Home » After your studies » Entering a career » How to stand out on LinkedIn

How to stand out on LinkedIn

Two international students at a computer

Top tips from Graduate Prospects

Graduate Prospects runs the UK's official graduate careers website prospects.ac.uk – here you will find graduate jobs, postgraduate courses, work experience and careers advice. In this article, editor Jordon Butler gives his tips for getting ahead on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn brands itself as 'connecting the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful'. But you don't need to be a professional to experience the benefits.

Launched in 2003, this social media platform could be likened to a Facebook for business. It has also been described as a free online CV which never sleeps.

Whichever way you look at it, LinkedIn is becoming an increasingly popular place for students and graduates to promote their talents. There are 30 million students and recent graduates on LinkedIn and they are the site's fastest-growing demographic.

'I actively encourage all the students I work with to create a profile,' says Maddie Smith, a careers consultant at the London School of Economics (LSE). 'Once on LinkedIn you open up a whole new world, a virtual network.'

Maddie thinks that it is important for any jobseeker to have a strong online presence. 'As I see it, the main benefits of a LinkedIn profile are the opportunities and professional networks it opens up to you,' she says. 'Even at graduate level, we are hearing of more employers using LinkedIn profiles as a way of getting a quick summary and additional information over and above what's in your CV.'

Jordon's tips for creating a strong profile:

Add a professional photo: According to LinkedIn, a photo makes your profile seven times more likely to be viewed. The first thing people see when they browse your profile is your image, so try to make a lasting impression by selecting a professional snap.

Build a solid network of contacts: LinkedIn recommends a minimum of 50 connections. By connecting to at least 50 contacts you'll increase your chances of getting in touch with the right people and companies in your industry.

Join relevant groups: This can help you to stay aware of industry news and make like-minded or influential connections. Groups are also a great place to join discussions, share insights and discover jobs in your industry.

Gather recommendations and endorsements: A concise and well-written recommendation can be valuable. It adds a personal touch and will boost the strength of your profile. Get in touch with colleagues, current or former lecturers and acquaintances to gather these. Endorsements highlight your skills and strengths. Each time you log on it's worth endorsing some of your connections – if you do this regularly then you're more likely to receive endorsements in return.

Complete your profile: Having a finished profile makes it more likely to appear near the top of search engine rankings. Use the step-by-step wizard to complete your profile, making sure there are no gaps. Aim for the 'All-star' level on the strength meter at the right-hand side of your page.

For more advice from Graduate Prospects, read this article in full here.

7 steps to a winning LinkedIn profile

Darain Faraz, LinkedIn spokesperson, adds: 'Like most things in life, you get out what you put in, so here are LinkedIn’s top tips for getting the most out of your profile.'

1. Show off your best side

Think of your LinkedIn profile as your career 'shop window'; it should showcase all the great experience that has shaped you professionally and provided you with the skills that you’re proud of. Make sure your profile is complete, but don’t go overboard with your description – stick to the most important details.

2. First impressions count

Making a good first impression is just as important online as it is in the offline world. The headline and summary sections of your LinkedIn profile are the first things a potential employer will read, and often show up in online searches of your name. Make sure your headline is engaging and accurately reflects your professional identity. Typically, you’ll only have 5 to 10 seconds to impress!

3. Make your profile shine

Make sure your profile looks great and displays all of your fantastic experience accurately – completed profiles are seven times more likely to be viewed by potential employers. Adding a picture also makes it more personal; just make sure it's a clear and professional image.

4. Be natural

Match your offline with your online identity by keeping your profile authentic. Show a bit of personality, and try to avoid writing in the third person (referring to yourself as 'he' or 'she') unless that formality suits. Picture yourself at a meeting or interview and make sure your online profile fits who you really are.

5. Networking is key

Having a standout LinkedIn profile allows you to build up a strong network of key contacts that could help you land that dream job, or do your current job better – having at least 50 trusted connections will maximise your networking opportunities.

6. Use who you know

Don’t forget about family members, friends and ex-colleagues – connect and get in contact with them and see if they can help or give you advice. You never know who might help you in the future.

7. Get stuck in

Proactivity counts for a lot in networking, whether it’s online or offline. Follow organisations that inspire you, share their updates, join and engage with groups to make new connections and participate in discussions. This keeps your profile active and shows that you’re plugged in to what’s happening in your industry.

Read more