Not sure where to begin with LinkedIn?
You might know that it's a bit like Twitter (but for jobs) and that you should probably use it for helping your career, or building your network, or for whatever the career advisor at uni said, but knowing where to start with LinkedIn can be tricky.
So to make things a bit more straightforward, here's all you need to know about building a profile, growing a network and making the most out of LinkedIn to help progress your graduate job hunt.
1. Yes, it's social media but no, it's not like other social media
LinkedIn is like a weird parallel universe where the same friends who post drunk Instagram stories on a Saturday night are all of a sudden composing long statuses about their career goals and commenting on random people's job updates saying 'Congratulations Graham!'
Get used to it.
Yes, LinkedIn is a social network but it's also a huge platform for advertising yourself to employers. This means being professional, interacting with people as you would in a job interview or in-person networking event and keeping all non-professional updates/banter/anything you wouldn't say to a prospective employer, elsewhere.
2. Spend time building a solid profile
Your profile is similar to a CV, but differs slightly in that it shouldn't be tailored to a certain role or company. By all means be specific about the industries you're interested in, but the information should be generic enough that your skills and experience are relevant to a range of employers.
- Start with a professional, high-quality and up-to-date profile photo - you're 14x more likely to receive a profile view with one. Aim for a head shot rather than a selfie (if it means throwing on a suit jacket and getting your mum to take a photo of you in the kitchen, so be it).
- Add a headline. Mention if you're currently seeking jobs and be specific about the industry and roles you're interested in. LinkedIn offers prompts such as the job titles and types, locations and start dates you're open to - the more information you provide, the more accurately LinkedIn can recommend you jobs and the more easily employers will find you. If you're stuck, take some inspiration from a friend or fellow alumni whose profile looks impressive.
- Fill in the summary section. This needs to be strong - if employers are giving you a quick stalk, the first few lines of your profile are the most important. You'll also get lost in LinkedIn's algorithm without it. Keep this section to a couple of paragraphs and use it to highlight your key achievements, skills and career aspirations. Try to avoid generic lines and descriptors - keywords, technical skills and knowledge that's specific to your industry will increase your chances of appearing in employer searches.
- In your previous employment and education section, offer examples of times you've demonstrated certain skills and if you can, link any relevant media to support your achievements. Don't discount any work experience, volunteering and other extra-curricular activities that might add value to your profile either - these are especially important if you don't have full-time work experience yet.
- Don't be afraid to reach out to previous employers or colleagues to endorse your skills. This is a great way to showcase what makes you stand out, and by having them endorsed, you're more likely to be recommended by LinkedIn for opportunities related to those skills.
- And show some personality! Professionalism is important, but as you would at an in-person networking event, be yourself and show what makes you unique. Write how you would speak too - it might be helpful to read your profile back aloud and if something doesn't sound like you, scrap it.
Top Tip: Change your profile privacy to 'public' and create a unique URL in settings (e.g. www.linkedin.com/JaneWilliams) to boost your chances of appearing high up in a Google search.
3. Check out all the settings options
There's a bunch of options in 'settings' for editing privacy controls if you're job seeking. You can increase your chances of being viewed by sharing your full profile with recruiters whose jobs you've applied for, set commute times and get job recommendations based on your preferences and turn on alerts that signal your interest to recruiters at companies you're interested in applying to. You can also edit your privacy settings so that when you view another person's profile, they see that you have. This will help get your name (and face) out there to potential connections. Play around with different options to see how they might benefit your job search.
Top Tip: Take advantage of LinkedIn Premium's 30 day free trial. It offers a range of features to help you contact recruiters and people outside of your connections, be displayed higher up on listings and see who's viewed your profile.
4. Subscribe to job alerts
If you're actively searching for jobs, give yourself the best chance of finding the latest opportunities by turning on job alerts. You can edit your preferences depending on industry, location, experience level, date posted, company, job type and number of applicants, so you'll only receive notifications for roles you might actually be interested in.
5. Be active
It's all well and good creating a great profile, but if you disappear into the background it'll be hard to get noticed.
- Follow company pages to receive updates. This is a sure-fire way to stay on top of their news and be the first to hear about opportunities that become available. A good place to start is by following companies who offer graduate schemes.
- Make some connections. You know what they say, it's not what you know but who you know. Begin by connecting with peers, coworkers, family friends and alumni from your university. You'll be able to see if graduates from your uni are working at companies, or in industries, that you're interested in - don't be afraid to connect with them. If you don't know them personally send a message with your connection request to introduce yourself, explain that you're interested in breaking into their industry and ask whether they have any tips. Building (and engaging with) connections is so important - the more you maximise your network, the more opportunities will come your way.
- Join groups. There's quite literally thousands you can join, from university alumni groups to industry-specific ones. They're a great way to connect with like-minded people and gain insights into your industry. Use them to help boost your visibility too, by taking part in discussions and contributing your opinion.
- Start posting. This could be about recent and relevant news that has piqued your interest, professional successes you think deserve some limelight or even candid experiences about the job hunt - people love a personalised status about life as a graduate (so long as you're not bad-mouthing anyone, that is). The more active your profile and the more often you appear on people's news feeds, the more likely they're to think: "Who's this Jane Williams person that keeps offering insightful opinions, has lots of relevant skills and seems very keen to pursue a career in my industry? I must hire her!"