We’ve been pretty animated by the topic of social media in Careers & Skills recently and I think it’s fair to say we’re trying to update, upskill and upgrade! Some of us are more keen than others to like it, tweet it and pin it but one thing we’re all agreed on is the need to get LinkedIn. So over to Anne for a quick guide to the world’s leading professional network.
Managing your professional online presence is no longer an optional extra with 53% of graduate recruiters using social media to check out potential applicants. Students and graduates have woken up to this and are joining LinkedIn in their droves. And you can see why: LinkedIn is an effective way of developing and increasing your online connections. It can help you find people who share – and may potentially advance – your career interests. Over 175m professionals use LinkedIn, with more than 2 million companies having webpages – ignore it at your peril!
If you’re a complete novice, YouTube has some great ‘tutorials’ including this one:
We think LinkedIn is a great way to establish and cultivate a professional profile (and network), but you need to know your way around. Here goes:
- Google yourself first. Before you expand your online presence further, see what’s already there. Check your digital footprint – what’s left behind for others to see? Adjust your privacy settings, and carefully manage what appears online. And remember: tweet in haste, repent at leisure!
- Create a professional profile. Do yourself justice – think about the image you want to project. If you have a blog, twitter feed or visual CV, this can be a good way to draw attention to it – just make sure the content is ‘recuiter friendly’. If not, the lock down rule applies. Upload a photo of yourself – people are more likely to connect with a real person than a silhouette. Just make sure the photo is professional – no drunken party pics. One of our job search advisers will be happy to check your online profile and see if it ticks the right boxes. This will form part of your application check though, so you’ll need to attend the ‘effective applications’ workshop first.
- Generate career ideas. If you’re still weighing up your options or looking for inspiration, LinkedIn can help here too. Type job roles in the ‘advanced job search’ to type in job roles and this will take you to profiles of LinkedIn members. This can give you a great insight into peoples’ career paths. You can also use the search to generate opportunities. Looking for an internship? A quick search yesterday (29/10/12) found 106 UK internships, many for summer 2013.
- Research companies. Use the LinkedIn company pages to help you find out more about an organisation’s size, employees, locations, culture, jobs and more. Find out which companies are in demand, as well as current trends. Use this information to help shape your applications, and put you ahead of the field.
- Expand your job search. Increasingly recruiters are using LinkedIn to advertise positions through their corporate pages and groups. LinkedIn enables you to join relevant groups and subgroups of organisations you’re interested in. Through these groups and associated news and discussion threads, you can glean a lot of valuable, insider information. Perhaps you’re looking for an internship? A quick search yesterday (29/10/12) generated 106 intrernship opportunities in the UK, many for summer 2013.
- Build your contacts. Always personalise your request and offer a reason for your approach. Use other contacts to broker introductions for people who are not listed as a level 1 contact.
- Mind your manners. There is such a thing as LinkedIn etiquette – follow it! LinkedIn can be a source of opportunities for graduates, but it’s considered ‘bad form’ to ask contacts directly for a job. However, it is ok to ask for help, advice or expertise.
- Connect with alumni. You may well come across Warwick alumni when researching companies and organisations. Politely request to link (avoid the standard, impersonal message) and you may find they’re willing to share job search strategies or application tips. Tap into groups: Advertising Professional has over 80 000 members so there’s a pretty good chance you’ll stumble across some Warwick grads. Just find your niche.
- Get recommended. If you have completed a work placement or internship, and feel you demonstrated your capabilities and potential, perhaps ask your manager for a testimonial. This is a great way to secure a credible, professional endorsement publicly viewable by potential recruiters. Avoid spamming employers with requests though; be selective about who you approach. There are plenty of online guides to help you avoid the pitfalls, but ‘how to ask for a recommendation on LinkedIn‘ is really succinct and digestible.
- Manage your Apps. Use LinkedIn Apps to share files, showcase what you’ve done and promote your brand i.e. YOU!
Put yourself in the driving seat
I think it’s easy to exaggerate the influence of social media on employers’ recruitment practices. We’re still some way adrift of the US, where an overwhelming proportion of employers make positive and negative decisions based on an applicant’s digital profile (at least according to a 2009 Microsoft survey), but you won’t have the luxury of knowing which employers choose to scour through myriad social networks, and those who don’t. Assume they’ll be checking and you won’t got far wrong. And bear in mind LinkedIn appears very high in Google searches, so if employers do look, you’ve got a great chance to make a positive first impression!