Top tips to get graduates started on LinkedIn
Over 65 million professionals use LinkedIn to cultivate their careers and businesses. It is one of the world’s top 20 most visited websites – and a great means for graduates to make their initial connections with their chosen profession, with over 45% of graduates using LinkedIn as their primary job search platform.
It is not only employers that used LinkedIn to search for potential candidates for their graduate positions, but recruiters as well. At CY Partners, our team have a strong LinkedIn presence. We advertise jobs and create conversations with graduates that are active on LinkedIn, providing easier access to a much broader range of opportunities than more traditional job search methods.
It is so important that you present yourself in the best possible way on this platform. Investing some time to create a comprehensive profile will ensure that you make the most of the vast range of networking and knowledge sharing options on offer.
So how does LinkedIn work?
Unlike other social networking platforms where your interactions are with ‘friends’ or ‘followers’, LinkedIn is all about ‘connections’. To put it simply, these ‘connections’ build your professional network. When it comes to ‘connections’ it is all about quality, rather than quantity – so much so that when you have over 500 connections, LinkedIn actually stops showing your number of ‘connections’.
You can also follow businesses and affiliated organisations as well as industry leaders and, like Facebook, you’ll get a feed of posts from those you are connected with or you follow.
The site has members from just about every country and every industry imaginable – so if utilised correctly, LinkedIn has massive potential to really develop your work-related networks in a positive way.
It is a great platform to gain access to industry groups, which will allow you to take part in discussions or forums related to your career. Groups cover professional organisations, alumni associations and academic societies.
Contributing to discussions, posting your own content and commenting on other people’s posts will get your name in front of the people who matter to you.
Now you understand the basics of what LinkedIn is all about, here’s our top 10 tips to creating an awesome profile:
LinkedIn is your real-time CV
When you set up your profile, really focus the content on who you with to engage with – it should present you in the way you want to be perceived in the professional world.
LinkedIn allows others to discover who you are through your professional attributes – so make sure the content is relevant for your target ‘connections’.
Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date – post any new experience or qualifications and try to visit the platform daily to engage with your professional field and keep your name public amongst the relevant circles.
Only use a professional style photo
Your photo should reflect your professional life – you should be dressed smartly (as you would for an interview, for example).
A recent head and shoulders shot just of you, facing the camera is the best choice. Many graduates choose to use photos from their graduation.
Although it seems trivial, do not underestimate the importance of this! A good picture makes you seem personable and approachable, both qualities that employers and recruiters look for in potential employees.
The must-haves from day 1
Your professional headline is as important as a good professional photo. Here you include your basic and most important information: your current job title, location, contact details and also a summary that promotes you and what you’re looking for work wise.
Don’t worry if your experience at this stage is limited, as employers understand this at graduate level. Make the most of any projects, intern work, voluntary contributions and achievements – anything extra that you have done that will really make you stand out from the crowd. Make sure that you do make this relevant.
LinkedIn will default to your most recent position, so make sure that this is relevant to your chosen career, rather than, for example “part time waitress”.
But what do you put if you have not worked before? Putting something in your headline like “Biology graduate from Newcastle University, actively looking for a position in the … sector” will do just fine to show that you are keen to get into work. This includes the best keywords for the scientific discipline or specialism you are looking to work within, and will ensure that you are discoverable by the right people.
This is definitely a section you will want to stay on top of – keep it current and relevant
Using key words for your chosen career
Now the basics of your profile are in place, it’s time to take the time to add as much detail as you can. Again really try and get the key words relevant to the type of career you’re looking to move into, because these key words are how people find your profile.
Put your best foot forward: Really promote your strengths by putting your best and most relevant experiences, but also showing your personality. Many companies are increasingly are looking to find out what kind of activities engage and inspire you – the reason being that when you are using your strengths, you perform your best and rapidly learn new information, so it is important to prioritise examples of these.
Create a custom LinkedIn URL
A typical LinkedIn profile link includes a ridiculously long string of numbers and letters. Thankfully, LinkedIn allows users to set up a custom URL that you can use instead – this should be added to your CV/email signature. This can be found once your profile is set up, just view your profile page and click on the link at the top right of the page where it says: Edit public profile & URL.
Develop your networks
Once your profile is fully completed, you can then focus on identifying individuals you wish to connect with. When you ‘connect’ this is known as a ‘first level connection’. These ‘first level connections’ will enable you to discover second and third level connections, which are people that you have not connected with, but that are connected to your ‘first level connections’.
This demonstrates how LinkedIn easily helps to expand your professional network, by recommending relevant individuals to you based on your own personal connections.
Through these connections, you can join a variety of industry related groups – then actively and regularly contribute to them, at the very least ‘Like’ comments made by other members and use them to request information and initiate your own discussions. Focus on joining those groups that cover areas you are interested in and will highlight your expertise or chosen career choice.
Utilise the skill endorsements feature.
Don’t be afraid to ask for skill endorsements – the more established your profile is, the better for your employability. Skill endorsements will certainly boost your profile so don’t be shy to ask, but do remember this should also be reciprocated if someone requests a recommendation from you – you have to be connected to someone to do so though.
Get on LinkedIn every day
You need to be active on LinkedIn – so start off by liking, but preferably, commenting on other people’s posts and sharing relevant industry content too. Start to write your own posts as soon as you can as this will raise your profile considerably.
Review your profile regularly
Completing every single area of your LinkedIn profile is an investment in terms of time, but it’s worthwhile. Once it is complete, review it regularly – it should reflect real time – any additional skills should be added as you learn them.