You’ve probably gotten an email with a subject line that sounds like this: “So-and-so wants to connect with you on LinkedIn.”
And you’ve probably deleted those emails, because let’s face it, they’re pretty spammy.
But LinkedIn can be more than just an annoyance in your inbox. LinkedIn is kind of like glorified resume and a low-tech Facebook all rolled up in one, which is actually quite useful when it comes to networking and applying for jobs.
I’ve been on LinkedIn for about a year now, and in that time, I’ve learned a lot about what people can do to make themselves look good and to make themselves look not-so-good. Here are some tips I can offer to help you use LinkedIn well.
1. Have a professional-looking, high-quality profile picture.
If you’ve ever been on LinkedIn, perhaps you’ve noticed that not all profile pictures are created equal. Some are really grainy, some are selfies, and some seem too casual—some are all three of these things!
Your LinkedIn profile picture is a crucial opportunity to give potential connections and employers a good first impression. As a result, the profile picture you post to LinkedIn might not be the same one you post to Facebook.
You don’t have to have a professionally done headshot (though these can look very nice!), but you should choose an image that is high in quality and shows you in a positive light. My own LinkedIn photo depicts me in a solid-colored t-shirt standing in a field of sunflowers—fun, but not too casual. The image quality is also nice.
DON’T not include a profile picture. Without a profile picture, people who see your name on LinkedIn will get the impression that you’re not willing to put forth any effort into marketing yourself. Having a good profile picture is an excellent way to start off on the right foot and get people to notice you.
2. Be selective about what skills you show
LinkedIn’s Skills section allows users to select what skills they have and easily show them off in list form. This is a clear way to communicate to employers and others looking at your profile what your talents and abilities are.
Using the Skills section to list your skills will allow your connections to endorse you—if they believe that you possess the particular skill(s) that you are publicizing. As such, be sure to pick skills that you know people can endorse you for.
I recommend choosing no more than 15 to 20 skills for this section (even though LinkedIn will let you pick up to 40). Having too many skills listed will make it harder for your important skills to stand out to people viewing your profile. You can cut down on the number of skills you list by making sure that nothing you’re listing is redundant. For example, I recently deleted “Tutoring” from my skills section because I already had “Peer Tutoring” listed. This was a good choice for me because now if people want to endorse me for tutoring, they won’t be in a position in which they get to choose from one or the other, meaning that I’ll have a higher number of endorsements for the same skill, instead of two sets of endorsements split between a skill that’s essentially the same.
This is what skill endorsements on LinkedIn look like. Image source: http://blog.linkedin.com/2012/12/18/endorse-and-be-endorsed/
3. Make sure the information you provide is complete but not irrelevant.
In addition to Skills, LinkedIn has a lot of different fields you can fill out. It’s good to pay attention to those fields and how you can use them to put your best foot forward. Definitely be sure to write a summary about yourself—it’s the first thing people who view your profile will see. List relevant work experience, with descriptions of what you do or did—this is a great opportunity to expand upon the information you’ve included in your resume.
Just be sure not to over-share. Having too much information will make it harder for important information to stand out. If you’ve had a string of short-term, minimum wage jobs, you probably don’t need to include all of those if you have had more professional work experience. Similarly, you don’t need to include a list of every single club you’ve ever been a part of in college—only list those that you were heavily involved in, and include descriptions of how you participated.
One thing you definitely do not need to do is share your test scores on LinkedIn. Regardless of how good your SAT scores were, they’re no longer relevant. One of my LinkedIn connections has a master’s degree, yet for some reason, her LinkedIn profile (which she regularly updates) still lists her SAT scores from 2007. I’m embarrassed for her—but not enough not to share her as an example of what not to do.
4. Don’t have LinkedIn send invites to everyone in your address book.
Remember those annoying LinkedIn emails I mentioned at the beginning of this post? You probably don’t like receiving them, so why send them? Don’t let LinkedIn send invitations to connect to everyone in your email address book.
I suspect people do this because they’re either lazy or they want to have as many connections as possible. As tempting as it may be to connect with everyone you can, however, most LinkedIn experts advise against this. The general idea of LinkedIn connections is to connect to people who can endorse you and speak to your capabilities. It’s also acceptable to connect with people you’re acquainted with and who can possibly help you get into an industry you’re interested in.
So keep these things in mind when you figure out who you want to connect with on LinkedIn. This can help you secure connections that are actually valuable, and of course, eliminate spam.
