Tips for Using LinkedIn Effectively

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: Image:

This is what skill endorsements on LinkedIn look like. Image source:


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

The Resume

It’s that time of year again: the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and you’re sitting at your computer, furiously preparing those applications for summer jobs and internships.

Ah, the life of a college student. (source:

Job applications themselves tend to be straightforward. More often than not, the trouble arises when it comes time to talk about yourself in a formal way. That’s right: statistics show that resumes (and their partners-in-crime, cover letters) pose a challenge for 75% of the population.*
*Note: all statistics in this blog post are made up by the author.

So how do you overcome this? How do you present yourself in a way that will have companies begging you to work for them? Take a look at the tips below.

The Bulk
In any resume, you want to answer three main questions:

1. What have you done?
2. What are you doing?
3. What do you want to do? (This one is sometimes optional.)

To answer the first and second questions, you will want to list your educational qualifications as well as past jobs and volunteer positions you’ve held. You also want to describe your duties in these positions, in such a way that the qualities you’ve developed at these jobs shine through and say to your employer, “Hey, look at what I learned! I can bring this skill to your organization!”

Don’t do this. (source:

Resumes often contain an “objective statement” to answer the third question. This is a one-sentence statement about your goal for employment. It should express to your potential employer what you aim to accomplish in applying for this job. For example,

• Summer Camp Counselor: “To facilitate friendships and a love of learning in a stimulating camp environment.”

• Arts Administration: “Position with community-based arts organization involving public relations, marketing, and promoting performances and exhibits.”

• Computer Programming: “Programmer or systems analyst position using quantitative and mathematical training, with special interest in marketing and financial applications.”

As a wise former writing tutor once said, “Your objective is like the thesis statement of your resume.” So make it clear and make it stand out to your potential employer!

The Beauty
Resumes need to be beautiful (but sort of in the way that contemporary industrial architecture is beautiful).

The hard angles convey a sense of order, while the neutral tones suggest sophistication. (source:

Use the space in your resume, and use it wisely. Align similar information (such as dates of employment) along the same margin throughout the resume. Feel free to italicize, bold, and/or underline text to make it stand out. Lines can be used to separate different headings and categories. Don’t use templates, but do get ideas from other resumes on the web.

The Relevance
So you’re applying for a tech support job, but the only club you’re in is McDaniel’s Puppy Club—not exactly the most relevant extracurricular activity.


When is this little guy ever not relevant? (source:

However, this information can still be useful. If your resume has an area for activities, feel free to include those that demonstrate leadership. While you won’t be training a service dog in IT, most extracurricular activities show that you are a person who goes out of their way to do more than they’re required to do. They also give insight into your interests.

Are you wondering what else you should include? Executive positions in particular signal experience working with others and managing different aspects of an organization. Certifications, such as in CPR/First Aid or various software, also tend to help a resume. In any case, stick with listing specific activities and certifications—don’t just list generic traits like “dependable.”

The Last Piece of Advice
So you think you’ve got a good draft of a resume, but you’re hesitant in sending it off to an employer? Luckily there are a few extra resources for you to use on campus: The C.E.O. and The Writing Center!

The Center for Experience and Opportunity, located in the lower level of Rouzer, helps students with all aspects of career preparation (including resume writing)! They are the perfect people to look over your resume in conjunction with the Writing Center. Writing Center tutors who have experience writing their own resumes are available to look over YOUR resume as well. A second (or third, or fourth) pair of eyes looking over your resume, from professional and peer perspectives, can’t hurt! So go out there, type up a fierce resume, and get that job!

-Sarah, Peer Tutor

Scoring That Perfect Internship

Boat rides on the Chesapeake Bay, picnics out on a dock, wooden boats and crab picking demonstrations. Sound like a weekend trip out to the Eastern Shore of Maryland? Not quite, but when your summer internship is something that you love, it may as well be a vacation.

This summer, I worked for the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum as a communications and marketing intern. I got to do things that I love, like use social media, take pictures and video with professional equipment, and write for the museum’s magazine, all while spending most of my time outside and on the water. I got to produce videos for the website and talk to interesting people, like this video about the cultural influences of crabbing and the people who grew up around the Chesapeake:

But aside from all of the fun stuff that I got to do, I really did learn a lot about working in the professional world. With my internship, I had the freedom to come up with my own ideas, make them a reality, and then present them to my boss in the hopes that she would like them and use them as publicity for the museum. Through this process, I learned a lot about my own work from the feedback that my boss would give me, so I could go back and make improvements to the project I was working on.

It is great to get in the habit of taking your work to someone for review because they always have fresh ideas about how to make it better. If I made a video, I would take it to my boss afterwards and show her what I had done, always expecting feedback and new ideas for making it even better.

At The Writing Center, we can help you get used to this process of writing and editing; we’ll work with you to improve your skills so you can make your own work even more awesome. Having a tutor look at your paper or assignment is (almost) just like the process you will encounter in the professional world– except meeting with us is probably a little more fun and less nerve-racking.

Along with helping you get acquainted with this process, The Writing Center can also help you perfect your resume or application for scoring that perfect internship. You can make an appointment with a tutor who will help you make sure that all of your accomplishments are presented well in a resume that future employers will see.

If you are interested in finding an awesome summer internship, the Center for Experience and Opportunity (CEO) has resources to help you with that. You can check them out on or follow them on Twitter @McDanielCEO.

So don’t forget to make your appointment at The Writing Center to help develop your professional skills and to talk about the cool internships you are applying for!

Lauren, peer tutor