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LinkedIn "Must-Have" Checklist

First of all - Congrats to the Class of 2014! Soon the celebrating will settle down and reality will sink in that you need to land your first job in your professional post-college career.

LinkedIn is an invaluable tool for your job search. With more than 225 million people on LinkedIn, it has become the "go-to" social network platform for professional networking. More than 77% of job openings are posted on LinkedIn, and recruiters love it for its ease of use, inexpensive costs, and validity of information. 

So what do you need to use LinkedIn to its full potential?

1. The Basics. First you need a professional photo - if you don't have one, recruit a friend or family member to take a photo of you with professional clothing and a non-distracting background. You also need: custom URL, concise profile summary, specialties sub-section, education and credentials information, clear career story with jobs and internships. it would also be good to join a couple groups related to your industry, and subscribe to "Pulse" updates for related news.

2. Network. Now that you have listed your places of employment and educational background to your profile, you can do a search for professionals who have also affiliated themselves with those places. Do a search and request to add people that you have worked with, completed projects with, networked with at local events, and family members. Do not add people that you do not know in real life - the key is that if any person you add was contacted by an HR manager or recruiter, they would know you well enough to compliment you for the job. More than 250 connections before your first career may look like you are just trying to get a high number.

3. Recommendations. Ask your key coworkers, managers, professors, and classmates if they would write a recommendation for you. While generic recommendations on your work ethic, personality, and experience are good, it is best to get recommendations on specific projects, internships, and accomplishments you made during your college years.

Once you have created your fresh, concise, appealing LinkedIn profile, it is important to keep it maintained. This is not a "do it and leave it" kind of space. If you complete more projects, volunteer, or gain/change employment, make sure that your LinkedIn stays up-to-date.

Good luck on your job search new grads!

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