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3 ways college students can make the most of professional networking sites

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When it comes to social media, many of us, especially Gen Zers, go the extra mile to make sure our profiles are aesthetic. However, most of us don't put that same dedication toward professional networking platforms, which could be hindering potential job opportunities.

According to recent data from LinkedIn, job seekers with a comprehensive profile have a 71% higher chance of getting a job interview, as recruiters can easily vet if your "professional behavior and personality" mesh with the company culture.

Similarly, when using Handshake, a recruiting platform for college students, 80% of students who completed their profiles were contacted by recruiters.

CNBC Make It spoke with Christine Cruzvergara, chief education strategy officer at Handshake, to find out her best advice for making the most out of professional network platforms for students.

Fill out your profile — thoroughly

Cruzvergara says that the most important thing job seekers can do to catch the attention of recruiters and hiring managers is to fill out their profiles. And that means more than just the most basic information.

"Anyone who's going to look you up is going to go to your profile," Cruzvergara tells CNBC Make It. "If you reach out to someone, they're probably going to check out your profile first before responding. So definitely make sure you spend a bit of time filling it out."

"Complete your experience, complete what you're interested in, and make sure you note the geographic areas that you would be open to. Note whether or not you're interested in part-time versus full-time opportunities right now. And note your industries of interest in your job role functions that you're looking at."

The more information you add to your profile, the more your name will show up when recruiters search for candidates.

Take advantage of professional development opportunities

Not only does Handshake allow students to search for jobs, but there are several opportunities on the platform for students who may not yet know what career field they want to be in.

"You can sign up for an appointment with your career center right on Handshake… meet with professionals that can give you strategies and activities that will help you start to discern what it is that you're interested in. What gives you energy? Where might your strengths be best used?"

Students can also sign up for webinars, panels, and information sessions on Handshake for companies or organizations they may be interested in. LinkedIn also offers webinars and classes via LinkedIn Learning, which provides video courses for different business skills.

Expand your network

Many of us have heard the saying 'it's not about what you know, it's who you know.' Successful people will often tell you that making connections and fostering relationships played a key role in their career journeys, and students should do the same.

Cruzvergara recommends that students exercise their network on professional social platforms by reaching out to peers and alumni.

"There's peer-to-peer messaging on Handshake, and I highly encourage students to use that," Cruzvergara explains. "I've had students reach out to their peers at other handshake schools in other parts of the country. And they were able to build some long-lasting relationships with other folks. It's a great way to build a network."

Students who use LinkedIn can also tap into their peers' networks by browsing their connections and reaching out to professionals whose education, background and skills align with theirs. 

Though making connections as a student may seem "intimidating," Cruzvergara reassures students that so much can come from just "starting the conversation."

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