LinkedIn is the largest career database in the world and the best online platform to create your professional online presence. With over 500 million people (as of August 2020)  on LinkedIn and most of them in professional positions, to be current you need to learn what LinkedIn is and how to leverage the power of LI in your future.

Why LinkedIn?

  • Create a professional online presence
  • Identify & make connections to develop your network
  • Identify groups that are discussing topics of interest
  • Research companies
  • Find employment
  • Discover career pathways to your ideal job

You want to ensure you have presented yourself as professionally as possible.  Below are tips on how to create / improve your LI profile.

To EDIT, simply go to your Profile page and click on the “pencil” in the upper right corner.

PICTURE:  You should have a professional-looking picture of yourself, preferably with a blank background. i.e. not taken at the formal dance.  Do a quick search for people on LI and see how their pictures show up for ideas.  Not too close.  Not too far away.  Not too busy in the background.

TAG LINE / HEAD LINE:  The area immediately under your name is your ‘tag line’ or ‘headline’ and is pulled automatically from a section in your profile with your most current position. Edit this section to highlight your career interests, skills or passion.   When people search for you they see your picture and this tag line, so it is important to capture a highlight of who you are in this section. Check out other people’s profiles and generate some ideas on what might work for you.

Example:  Career Coach |  Passionate | Creative | Problem Solver

Example:  Higher Education Professional | Collaborator & Connector

ABOUT SECTION:  Near your name and Headline, you will see a blue box “Add Profile Section”. Click on this and add ABOUT. Think of this section a bit like your cover letter.  This is an area where you can write about yourself, strengths, passions, interests, etc… Keep it short, bullets work well, and think of ways to set yourself apart from the others looking for employment.

CUSTOMIZE YOUR LINKEDIN ADDRESS:  You can change your LinkedIn address / public profile URL and can then add it to your resume, business cards, and/or in your email signature.

  • On your Profile page, look to the right column for EDIT YOUR PUBLIC PROFILE
  • In the upper right of that page is “Edit URL”
  • Simply put in your name or if your name is taken, use your name with a simple number after it. SAVE is at the bottom.

EXPERIENCE SECTION:  This is the one area that will look much like your resume.  You can add a few ‘bells & whistles’ here, but start with replicating what you have on your resume for experience.

SKILLS SECTION:  Take some time and look at people’s profiles who are working in the industry / occupation you are interested in.  Check out their SKILLS listed and if you have those same skills, add them to your section.  Think about the top skills employers are looking for as this is one of the sections RECRUITERS use to search for candidates.


LinkedIn works best when you can have a minimum of 250 first connections or more. I suggest you set a goal of 500 first connections. Think of first connections as people you meet at a conference or networking event and you exchange business cards.

Everyone that that person knows, is your second connection.

Step one, think about people you currently work with, worked with in the past, and people who are working in the industry you want to get into.

There are many places on LinkedIn where it will ask you to CONNECT with a person. I recommend you do NOT connect at those points. Always go directly to a person’s profile in order to connect. This allows you to add an individual note.

“I see we have a lot in common…” or “I like what you are doing…” or “Nice to have met you at ….”

Think of LinkedIn as relationship building and adding the note gives that feel.

  1. Go to the person’s Profile
  2. Click on CONNECT, it says “Add A note” That is the best place to do that.
  3. Write a short note and CONNECT

If you are connecting on your phone.

  1. Go to the person’s profile and click on the “More…” (3 dots) to the right of their name
  2. Click on “Personalize invite” in order to add a note.

Here are four ways you can use LinkedIn to find work by communicating with real live people.

  1. 1. CONTACTS

Go through your LI contacts. Who have you not talked to in a while and might be able to help you in some way? Maybe you had the same major. Or they are doing something you find interesting. Or are they in an industry that could be a good move for you?

– Call them up or email them for a time to chat face-to-face, by phone, or Skype / Facetime.

Note: you do NOT have to use LI messages, you can go ‘old school’ and call them on the phone because they are a friend of yours or you can google their company and get a phone number.


(Updated: August 2020) On LI, simply do a search for the college or university you are interested in. On the left, you will see HOME, ABOUT, JOBS, ALUMNI, and VIDEOS. Select ALUMNI.

As you can, at my alma mater, Oregon State University, I have nearly 140,000 alumni at my fingertips. Click on the ARROW on the far right side to view WHAT THEY STUDIED.


This is only the first two columns of six available here. You can see next to my “arrow” in the screen capture, there is <Previous Next >

Click on NEXT and it takes you to WHAT THEY DO and a WHAT THEY STUDIED screen. You can see that 3,725 studied Marketing. You can click on that it will sort out only the Marketing Majors. You can now see WHAT THEY DO.

Are you more interested in “Business Development” or “Media and Communication”? All you have to do is click on the WHAT THEY DO area you prefer and it will give you the Alumni who are working in that field. I encourage you to look at their current jobs and also their path to their current job.

If someone has an interesting position or career pathway, reach out to them and see if they will give you some advice on how to get into this field/occupation/industry.

Click on NEXT page to find the final two columns which are WHAT THEY ARE SKILLED AT and HOW YOU ARE CONNECTED. The WHAT THEY ARE SKILLED AT column is a great way to add skills to your profile or to see what skills you might want to develop

Use LinkedIn to discover people and pathways, then feel free to reach out to them via phone or email. These folks are your “warm connections” and it is always easier to reach out to alumni of your college.

Note: You do not have to only look at your college, you can do this activity for any college. Reaching out to people is more difficult, but it can be a good way of generating some new thinking on your part.


If your college has an Alumni Group in LI, join it.  As you can see in my screenshots of Oregon State University, below, there are 10,592 people in this group. (To the left of the JOIN button in the upper right corner). Once you are IN the group, you can ‘message’ anyone there that might be helpful to you in your job changing process.

As you can see, in these three steps the theme is ‘people hire people’ and ‘people help people.’ Don’t spend all your time clicking on a website for job openings. Spend at least 60-70% talking with people that can help give you inside information about how to get into this industry or company. Eventually, there will be a job at the end of this process… a slower feeling process because you are not applying to 100 positions, but a more a better process.

Note: There are 1000’s of other groups that are formed around various topics. Search for topics, industries, or organizations of interest and consider joining them…at least for awhile, you can always unsubscribe.


Most companies have profiles on LI with information about the latest news, career opportunities, and the ability to “follow” them for updates.  Go to your search bar, use the pull-down to the left of the bar and select COMPANIES, and search away.

On the right side of your screen.  You will see “How you are connected” to the company. A great tool for identifying potential informational interviews.

You will also see a “People also viewed” section. This is a GREAT way to expand your list of potential companies.

Of course, there is so much more on LI that cannot be covered here, but I hope this has given you some helpful information on how to “kick start” using LI as a tool to find work and network with like-minded people.

This article is a compilation of blogs by Jim Peacock at Peak-Careers Consulting. Learn more at


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Career Decision Making for Adults (v3) Copyright © by Jan Coville is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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