Monday, 26 August 2013

Building a great student profile on LinkedIn

Building a great student profile on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a powerful resource for building relationships, expanding your industry profile and getting ahead. For students and young professionals, it’s an indispensable tool for tapping into the increasingly competitive job market.

The social network for professionals is growing exponentially. With 238 million members globally, LinkedIn has become a talent pool for savvy employers looking to fill a spectrum of roles.

Here are three ways you can use LinkedIn to supercharge your job-seeking efforts:

  1. Setting up your LinkedIn profile

Your LinkedIn profile is like an online resume where you’re marketing yourself to prospective employers and associates. So think carefully about how you want to appear and keep that in mind when writing your profile.

One of the great things about LinkedIn is that it’s totally customisable, so if you don’t have extensive work experience, don’t worry. You can display your education, skills and expertise prominently by bringing those sections to the top.

Get started by writing an informative profile headline including suitable keywords so that it’s easy for prospective employers to find you. For example, “student at National University seeking taxation role” or “Tax, accounting and law honours student”. Next, write a concise professional summary including your relevant experience to date, skills and career aspirations. Include any awards, honours and professional memberships, but keep it under 200 words for easy reading.

If you’re already working or have completed internships, ask your supervisors for recommendations and endorsements of your skills and experience. These can go a long way to making you stand out from the crowd.

Don’t forget to upload a professional profile photo – usually a headshot against a blank background. If you don’t have a suitable image, ask a friend to take a fresh one. Profiles with a photo are viewed more often than those without.

  1. Research your industry

Once you have a professional profile in place, you can start networking. LinkedIn industry groups function as communities where you can network with potential colleagues and peers, get valuable advice and stay up to date with industry news and developments. These groups are a powerful source of information and insight into your industry. You can also follow company pages of organisations you’d like to work for. For example, check out The Tax Institute’s LinkedIn group and company page.

To get started, identify a few groups that line up with your career interests and apply to join them. Follow the conversation, comment on discussions and share interesting content that you come across online. LinkedIn pushes a highly relevant stream of articles and job advertisements to your news feed based on your interests and connections, so don’t be afraid to share content within LinkedIn or from outside the network.

  1. Connect with your dream employers

Research shows that around 44 per cent of jobs are found and filled by networking, creating a huge hidden job market. In fact it’s estimated that over half (58 per cent) of candidates actively seeking new roles found them this way, and that was even higher for passive candidates (81%). Employers count LinkedIn as a serious recruitment channel and use it to headhunt emerging talent.

Take advantage of this by creating a list of your ideal employers and following them on LinkedIn. Sign up for job alerts (under the Jobs tab) so you are notified about roles as they come up.

Remember that LinkedIn isn’t Facebook or Twitter, so don’t bombard your connections with constant updates. That said, try to update your status with something of interest or value regularly, at least once a week, and take part in conversations more often.

Do be selective about who you connect with on LinkedIn. You’re cultivating your future professional network, so think about quality not quantity. LinkedIn is a powerful ally for jobseekers willing to invest some time and effort – and a must for young professionals.

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