Student blog: how to create a LinkedIn profile that makes you stand out
The days of hitting the streets to pester companies into hiring you are well and truly in the past. These days you're far more likely to have luck via LinkedIn—but not without a good profile. Putting a bit of effort into your LinkedIn profile can pay off handsomely in career opportunities.
Look professional - ditch the sunglasses and T-shirts
Your profile photo is the first impression you are making to prospective employers. Get some professional photographs taken, or if you have a friend who is good with a camera, get their help - but wear professional attire and smile. Don't overdo it though. A natural smile is enough - let's not go crazy with tuxedos.
Write a summary for yourself – short and catchy
The headline is going to be the next information any recruiter or contact is going to see after your picture. It should summarise who you are or how you want people to see you. The "about" section is where you can show off the most important things about you. Write about your strengths but be brief and concise.
Take mine for an example:
Fill out all sections if you can
Sometimes people forget to complete their profiles and lose opportunities due to a lack of keywords during the recruitment processes. Not only should you include your educational and professional information, but also fill out your Licenses & Certifications, Skills & Endorsements and Accomplishments. Finally, if you are thinking of hitting the Australian market, you can't forget to fill your volunteer experience. Here in Australia, participating in volunteer activities is an important aspect. This area may be the difference between getting a professional position or not.
A former supervisor of mine here in Brisbane told me: "When you applied for this role, we were deciding between you and one more person, but you had volunteer activities in your profile so we chose you."
Don't forget endorsements and recommendations
Not many people realise this, but this is one of the essential sections on your LinkedIn profile. The reason why is because this section will account for the matching skills between you and the offers posted on LinkedIn Jobs. When a company creates a post for a new position available, they pick up a group of skills (usually 7 to 10). Then, when they are looking for profiles, LinkedIn matches those skills with your Skills and Endorsements section, recommending people with a higher number of matchings. So if you want to appear on the searching of some specific position or company, have a look at the skills they usually look for and check whether those skills match your profile.
The recommendations section is another important section that many people forget to develop. To succeed in this area, you need to build your connections. Add people you have worked with who you trust - this could be a previous employer or a co-worker who saw your skills in action.
Don't feel shy to drop an email or a private message to a former supervisor, or contact an old friend you met through work to ask them for a quick recommendation. It could be something short but outstanding. This section is like your reference section on your CV, but more powerful because you can have as many as you want. As you receive recommendations, don’t forget to give them as well.
Post more and tag your network
Follow local activities, attend meetups and events, get new contacts, extend your network, post regularly about professional topics and engage with people you meet. This will help you maintain an active profile. Remember that in LinkedIn, you may consider yourself a product. If people don’t know about the product, it is not going to be purchased.
In Brisbane, there are plenty of resources if you want to be active. You can check your local institution's activities, find some academic clubs with industry activities, go to events on start-up incubators such as River City Labs. Join student associations such as ALAYP or volunteer for Brisbane Student Hub.
Sort your strengths properly
If you are trying to become a civil engineer, but all the information on your LinkedIn profile is related to law, head hunters and future employers might think that you are not a good fit. Try to arrange your skills and information in a way that’s related to your career path, and pick out the most relevant skills and experience that can drive you closer to that desired position.
Check grammar and spelling
If you are selling yourself as a professional, you can not commit spelling mistakes on your profile. It sends the wrong message entirely. The best idea here is to ask a friend for cross validation of your profile, just in case you are missing something.