How to make your LinkedIn profile stand out

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While waiting in an airport over Christmas I got chatting to a man who was relocating to Australia for a new job. He now works for a large Australian software development company who, he told me, only recruit through LinkedIn. They never advertise roles, instead finding suitable candidates by searching for key skills on their LinkedIn profile.

Having a LinkedIn account can be a great way to build up contacts while at QMUL, and find work experience opportunities alongside your studies and the example above shows just how important it is to get your profile right! Take a look at our top tips below to increase your chances of your LinkedIn profile being seen by a potential employer:

  • Make sure you upload a professional picture of yourself – this is definitely not the place for a Facebook-style selfie! Your photo will be the first thing a recruiter will notice, so a professional headshot is recommended – see this LinkedIn article for detailed tips on getting the perfect profile pic.
  • Include a headline – this sits beneath your name at the top of your profile, and will be visible in search results, so make it count! This headline section should reflect your current situation – e.g. your career goal, current work status, preferred industry or current job title.
  • Keep your profile up to date – update LinkedIn regularly with any new skills you develop (new software, language skills, blogging etc) and anything relevant from your degree such as achievements, grades and involvement in societies.
  • Don’t forget the volunteering section – LinkedIn has a specific area for including any voluntary work you have been involved in – this could be charity work, or helping at a local sports club for example. It’s all great experience which employers will be keen to see.

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Managing your online presence

twitter-292994_960_720At our recent ‘What Employers Want’ event, run on campus by Accenture, we heard about the importance of managing your online presence (sometimes called digital footprint).

Some employers will search for candidates online to find out more information about them, before deciding who to take to interview. There are plenty of places an employer could look:

  • Profiles on Facebook,Twitter or LinkedIn.
  • Discussion boards, blogs, or articles you may have contributed to or featured in.
  • Photographs that you, your friends or family have posted online.

Once information is out there, it’s there for good, so it’s important to think carefully about what you’re sharing. A simple way to find out what’s out there already is to search for yourself on Google. Put simply, if you can find information about you online, then so can an employer!

What should you avoid?

  • Unprofessional profile pictures.
  • Inappropriate posts or comments, including anything racist, sexist or homophobic, bad language, or anything negative about an employer or colleague (there are plenty of stories of people being fired for this, even before they’ve started the job!).
  • Photos from drunken nights out.
  • Complaining about university work or negative comments about lecturers and classmates.
  • Inappropriate Twitter handles – think what your name says about you.

Of course, if an employer searches for you online and there is no record of you whatsoever, this also may seem a bit odd! Whilst there are things to avoid, there is much to gain from having an online presence:

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Using LinkedIn to network

LinkedIn is a professional networking site, and more and more employers are now using it to search for suitable candidates. It’s an effective way to keep in touch with recruiters or people you meet at networking events, and allows you to quickly build up your network of contacts. You can:

  • Showcase your CV, in the form of your online profile, which is searchable by employers
  • Connect with individuals working in your chosen field
  • Research people’s career paths
  • Search for jobs

Our suggestions for getting started:

  • Don’t be tempted to use LinkedIn as a professional Facebook page. Only write appropriate updates and comments.
  • Complete your profile. Make it easier for people to find you by including your name, location, education, skills and experience.
  • Have a profile image. A professional headshot is recommended.
  • Add connections. Begin by searching for people you already know. Invite past and current co-workers and, where relevant, classmates, friends and family to connect with you. More connections gives you greater access to other users, by expanding your network.
  • Get recommendations and endorsements. Ask people who have worked with you to give you a recommendation or endorsement, which is visible to anyone who views your profile.
  • Become an active member of groups, share content and engage in discussions. They’re a good place to get advice and find industry professionals.
  • Update your information regularly – you never know when recruiters might be looking at your page!

Top tips for using LinkedIn to network

  • Find the right people: Search for companies and job titles that you’re interested in.
  • Ask for help and be clear: Ask something specific like, ‘I’d like to know how you started out in your chosen career?’
  • Personalise: Why are you reaching out to this person? Do you have a shared connection or admire their career path?
  • Be considerate: Understand that time is very important and explain that you’d really appreciate as little as 10 minutes.
  • Follow up: You might not hear back straight away, but do politely follow up about two weeks later.

