It’s that time of year when university exams are almost over, graduation is just around the corner and you’re hoping to have a well-deserved break. However, it’s never too early to start the graduate job hunt. So where’s the best place to start? LinkedIn? Eh? Isn’t that a stuffy version of Facebook? I’ll admit that’s what I originally thought when my university lecturer advised me to set up a LinkedIn account. I was one of those students who thought social media and job hunting weren’t a match, but I now realise how important LinkedIn is.
Did you know an impressive 94% of recruiters use social media* as part of their recruitment activities, with LinkedIn being the preferred channel? LinkedIn is viewed as the largest “professional” social network channel; it is more formal than Facebook or Twitter. LinkedIn is an excellent place to showcase your skills and experience, and to network with people in your chosen career field. What’s more, employers might find it unusual if you don’t have a profile! It’s one of the first places that potential employers may look to check if there are any discrepancies in your CV, determine if you have any shared connections who might reveal more about you, and resolve any questions they may have after reading your job application.
If you’re still not convinced, bear it in mind that LinkedIn is a great way to access “The Hidden Jobs Market” – the vast number of jobs openings that are not formally advertised or posted on recruitment websites. Instead such jobs are filled through referrals or networking, and this is where LinkedIn can become your friend.
Before you start creating a LinkedIn profile, it’s important to know which industry you want to work in to ensure you make suitable connections. Don’t panic if you’re undecided about your career path, as there are people who can help and offer guidance. As well as speaking to friends and family, we strongly recommend that you speak to your university careers service.
Here are some tips on how to make LinkedIn work for you...
This is the title of your LinkedIn profile so use it wisely to market yourself. Don’t just fill in your name and leave the sub heading blank; write an informative sub heading with keywords, such as the type of role you might be seeking.
Having a professional photo increases your chances of being found on LinkedIn so don’t leave this section blank. A graduation photo is always a safe bet.
Ensure your email address is appropriate. Remember, your university student email account will be deactivated shortly after graduation.
Again it’s best not to leave this section blank. Treat it like the opening paragraph of a covering letter - demonstrate your skills, and be sure to include keywords to increase your chances of being viewed by employers.
Don’t worry if you lack work experience, as voluntary work is just as valuable at highlighting your transferable skills. Think about projects you have completed in university or college – what did you learn?
When listing your skills, make sure to include frequently searched keywords, since LinkedIn is keyword driven. Your connections can then endorse your skills, which is viewed as a virtual pat on the back. Better still, you can ask people to write a longer recommendation so that your profile is viewed positively by potential recruiters.
Show and don’t just tell
Share your latest achievements, as well as your employer’s. For instance, I’ve shared several updates during my time with ScotGrad. I shared a picture of the first university career fair I attended, and a photo of my first published article. Why take the time to do this? Well you’re inviting people to interact, and you’re marketing yourself as well as your employer – so get sharing and make some new connections!
So, you’ve got your profile sorted; now it’s time to network.
- Start by connecting with university classmates, lecturers and employers.
- Join LinkedIn Groups which allow you to interact with like-minded professionals, share content, post and view jobs and make connections.
Hopefully, after reading these tips, you will think of LinkedIn as a useful platform to develop your career. However, just as your skills and personal development needs nurturing, your LinkedIn profile should be kept active to aid long-term career success. Good luck with developing your LinkedIn profile!
Written by: Nicola Meikle
*Taken from Jobvite's Social Recruiting Survey