LinkedIn tips for students looking for placements or graduate job vacancies

LinkedIn

It should not come as a big surprise that employers and recruiters will look at your LinkedIn profile. They are just as keen to fill open posts as you are securing a job. One way they can do this is by using LinkedIn to search for keywords that relate to the job(s) they have open. If this brings up your profile, then they could choose to contact you if they felt your profile matched what they were looking for.

A second way is when they have received your application, CV and cover letter, they search for your profile using your name. Taking a look at your LinkedIn profile can provide them with a check that what is on your CV matches what is on your public profile. 

Should you have an incomplete profile, and worse one that has not been proofread and is littered with typos; then this could be the very reason you are not getting a reply from the organisations you are applying to. Below you will find a list of tips on how to make some simple changes to improve your profile. 

Headline

This appears under your name. Use this to say what you do (name of your course) and what you want to do (get a placement/graduate role in…). Your headline is likely to be the first thing a recruiter or employer will see. 

Photo 

Make sure you have a professional looking ‘head and shoulders’ photo. This can be easily taken by a friend against a white or light coloured wall. Make sure you are dressed smartly and you smile. Don’t be tempted to use a cropped version of your favourite holiday photo!

Summary

This section is your opportunity to share your experience (at university, part-time work or volunteering), the skills you have developed and what your career aspirations are. Tell your story! What projects have you worked on, are you a member of a club, society or do you engage in other extracurricular activities? What skills have you gained through working on university projects? 

When writing this you may identify there is a gap in your experience. Take the opportunity to fix this by looking for volunteering or paid part-time roles. This could be becoming a Course Rep, Student Ambassador, joining a Society or taking a part-time job. 

Imagine this is your elevator pitch with your future employer – you have literally a few minutes to tell them about yourself. Write your summary in first person. Use the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to share real examples to demonstrate your skills and attributes. In short say what the situation was, explain the task and what the goal was, what action did you take to achieve this, and what was the result of the action. 

State here that you are open for placement or graduate opportunities, and that you are happy to be contacted.  

Skills

Adding specific skills to your LinkedIn profile allows you to showcase your abilities to other LinkedIn members, such as peers, colleagues, managers and prospective employers. Use this section to add both the technical and soft skills you feel you can demonstrate. Be strategic and add the ones you know are relevant to the industry you wish to work in. Over time you will need to revisit this section and add new skills. 

Enable the #OpenToWork feature from your LinkedIn profile

This tells recruiters and employers that you are actively looking for work.

To enable the #OpenToWork feature:

  • Click the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
  • Click View profile.

Profile

  • Click the Open to button.
  • Click Finding a new job.
  • Provide the requested information in the pop-up window that appears.
    You can choose whether all LinkedIn members or only recruiters can see that you’re open to job opportunities. If you choose to share with all LinkedIn members, LinkedIn will add an #OpenToWork photo frame to your profile photo.
  • Click Add to profile.
LinkedIn Open to Work feature

 

Recomendations

If you have work experience, reach out to your colleagues and ask them if they would be happy to give you a recommendation. This is a valuable way to endorse your experience. 

Make Connections

This may seem obvious, but over time you should aim to develop your connections beyond those you imediately know and work with. For example you may have attended a Careers Fair at university and talked to an employee representing a company you are interested in working for. You could follow this up by sending a peronalised connection request saying for example “It was good to meet you at the recent Careers event… Thank you for the advice.”

You can also follow Companies on LinkedIn. This will give you updates on information shared by those organisations. 

Further information 

Visit your university’s Careers and Employability Centre and web page. Sheffield Hallam University is a good example to demonstrate the vast support on offer
https://www.shu.ac.uk/careers

The STAR method 
https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/careers-advice/interview-advice/the-star-method

Office for Students Graduate employment and skills guide
https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/employment-and-skills/

Grad’s guide to getting hired
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/2021-grads-guide-getting-hired-top-industries-roles-skills-/

Taking the time to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date is without doubt a good investment of time! Ask a friend or family member to read your profile. They can help to pick up any typos you’ve missed and point out anything that perhaps needs to be made clearer.  

About Sue Beckingham

A National Teaching Fellow, Educational Developer and Principal Lecturer in Computing with a research interest in the use of social media in higher education.
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