7 LinkedIn Tips For Recent Grads

Photo: flickr.com / nan palmero

With 100 million members in over 200 countries, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. It offers great opportunities to network, seek recommendations, and connect with people in your industry — that is, if you use it correctly.

Simple changes like adding relevant keywords to your profile can boost traffic, which means a higher likelihood of potential employers viewing your site. So instead of tweeting about unemployment and checking in at home on foursquare every day, use these 7 quick tips to optimize your job hunt.

1. Write a specific profile heading. Think of your LinkedIn title like a first impression — it’s your first opportunity to grab viewers. “Marketing grad from XYZ University, Seeking Opportunity in XYZ” is more engaging than simply “Recent graduate.” But beware of LinkedIn’s 10 most overused buzzwords, including innovative, motivated, team player, and problem solver.

2. Strengthen your profile with applications. If you have a blog, add the WordPress app, which will stream posts to your profile. Other apps: books you’re reading (Amazon Reading List), huddle workspaces, where you’re traveling (TripIt), and PDFs of your work.

3. Fill out 100% of your profile, including interests and background. Once you do so, LinkedIn generates jobs you may be interested in based on companies’ postings. Sign up to get email alerts about these openings, which is quicker and easier than scouring LinkedIn.

Photo: Getty Images

4. Customize each message when requesting LinkedIn recommendations. Give a bit of context as to why you’re asking him/her for a recommendation (ex: you reported to them directly for two years). Include a bit of subtle flattery, such as “I really value your opinion,” and offer to write them a rec in return.

5. Research all details about people and companies, and use that information to your advantage. If you notice that your interviewer studied abroad in Japan and you minored in Japanese culture, make sure to slip that into your conversation. Also use this info to know what you shouldn’t ask. For example, if the company’s profile page discusses its mission, don’t waste an interview question on that.

6. Join groups related to your professional interests and affiliations. A great place to start is your college or university’s LinkedIn group, and then search for relevant industry groups, says Gen-Y expert Lindsey Pollak. Group membership grants access to message boards, job postings, and new connections. Need inspiration? Check the “Groups You May Like” tab.

7. Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn’s co-founder, recommends using the site to do “small goods” for others. In other words: congratulate contacts when they update their job info or “like” articles shared by your connections. It’s a simple, one-click way to network; your connections are likely to give you feedback in return.

Has LinkedIn ever helped you find a job or landed you one? Comment below, and your story could be featured in the next No Joe Schmo advice blog!

PLUS>> Check out other job-hunting tips from No Joe Schmo, such as rules for finding a job on Twitter and questions to ask at the end of every interview.

5 Ways to Make Your Business Card Stand Out

Photo credit: themarketingguy.wordpress.com

A few years ago, I began collecting business cards everywhere I went — restaurants, boutiques, hair salons, coffee shops — and stored them in a 3×5 index card file. Today, I dumped them all out to take an inventory. Of the 132 cards in my box, I was most attracted to about 10 of them. I noticed a few commonalities among these 10 cards, and each trait can be translated into a tip to make yours just as noticeable.

1. Include a visual element. Choose a concept that connects to what you do. An image can help jog someone’s memory of who you are, and will reinforce your brand if used on your website and resume, too. Images should use color and take up at least one-fourth of the total surface area.

2. Utilize both sides of the card. Many of the most attractive cards in my box used one side for name and visual element, and the other side for contact information. On some, one side was a solid color, and the opposite side was a white background with that same color for text.

Photo credit: evancarmichael.com

3. Show, don’t tell. Add a creative twist that suggests your passion or field of expertise. For example, the “Google Me” business card to the right implies an interest in programming and technology.

4. Try non-traditional color schemes. Most of the cards in my box had a white background, so the light-text-on-darker-background cards really stood out. Also try going vertical with your layout.

5. Don’t include extraneous information. Pick and choose from these basics: name, email address, phone number, Twitter handle, LinkedIn URL, and personal website/blog address.

Want to really push the envelope? The following suggestions will definitely set you apart from the crowd, but make sure your alterations have purpose and adhere to your product or brand.

Play with shape. Some cards in my box were squares, circles, and ovals.




Add bite marks or holes.

Photo credit: allgraphicdesign.com






Non-cards. Several businesses have online catalogs for personalized chocolate cards. Other materials I’ve seen include leather and dog tags.

Photo credit: reencoded.com

Remember to keep a few business cards with you at all times – not just during networking events. You never know when you’ll meet someone at a bar or on a train ride!

What do you think is the most important element on business cards? What does yours look like?