Here I’d like to explore the use of social media in more depth, in particular LinkedIn.
With 259 million registered users worldwide – 13 million of them in the UK alone – and two new members joining every second, the professional networking site has become a vital tool for any graduate looking to advance their career in the City.
Students and recent graduates are now LinkedIn’s fastest-growing demographic – unsurprising in today’s intensely competitive job market.
The crucial thing to remember about a LinkedIn profile is that it’s an active document rather than an online CV – so be sure to take full advantage of all that it offers.
Start with your photo – you will need a professional looking head and shoulders shot, ideally smiling so others will see you as an approachable individual. Make it appropriate to the industry you’re looking to join – smart attire will help convey a professional image.
Next, spend time optimising your profile with your key information. Ensure that like your paper CV, you have filled in your past work history. Use key words that highlight your skills and achievements – think of the most likely terms or phrases someone searching to recruit for a role in your chosen industry might use. Be sure to include an attention-grabbing headline – not just a job title – that also contains these key words and be specific about what you can offer an employer . If you’re a graduate who is yet to secure your first professional position, consider using words like ‘aspiring’ or ‘ambitious’. Ensure you make yourself accessible – add in your email address and possibly even your telephone number – to make it as easy as possible for people to contact you.
As I’ve said, take advantage of the fact that LinkedIn is interactive and be sure to engage with your network on a regular basis. The site allows you to add videos, images and links to your profile so if you have written an interesting report or article, be sure to upload it. Likewise, if there’s a topic in the media that’s relevant to the industry you’re targeting, share the link on your profile with an informed comment. If you’re looking for a new position, why not add your CV as a file so that employers can access it easily?
One of the key features of LinkedIn is the Group function. This allows you to follow companies you’re interested in and who may be interested in you. Graduates should research the graduate recruiters or industry bodies operating within their chosen industry and be sure to connect with them. As with your profile, engaging with Groups on a regular basis is a great way to get yourself noticed and flag up your knowledge and expertise, so participate in discussions where possible.
Another interactive feature of LinkedIn is Recommendations – if people have taken the time to provide you with a recommendation, take the time to return the favour. Think of people you may have worked with in the past who could provide a recommendation for you and invite them (politely!) to do so.
When it comes to expanding your LinkedIn network, cast your net wide. Invite everyone you know to connect with you – current colleagues, past colleagues, college tutors, friends and any other decision makers and influencers you may meet in your professional life. If you don’t know the person well, be sure to tailor your connect message specifically – you can do this by going onto the contact’s own page first. Lastly, keep tabs on who has checked your profile – you can see limited details with a free account or upgrade to access the complete information. And if you don’t want to appear a stalker, don’t forget you can adjust your privacy settings so that you can view people anonymously.
Whilst fully engaging with LinkedIn can take time and effort, it’s worth the investment – I guarantee you’ll soon see the dividends.
David Press, CEO, Proceed