LinkedIn for students

Setting up your first LinkedIn profile.

Do you create a LinkedIn account whilst still at Uni or do you wait until you have finished your course? Well the choice is yours really but if you want to start building your network and creating your own opportunities, it is an important medium for getting you out there in the big world.

LinkedIn is like Facebook but for your career and it very useful in helping you find a job and finding subsequent roles. Like Facebook and similar apps you try and show what type of person you are. However, where Facebook is for socialising with friends and family, LinkedIn is for your work persona. How you project yourself will have a big impact to your credibility in the world of business and most employers these days will check out your LinkedIn profile first before inviting you for an interview, so it is important to get it right!

Here are some tips on how to get the most of LinkedIn

Choosing the right profile picture – your profile picture is your calling card. This is how people are introduced to you and gives the first impression. Make sure the picture is recent and looks like you, like a passport photo as long-distance shots won’t stand out and dress how you would if you wear going to work. If you want to work in an office, wear something ‘officey’ and you should be the only person in the picture.

Add a background photo – Your background photo is also as important as it appears at the top of your profile page. Make sure it stands out in a positive way.

Include a Summary – include a summary which highlights your achievements and interests, don’t leave this section blank because for the majority of you, your work experience is yet to come! The summary is your chance to tell your story and aspirations, try to make it passionate… Don’t write things like I want to be a XXX without saying why and what skills you have that complement that type of role. The summary is extremely important so take your time, ask other people’s opinions. You need to get it right! You can include any relevant personal information but not your life history!!

Building a network – to start with, sync your LinkedIn account to your email address book, this gives you a start in building your network. The way that LinkedIn works is that no connection requests can be sent without your permission. If you meet a recruiter when you search for a role, make sure you send a LinkedIn request after meeting and if they accept send them a follow up message to say ‘thanks and it would be great to keep in contact’, you need to ensure they remember you! Recruiters see potentially hundreds of people each month, you need to stand out.

List relevant skills – once you have completed your summary, complement this with your list of skills which should highlight why you have the right background for a job in your chosen career path. Showcase your skills – if for example you are completing say a Computer Science degree and you have produced something visually superb, showcase your skills by uploading onto LinkedIn. This will help people understand who you are and what you are about. Just ensure the information is clear and concise – a picture paints a thousand words.

Request recommendations – If you had a part or full time job prior to starting Uni, request a recommendation on LinkedIn, even if it not relevant to your future role. Much better to see something like ‘X is a hardworking individual who always is always positive attitude’ than nothing at all. Also as you take a role you should always ask for endorsement from your boss, it shows a lot about your drive and determination to succeed.

Follow relevant influencers – if a particular field of industry is of interest follow the influencers, you can also comment and share the article. This demonstrates a passion for the subject and an opportunity to network with other followers.

Join Groups – if you are interested in a particular area, nine times out of ten there will be a group or three on LinkedIn. Join the groups and network. Don’t be afraid to comment.
Accepting LinkedIn invitations from strangers – do you accept invites to connect from strangers? This is your personal choice, if you do your news feed could be filled with irrelevant information. If you don’t you may have few people to link in with. I would look at the person’s background and decide if it is relevant to you with your business hat on. You may find you have invites from obscure countries around the world that have no relevance to you.

Keep your LinkedIn Profile up to date – it’s shouldn’t take up much time every now and then so it’s worth updating your profile when something major happens, getting a job, getting a promotion or even looking for a role. Recruiters also use LinkedIn to head-hunt people with relevant skills and experience and you could find that you are approached by them, for an amazing job, even if you aren’t looking for it. If you don’t have all your skills and experienced listed, you could get missed.

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