As a new entrant to the job market in such a competitive landscape, it’s crucial find a way to cut through the noise and stand out from the crowd. While this is definitely a challenge, it's not impossible. However, if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, do yourself a favour and set one up ASAP.
Chances are that recruiters and hiring managers will look at your LinkedIn alongside your CV, so having a presence here automatically makes it easier for potential employers.
While it’s still necessary to do the groundwork of going through various job sites, signing up to alerts from companies you’d like to work for, and tailoring each application, there are other ways in which you can set yourself apart from others and get noticed on LinkedIn.
To get you started, here are our top tips for how you can make your LinkedIn stand out from other graduates.
1. Add a profile photo 📷
The first thing you should do is to put a face to your name. Your profile photo is the first impression that people will get of you and by simply having a picture, you can increase your profile views by 14x.
While there are numerous posts encouraging people to invest in getting a professional headshot, I personally don't think it's necessary. You should try to take a recent, high-quality photo of you alone, wearing what you would to work.
Make sure it’s appropriate for the audience (i.e. no mirror selfies or photos of you at your local six drinks in). LinkedIn is not Facebook or Instagram, and it’s most definitely not Snapchat. Feel free to scroll through some examples here to find out what NOT to upload as your profile picture on LinkedIn.
2. Write a great headline and summary 🖊️
Next, have a look at your headline. This is a chance to tell prospective employers why they should keep reading and should be short and sweet. Resist the temptation to use this as a mini-summary and, instead, use the space to succinctly highlight the value you have to offer or the career path you’re looking to go down.
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Have a look at people in your desired industry’s profiles or people who were in your course and draw some inspiration from them. “Business graduate seeking marketing opportunities” is a plain but effective example of a headline a business graduate could potentially use. Avoid superfluous words or phrases such as sales guru, strategic thinker, creative problem solver, etc, etc.
Think of the summary section as a personal advertisement that expands on your headline. This is the place where you really get to sell yourself so you shouldn’t be afraid to show your personality.
Write a few concise sentences about who you are, what experiences and qualifications you have, and your career goals. Research keywords that recruiters in your sector will be looking for and make sure you use them throughout this part of your profile.
3. Highlight all of your past experience💡
A lack of job experience doesn’t have to be a barrier to success; for example, 41% of LinkedIn recruiters consider volunteering to be as valuable as paid work experience. List all of the experiences you’ve had, including part-time jobs, volunteering, societies, and work placements — anything you’ve done that showcases a skill that is transferable to the workplace.
Reference examples where you used your initiative to make something happen, where you led a project or team, or where you achieved something you are proud of. It goes without saying that for some careers, you will be required to have achieved a relevant degree in a specified area. However, oftentimes employers are looking for more than just a great set of exam results when they’re hiring.
Instead of merely looking at academic scores, employers look for candidates that are not only a cultural fit but they feel will work well with their team. They’re looking for candidates with a strong personality and the right combination of soft skills. Being a strong communicator and being able to work well as part of a team are two examples of soft skills that every manager would typically look for in a new hire.
4. Engage with and grow your network 🌐
LinkedIn is a great tool for building a professional network by connecting with people in your desired industry, maintaining contacts, and following organisations that you’re interested in. One of the quickest ways you can stand out is to engage with your connections and share updates relevant to your field of study.
You can also connect with hiring managers/recruiters at your target companies and start engaging with their content. Although it might feel a little bit awkward as a graduate, don’t be afraid to approach people you don’t know on the site and connect with them. We've written a blog post on how to contact potential employers which should be a good start for you.
However, if you send a connection request and it’s not someone you know well or have worked with, be sure to personalise it. Many people generally reject requests otherwise. One great way to make connections is to find alumni from your university who will often be more than happy to help someone whose shoes they were in not so long ago.
Put simply, if you’re not on LinkedIn you don’t exist in a professional context. Not only is it important to make some of the changes outlined above now, but you should also look to update your profile regularly.
At the start of your career, new experiences and achievements occur on almost a weekly or monthly basis. Don’t forget to add them to your profile as you go, even if you’ve already landed yourself a role — it’s good to keep things up to date for when the time comes for a change further down the line.