How LinkedIn can work for you during and after university.
Are you asking yourself how to make LinkedIn work for you? You may see LinkedIn as just an online CV and at face value, you’d be right. But it is so much more than that. It is rapidly becoming the number one platform for job seekers to find their ideal position and for recruiters to contact candidates. One of the most common misconceptions is that LinkedIn is not for students, you couldn’t be more wrong.
By having a complete profile on LinkedIn you can show a potential employer your academic and professional history without them having to trawl through a traditional CV. They can also search for keywords within your profile. You are unlikely to get any worthwhile matches with ‘LinkedIn profile for students’ but may appear in a search for ‘Marketing student 2nd year.’
So why use LinkedIn?
Finding a job is important, especially as you get closer to leaving university; LinkedIn has a significant role to play in that process; but we are rarely searching for jobs day in and day out. The real benefit of LinkedIn is the professional network that you build through connections as well as the ability to have all of your achievements and information stored in one place. To see LinkedIn as a one dimensional recruitment tool would be a mistake.
During my time at university I attended a networking event held in the student union. I actually found a job through this event as I gave my full name to a company that I was interested in working for; they messaged me a few days later on LinkedIn offering me an interview. Of course, the usefulness of LinkedIn is different if you are not looking for a position during university and it can become tiresome having to reject offers of interest but imagine how fulfilling they will be once you graduate.
How to use LinkedIn to get a job?
It makes sense to begin your account before you start university. This way you can include your previous education, results, hobbies and any part time work or intern experience in full. If you can, connect with your old lecturers; this is important as they can endorse you for skills and practices which were conducted during their care. I have all my (now not as sharp) computer design skills endorsed by my old graphics teacher. It is also nice for them to see how old students are progressing.
To maximise your involvement with LinkedIn when you are at university, follow these key tips:
– Once you reach university it is essential that you keep your profile up to date and include all of your achievements. Your account can never be too broad. If you include volunteer work, part time jobs, challenges that you did particularly well in, presentation results; all of these have tangible skills which can be transferred to working life.
– Connect with your lecturers and have them endorse you for good work in class. Don’t be afraid to show off your good grades and experiences.
– Follow companies that you are interested in, they could be relevant to your studies, places you would like to work after graduating, or sectors that you find interesting as leaders of their field.
– Follow organisations, professional bodies, charities, news outlets etc. These will give you access to the latest topics of discussion, sector initiatives, and opinions from around the world.
– Follow regular contributors to LinkedIn. Some are promoted by LinkedIn and have thousands of followers, others may be active industry leaders, either way you will learn from the best in the business.
– Contribute yourself! Share articles you like, share articles you don’t like and explain why, write your own pieces, like and comment on relevant posts. Employers love to see a busy profile and you may even make a name for yourself in the community.
How to attract recruiters on LinkedIn?
– Keep an eye on other peoples profiles. Do they represent themselves in an effective way? Look at people on your course or people who have recently graduated from your course, what are their profiles saying about them? Can you make yours say the same?
– Don’t say yes to every connection request. It can be tempting to build connections by spamming the accept button. Build connections that will be relevant in the future; i.e. be mindful of what sector they work in?
– Keep personal content short and clear. LinkedIn is full of overused management jargon. It is a professional profile so it must contain some degree of seriousness. Be unique and use your own voice.
Once you graduate you will be in the job market with 100s of other people with the same experience, degree, and passion as you. If your LinkedIn profile shows your determination from joining a sport society as well as getting five firsts in a row, you will be the more appropriate candidate. Have a range of work to showcase on LinkedIn. Even if you do not make it public; ensure that prospective employers are aware of it.
– Include everything that you are proud of, this is your chance to show off
– Make sure your photo and header are appropriate, I’m sure you look great in your holiday pics but perhaps don’t use them
– Connect with as many relevant parties as you can find, you never know what your dream connection could be
– Make sure your history is as complete as possible, if your grades are pending then state that
LinkedIn is a fantastic way to build business connections and have a live virtual CV that can be updated in minutes.
Image from Clark Tibbs @clarktibbs