How to use LinkedIn to support your career journey
Updated: Aug 22, 2019
Whenever I meet someone new, whether virtually, or in person, I Google them to find their LinkedIn profile.
Why? Well, because it's one of the easiest ways to:
get a sense of your professional identity and network,
find out whether other people have recommended or endorsed you, get a sense of how actively engaged you are, and
gather information that isn't typically covered in your CV.
I am not alone in researching a prospective client on LinkedIn - this is the first thing recruiters and prospective employers do when they receive your CV.
When a job-seeking graduate (or anyone for that matter) has no profile, a partial profile, a dormant profile, or a very limited network of connections, it quickly creates a perception that you are not actively marketing yourself, raising your profile and seeking ways in which to connect with mentors, peers in the industry and prospective employers.
LinkedIn is like a permanent online conference or networking event
LinkedIn is the equivalent of going to a networking event, a conference or a workshop.
What do you do at these sorts of events if you want to use them well?
You talk to people.
You tell them about yourself.
You ask them questions.
You build a relationship.
You find out how your skills can be of service to them.
And hopefully, you follow up and keep in contact afterwards.
All of these things can be done on LinkedIn, and what's more, done with an almost unlimited network of people across industries and across the globe. It's the equivalent of a networking event of hundreds of millions of prospective future employers, colleagues, mentors and career sponsors.
If you use LinkedIn effectively, it's less about duplicating your CV, and more about creating a dynamic realtime profile of your career story. It's also an extremely effective mechanism for researching companies, people, industries and opportunities that may interest you.
It's a place where you can share your knowledge - by commenting on other people's posts, by curating content that interests you and sharing it on your page, by creating your own content, by linking your documents, blogs, articles, presentations, dissertation or thesis (once published) to your profile to create a digital repository of your work. It's a platform where you can update your achievements, gather testimonials from third parties, have your skills endorsed and showcase a broader sense of who you are and what you have to offer a potential employer. None of these things can be done in quite the same way, if at all, in a static CV.
So how do I use LinkedIn effectively?
Try doing the following:
write in the first person ie "I am xyz and I have the following skills to offer", rather than "Briony is a xyz and she has the following blah blah blah"
include a photograph of yourself (it's always more appealing than a blank space) but please make sure that it's a head and shoulders photo that looks professional!
there is space above your photo for a banner - upload an image or create a banner that further enhances your career story
use your profile section to maximum advantage
you have a headline (160 characters I think) where you can summarise your key selling point or objective
you have a profile section - this is equivalent to your brief biography or executive summary - use this to summarise the highlights of your career story (who you are, what's important to you, what you have achieved, what you are aiming to achieve etc)
you can upload documents and include a hyperlink to add further value and information to your profile - you could upload your CV here, your thesis, a presentation or video that you have done, or hyperlink to a website, a youtube video, media article.
maintain an active professional network by sending out connection requests to people that you know, and people that you meet in the course of your studies, at interviews and various networking events (most people are very receptive to a connection request when it is accompanied by a personal note - currently you can only add a personal note on a computer - this function does not exist on mobile versions of LinkedIn, so try as far as possible to send your connection requests from a computer, especially to people that you don't know well)
ask people for recommendations - having someone write a recommendation for you it way more effective than you saying how amazing you are. Aim to get a few recommendations from various people who have known you in positions where you have performed well - your university professor, a previous employer or colleague, from an organisation where you have volunteered
make use of the skills section to list your skills and ask for endorsements
join groups that relate to your background and professional interests
increase your visibility by commenting in groups, asking questions, posting an article, sharing a post that was interesting to you, and add value to posts that you share by saying what is was about the article that was interesting for you
every time you have a work experience - whether vac work, permanent employment, an internship - add this to your list of experience
every time you complete a course, a certification, a project, achieve something, win an award, excel in an exam - add it to your profile - it all adds up to enrich your career story
if you are looking for a job, include your LinkedIn page on your CV and send the link to prospective employers
As with everything, "what you put in is what you get out". So invest time and energy into keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date, dynamic and active. It's part of your networking strategy and contributes to building your personal brand.
I would be very interested to see how you use this blog to work on your personal LinkedIn profiles - so feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn (just remember to send a personalised note with your LinkedIn connection request).
Enjoyed this blog? Read the full series of CV tips:
I love conversations and would love to engage with you on your career and how you are managing yourself and your career like a business.
I believe "managing your career like a business" means having insight on where you want to go in your career, the agility and resilience to change track when necessary, competence to navigate transition points, and self-awareness to manage yourself.
I help you do that through one-on-one coaching, CV and LinkedIn profile writing, topic-specific workshops and a suite of blogs and other materials available on my website. Want more information? Drop me a message and I will get back to you asap.
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