Using LinkedIn for your career
LinkedIn is a popular networking site with around 50 million students and recent graduates worldwide. Creating a LinkedIn profile as early as possible will put you in a strong position to begin connecting with employers and searching for graduate jobs.
Keep adding information to your profile as you gain experience at university. Show examples of skills you've developed through your course. Include work experience or placements, part-time jobs, volunteering and extracurricular activities.
LinkedIn lets you
- Build a network of professional contacts
- Source career profiles for your chosen sector
- Connect with people you may have networked with before
- Look for job opportunities
- Research organisations that might provide graduate opportunities
- Research companies and individuals when getting ready for an interview
- Promote your image and achievements and present your work and CV
The information below will make developing your LinkedIn profile easy! Our advice will help you reach an ‘All-Star’ profile level. You can then begin to network with prospective recruiters and employers.
Differences between a CV and a LinkedIn profile
CVs and LinkedIn profiles have a lot in common but they work in different ways. Don't copy and paste from one to the other without editing the content first.
Focus on your skills and experience and tailor and re-write your CV for different job roles. You should only ever have one LinkedIn profile. The aim is for your LinkedIn profile to complement your CV.
Your CV should be concise. When writing, always ask "is this necessary?" Only include details that are relevant to the position you are applying for.
However, on LinkedIn you can add more details from a range of experiences. Your LinkedIn can provide further insight into your skills and experience.
Your CV should:
- Be a static document
- Be concise and limited to no more than 2 pages
- Not have a photo
- Be a text-only document
- Be adaptable for different jobs and sectors
- Target a specific recruiter
Your LinkedIn profile should:
- Be a dynamic document
- Have a professional photo
- Include media files that support your portfolio such as PowerPoint presentations, documents, photos, PDFs and links
- Allow you to be targeted by recruiters, connect with alumni and professionals to get insider information
- Let you tap into work experience and job opportunities
Remember, you can control who sees your CV but anyone can view your LinkedIn profile. Make sure it's up-to-date and the content is consistent with your CV. You should only have one LinkedIn profile, and connections can't be transferred if you open more than one account.
Building your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn has written a guide to building a profile specifically for students. Follow their steps and use our tips below to build your LinkedIn profile.
Structuring your profile
LinkedIn is simple to set-up, although it's not as easy as creating a Twitter or Instagram account. You need more initially than simply a username and profile picture.
You’ll need to add work and education information, an effective personal summary and an idea about how you want your profile to look.
To start with, just basic details are needed. Use your real name so you can be easily found in a search. Unlike other forms of social media, it's good to have a visible, professional email address on your page. You can always use your university Gmail address (@myport.ac.uk) which you'll still have access to following graduation.
If you're connecting your Facebook to LinkedIn, your Facebook profile needs to look professional too.
Once you've set-up your profile you'll be asked what you’re most interested in. If you're not sure or would like to keep your options open choose 'not sure yet'. You can select things like 'building my network' or 'staying up-to-date with my industry'.
Your headline is the opening statement directly below your name on your profile.
If you're already employed your headline will be your job title and employer. If you're searching for work then this is your chance to state your goal. Employers and recruiters search LinkedIn using keywords, so be specific and keep it concise.
Make sure you choose a profile photo that is appropriate for your purpose. Remember, you want to make a good impression. Choose something with a plain background and good lighting.
A good quality profile photo will likely result in more views of your profile.
If you get the chance get a high-definition, professional photo taken. This will help you stand out.
Use the summary section to introduce yourself.
Give examples of relevant qualifications and experience. Talk about your interests and objectives and speak in first person.
This is your initial pitch to a potential employer. Aim for something like:
A First Class Honours graduate with a degree BA (Hons) in International Business Studies with a keen interest in international marketing and working in Higher Educations. Experience in living and working abroad in Spain, Slovenia and Cyprus. Currently working for the University of Portsmouth as a Graduate Recruitment Consultant, covering all business sectors and law. A qualified "Cert IOR" Recruiter. Looking to persure a long term career within Higher Education. Current holder of Licentiateship City and Guilds London Institute award.
You need to include information about the experience you've gained through volunteering, part-time work, a placement or through engagement in clubs or societies.
