LinkedIn Made Easy
Posted on: 21 Dec 2016
There are around 50 million current students and recent graduates using LinkedIn worldwide and they are connecting with countless employers and sourcing jobs every day.
We’re not saying that not having a LinkedIn account = unemployment but it is an increasingly important tool to utilise in the fight for graduate jobs and gaining key work experience.
What is LinkedIn?
It’s Facebook but for work right? Well, kind of. LinkedIn allows you to make connections with people who can help you move forward in your career, advertise yourself effectively to potential employers and search for key contacts within companies that interest you.
Probably best to leave off last night’s photos and your political opinions though...
Why should I use it?
Getting a graduate job is competitive, you don’t need us to tell you that (though we will, constantly!).
Whether it’s getting onto a graduate scheme after uni, gaining work experience or applying for placements, utilising all options available to you is critical.
But it’s not only the chance to strengthen your application by a having strong LinkedIn profile. Jobs are advertised on the site regularly and effective networking can lead to creating your own opportunities.
LinkedIn is simple enough to set-up although not as easy as creating a Twitter or Instagram account. After all, you need more initially than simply a username and profile pic (more on that shortly).
You’ll need to add work and education information, an effective personal summary and an idea about how you want your profile (aka YOU) to be perceived.
This is simple enough to start with - just basic details needed. Unlike other forms of social media it is a good idea to have a visible email address on your page.
That means, as in your CV, ensure it sounds professional, or at least not ridiculous or offensive.
Use your real name as well - this isn’t a Twitter handle and you need to be easily found when people search for you.
Next you’ll be asked this. Ultimately you will shape your own LinkedIn experience so don’t agonise over this. Unless you really are specific on what you want to use LinkedIn for, best to just go with the last option here.
What goes in the headline?
The headline is your opening statement directly below your name on your profile. For people who are already employed in a career-related role then this will likely just be their job title and employer, but if you are searching for work then this is your chance to state your objective.
Keep it concise, but as employers search LinkedIn using keywords, it is important to be specific here.
The profile pic
OK, nightmare, the profile picture. This is hard enough choosing for regular social media, but picking something that says to employers, “Hire me! Look at how professional I look!” can defintely be tricky.
A good quality profile pic will mean more views so this is important but it’s not rocket science. Look smart, face the camera, smile (in a sane way).
You may not have a picture like this lying around so why not come along to one of our LinkedIn Photo Days where we provide quality high definition photos, editing and general tips on how best to utilise the site?
What about the summary?
In many ways the summary is similar to the content of a cover letter, just not targeted directly towards a specific role.
Give solid examples of any relevant qualifications and experience you have, talk about your interests and objectives and speak in first person.
This is your initial pitch to a potential employer. Aim for something like:
And the rest…
Many of the other sections are similar to those you would find on a CV or have to complete on an application form; education, work history, volunteering, training, clubs and societies, certificates and awards and so on.
As you would for a CV, emphasise experience and skills you think are relevant and summarise.
You might not have the same size restrictions as a CV but people still aren’t going to want to read reams of information.
How to get the most out of LinkedIn
So that’s how to set-up a profile, but how do you ensure you use the site as effectively as possible and go from "Intermediate" to "All-Star"?
- Use the Add Media option to evidence your work. You can attach and embed articles you’ve written, videos, presentations, photos and links.
- Network effectively. Firstly connect with friends, peers and colleagues that you already know, then join groups that interest you. Get involved in discussions, follow pages of employers you’d like to work for and formalise brief connections that you’ve made in real life.
- LinkedIn is an effective research and job search tool. More and more employers are only recruiting through the platform so spend time searching.
- Create a custom URL to use on your CV.
- Ask for Recommendations – this allows people who are familiar with your work to write a brief reference for you. It's probably a good idea to do some for other people as well to build goodwill.
- Endorse skills on other people's pages - so long as you don't have a habit of alienating everyone you know you should get some in return!
- Put a profile link in your email signature so people you email can click on it.
- Keep your page updated. The more you put into LinkedIn the more you’ll get out of it. The busier you are, the more visible you’ll be and the more connections and hits you’ll be likely to get.
Can I connect with people I’ve never met?
If you have literally no connection to someone then we don’t recommend adding them. However, what you can do is approach mutual connections that you know and ask them if they might introduce you.
Use the How you’re Connected feature to get an idea of who those mutuals are. LinkedIn is a great way to follow-up people you might have met briefly in order to connect properly.
Getting more help
You can get more assistance with using LinkedIn at Purple Door through our drop-in service where our advisers are happy to review your profile and answer any questions you might have.
In addition, look out for our LinkedIn Photo Day events for a great chance to get a high-definition professional looking photo for your profile.