interviewAround Mother’s Day, students across the country will graduate from colleges and universities and head out into the world to make a lasting impact. Some will go on to medicine school, others will study for the bar exam and the best will no doubt go into public relations. However, each student should have one thing in common at this point in their career, a LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn is where future employers will make opinions about you and identify candidates for open positions. Take into consideration, 94 percent of job recruiters use LinkedIn to find qualified candidates and almost three-quarters (73 percent) of recruiters say that they have made successful hires through social media.

It’s clear, recruiters are using LinkedIn and it’s increasingly becoming an opportunity for you to land your first job or advance your career. Follow these nine steps so your LinkedIn profile’s bounce rate isn’t 100 percent, and to make a lasting impression on a future employer.

1. Have a Professional Profile Photo.  This is not your Facebook, Twitter or Vine account; LinkedIn is the location where professionals and potential employers will draw conclusions about you, and your picture says a lot. Don’t be lazy and copy/paste a photo from Facebook.  If you don’t have a professional headshot, have a friend take several photos of you against a background that isn’t distracting (brick or white wall).

2. Don’t Copy/Paste Your Resume. This isn’t the online version of your resume. Try adding more details, work examples and results of what you can bring to an employer. Employers want to see results and how you will help their organization achieve business results. Take advantage of the fact you are not limited to an 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper but don’t get carried away.

3. Don’t Include Everything. Adding a lot of accomplishments can feel rewarding and give you the false sense that all this content is going to impress anyone that sees your profile. Like a resume, if it’s too long and people have to scroll more than a couple times, they’re going to get bored and move on. Keep it simple and focused.

4. Create Personal Invites. Don’t use the default invite LinkedIn provides when requesting someone to connect with you. Make it personal and show that you put effort into connecting with them, especially if it’s someone that you don’t know, and you’re asking about job opportunities.

5. Don’t Lie. This seems like a no-brainer, right? Well, ask former Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson, and he’d agree putting false information out there can hurt your reputation or get you fired.

6. Ask for Recommendations. Nothing justifies your record more than a manager or co-worker vouching for you. Ask people who know how to write well and whose opinion matters. Some may view this as “fishing” for compliments, but it’s totally acceptable on LinkedIn and is one of the most important features of your profile.

7. Upload Work Examples. This is a feature many professionals don’t realize exists on LinkedIn. This feature is especially important to public relations specialists, where writing samples and creative examples can separate you from the masses.

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8. Customize Your LinkedIn URL. Employers will Google your name, and you want them to find creditable, good information about you right at the top. Increase the likelihood your LinkedIn profile is the number one search item by customizing your profile’s url.

9. Add Your Resume. Give employers the ability to print out your resume by adding a link from a document storage site, into your LinkedIn summary section. As you update your resume on your desktop, be sure to update your resume on the storage site, so recruiters always have access to the latest resume.

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LinkedIn can be a valuable networking tool, and if utilized correctly you can increase your chances of being found by a recruiter or making a great first impression with a potential employer. Don’t spend hours crafting the perfect resume, only to discount the value of your LinkedIn profile.