How to use LinkedIn for your graduate job search – part one

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LinkedIn has become a global phenomenon in recent years, it is the 14th most popular website globally, surpassing eBay, MSN, WordPress and tumblr, and as of August 2013 the site has nearly 2.4 million users. Many say that having a LinkedIn profile is as essential as having a CV, with this in mind we’ve put together some tips on best to use LinkedIn to help you with your graduate job search in part one of our guide.

Profile

Fortunately, using LinkedIn is very easy and you can get a basic profile up and running within a few minutes. The most important thing to think about when you create an account is on the presentation and content of your main profile page. Think of this as an expanded electronic CV so treat it with as much of a professional attitude as you would with your actual CV!

Profile photograph

Your profile photo is possibly the single most important thing on your profile. It might sound obvious, but use a photograph of yourself that looks professional. More and more employers are looking at the LinkedIn profiles of their candidates and if they see a photo of a candidate on a drunken night out as a student, or standing in front of a mirror pointing their phone at a reflection of themselves as their profile picture then it’s unlikely that the employer will be getting in touch with that candidate for an interview. Dress smartly, find a neutral background and smile!

Background

This is the meat-and-bones of your profile; this is what you might consider to be a traditional CV. Whilst we would recommend no more than two-A4 pages for a traditional CV, a LinkedIn profile has a larger degree of flexibility with what you can include. It is possible to include greater levels of detail on your background information than in a CV simply from the fact that an employer will visit your LinkedIn profile to know more about you than what is on your CV and will spend more time reading it than the time that an average CV gets.

Experience

If you’re talking about a previous role, feel free to expand on your duties and responsibilities, and if you’ve accomplished something outstanding during a role, talk about it! If you’re talking about your education then talk about your dissertation, any societies and clubs that you were involved in and anything else that you did whilst at university (I’ve written that I’ve performed sketch and stand-up comedy during my time in university and this nearly always becomes a talking point during an interview!). Consider this especially if you can turn the skills that you used into ones that employers are looking for. You’ve spent three years, or maybe more, at university so tell people about how much you’ve done in that time.

However, even though you have a greater degree of flexibility to detail the kinds of things that you have achieved and have been involved in, this doesn’t mean that potential employers want to read swathes of superfluous information – it’s great that you’ve had main roles in 10 productions with the drama society, but you don’t need to name every single production that you were involved in and which part that you had; mention it, expand briefly and move on.

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Recommendations

When it comes to getting recommendations from colleagues, tutors, etc, make sure that you ask if you can get a recommendation from them. There’s nothing worse than requesting one from someone over LinkedIn under the assumption that they’ll drop everything to write one for you. Ask beforehand and they’ll most likely write you a glowing recommendation. Make sure that you ask someone that you know will give you a reliable and accurate recommendation too; a recommendation isn’t just a testimonial of your abilities, if you don’t live up to it then this can affect the professional credibility of both you and the person who recommended you.

Remember, this is the section that defines who you are professionally and it could mean the difference in whether an employer thinks that you’re up for the job or not.

Job search

LinkedIn’s job search function, as you would expect from a business networking site, is fairly comprehensive with what it can offer. You can search for roles under a huge number of specific industries and within a wide range of business functions as well as by level of experience in those roles. You can also save searches and specific jobs, and you also get a “Similar jobs” listing when you go into each advert too.

One of the better things about LinkedIn’s job search function is that, more often than not,  the same role won’t come up twice in your search results when it is being advertised by multiple recruitment companies. We’ve all been there before, we’ve searched for a role on a job site board only to have half of the search results be the same role only advertised by different recruitment companies – frustrating! With the case of LinkedIn this is a much rarer occurrence ensuring that you have a much easier and less frustrating job search.

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What LinkedIn also offers is something that is unused by pretty much every other job site, and that is its ability to integrate your network and connections into the results of your search. For example, if you were looking for roles in the financial sector and you had connections that were based, or formerly based, in the companies that were advertising then they will come up as being associated with that organisation.

The advantage that this gives is that you can get in touch with your network connections and ask them what it’s really like to work in an organisation advertising for a role on LinkedIn. You will get a much better insight to what the company is like in terms of its culture, people and environment far more than simply reading the “About” section of a website and a few testimonials from employees or customers – insight that you can use to improve your application and improve your background knowledge for an interview!

And that’s part one of our guide. You can see part two at the below link!

https://gowalesblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/how-to-use-linkedin-for-your-graduate-job-search-part-two/

Follow GO Wales on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/company/graduate-opportunities-wales

Join the discussion on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=2477543

Read this post in Welsh at http://gowalescymraeg.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/sut-i-ddefnyddio-linkedin-i-chwilio-am-waith-i-raddedigion-rhan-un/