Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

Last weekend, my mom asked me to help her set up a LinkedIn. Like most mothers of people our age, she isn’t the best with technology. This is not to say she is computer illiterate.  But when push comes to shove, our generation grew up using technology in everything we do.  This stuff is like a totally different language to the 55 year olds (sorry, mom).  So I’ve compiled a list of steps to help you help your mom when she wants to create a LinkedIn.

To preface, she asked me to help for two reasons. First, I’m 21 and have a LinkedIn. Second, I took advantage of the LinkedIn Lunch Series put on by the Office of Career Development here at Pitt last semester.  I highly recommend this seminar to anybody— you get free lunch, and you leave with a better understanding of how to sell yourself online.  It’s a win-win.  Seriously, sign up for it.

So let’s get started:

  1. Get to LinkedIn’s website. This step may seem incredibly simple, but you’d be surprised. My mom (who we will refer to as Deb) insists on starting any interaction with the internet by checking the news on her Comcast homepage.After we had a full discussion about the Amy Schumer Super Bowl commercial and the latest Donald Trump shenanigans, we got down to business. I knew it was going to be an interesting experience when she googled “Linked In” and was totally unaware that the website domain was www.linkedin.com. But we made it there. And getting there is half the battle, right?
  1. Create an account. When Deb tried to create an account, we were surprised to find that her email was being used for an existing account. After a little digging, we found that she had previous created a profile that was very sad looking. No picture, no previous job history, her name was not her full name, and her current employment situation was incorrect. It was a mess.
  1. Once you have an account, it’s time to start adding experiences to their profile. Tell them think of LinkedIn as an extended resume that includes EVERYTHING they have done through work, volunteerism, organization involvement, education, etc.   This was quite a hurdle for Deb. She subscribes to the thought that once you leave high school, it no longer matters. While she is totally right on a resume, LinkedIn works a little differently. You are encouraged to include as much as you can think of that commodifies your skills and experiences.There are several categories you can post certain experiences under to organize information. Upon encountering the options such as “patents”, “awards”, and “published material”, Deb commented, “Wow, this website makes me feel really pathetic”. Your parents might also feel that way. DON’T. The only reason those options are there is so that people who DO have patents and published works have somewhere to showcase them. It’s not meant to make you feel crappy.

    There are countless articles online with tips and best practices for including certain things on your LinkedIn. Trust them. They are your friend.

  1. Your LinkedIn picture is so so so important. Not having a LinkedIn picture is like not having a Facebook picture. It looks unfinished and unprofessional. If you don’t have a picture on your profile, people will assume you either are really ugly or don’t know how to upload a picture. Both are really bad first impressions to make. We had a mini photoshoot in my living room to get a recent, professional looking picture. Nothing is less appealing than a profile with Darth Vader’s silhouette as the picture.

Here’s an example of a good LinkedIn picture.

kim k good

(Image taken from http://www.neilsonreeves.co.uk/company-or-actors-headshot-photographer-in-manchester/corporate-photography-pricing/, 2/17/2016)

And here’s a bad one. Don’t be this Kim.
kim k bad

(Image taken from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/11577806/kim-kardashian-selfish-selfie-book-review.html, 2/17/2016)

  1. I recommend drafting a self summary last. That way, you can look back at everything you have on your profile and come up with a way to introduce yourself. It’s important to find a balance between professional and conversational language. You don’t want to seem stuffy, but you don’t want to seem too aloof. Potential employers are going to read this and make an immediate judgment about you, so be careful.  Be interesting, but stay relevant.

Once you’ve gotten this far, the next step is to start networking, which is a monster of its own breed.  Here are some helpful links to start networking:



Now that she has a strong professional presence with her LinkedIn profile, Deb can start to connect with other professionals in her field and expand her own network of contacts.  Hopefully you and your parents can benefit from this advice, too!


If you are interested in taking a look at the progress we have made on Deb’s profile, here’s the link.  It’s still a work in progress, but it’s on its way.




12 thoughts on “Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

  1. This was so informative, and definitely a great guide to help those who are inexperienced with LinkedIn and other social media platforms. I especially like the portion you included about networking. So many people believe that once you make a profile and fill out all of the required fields, you don’t need to do anything else–wrong. You have to actively network, and the sources you include are so helpful. Also, her profile looks incredible and is currently putting mine to shame.


  2. This is an informative and easy to follow guide to sign up for LinkedIn. I can relate to your mother’s dilemma about being less experienced with social media platforms and LinkedIn since I am only 10 years younger than her. Although I have been computer literate for over 20 years, the social media platforms and other professional websites have not been a part of my daily life.Basically I am a mother of 3 and work full time in the medical field that does not require or include any type of social media interaction. I joined LinkedIn around 5 years ago as a favor to one of my co-workers in our profession in Pathology. I did not finish my profile, my pic looks less professional, and I have not continued to network on this site. Now that I am switching careers and in this advanced writing class, I find it a continuous learning experience to sign up and connect on these social media platforms for my future dream job. I am happy to say I am in the process of upgrading my LinkedIn profile and looking forward to connecting with other professionals in my future field.


