The importance of managing your online presence is well documented at this point. There have been many casualties of embarrassing photos, controversial rants and assorted compromising material on the road to collectively locking down our privacy settings (and mouths).
But far from a professional hindrance, social media can be shrewdly handled to brighten your career outlook. One such channel is LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network.
The social networking platform provides users with a variety of tools to improve their professional prospects. Alongside entry-level concepts like ‘creating an online CV’ and expanding your network, LinkedIn offers several lesser-known functions to help you maximise your career potential. Below, you will find tips on how to get the most out of LinkedIn.
First things first: get your profile up to scratch. This enables you to chronicle your work history, education and skills for inspection by potential employers. You wouldn’t submit a half-finished CV with a job application, would you?
LinkedIn assesses your ‘profile strength’ in terms of the amount of content you add, which can have some bearing on your ranking within the site’s search results. A well-rounded profile lends substance to your personal brand.
In addition to your Work Experience and Education, let people know your professional ambitions in the Summary section. If you list all the Skills & Expertise in your professional arsenal, your connections might give them the stamp of approval with endorsements or recommendations.
Once the basics have been covered, there are several additional features that allow you to make a distinctive profile in line with your achievements. Writers can list the blogs, websites or student papers they’ve contributed to in the Publications section, while linguists will want to stipulate their level of proficiency with Languages. If your work is of a more visual nature, or if it requires detailed explanation, upload or outline your prized Projects. If you were championed for this work, say so in the Honours & Awards part.
With a variety of these sorts of tools at your disposal, it’s up to you to decide what experiences and achievements can be used to strengthen your personal brand.
Naturally, you will want to start building your professional network by connecting with colleagues, friends and family. One of the central principles of LinkedIn is that it allows you to connect with the connections of people you know.
The more proactive students and graduates should consider connecting with staff they have met at Careers Fairs, Networking Events or Insight Days. Make sure to personalise connection requests, explaining to your contact why you want to connect and, if necessary, reminding them when and where you met. Networking online is a nice way to complement your in-person efforts, but not a substitute.
Don’t forget to update your status with relevant industry news and stories to show your passion. This is also a good way to remind connections who you are and what you’re looking for. If people get in contact with you, always reply by sending a comment or email saying thanks.
LinkedIn offers the potential for work opportunities to find you – but not the promise. You will find relevant vacancies listed under the Jobs tab, but it’s best to take charge by visiting the pages of companies you wish to work for. By setting up a company page, employers equip themselves with a free platform to advertise their current vacancies. This is particularly popular among SMEs, who have lower budgets for recruitment.
You can also utilise your network to create your own opportunities. With a little bit of investigating, you might discover that someone in your network currently works – or could put you in touch with someone who works – for your preferred employer.
That being said, LinkedIn should be treated as a way of complimenting your wider efforts to secure a graduate job. It should not replace the considerable value of university career centres and graduate job boards.
Company pages are also a great way of researching prospective employers. Following a company will demonstrate your interest in them, and keeping tabs on the updates they post will further impress recruiters in the application and interview process.
There are additional ways to prove your interest in a particular industry or profession. Joining a group does just that, and at the same time affords you the chance to participate in discussions, keep up to date on noteworthy industry developments, and even see more job opportunities. For example, if you are interested in a career as an Actuary or Patent Attorney, you can join our Inside Careers groups.
Just as employers utilise the platform as a free means of promotion, make use of LinkedIn to sell yourself on the strength of your personal brand. And if employers don’t come knocking, all the tools are there for you to create your own opportunities.