In this day and age, I can’t emphasise enough the importance of a solid LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a powerful enabler for Students, Employers, Employees and Recruiters. It’s not a silver bullet to overnight success, but it’s one very handy super tool for your long term networking toolbelt.
I'm happy to confess that I spent way to long ignoring my LinkedIn profile. I hope this is a neat little checklist for students and job seekers to initiate or improve their professional brand.
Do it in your first term at university, college, before you start applying for that next job, whatever it may be. This is your online CV and potential employers want to see it evolve.
These are quick wins to check off straight away
• Upload a professional photo - no selfies, holiday shots, busy backgrounds or obvious cropped photos - sorry. Also, make it relevant to your industry. Don’t go corporate if you’re looking to work as a designer.
• Add your location (city) and the industry you’re looking to enter
• Change your settings to disable notifications of updates (this allows you to make little edits)
• Update your profile regularly
Adjust your profile to ‘public’ and customise ‘public profile URL’ - this is within the ‘Edit Profile’ setting of LinkedIn.
Before a professional meeting or interview, people google the person. I do it, people do it to me and you should too. Your LinkedIn profile will be the main exploration for them, so make it easy to find and don’t be afraid to do the same. Use the customised link on your resume and your email signature.
This is the bulk of the Edit Intro section within your profile. This should be your professional summary in 3-4 paragraphs.
Headline - LinkedIn puts your current position by default. As a student, or career changer, you want to tailor this. For example, a business student could put - “Business student, specialising in Banking and Finance. Interested in economics and investment markets.” Try to avoid using buzzwords, hyped terms or terms that you don’t clearly fit into “Highly experienced technologist working in the bleeding edge of software engineering”.
Summary - Be clear, succinct and confident. This is not the time to prove your essay writing skills. Use keywords relevant to your industry throughout your profile - but don’t litter it. Key words in your profile or work experience can help increase recruiter traffic and attention.
This section (which is found at the bottom of "Edit intro") allows you to showcase examples of work that you’re proud of and supports your professional expertise/potential. This can be research projects, portfolios, blogs, websites or presentations that are relevant to your desired area of employment. If you want to describe yourself in more than just words, make use of this section.
This includes work experience, internships and volunteering. I think this area is a good candidate for including high level details. You don’t want to bloat this section with information that isn’t relevant to your new industry, but at the same time, don’t omit information that can show interesting tasks or progression of responsibility. For example, highlight interesting projects you were involved with.
If you’ve volunteered, be sure to add this with a brief description. This can be a great insight into what motivates you for an employer.
Skills are a useful search mechanism for recruiters. As a candidate, they’re a great way to summarise your area of expertise, but also highlight add ons to compliment your experience section. Look up job ads within your industry and use some of the common terms as keywords within your skills section. Additionally, if you’ve done or learnt something informally but it might relate to your industry or career (for example, coding), add this to your skills.
This is really important!!!!
LinkedIn for you is all about increasing your network, it’s a breathing CV/network. Start adding people. Add me to LinkedIn. Seriously! This is me. Every additional connection provides another and potentially different degree to your network.
Try to grow your network - this might be through school friends, alumni, family friends, etc. Do a bit of LinkedIn ‘stalking’ - don’t be shy. You might think you don’t know anyone in an industry, but it’s worth exploring to see whether there are 2nd or 3rd degree contacts in the industry.
When connecting with people on LinkedIn, try to make sure you write an personalised invite. This is is a desktop only option.
Join industry groups, in order to discover and interact with your network on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great tool for networking, even if you’re new to the industry. Find some relevant and interesting influencers and read through some of their material and connect with them. If there are industry events within your area, try and attend them. I think that this can often be a much better alternative to a career fair.
Find and follow good and relevant content creators (influencers)/media agencies within your industry. Try and contribute regularly - like a post, repost a post with your own heading or opinion, add a comment, or even pick a topic you know reasonably well and write an article.
For a real life example, check this guy out…
If I’ve forgotten something or you’re after some advice, hit me up here.