You have a Facebook account, Instagram, you tweet and you Snapchat. So why haven’t you joined the social network that can actually advance your career? It’s a good idea to join LinkedIn and start attending to your profile now as a dental student. While the medical industry is still not as open to LinkedIn the way other white collar industries may be, you still want to be present on this social network.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile or you haven’t looked at it in more than 12 months, here are five tips for where to start.
- Your picture is worth 1,000 words. Better said: your picture is worth zero job interviews if it was taken in a bar and someone’s arm is photo-bombing your headshot. It’s best to use that professional headshot you took at a national ASDA meeting instead. If you don’t have a professional headshot, consider a picture from your white coat ceremony or have a friend take a nice photo of you in your white coat especially for LinkedIn and the myriad other reasons you’ll need a headshot. One last note about your picture: no selfies.
- Your summary is the text that appears just below your name. Be mindful that your summary will pop up when you request to join a group or connect with someone–it’s how people will first be introduced to you. For this reason, you should carefully craft your summary. I used my job title, which is quite common. I recommend using something like “dental student at Meharry Medical College.” Stay away from vague and disjointed summaries like “student” or “dentistry.” This will come off as incomplete information or just laziness when people access your profile. (Check out Shaquille Oneal’s LinkedIn profile for an awesome example!)
- The experience section is basically your CV. If you haven’t written your CV (or it needs help), you should start here. I used bullet points to distill my CV down into the experience section of LinkedIn. It’s tedious to set this up initially, but once you do, you can use your LinkedIn profile like a living CV and it can even help you stay on top of your hard copy CV when it comes time to send it out for residencies or job interviews. I like to start with a short summary of the position and then follow with a bulleted list of duties. This allows your reader to more easily skim your experience section.
- Recommendations are not to be confused with endorsements. A recommendation is a lot like a testimonial of your work. It’s when someone you worked with takes the time to write a few lines about you and recommend you–this gets posted on your profile and it makes you look really good. If you think a recommendation will help you, you can reach out and ask for one. Treat these like letters of recommendations and follow the same rules: only ask people who really know you and provide them with enough background information that they can easily write a recommendation without spending time researching your credentials. Also be sure to ask for recommendations in a timely matter. Don’t ask for them 5 years after you did research with a certain professor–just like you wouldn’t reach out for a letter after so much time had passed. Endorsements are extremely quick ways to say “I think Kim knows about XYZ” and they are much less valued than a recommendation. I’ve had people endorse me who I’ve never even met. They have no idea if I know about newsletters (I do, but that’s not the point). Strive for recommendations, ignore endorsements.
- Bonus! Just like your other social networks, LinkedIn has some features beyond the online CV-type functions and job postings. Once you’ve found your way around profiles and connecting, use the newsfeed to see what the featured articles are each day. Some of my favorite reads on leadership, company culture and work-life balance have been spotted on LinkedIn’s newsfeed. You can also join groups, like ASDA, and other organizations you’re interested in. This is a great way to consume more content or connect with people with similar professional interested.
Do you have a LinkedIn profile? What are you favorite tips?
~Kim Schneider, publications manager