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:
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
(Image taken from http://www.neilsonreeves.co.uk/company-or-actors-headshot-photographer-in-manchester/corporate-photography-pricing/, 2/17/2016)
(Image taken from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/11577806/kim-kardashian-selfish-selfie-book-review.html, 2/17/2016)
- 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.