Almost every student I know has a LinkedIn profile – it’s just one of those things you get in university because it’s what you’re “supposed to be doing” to get jobs or network. The reality is that your LinkedIn profile often doesn’t work unless you do – a shabby LinkedIn profile isn’t doing you any favours and could actually scare off future employers or connections. Depending on your industry and interests, a LinkedIn profile can replace a portfolio, website or blog, which is all the more reason to get your LinkedIn in order and learn how to make it work for you. I’ve put a lot of the following practical examples and the tips in action in my profile.
Why Use Linked In?
If you’re still wondering why you should be putting real effort into your LinkedIn, I’ve got three real key reasons for you:
- Having a professional online presence: People are Googling you during job searches, and professional LinkedIn profile is way better than your Instagram being the first thing they find.
- Showcase your soft skills: If you’re in an industry where you’re expected to have writing and design skills, a LinkedIn page is a great way to show off those skills in a practical way. If you’re in a more technical sector, then this page is an opportunity to show employers that you have soft skills (writing and communication in particular) in addition to your STEM knowledge.
- Get a leg up on your competition: Think about it this way – if there are two candidates neck and neck for a job interview or an offer and one has an out of this world LinkedIn, who are you more likely to give the thing to?
So How do I Get Ahead of the Game?
Polishing up your LinkedIn is more than just making sure there’s no typos in your job descriptions – there are so many easy ways you can level up your LinkedIn profile and experience to showcase just how amazing you are to potential employers. You know and likely already have your previous job and volunteer experience showcased on your profile with relevant descriptions, so what else can you do to really up the content of your LinkedIn profile from average to all-star?
- Cover Photo: Get a photo that gives a viewer a first impression of who you are, be that a graphic you designed yourself or a photo of something relevant to you/your industry.
- Head Shot: Make sure it’s a solo, well-lit shot that gives people a good look at your face. Stay away from cropping out friends, full body shots or unprofessional snaps.
- Summary: You have a real chance here to tell the story of who you are to someone visiting your profile. Tell the reader who you are, what you’re interested in and where you want to go. It may seem weird to include your long-term career goal, but in my experience if you’re open about what you want, people are pretty willing to help you get there.
- Add Media: LinkedIn lets you add photos, links and other types of media to your summary and experiences. Use this as a place to attach any relevant work you want future employers to see (I have examples of my social media and my communications strategy work on mine) to give them a real view of what kind of work you’ve done.
Bonus Tip: How LinkedIn can help you find jobs!
So your LinkedIn profile now looks killer – what else can you do? My biggest tip is to use LinkedIn to find jobs using their search function and job/company alerts. If you haven’t already, check out LinkedIn’s Job tab and take a look at the jobs it thinks you’re a good fit for. You can search based on types of jobs and locations, and there’s filters within the search to look for specific kinds of jobs you want, including what level of experience, full-time/part-time, etc. You can also save that search and LinkedIn will email you a list of jobs that match your criteria on a daily or weekly basis. If there’s a specific company you’re interested in working with, you can also set a job alert and LinkedIn will notify you when that company has posted jobs. LinkedIn can and should be an integral part of your job search and with a little bit of effort can make finding jobs easier than you thought it could be.
I hope this advice has helped you spruce up your LinkedIn profile and helps with your job search this winter. Happy job hunting, and remember you can always visit Career Services, 401 Tory Building, for help with your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile!
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