Make sure you identify the key skills and knowledge you gained from these experiences along with examples.
LinkedIn lets you add detailed information, including achievements and highlights. Use bullet points to present your information and make the content more readable on a screen. You can also include media files, such as PowerPoint presentations, portfolio documents, photos, PDFs and links.
This section highlights skills you've developed. There's the opportunity for your connections to endorse you for your skills, which will increase your visibility to others. To encourage people to endorse your skills, leave your own endorsements on their skills.
Examples of skills include teamwork, public speaking, communication, customer service, research and time management. Think about the skills you need for your chosen career. Use the job profiles from Prospects or job role person specifications to do some research.
In this section, you can make and receive recommendations. Increase your chance of getting a recommendation by writing recommendations for your close connections.
Recommendations that you provide or receive should be professional. Base them on your experiences and skills from a study project, job role or volunteering position.
Accomplishments may include additional qualifications or certifications you've received. Include accomplishments such as:
- language skills
- projects you've worked on
- awards or prizes
- exceptional test scores
You can choose to follow a range of organisations and groups that reflect your study and career interests. This triggers relevant content and posts to appear in your home feed such as news, recruitment information or articles.
Engage with this content by liking, sharing or commenting on posts. This increases your visibility to others through LinkedIn.
Getting the most from LinkedIn
Once you've built your profile, how do you use LinkedIn effectively and go from "Intermediate" user to "All-Star"?
Evidence your work
Use the 'Add Media' option to evidence your work – attach and embed articles you’ve written, videos, presentations, photos and links.
- Connect with friends, peers and colleagues that you already know
- Join groups that interest you
- Get involved in discussions
- Follow pages of employers you’d like to work for
- Connect with people you've met through networking
Join LinkedIn groups
Search for groups that are relevant to your chosen career area. Details of LinkedIn groups are often included on the websites of professional bodies. You can also look for University of Portsmouth Alumni groups and locate any regional networking groups.
LinkedIn is an effective research and job search tool. More and more employers are recruiting only through LinkedIn, so spend time searching and research people and organisations. Look for people who have followed a particular career route or who work for an organisation that interests you.
Connecting with people you haven't met
If you have no connection to someone, we don’t recommend adding them. However, you can approach mutual connections you know and ask them if they might introduce you.
Use the 'Grow your network' feature under the My Network tab to find people you may know. People in your network are identified with an icon on the profile next to the person’s name:
- If you’re connected, the icon will display whether they’re a 1st, 2nd or 3rd connection, or if you share a Group with them
- If you’re not connected an icon won't appear
Remember, LinkedIn is a great way to follow-up with people you may have met briefly.
Increase your visibility
There are a number of functions available through LinkedIn that will enable you to increase your visibility to recruiters:
Use the ‘Open to’ button that appears below your contact information when editing your profile.
This gives you the option to indicate that you are open to ‘finding a new job’ and will increase your visibility when recruiters are looking for suitable candidates.
Take the LinkedIn Skill Assessments to include specific badges on your profile.
When you populate your ‘Skills and endorsements’ section with relevant skills and abilities you will now have the opportunity to take one of LinkedIn’s dedicated assessments. Having passed an assessment, LinkedIn will offer you the opportunity to add a badge to your profile for the associated skill. Again, having this badge will allow recruiters to identify those candidates with the desired skill set for their role.
If you don’t pass an assessment for any reason, LinkedIn will signpost you to further online learning and development opportunities and you can retake the assessment when you are ready.
Continue to increase your activity. The more content you react to, comment on and/or share via your LinkedIn feed, the more you will increase your visibility to prospective employers.
Final LinkedIn tips
- Create a custom URL to use on your CV
- Include a profile link in your email signature so people you email can click on it
- Keep your page updated – the more you put into LinkedIn the more you’ll get out of it and the busier you are on the platform the more visible you’ll be and the more connections and hits you’re likely to get
Need more help and information?
You can get more help using LinkedIn at the Careers and Employability Centre. Our advisers can review your profile and answer questions you might have.
Remember, the rules for effective networking apply to LinkedIn and any online networks. Make sure you read our top tips on how to network before you start.
LinkedIn also provides a series of quick tips and videos to help you create a profile and network effectively.