How to Use LinkedIn to Advance Your CareerBY |
Most recent graduates and young professionals are adept at using social media. This is completely understandable, as you're the first generation to grow up with platforms like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest. In fact, for better or worse, they've been such a constant presence throughout your life that it's probably hard for you to picture your life without them.
However, the social media platform that will play the most significant role in your professional life is LinkedIn.
Now, while over half of recent graduates have a LinkedIn profile, most fail to use it correctly and, consequently, fail to take advantage of the vast benefits it offers - this is a potentially costly mistake.
With that in mind, this post looks at some of the best ways for recent graduates and those entering the job market to get the most out of LinkedIn.
Make Your Profile Headline Standout
Your profile headline is the first thing people will read on your profile, so you need to make it relevant and impactful. Instead of entering something generic like 'Recent Graduate' or 'Seeking Job' in your desired profession,
try and be as specific and distinctive as possible. Use your headline as an opportunity to market yourself and your growing skillset. This includes mentioning a combination of where you graduated from, your degree subject, the kind of experience you have (where appropriate), and the industry you're looking to break into.
However, while you should put more thought into it than the majority of other recent graduates, it's also important not to overthink it; you don't need it to be perfect, you just need it to not be bland.
Use Keywords, Avoid Buzzwords
After getting your profile headline down, it's time to start on the main part of your profile, namely the About, Education, and Experience sections. You want to make these sections, and your profile in general, as searchable as possible to recruiters, which you can achieve with the correct use of keywords.
Useful keywords include job positions, skills and competencies, software and tools you're proficient in, etc. Even if you're currently learning a skill, whether through a course or self-study, mention it, as it could get you on the radar of potential employers, at the very least.
However, be sure to not go overboard with the keywords, stuffing them into your profile where they don't make sense – make sure they're relevant and flow properly within each profile.
Now, on the other hand, you should avoid using too many buzzwords in your profile. These are generic terms, such as 'hard worker', 'innovative', 'driven',' out-the-box-thinker', and, 'good team-player' that you'll see all the time in LinkedIn profiles, as well as on resumes. People include them as they think that's what recruiters want to hear, but, in reality, everyone claims to be these things, so they're a given and don't say much about someone. More thought-out keywords and fewer buzzword will help you stand out amongst other graduates.
Leverage Existing Connections
At the beginning of your career, you won't have many professional connections, so start your LinkedIn network by connecting with people you already know. Start with your friends on other social media platforms, like Facebook, those you've worked with in any prior jobs, people you studied with, relatives, family friends, etc. The more connections you have, the more visible you are and the better your starting position. Plus, you never know, your existing contacts might have connections that lead to opportunities sooner rather than later.
Add A Few Recommendations
Now, this one isn't always possible because you don't have a track record to draw from, but try to get a couple of recommendations added to your profile. Recommendations can be powerful because they validate your claims about your skills and competence; they work in a similar way to references on your resume, but potential employers can see them before they've offered you a job – or even an interview!
Successfully gaining a recommendation is most feasible if you've had a job or two – and your manager has a LinkedIn profile – but you could also ask colleagues, classmates, professors, internship supervisors or mentors.
A great way to get someone to give you a recommendation is to provide them with one first, as they'll be compelled to return the favour.
Connect With People You Meet Offline
Whenever you meet someone professionally, whether at a company function, networking events, etc., find and add them on LinkedIn. This is an effective way of retaining a connection with everyone you meet and increasing your professional network.
If you happened to get along well or had an interesting conversation, send them a quick note to say it was nice to meet them and that you hope to bump into them again in the future. This will not only make you more memorable but more likeable too.
Get into the habits of posting your thoughts and insights on LinkedIn. This works in the same way as changing your status on Facebook, only in a professional capacity. Now, you don't have to post too often, and it doesn't need to be anything particularly profound, just anything you've recently come across that you found interesting or valuable and want to share.
Consistently Update Your Profile
Perhaps most importantly of all, take time to consistently update and improve your LinkedIn profile. All too many young professionals (as well as professionals in general) make the mistake of 'setting and forgetting' their profile: initially creating it and then never touching it again. Or, at best, only updating it when they start a new job.
A better strategy is to regularly review it to see how you might improve it to promote yourself in the best possible light. You might, for instance, think of a more compelling way to explain your skills and competencies a few months into a job than when you first started it; so, go back into the Experience section and add those details.
If you want some experience to add to your LinkedIn profile to help it stand out amongst a sea of other recent graduates, take a look at our Professional Internship Program.