You’ve spent a considerable number of years now trailing through Facebook feeds and musing Twitter only to be greeted with mundane updates on people you no longer care about. What used to be a hive of snapshots and event invitations is now a blank platform to parade food or announce engagement. There are always social media trends, but as a graduate now is an ideal time to consider how you’re using social media and how you could actually be using it to benefit your future prospects and development.
By now, we’ve all figured out how to control our privacy settings, and some have even taken that annoying precaution of misspelling their name. But preventing the traceability of your social presence is certainly not the only way to improve your job prospects online.
Instead of merely attempting to eradicate the evidence of your youthful endeavours, you can actively help your professional appearance. Creating a LinkedIn profile is a brilliant way to do this.
Launching in 2003, LinkedIn now has over 467,000,000 registered members spanning over 200 countries. It is estimated that professionals are signing up at a rate of 2 per second, and with an approximated 94% of recruiters using social media in their employment search, this is more than understandable. Being a searchable database of talent and skill, LinkedIn is an amazing opportunity for professionals as well as aspiring professionals.
The website has really revolutionised the career market. Where employment was once solely the responsibility of employers, with possible candidates being at their mercy, LinkedIn has ensured it is now much more of a collaboration. There is now a space for professionals and job hunters to exist regardless of whether there has been a specific job post. Therefore, every member is always in the pool of possibility – able to be approached with opportunities and perhaps more excitingly, able to approach.
Currently there are 40 million students and graduates using the employment network. Being LinkedIn’s fastest growing demographic, the appeal of the site to young people is evident. However, with so many existing profiles, it is essential that you are fully utilising LinkedIn to highlight your best qualities and really set you apart from the crowd.
So it’s important that you master the basics of LinkedIn. Here are a few things to consider that will garner a greater number of employer profile views and opportunities.
It goes without saying that an appropriate picture is a necessity. Don’t select one that’s poor quality or of you with multiple friends. Your shot needs to portray exactly what you’re hoping to convey – which should be warmth and professionalism. Even if you’re a dancer or hoping to show off a skill physically, keep your profile image as a headshot. This has been advised purely because faces are so memorable. There are opportunities in other sections of your profile to present a portfolio and supporting images.
You can just use your job title, or graduate status. However it’s best to be as descriptive as you can. If you’re hunting for a job, draw on positions you currently hold as well as keywords in the field you’re hoping to go into.
Use keywords – this is particularly important in the summary and experience sections. Recruiters scour LinkedIn using industry specific key words. So the more you include, the more likely you are to be discovered. To figure out your keywords consider the field you are going into and those that you have experience in. Search profiles from the chosen area and note words and phrases that they have used. You could also compile a variety of job specifications that you’re interested in. Listing the required skills will make your profile considerably more appealing to recruiters.
4) Summary section
This is essentially your defining section. It is the first sentence(s) that someone will read – and we all know the importance of first impressions. So make sure this is absolutely polished. Avoid extremely lengthy descriptions. In order to stand out, experiment with different formats and forms. If you’re a creative this is an immediate place to define your stance and individuality – so utilise the image and video capability.
Another great thing to incorporate in your summary is a call to action. This invites viewers to contact you. Including a brief ‘Please reach out to discuss opportunities’ evidences your availability and determination to build relationships.
Even if you are fresh out of university, you still have a plethora of experience. Whilst this experience may be in the form of student and voluntary posts, it can still be extremely useful, particularly if it’s relevant to the position you are hoping to secure.
Whilst you need to list two previous and a current role, if you have little appropriate experience do not list it all. Do not overcrowd your page with part time jobs you tolerated through school. As well as creating a dull profile, unnecessary experience may actually filter you out of search results. For example, directors may be looking for candidates for an entry level job, if it appears you’ve got years of ‘experience’ you may get removed from the search results.
It is great to build a portfolio of recommendations. To secure these however, you will need to be very proactive – you will need to approach possible references. Avoid having generic comments from senior colleagues and bosses. A personal and genuine recommendation from a less reputable professional is much more impressive.
Join appropriate groups. LinkedIn groups can be a great way to network. As a graduate, your first port of call should be your university alumni group. You can meet professionals in your field and take inspiration from their career progression. It is also common for professionals to recruit from their university network. So it is quite likely that there are already many recruiters in the groups you join waiting for a candidate like yourself.
It is so important that you are constantly updating your profile. Providing your most recent achievements evidences you in your best light and also highlights that you are actively seeking self-improvement and opportunity.
LinkedIn is a great tool for conducting research into careers. Even if you’re not actively seeking a job, it can be so useful in understanding industries, internships and how professionals have become so successful.