What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn can take a bit of getting your head around. Basically, it’s a social media platform (like Instagram and Twitter) but for professionals. So instead of sharing what you’re up to with friends, LinkedIn is a platform to post about work experience, extra-curriculars (like volunteering or Duke of Edinburgh) and anything else that you would want to show potential employers.
How is LinkedIn Useful?
You might be asking yourself why it’s useful to connect with future employers and professional (especially when you’re a long way off starting your career). It’s a good question and the answer is that it’s never too early to connect with people from the industry or industries that you’re interested in Through LinkedIn you’re able to get work experience opportunities and insights that aren’t otherwise available.
Just like you might slide into someone’s DM’s on Insta, you can do the same on LinkedIn and ask professionals to help you understand more about their industry and how you can work your way into that industry.
Have you ever heard the expression that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? Well, the thing about LinkedIn is it gives you the chance to make connections with the people at the very top of industries and this can open up doors for you!
How to Make a Successful LinkedIn Profile
So LinkedIn is a professional network (I know I’ve already mentioned that…) and because of that, it’s important that you follow some rules. In this section I will talk you through how to (and how not to) make a LinkedIn profile, that helps you to standout to professionals. One thing to remember is that unlike other social media sites, LinkedIn is not a place for sharing holiday pics and what you had for dinner last night – it’s for showcasing yourself as a professional and should be treated like an extension to your CV.
The all important profile picture
Like with all social media, your profile picture is a big part of LinkedIn. However, there are some really important roles about your LinkedIn profile picture that you should follow.
- Be professional – It shouldn’t be a holiday pic or you and your friends playing around, it should be headshot of you on your own.
- Smile – You want to look trustworthy and approachable, make sure to have a big smile
- Dress Appropriately – Make sure that you’re dressed in professional clothes, you a plain jumper or t-shirt will do if you have a shirt
- Plain Background – You want people to be looking at you not the posters in the background. Make sure that there’s nothing to distract people and have a plain background. Top tip, I used remove.bg on my LinkedIn profile picture (this removes the background of your photos for free)
Cover pictures are relatively new to LinkedIn and it’s a bit like when covers came about on Facebook, a lot of people just don’t know what to do with them.
However, it’s a really important space and it allows you to show a bit more about you and what you’re passionate about (but still keep in mind that this is a professional platform).
You should think of your cover picture as a free advertising space to show off your projects or extra-curriculars. I’ve included the RMhub on mine so that people who visit my profile find out about this amazing resource.
Another point to make is that you should make sure that your cover photo fits within the parameter that LinkedIn allows, because it’s fairly small.
A Dashing Headline
Just like newspapers draw people in with an exciting headline, you want to intrigue people with your headline because it shows up to them before they click onto your profile.
The difference between you and a newspaper is that you want to draw in professionals from a certain industry, rather than general punters.
I want to connect with people passionate about supporting young people in Yorkshire. So, the first thing in my headline says in very concise words, that my nonprofit (Role Models Yorkshire) is inspiring young people. I also want people to buy stationery from my store, so I’ve made sure to include that. Finally, I want to be an electronic engineer when I graduate, so I’ve included that I study electronic engineering, so that I stand out to potential employers.
Notice that everything is concise, that’s because to other users, you profile will often appear with in the second format on the right, and only so many words can be seen in this format (so make them concise and good).
If you’re still at school, you might not have much work experience to put into your headline, but that’s okay! Just say what you’re interested in at school. For example, “Year 11 school pupils | Interested in Software Engineering | Prefect”. This will show the relevant industry that you’re interested and that you’re a proactive pupil by even been on LinkedIn (also if you’re a prefect at school, that’s awesome and definitely worth including).
LinkedIn have recently introduced a new featured section. This is a great place for ‘showing off’ some of the projects that you’ve been working on. Include in this section evidence of the project you’ve worked on and what you did.
For example, I took part in a blog for the National Centre for Universities and Business, talking about how the University of York have helped with my nonprofit (Role Models Yorkshire). I have included this blog as it shows employers that I’m good at building relationships.
It’s super important to remember that all of the things that you interact with on LinkedIn will be accessible to your connections (via the activity section).
Make sure that you’re only engaging in appropriate content and try to stay away from arguments and commenting on anything that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see.
This section is basically your virtual CV. It’s where employers will look on your profile if they’re interested after seeing your ‘Headline’ and ‘About’ sections.
So it’s important to make this standout with all of your best work experience on display. Make sure that you tag in the official company page (if the company you worked for has one) and that you include the role that you had there. Also, include a little bit of information about the role you had there, making sure to mention how you made a difference to the company.
As this is my own company (Role Models Yorkshire), I have also included a link to the website for employers to find out more about the company and what we’re doing. If you’ve been featured in a blog on the company website, consider including that in this section.
You might not have loads of stuff to put into this section yet, especially if you’re still at school. That’s okay, but do include what you can. If you’re currently studying for GCSE’s or a level 3 qualification (or any course), then include that here. Make sure to put the different subjects/modules that you’re studying, so that employers can see your interests. Also, include any societies or extra-curricular activities that you do with your school (such as being a prefect).
Licences and Certificates
This is a good place to list any online courses or extra certificates that you have earned outside of formal education. For example, you could include the Duke of Edinburgh Award (also include that in ‘Experience’ if you’ve done it).
Here’s a pro to get some certificates for this section; sign up for the LinkedIn premium free trail and do some of the online courses that come along with the packet. However, remember to set a reminder for when the trail is up and cancel it, otherwise you’ll have to pay for it (and there’s isn’t much point).
This is another section for ‘showing off’ some of the experience that you have. However, it’s important to really think about what you put here, because it’s not going to be seen as much as the stuff in the experience section. Put most of your volunteering work in this bit, but if it’s something that you’ve committed a lot of time to and you really want potential employers to see it, then consider including in the experience section instead. For example, my work with Role Models Yorkshire is voluntary but I’ve committed as much time to that as I would a full time job and I want it to be seen, so I’ve included in the experience section.
Skills and Endorsements
The skills and endorsements section on your profile is really valuable, as it gives you a place to tell potential employers what you’re good at. It’s even better if you get people who you have worked with on projects, volunteering or work experience to endorse the skills you displayed to them.
Include the things that you’re good at in this section, such as leadership, communication and organisation. Also include technical skills like Python and Excel. However, it’s important not to lie here, because employers value integrity.
Skills and Endorsements
Recommendations are another play that you can ask someone that you’ve worked with to recommend and endorse your skills.
If you’ve worked closely on a project with someone, ask them to write a recommendation and if there’s a specific skill that you would like them to mention, feel free to include that in your request. Again make sure that you only ask people to recommend skills that you’ve shown while working with them, because employers do figure out if someone’s lying.
Remember to include all of the accomplishments that you’ve achieved.
What better way to show that you’re good at something than to be given an award, make sure that you include all of your awards here.
Include any organisations that you’re part of, this shows that you’re dedicated to becoming a professional in that organisations area. For example, as I mentioned earlier, I’m a member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, this shows that I’m series about working in engineering.
Also, include any languages that you speak, even if you think they’re so uncommon that no one will be bothered. Showing that you can speak another language shows that you have the ability to work worldwide and communicate affectively with others. It also shows your ability for learning another language, should you need to as part of a job!
You want potential employers to know that you’re interested in their industry. That’s where the Interests section comes in useful.
When you follow pages and join groups, it will show here and potential connections are able to see what you’re interested in when they visit your page.
It’s usually best to avoid following and joining political or controversial groups, as this may look bad to employers.
Start to build a network (connections) on LinkedIn