There's no getting away from it, all graduates need a LinkedIn profile. If you don't already have one then, after reading this, get yourself over to LinkedIn and set one up. It is important to have one for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it is vital that you have an online presence on the site because when you start applying for jobs and people want to know a little bit more about you they will use LinkedIn to see what else they can learn about you. Secondly, creating a LinkedIn profile can really help you formulate what it is about you that gives you that edge. Creating a LinkedIn profile allows you to easily document what you have to offer and gives you an excellent position to start building your personal brand. (To learn more about Personal Branding read this blog.) LinkedIn offers you the opportunity for you to lay out and understand what it is you have to offer employers and to exhibit what makes you different from the rest of the graduate job hunting hoard. While it is sometimes referred to as the Facebook for professionals, I would disagree with this slightly. While Facebook exists for purely arsing around, LinkedIn can be a great tool and excellent starting block for your graduate job hunt. But like anything, you need to put the time in to get it looking shipshape and impressive. 6 steps to creating an awesome LinkedIn profile …
1. Killer headline
LinkedIn is a highly professional outfit and this is something that should be acknowledged early on. Take the same approach to LinkedIn as you would filling out an official form. LinkedIn is not designed for interacting with friends but to give you an online presence for your working life. With this in mind, apart from your name, you will be asked for a headline. This is a one sentence summary of who and what you are. There has been a lot written on getting your headline right, whether you're trying to be funny, showing off or self-depreciating, but you should use this to make a clear and honest statement of intent. Some of the best headlines are concise and to the point. For example, a good headline would not include things like "tea-drinker" or "Average Joe", this is somewhere you sell yourself. Rather a good headline would include a reference to general field of work that you're interested in, a specialism that you like or a particular set of skills that you have to offer. For Example:
2. Fill out everything
LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to upload everything about your past that might be of even the slightest bit of interest to graduate employers, from A. level results to societies you were a part of to whether or not you are a first aider. What you should all do here is completely fill out everything you can. While it might not seem totally relevant the key to filling out your details, you would be wise to give employers everything about you, especially as you are early on in your career. Anything that will differentiate you from the crowd will help your mission to getting the graduate job. This includes filling out details of your duties while at previous jobs. If you can show that while on the internship at the Marketing Agency you were in charge of their Twitter account this can be easily spiced up to say you "lead the social media strategy and customer engagement through social media channels". Or as part of your sports society you "organised and coordinated social functions for both Christmas and End-of-Year Events". Much of LinkedIn and job applications in general is about phrasing, so be sure to make what you did sound professional.
3. Profile picture
Choosing a profile picture can be a bit of a minefield. You need it to look professional and smart, so there is no point crawling through your Facebook or Instagram thinking about which one from a night-out might be most suitable for this situation. Much like your headline and the details you've filled in this needs to be clean and presentable.
I would personally advise avoiding pulling picture from Facebook or Instagram. Some people advise hiring a photographer, but I'd say that might be a little bit too much. Some university careers services offer this service. If this is not available you should get someone to take a smart headshot of you against a modest backdrop. No selfie-sticks required. You don't have to be fully dressed in corporate attire, but nor should you be wearing a football shirt. Make sure it is appropriate for where you want to work. For example, the profile picture of a prospective Management Consultant will be very different from the profile picture of budding Graphic Designer. In terms of quality of the photograph, it will be as high quality as it can be but most current smartphones have good enough cameras on them to be suitable. Also, after taking one there is no need to go "full-Instagram" on the photo and send it through the filter-mill. Unless you're looking for a job as a photographer then they are not necessarily interested in the way you've lit the picture either.
Much of LinkedIn is about networking and " connecting" with people, the LinkedIn terminology for a friend request. There are ways that you can import your email address book and connect with people that way. There are ways that you can also see who attended your school and university at the same time that you did and find people that way. The important thing about connecting with people is that it adds an authenticity about who you are, rather than seeming like an empty shell on there, but there are more benefits to having a wide range of people on there too which will be explained later. The politics of "connecting" with people operates a little bit differently to that of Facebook, for example. The first thing that should be remembered, is that it is not Facebook where you have everyone you went to secondary school on. I would personally advise keeping the amount of friends on there to a strict, close few because, although you don't want to offend anyone, you are not there to socialise. You should, however, make an effort to connect with people you have worked with, no matter if it was only for a few weeks during an internship.
5. Endorse, Endorse, Endorse!
When you are stringently filling out your LinkedIn information you will be asked about what skills you have to offer and here is where your mates come in handy. You should go out of your way to endorse your friends for things you know they can do and that they are good at, with the intention that they will do the favour. While it is not going to convince employers that you are incredible at Customer or Team Leadership, it will add some authority to your claim. This is a little sneaky, but in terms of getting going it is the only way to get started. Be careful not to list millions of skills that you possess, but keep it limited to around ten skills you are confident about and have evidence to prove you're capable of them.
6. Companies and Groups
Again similar to Facebook, you are able follow companies and join groups on LinkedIn. This is an excellent way to learn more about companies and what they are doing. Many companies put a lot of effort into their company pages, believing they project a capable, professional and sometimes corporate that is impressive for potential employees. Graduates should take time to look into what companies they are considering applying for and researching them on LinkedIn. While for Groups, they are a good way for graduates to learn more about particular developments in industries. There are many groups that graduates could find a fantastic help, especially when looking for their first job.
LinkedIn is a great resource for graduates and can really benefit them. The truth is that you will need a LinkedIn profile sooner or later. So having one now that you can build up over time is a way that you can be found by employers when they're reviewing your applications. But be careful not to create one and leave it collecting dust. You don't need to be posting statuses and sharing things on the site every day but be active maybe once a week or every 10 days or so. You can join our graduate-jobs.com group here and follow graduate-jobs.com the company here.