By their final year of study, most students are thinking seriously about their strategy for finding a job.
In the old days, the first step would be firing-off applications and resumes to potential employers.
And that’s pretty much the only thing an employer would have to go on in deciding who to interview. Applications and resumes.
Things have changed.
It’s a bit buzz-wordy, but we all have an online ‘brand’ these days. The things we say and do online have an impact on how people see us – including potential employers.
So it’s important to manage that brand to help maximise our chances of success when it comes to job-hunting and other career ambitions.
The chances are, you already use social media in your non-working life.
And you probably won’t want to signpost a potential employer to that stuff. Do they want to see your Instagram feed? Probably not.
You want to direct them to the career-focused aspect of your online identity. And for most people, that means LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a massive social media platform with over 227 million users. At first glance, it can look a little narcissistic and…well…serious.
“Isn’t that where everyone just bigs themselves up to try and get a new job?”
Someone really said that to us, and it’s true you can find plenty of professional humble-brag on there.
But like every other social media platform, you get out what you put in, and your experience depends on how you use it and who you engage with.
More and more employers are looking at job candidates on LinkedIn as part of their sifting process.
They can learn a lot from looking at a profile – work experience, volunteering commitments, links to examples of work, testimonies and endorsements for specific skills. In other words, they can get a deeper insight into a person’s education, professional values and career interests.
And someone with a bells-and-whistles profile may well be invited for interview ahead of a similar candidate with a weak profile – or no profile at all.
Take a look at this presentation to see why.
What you potentially have to gain from being on LinkedIn will depend on what kind of career you’re hoping for.
If you want to be a scientist or stuntman, you might get less out of it than someone who wants to work in marketing, HR or law.
But a good LinkedIn profile won’t do any harm – whatever career you’re hoping for. Why not sign-post employers to your profile by adding a link to your application or CV?
As well as supporting your job applications, LinkedIn can help you find opportunities.
Job ads are an important part of the site, but don’t expect suitable opportunities to appear right from the off. The trick is to build a network of contacts relevant to the profession you want to work in.
You’ll not only pick up knowledge, industry tips and info from these people – you’ll also learn about opportunities.
A lot of people share job vacancies among their networks, or sign-post colleagues to LinkedIn groups where jobs are regularly advertised.
Sometimes, it really is about who you know.
If you’re an undergraduate thinking seriously about life after university, you should definitely consider building your presence on LinkedIn. The sooner the better.
So when the time comes to say goodbye to education, you’ll hopefully have a strong network of contacts to help you take that first step onto the career ladder.
There are loads of good articles out there on setting up a LinkedIn profile and keeping it in tip-top condition.
Try this one for starters - Creating a killer LinkedIn profile.