills section of your LinkedIn profile is important. This section maps directly into the LinkedIn jobs section. Recruiters will designate skills required or preferred for their open jobs. And, if you don't have them on your profile in the skills section, then you won't show up as having them. This means that you probably won't get through the screening process (or even have someone look at your resume.
Take the time to add all 50 skills to your profile. Use the drop-down to select the skills that are most relevant to what you want to do with your new master's degree. This also means removing the skills from your profile that are no longer relevant. The skills section is a bit sensitive and can crash quite a bit. So, save your work and be patient as you add the skills.
Join Relevant Groups
Joining groups related to your field is a great way to show recruiters that you're serious about your career and keeping up with industry trends. It's also a great way to network with other professionals in your field and get your name out there.
To find relevant groups, go to the search bar and type in keywords related to your field or the kind of job you're looking for. LinkedIn will populate a list of groups for you to join. Once you find a group that looks promising, click on it and then click on the "join" button.
Remember that everyone can see what groups you are in if they look. So, be strategic about what groups you join. And, remember that there may be people in your desired industry or current job already in the group. Keep it professional and stay on brand when joining and posting in any group on LinkedIn.
Ask for Recommendations
One of the most important sections on your LinkedIn profile is the recommendations section. A LinkedIn recommendation provides social proof of your experience and knowledge. You get one from each person and they stay on your profile forever. So, pick wisely.
As a new master's grad, it makes sense to request a recommendation from a professor or other leader from your degree program. Doing this now makes it more relevant (and easier). Professors are also typically well recognized in your industry and provide you with credibility - or connections. So, asking for a LinkedIn recommendation can help your search in a number of ways.
You need to be connected with someone on LinkedIn to ask for a recommendation. You will also want to give the person a heads up about what you would like them to say. This typically means giving them a few bullet points or talking points about your work together and how it was beneficial. This will help jog their memory and give them something to start with when writing the recommendation.
Finally, don't forget to return the favor and write a recommendation for anyone that has written one for you. It's considered good manners - and it could come back to help you later.
Grow Your Network
Your network is one of your most valuable assets when job hunting. And, LinkedIn is the perfect place to grow and nurture your professional network. A good way to start is by connecting with all of your fellow alumni from your degree program. To do this, go to the "People" tab at the top of your LinkedIn homepage and then click on the "Alumni" tab on the left side. LinkedIn will populate a list of your alumni. You can then start reaching out and connecting with them.
Another great way to grow your network is by joining LinkedIn groups (we'll talk more about this later). Groups are a great way to connect with professionals in your field - both in your current industry and the one you're hoping to transition into.
Finally, don't forget to stay in touch with your current network. This includes your current coworkers, managers, and anyone else you've worked with in the past. These are people that can act as a reference for you or help you get your foot in the door at a new company. So, it's important to keep them updated on your job search and let them know what you're looking for.
Updating your LinkedIn profile may seem like a small task, but it's an important part of landing the job you want after completing your master's degree. By following these simple tips, you can ensure that recruiters and potential employers take notice of your new master's degree—and put you at the top of their list when they're looking for qualified candidates. So what are you waiting for? Get started on updating your profile today!
Want to make sure that your profile puts your best foot forward? Our team of professional profile writers and resume writers would love to help. Submit your information below for a free quote or consultation to see how The Contingent Plan team may be able to assist.