Prepare for the Fair

The Business & Finance Fair is for students who are looking to discover more information about a career in business and finance. The fair is designed to showcase the range of opportunities that are available in this industry, including work experience, internships and graduate opportunities.

Business & Finance Fair, Tuesday 11th October, 5-7pm, The Octagon.

To make the most out of the evening, read on for our 3 top tips on preparing for the fair …

  1. Research

Take a look at the list of employers who are attending (below) – this will help you prioritise who you want to talk with.

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Keep an open mind as opportunities can come from the least expected places and you could end up speaking to people from organisations that you might not have thought about before. Be sure to research as much as you can about the companies you really want to meet. You will impress them by knowing who they are and what they are about. When researching employers you can find out about the company itself from their website and social media pages, but also catch up on the latest news and current affairs, particularly any stories that might be relevant to the employer. Showing your commercial awareness this way will help you to stand out more in the recruiter’s memory.

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Access the Hidden Job Market: Informational Interviews

Informational Interview?

Networking is an invaluable tool in accessing the hidden job market, and arranging an informational interview is one of the best methods. Also described as a ‘fact finding mission,’ an informational interview is not a job interview: it is, rather, an opportunity to meet with an expert in their field, enquire about their role and any advice they can offer. As well as expanding your networking and creating employment leads, you will learn how to be successful in your chosen field.

Here’s some tips on how to use informational interviews to get inside the hidden job market.

Find Experts in Your Field

First, find out who the experts are in your field. By both researching and tapping into your professional network, you can start to reach out to experts. In your search, emphasize that you’re not asking for a job referral, but an informational discussion. This technique works for a job seeker at any career level, not just for those at entry level.

Make Your Request

With a real letter! Letters are becoming harder to ignore than emails. In your letter, explain who you are, and if you were referred, who you referred by. Explain your interest in the field and draw upon specific contributions they’ve made. Request a brief meeting (10-15 minutes) to be scheduled at their convenience. Be sure to explain that you are seeking information and guidance, not an interview or job offer. Thank them for taking the time to read your letter, and let them know that you will follow up by telephone. Then, of course, in the next couple of working days, follow up by telephone.

Do your research

Do your research. Ensure that you know a healthy amount about the company or industry the person works in, as well as their particular role and contribution. Prepare a list of questions to use your time effectively. Questions like, ‘how did you get into this field?’ or ‘what recommendations can you make about getting a foot in the door?’ as well as industry/company specific questions are all useful.

Ask for referrals

Don’t forget that you’re trying to tap into the hidden job market, and that the best way of doing so is by networking. Towards the end of your meeting, ask whether your expert would be able to put you in touch with others who work in their field who can provide additional information. Your contact is going to have further contacts as an expert in their field, but if you don’t specifically ask for referrals, they may not necessarily provide them.

Follow Up

Make sure you send a message to your contact within 24 hours, thanking them for their time and for the information provided. Not only is this etiquette, it ensures that you are at the forefront of your contact’s mind, and can be an important step in cultivating a long term relationship.

The Ultimate Careers Guide

Whether you’re looking to boost your CV with an internship, find a part-time job during your studies, develop work-related skills or identify your dream career, The Ultimate Careers Guide is here to help.

Written by the staff at Careers departments across the University of London, the guide is piled high with tips and advice, including: Effec_Effective networking-page-001

  • 10 ways to get experience – and get ahead
  • How to develop your commercial awareness
  • Consider your options
  • Is further study right for you?
  • Create the ideal CV
  • Impress at interview
  • All about assessment centres
  • Effective networking
  • Starting your business

And so much more!

So come into the Careers & Enterprise Centre and pick up your copy!

Networking is good for you

Networking is about making connections with people who you can contact for more information and advice. It is an incredibly useful tool that can help you to find out more about potential career choices, and also help you with your job search. You have probably been networking already without realising – by talking to alumni at careers events, speaking to employers at careers fairs or presentations or talking to a friend of a friend about their job.

Through networking you can:

  • