We’ve heard too much about it. From professors at university or colleagues at work – What’s all the fuss about LinkedIn anyway? The fact of the matter is, like everything else in the world, the process of how people are being hired is changing. Now more than ever, employers and specifically, HR managers want to see an evolving online CV not just limited to your background, but with robust details on your job highlights, network, colleague testimonials, and broader achievements. That’s where LinkedIn jumps in.
Students often tend to think that it doesn’t make sense for them to be on LinkedIn when they aren’t looking for a job. They also don’t think much of personal branding. But in a world with more than 756 million members on LinkedIn – that means 756 million resumes online, it’s important to understand the significance of personal branding and how to position yourself for success on a platform like LinkedIn, especially as a student.
The platform covers each aspect of your career – from how to build your professional brand to the Job Hunting Handbook series. As a postgraduate student studying at the University of Melbourne, I leveraged LinkedIn resources for students. As a source of motivation, you can choose to write on the recommended topics of the month (like I did) to possibly get featured as a LinkedIn student campus ambassador.
LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to build your own personal brand, connect with experts in your industry with the possibility to network with them (an opportunity that never existed before!) and if you use it right, LinkedIn helps recruiters shortlist you. If you’re a writer like me, it also gives you a platform to share your work. It’s truly a gift that keeps on giving.
1. A platform to build your professional brand
I’ll put it in the simplest way. If I were an employer who wanted to dig deeper, beyond a regular CV in my inbox, I’d go right ahead and google ‘prachi tyagi university of melbourne’. The good ol’ folks at LinkedIn have inadvertently made SEO work in our favour and, if you do it right, you’re going to be number one in the search results – giving your employer a chance to look at your professional profile online, work experience, volunteer projects you’ve worked on, and even skills you’re endorsed for by your network. By working on your LinkedIn profile, you cover everything from the courses you’ve completed to stellar recommendations from your work places.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to customize your LinkedIn profile URL to make sure you’re the first one to pop up in search results. Also, don’t cut corners on the summary statement.
2. Help yourself get shortlisted
Did you know there are applicant tracking systems (ATS) that help human resource departments filter out unwanted CVs? Yup, welcome to the future. If your LinkedIn profile does not consist of specific, significant or even trending keywords from your industry, then I’m afraid it’s easy to get lost among hundreds of other profiles.
Pro tip: Include your skills as keywords sprinkled across your profile. For instance, if you’re a content strategist include keywords like “content strategy” along with the CMS (such as “WordPress” you have experience working on. This will help your profile show up in search results.
3. Explore your industry
One of the many questions that bother a university student is the kind of roles open to them after graduation. LinkedIn acts as the ultimate search function to help you research career paths taken by your university alumni. This could be one way to map out the kind of jobs you want to apply for after graduation.
Pro tip: Another handy way to use this platform is right before a job interview. Learn about the company you’ve applied to through their company page or get an insight into the people interviewing you beforehand. All this information is bound to be useful.
4. Virtual networking 101
Did you know that about 85% of jobs are found through networking?
That’s not just a number I’m throwing out. In fact, LinkedIn helped me get three out of the four jobs I’ve had to date – and I know I’m not the only one! My mantra – connect with people in your field and follow companies that you aspire to work for. I personally have made hundreds of connections in the field of marketing communications from around the world working in top communication companies. Not only does it give you a chance to follow their work through your newsfeed, making a connection on LinkedIn opens a two-way channel – giving these professionals a look into your potential.
Pro tip: while you’re at it, make sure you’re sending a customized message when you connect with a total stranger on LinkedIn.
5. Be consistent
And this is where I mention interacting on your LinkedIn newsfeed often. Make sure it’s sincere. It may be a ‘like’, a comment, or a congratulatory message – stay on your professional network’s radar by occasionally updating your LinkedIn status – with what you’re working on, articles that inspire you, and so on. There is plenty of inspiration waiting for you on LinkedIn.
Pro tip: Carve some time each day or week to spend browsing your newsfeed on LinkedIn.