There’s so much more to LinkedIn than I’ve been able to describe in this post. When creating or curating your LinkedIn profile, there’s tons of articles online that offer useful advice on how to best do so.
And if you ever need someone to read through what you’ve written on your LinkedIn profile and help you make it better, the Writing Center is here and happy to help—schedule an appointment today.
—Annie, Peer Tutor
What do you think of when you think of the McDaniel Writing Center? If you’re like a lot of students, you probably imagine bringing in essays or research papers to work on.
While our tutors love to help you brainstorm, organize, revise, and refine your academic papers, they also bring a variety of other talents and skills to the table—and these are skills you can take advantage of here in the Writing Center.
Any of our tutors can help you put together a fantastic PowerPoint or Prezi. We’ll help you make sure that your presentation is organized, engaging, easy to read—and that it looks cool too. We’re even happy to be an audience for you if you’d like to practice presenting and get some feedback.
Some of our tutors have skills with software for creative projects. If you need to use them for a class project or you’ve ever wanted to learn some basics, we have tutors who can help with Photoshop, InDesign, and iMovie. Check our Meet the Tutors page to find out which tutors know which programs.
We’re happy to help you with professional development projects and other applications. If you’re applying for jobs, we can help you with resumes, cover letters, and even LinkedIn profiles. And if you’re pursuing scholarships, grad school, or other post-grad opportunities, we can help you with essays and personal statements. Don’t forget that the CEO (Center for Experience and Opportunity) can help you with these things too—take advantage of their services and ours to get the best of both worlds and make your applications shine!
The types of things tutors can help you with are not limited to what you see here. Our tutors are a talented bunch, so chances are, there’s a tutor who can help you with what you need.
Book your appointment today!
—Annie, peer tutor
Robots love commas.
Commas aren’t some piece of punctuation meant to aggravate you. They can actually be used as rhetorical tools, meaning that you can use them to emphasize information. Commas can also help you add clarity to your writing so you don’t confuse your readers.
Commas separate, introduce, and show information. While comma rules aren’t completely rigid, there are some comma guidelines that you should be familiar with. Once you get to know these, you can begin to mess with them to suit your rhetorical needs.
HOW TO USE COMMAS
There are four cases when you should really use commas:
1. To separate clauses. Commas often separate an independent clause (a phrase that can stand alone as a sentence) from a dependent clause (a phrase that can’t stand alone).
- When the robot was first built, he didn’t have any legs.
2. To separate parenthetical phrases. Parenthetical phrases interrupt other phrases or clauses, and contain extra information that could be removed from the sentence without changing the sentence’s core meaning.
- The robot, which had no name, was created to guard and protect the Writing Center.
3. To separate introductory phrases. An introductory phrase is a phrase at the beginning of the sentence (usually a dependent clause) that provides background information for the main sentence.
- While the robot was painted silver, he had a heart of gold.
4. To balance two independent clauses (with a coordinating conjunction). Two independent clauses can be two separate sentences, or can be combined into one sentence using a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, yet, for, nor, so).
- Students loved the robot, for he was kind and generous.
- The robot enjoyed getting to see the students, but he was always sad when the Writing Center closed for the night.
- The tutors realized how lonely the robot was becoming, so they built him a robot dog to keep him company.
HOW TO NOT USE COMMAS
Even though there is a lot of flexibility in what ways you can use commas, there are also cases when you should avoid using them:
1. Don’t separate the verb from its subject or its object.
- The robot, danced when no one was looking. → The robot danced when no one was looking. (The robot is the subject, danced is the verb.)
- The robot walked, his robot dog. → The robot walked his robot dog. (Walked is the verb, his robot dog is the object.)
2. Don’t use a comma between an adjective and a noun.
- The cardboard, robot was always eager to help students with their writing. → The cardboard robot was always eager to help students with their writing.
3. Don’t use a comma before the first item in a series.
- The robot likes, gummy worms, break dancing, and paper cranes. → The robot likes gummy worms, break dancing, and paper cranes.
4. Don’t use a comma after a coordinating conjunction.
- The robot was large yet, gentle. → The robot was large yet gentle. *OR* The robot was large, yet gentle.
Note: You can use a comma before the coordinating conjunction if you want, but you don’t have to, since the two clauses are not independent clauses. Whether or not you put a comma before the coordinating conjunction in cases like this will depend on how much you want to emphasize the piece after the conjunction.
≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈
We hope this rundown of good and not-so-good uses of commas is helpful for you. If you have any more punctuation questions, feel free to stop by the Writing Center or schedule an appointment here.
We also hope that you’ll stop by and check out our new giant cardboard robot—he still needs a name and we would love your input!
—Annie and Sarah, peer tutors
Once upon a time, in the mystical land of Writencentia, there lived a tall, handsome young knight, with flowing blond hair and striking blue eyes. Though brilliant of mind, he simply detested writing. This troubled him deeply–writing was a beloved past time throughout all of Writencentia, yet he struggled to enjoy writing. Whenever he sat down to put quill to scroll, he would freeze up in fear, as if an ice-breathing dragon had frozen him in a block of ice.
Try as he might, the young knight could not successfully put quill to scroll. (Image from clker.com)
One afternoon, the young knight spoke of his troubles to one of his closest friends in all the land.
“I fear that I am unworthy, as I am unable to produce any writing of quality, and often, any writing at all,” he said solemnly. “It is if my mind hath put a curse upon itself. It leaves my parchment blank and my quills untouched.”
The knight’s friend nodded as he listened. He understood exactly what the young knight was going through. “I know of the problem that troubles you,” he said, “For I too have experienced the same curse.”
“Have you?” said the knight. “What ever did you do about it?” he said, his curiosity piquing.
“I journeyed to the center of the kingdom, where I went to the castle of Writencentia,” said the knight’s friend. “There, I was able to speak with a most bright and lovely princess, who helped me find ways to overcome my fear and hatred of writing.”
“Was it helpful?” asked the knight.
“Indeed, ‘twas,” said his friend. “‘Tis a journey most worthy of undertaking.”
The young knight traveled to Writencentia Castle in search of writing help. (Image from clker.com)
The next day, the young knight journeyed to Writencentia Castle, and to his surprise, the trek was not difficult at all. Once at the castle, he was greeted by one of several princesses. With great friendliness and hospitality, she offered him tea, coffee, or cocoa before their discussion began. Feeling most welcomed, the prince accepted this offer, and then they went to work.
“What can I help you with today?” asked the princess, her kind brown eyes beaming.
The knight was bashful to begin talking, but he quickly convinced himself that he had nothing to fear. The kind princess was there to help him with his writing struggles, not to judge him or chide him.
“I’m afraid to say that I do not like writing,” said the knight. “For when I try to write, my mind and my wrist are most paralyzed.”
The princess looked at him with understanding. “Do you know what it is about writing that fills you with such fear?”
The knight took a moment to consider the question. What was it about writing that paralyzed him so?
“Well,” he began, “I think part of it is that I always want what I write to be written with perfection the moment I write it,” he said with a frown.
“I see,” said the princess, “And I can help.”
“Can you?” asked the knight.
“Why certainly!” she replied. “I want to encourage you to not let that fear keep you from writing, because your thoughts and ideas are important. If you do not try to put them on the page, written perfectly or not, those thoughts may fly away from you and you may not have them again. Try writing down what comes to mind without worrying about how pretty it sounds at first. Then, once you’ve finished writing down your ideas, you can revise how they are written so they sound more beautiful.”
The young knight was skeptical at first, but the princess offered to help him practice. She told him to write a story about a time when he was happy and encouraged him to not stop and think so hard about what he was trying to say but to let the ink flow from his quill. After a little bit of time, the prince had written something–at long last! Then, with the help of the princess, he read back through what he had written to make his writing more satisfactory to him.
Once their hour was up, the knight was prepared to leave Writencentia Castle feeling better about his writing and himself. The princess had armed him with the knowledge that when writing, he needed to be mindful of when his fears were holding him back so that he could tell himself to carry forward and stick quill to parchment–after all, he could always revise what he had written. The princess taught him that writing is a process much easier broken into steps.
“Thank you, kind princess, for all of the lessons you have given me today,” bowed the knight to his tutor.
“You’re very welcome,” she replied. “Feel free to come back anytime!”
“I most certainly will,” said the knight.
The young knight hopped onto his horse, waved good-bye to the princess, and traveled home with great confidence.
Does the young knight remind you of yourself? Do you not like writing because it’s intimidating or boring?
Fear not! Here at the Writing Center, our tutors are more than happy to help you identify what it is about writing you don’t like and offer you strategies to make the writing process more enjoyable for you.
Ready to start your quest? Book an appointment here, and embark on the path toward a happier, less stressful writing process.
—Annie, peer tutor