Almost without exception, recruiters and hiring managers now use LinkedIn for research and to source potential candidates. Therefore, having a compelling profile within the world’s largest professional network, is vital for your job search strategy. In addition to potential career opportunities, LinkedIn allows you to build valuable connections within your chosen industry and develop a strong personal brand. Here are our top tips for creating your LinkedIn profile and building your professional network.
Having your name, rather than LinkedIn’s automated URL, is an advantageous marketing tool for personal brand building; it also makes it easier for people to find you. Once you’ve claimed your personalised LinkedIn URL, add it to your business card, CV or email footer. Active use of this URL will help publicise your skills, experience and objectives to prospective employers and contacts. To do this, go to account and settings, then privacy and settings and finally to edit public profile, where you can customise your public profile URL. Choose the closest version of your name, depending on what has already been taken.
The headline is the text area below your name and it greatly helps attract opportunities and connections. When writing your headline, think about the opportunities you are seeking and what keywords recruiters and hiring managers may use in their search. People need to quickly identify who you are and what you can offer. As a recent graduate, you should state the subject you have studied and what you hope to do.
First impressions count, and rightly or wrongly, people will form an opinion from someone’s photograph. Keep it simple: ask someone to take a headshot specifically for LinkedIn. Wear something smart and have a plain background. The aim is to look approachable and positive, so do remember to smile! Adding an image in the profile header can be advantageous for certain sectors. For example, if you are a digital arts or architecture graduate, use the header to showcase your work or indicate a specific area of interest.
Summarise Your USP
The summary section is the place to tell your professional story and show some personality. Mini paragraphs or bullet points will make it visually more inviting and easier to scan. The reader wants to gain an insight into what differentiates you, as well as your motivations and professional objectives.
Include jobs and internships that demonstrate your transferable skills and aptitude for work. Focus on your contribution, rather than duties, when providing key highlights for each role. Be selective: only add work experience that adds value to your brand message.
The drop down ‘view more’ tab offers a choice of sections to add to your profile, for example, awards, publications, projects and volunteering work. Also consider adding corresponding media links throughout the experience section, such as website pages, videos, photographs and slides. Utilising all the features available will help your profile stand out. Finally, do make sure that your education section is complete.
Chosen well, you’ll find yourself in forums with like-minded individuals and be able to make additional valuable contacts. Group members automatically become 2nd degree connections and you will be able to message them directly. Actively participating in discussions and sharing ideas will help to raise your profile.
LinkedIn generates a standard connection request. We advise that invitations to connect are personalised to show that you are genuinely interested in making the connection. This is a valuable opportunity to start a dialogue; networking is about building meaningful connections and not just increasing connection numbers.
Follow Companies & Industry Leaders
In addition to keeping up to date with industry news and developments, this demonstrates that you are interested in continued learning, market developments and trends. If you have ambitions to join a specific organisation, then do make sure you are following them.
Recommendations & Endorsements
Gain some recommendations and endorsements from authoritative education and work experience sources. Ask directly or make a recommendation yourself, as this can help prompt reciprocation. If your recommendation is accepted and featured, your testimonial will appear on other people’s pages and be seen by individuals reading that profile. This additional exposure has obvious benefits for raising your own profile and building further connections.
LinkedIn is an extremely effective door opener. With a compelling profile and active participation, LinkedIn will help promote you and be a strong asset to your job search.