  3. I think your mom’s LinkedIn profile looks really good now! It seems very appropriate for a lawyer.

    This guide seems very helpful. I will definitely be using some of the articles to help shape my own profile. I am most apprehensive about the networking part. Specifically, connecting with people that I might not now very well on a personal level, but that I know professionally, is a little nerve-wracking to me because of the message that gets sent along with the request. It seems silly, but I don’t want to just send along the standard greeting.

    (Also loving the Kim K pics.)


  4. I loved your post! To start, I think the topic is extremely interesting and relevant to our society, especially our generation since we are so social media savvy and our parents are not. I can relate to this because my mother has no idea how to use any form of social media as well. I like the way you formatted your post-with a brief background story and step-by-step instructions on how you created the LinkedIn profile. All of your tips are very useful and required while one makes a LinkedIn.

    I love how you said that the site is not designed to make you feel bad about yourself-very true! Your pictures and examples were also on point. Overall, great job, useful article, and definitely relatable!



  5. This blog post was informative with a sprinkling of entertaining tidbits about your mom’s reactions and the Kim Kardashian picture examples. The format was easy to follow because you didn’t just list what to do when making a LinkedIn profile; your mom became the character in a story about creating a profile, which made it more interesting to read. You covered the bases by explaining that there are a variety of sections that you can add to show as much experience as possible. I liked your conversational tone and the fact that you included links- your mom’s LinkedIn profile especially, so readers can see the result!


  6. I think this would be a really helpful step by step to show to parents (like my own mom) especially after seeing how well it works! The most important thing is really to list everything you’ve done, which I think you covered well by what everything means.

    Also your examples for pictures was really helpful, though I would still ask whether the first one would be a great LinkedIn photo.


  7. I think you make a very important point here about the necessity of having a photo on your profile. If someone requests me on Facebook with no profile picture, most times I assume it’s either a fake account made just to stalk people or that it’s just a creepy guy. And I think it’s the same deal with LinkedIn. You never know who’s on the internet in this day and age, so a photo is a good way to show potential connections who you are. Plus, it makes you seem more human to a recruiter rather than just a list of words. If employers can put a face to your name and resume, they will be much more likely to remember you. And like we saw with photofeeler.com, that photo will say a lot about you so it’s crucial that you choose a professional looking one that still makes you look pleasant to be around. I think your mom’s photo looks great, especially for having took it in your own home on a whim!


  8. Those Kim K pic made me laugh!! I think your post is really entertaining and also informative. I love how you listed the steps you took to redo your moms LinkedIn page. It made your blog post very easy to read and follow. I also like how you kept a professional tone to your post but presented it in a conversational way. I think that makes your post stand out and interesting. Overall I really enjoyed your blog entry! I will definitely use your steps to help with the editing of my LinkedIn page.


  9. Thanks for the great post about LinkedIn! LinkedIn is one of my priorities for this semester since I am getting so close to graduation. I like that you created a step-by-step process for setting up a LinkedIn. That is very helpful and clarifying. I appreciate that you gave examples of the LinkedIn pictures because I think that is one of the most common mistakes people make with their LinkedIn profiles, so it is good to have examples along with the text explanation.


  10. I think this blog post uses a conversational style and voice really well! I love how the tone is one that I could imagine a young adult actually speaking to their mother in. I think the advice given is very valid and simplistic – exactly what you’d want when teaching your mother how to use a platform she’s not familiar with. The two contrasting pictures of Kim Kardashian also worked really well to get your point across about what pictures are suitable and not suitable to look professional!


  11. This is a very helpful and informative guide! I have to admit that as I was reading point #3 I could identify with the feeling of not having a ton of experience – I didn’t like having done so little and having to publish it for everyone to see. The contrasting photos of Kim K as examples of what and what not to do in terms of profile picture etiquette are effective in showing what is acceptable.


  12. First and foremost, great post! The steps you organized this process into make complete sense and are phrased in a way that any LinkedIn newbie would understand. More so than simply explaining how one goes about creating a profile, I appreciated the insight you included surrounding your Mom’s experience. I know my parents struggle with using technology and have not ventured into the world of LinkedIn. The technological learning barrier coupled with daunting questions such as “What are your achievements, patents held, etc” could make anyone feel less than accomplished, or as your Mom summed up pretty well, like they “suck”. I commend your patience and think the ability to teach others is a skill we will find useful as we transition into the workforce and encounter a variety of skill and comfort levels when it comes to using technology.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s