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Lessons Learnt from a LinkedIn Master

In a relatively short space of time LinkedIn has become synonymous with job searching. We keep hearing about it, how important it is to engage with and how beneficial it will be for us to use but it is not always explicit exactly how or why we should be using LinkedIn.  Having recently attended training with LinkedIn’s Education Engagement Lead, Charles Hardy, I can now share some insight into just why LinkedIn is such a great resource for students and graduates.

Connections Diagram

Why should I be on LinkedIn?

Employers are using it to recruit: They are increasingly turning to LinkedIn to both headhunt graduates and to check out prospective candidates prior to interview. Maximise your chances of success by ensuring you have a professional online presence.  When employers search for candidates they can filter the results based on those who have joined certain groups or who have engaged with their organisations page so make sure you are ‘following’ the top companies you are interested in.

A professional online presence: This is your way to control what an employer sees of you – lock your Facebook privacy settings so that if an employer Googles you they only see the information you want them to see. It can now have a negative impact if an employer sees nothing about you online; in industries such as PR and Marketing engagement with social media is now a must. So a public LinkedIn profile that professionally demonstrates your skills and experiences is the kind of information you want an employer to find.

A researching tool: LinkedIn can be used to research employers both by looking at organisational profiles and the profiles of employees working for the company. Joining sector groups will also give you a real insight into different industries. This can help you make a decision on the kind of role and company you wish to work for and can help you prepare for interview. If you are not sure what to do after you graduate check out LinkedIn’s Alumni tool where you can see what graduates from your course have gone on to do to give you an idea as to the range of different options available.

How can I make my profile stand out?

Your Photo: First impressions count and often this is made by the photo you choose to put on your profile. LinkedIn statistics show that profiles with a photo have a 10% better response rate than those without. So make sure your photo is appropriate and keep it professional.

Your Headline and Summary: your headline is what appears directly below your name. This is defaulted to your current occupation or if you are still studying it may read ’Student – University of Hertfordshire’. However you can customise this to be more specific e.g. Final Year Engineering Student seeking Graduate Design Engineer post. Any additional key words such as job titles or skills you put in here will then mean your profile appears in LinkedIn employer searches that use those terms. You can expand on this further in your summary; this is a section similar to an elevator pitch. It should capture people’s attention highlighting some of your key skills and attributes whilst showing engagement with the profession you are interested in. Check out the summaries of other people who are already successful in the field you wish to pursue to get ideas for how to construct your own. You can make your summary stand out even more by including links to an online portfolio containing examples of your work or to a professional blog.

Your Network: This is not the same as the number of connections you have. You might have 50 connections but your network will expand to include the connections of your connections, it will also include people who are in groups you have joined. The first step is to make some connections and to join some relevant groups. Don’t just send out generic invites in bulk to everyone you’ve ever met, it is important to personalise your invitation. Read our guide on The Right way to Connect on LinkedIn.

Endorsements and Recommendations: If an employer is seeking a candidate who possesses a specific skill those who have a number of endorsements for that skill will appear higher in their search results than those who don’t. Think about which skills you have that are relevant to your industry and try to encourage your connections to endorse you in those areas. For those that you have had a longer professional relationship with, either academically, like a personal tutor or professionally, e.g. a line manager, you can request a recommendation. This will improve your profile and make you stand out to perspective employers. As with adding connections be sure to personalise your request before sending it.

LinkedIn LogoAm I doing it right?

In the same way that the Careers, Employment and Enterprise Service can help you to review your CV or application form we are more than happy to go through your LinkedIn profile with you in order to discuss any amendments or changes your may wish to make and to help you consider how best to use this resources its full potential.

To book an appointment just login to CareerHub


photo credit: eskimoblood and clasesdeperiodismo (images cropped) via photopin cc

Helen Meyer Photo

Helen Meyer is a Careers Advisor in the Careers, Employment and Enterprise Service at the University of Hertfordshire

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