There are more than 400 million profiles on LinkedIn, the largest professional network in the world. Eight million of them are in Australia and New Zealand.
Not only will a great, active profile get you in front of recruiters and hiring managers, it will also help you build an online network and increase your knowledge and understanding of the trends and people affecting your industry.
A standout LinkedIn profile takes work and needs continued attention. It’s not simply a digital resume, but rather a live record of your experience, projects and network.
So how can graduates get started, or improve their existing profiles?
Focus on your summary. It’s tempting to leave this blank, and to simply list your skills and recent work experience. Your summary is the first thing, and often the only thing, that potential hiring managers and recruiters will read. Use it to describe who you are, what you’ve done, and what you’re looking to do next.
Start connecting. Don’t be shy. LinkedIn is a network, so reach out to people in your industry and even potential mentors and employers who might be interested in your skills. Just be sure to offer a good explanation of why you’re connecting when sending the invitation, and make it personal for each contact you reach out to.
Check out LinkedIn groups. There are plenty of great, active LinkedIn groups relevant to your industry and career stage. Use the search function to find them, request to join them and scroll through recent posts and discussions. Get a feel for what they offer and then use such active networks to pose questions and discussions, and even ask for advice and help.
Request recommendations. Once your profile is up, reach out to a number of people who know your skills and experience and ask for a recommendation. Let them know you’re launching a new career and the kinds of opportunities you’re looking for, and guide them on what you think they could address. A start of even just two to three short recommendations will make a graduate’s profile stand out.
Get a professional photo. If you’re graduating, it’s worthwhile investing in getting some professional photos done. These will last a few years, and give you the appearance of experience, even if you don’t have the experience yet. If you can’t afford it or don’t have the time, get a friend to take a photo of you in front of a plain background. Avoid selfies, and photos from your wedding.