Keeping LinkedIn Professional: A Guide for Millennials

September 22, 2014

LinkedIn Millennials blog pic 3

Last week, one of our top recruiters had a conversation with a new Argentus contractor, a young professional in his late 20s who is now working in a Procurement/Buyer role. They started chatting about LinkedIn, and Rosanna remarked that she was pleased to see how much the platform had continued to keep the career and networking environment work appropriate. “Really?” he said. “I’ve noticed the opposite. I see a lot of my peers treating it more casually, like Facebook.”

Wait – what? How could these two have such a different impression of the same website? As it turns out, the demographics of people you’re connected with can alter the LinkedIn experience quite a lot. Recent news suggests that there’s some confusion over how to keep LinkedIn professional, particularly among the millennial crowd. So we decided to share some useful personal branding tips, career strategies, and social media etiquette.

Here’s how to make the most of your LinkedIn profile and put your best foot forward online:

LinkedIn is a Professional Social Network

That means LinkedIn is focused on job seekers and recruitment, professional networking, and career knowledge and development. It’s great to be social and engage on LinkedIn, but try to keep your account use work appropriate: save the cat pictures for Facebook, leave the travel inspiration to Instagram, keep the political snark on Twitter. It’s important to consider the public image you are projecting. What does your LinkedIn activity say about you? Make sure it’s the right thing – be in control of that narrative.

It’s Good to Start Young

Many millennials only open a LinkedIn account after they complete their postsecondary education (although that trend is beginning to change). But as digital natives and the most connected generation, it’s time to start setting up a profile at the beginning of university instead. It’s beneficial to begin early as you grow an authentic and interesting network of friends, colleagues, classmates, and mentors. It’ll also help you stay ahead of the curve; you’d be surprised at what the groundwork you lay now can lead to later.

Try to Think Like an Employer/Recruiter

Try to keep in mind what potential employers and industry recruiters see when they are searching for you. And search for you they will: turning to social media is now standard across industries. Choose a friendly but professional headshot as your display picture, ensure that your profile is accurate and completely filled out (including a comprehensive list schools attended – alumni networks can be quite valuable), and take advantage of LinkedIn’s portfolio function, which is a great way to share accomplishments and demonstrate your skills.

Be Active and Stay Curious

LinkedIn can be a useful tool for your professional development. It’s an accessible way to discover information relevant to your field, whatever it may be, and take the next step in your career. Join groups that cater to interests, skills, potential career paths, and organizations you want to know more about. Be an active part of the conversation: ask questions, make comments, share ideas and resources. Recent updates about your activity can demonstrate expertise and positively impact your personal brand. Strive to be strategic but genuine with your engagement, and use rich media (links, videos, photos, infographics) to make those posts stand out.

Don’t Overlook the Basics

Sometimes the basics get brushed aside. But they still count! Proofread your work before publishing and be selective about the connections you accept. Don’t lie about responsibilities or embellish achievements; let your real experience shine instead. Stay on top of account settings to increase search visibility, and strive to balance the type of content you share with your network: it should be an honest mix of posts that celebrate your personal brand and interesting articles and insights that give back by adding real value for others, too.

Bottom Line: It’s All About Relationships

The internet and social media are real life, and millennials understand this now more than ever. When it comes to LinkedIn, uniting “real life” with your digital presence is pretty straightforward – embrace good Linkedin habits that will help you build bridges rather than burn them. Remember that being personable goes a long way no matter what your aspirations are. And it’s often as easy as acting with kindness and common courtesy: following up after you receive a LinkedIn endorsement, giving credit where credit is due to talented colleagues on collaborative projects, and thanking people in your network for their recommendations.

So what’s your best advice for keeping LinkedIn professional? Is there anything you wish you’d known about effective self-marketing when you were starting out in your career? Let us know in the comments.

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If you liked this, you may also be interested in some of our other related blog posts:

Supply Chain Experts Tap Millennials for New Talent
“Take a Chance On Me”: Hire for Talent, Train for Skills
5 Tips for How to Explain Gaps in your Employment History

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