Graduate’s guide to creating a great LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is one of the world’s top 20 most visited websites with over 39 million members being students and recent graduates, with 45% of these recent graduates using it as their primary job search platform. The potential of LinkedIn, as both a tool to promote your skills and expand your commercial networks really is unlimited.

LinkedIn offers ample ways to network with others in your chosen industry. You can also follow businesses and affiliated organisations as well as industry leaders and, like Facebook, you’ll get a feed of status updates from those you follow. It is a great platform to gain access to industry groups, which will allow you to take part in discussions or forums related to your career. Groups cover professional organisations, alumni associations and academic societies, in fact thousands of unique circles that reflect different interests. Contributing to discussions, updating your status and commenting on other people’s posts can all serve to keep your name in front of the people who matter to you and will have an impact on your career.

However, it is important the you present your profile in the best possible way on this platform after all 39 million other students and graduates can’t be wrong! In addition a high percentage of employers go straight to LinkedIn to find out about individuals who wish to work for them! Investing some time to focus on creating a comprehensive profile on LinkedIn will ensure you can make the most of the vast range of networking and knowledge sharing options on offer.

So here’s our top 10 tips for you:

1. Treat LinkedIn as your living, breathing CV
All too often, LinkedIn profiles are treated like any other social media ones that we “have” to have. But unlike most, LinkedIn is strictly focused on your professional skills and experience – think of it as a live, interactive CV. It allows others to discover who you are professionally, so when you set up your profile you should focus the content on who you wish to engage with – so make sure the content is relevant for your target audience.

2. Only use a professional style photo
Your photo should reflect your professional life – so smart, not casual clothing, and a recent head and shoulders shot just of you, facing the camera is the best choice.

3. Build Brand You
Read our separate blog for 5 steps to creating a personal online brand for fresh graduates but for LinkedIn, ensure you’ve covered the basics – a professional photo, your current job title or a professional headline*, contact details and also a summary that covers your experience, projects and achievements.  Ensure any relevant work experience is covered.  Be as comprehensive as you can in filling out each and every relevant, editable section.

*Note: Most people miss the professional headline section, however, because LinkedIn defaults to your most recent job title, which may of course not be relevant if you’re a fresh graduate. Use the headline, and make sure you use the best keywords for the scientific discipline or specialism you are looking to work within.

4. Beyond the Basics – Focus on key words for your chosen career
Take the time to add as much detail as you can. Think about including key words relevant to the type of career you’re looking to move into, because these keywords are how people find your profile. This is definitely a section you will want to stay on top of – keep it current and relevant.

Consider your strengths, as many companies are increasingly looking at a strengths-based approach when recruiting for graduates. They are looking to find out what kind of activities engage and inspire you – the reason being that when you are using your strengths, you perform your best and rapidly learn new information, so it is important to include examples of these.

5. Promote your skills and experience
While work experience related to your chosen career may be limited at this stage – you can include achievements and volunteer work. Certainly put some effort into completing these as they are key for you appearing in searches!

6. Create a custom LinkedIn URL
A typical LinkedIn profile link includes a long string of numbers and letters. Thankfully, LinkedIn allows users to set up a custom URL that you can use instead – this can then be added to your CV.

7. Fully complete your profile
Completing every single area of your LinkedIn profile is an investment in terms of time, but it’s worthwhile. Once it is complete, review it regularly – it should reflect real time – any additional skills should be added as you learn them.

8. Develop your networks
Once your profile is fully completed, you can then focus on identifying individuals you wish to connect with, remember you can further broaden your network to reach 2nd and 3rd level connections. Join a variety of industry related groups – then actively and regularly contribute to them, at the very least ‘Like’ comments made by other members and use them to request information and initiate your own discussions. Focus on joining those groups that cover areas you are interested in and will highlight your expertise or chosen career choice.

9. Utilise the Endorsement and Recommendation features
Regularly, when you click on a profile on LinkedIn, you will be asked to endorse the skills of the people you’re connected with. Ignore these at your peril – as these endorsements can be a valuable addition to your profile. However, make sure that the endorsements you receive are the ones you want recruiters or potential connections to focus on. LinkedIn does allow you to choose which endorsements you want people to see. Also it’s a given that if someone endorses you, you should endorse them too.

Likewise, ask for recommendations to boost your profile – this should also be reciprocated if someone requests a recommendation from you.

10. Regularly Like and Share
You need to be active on LinkedIn – so like and share relevant industry content with colleagues, peers and connections as this will raise your profile considerably.

Your LinkedIn Profile Checklist

• Get the basics right
• Showcase brand you
• Encourage endorsements
• Be active in industry groups
• Like and Share

Good luck and don’t forget the team at Science Solutions are here to help so give us a call!

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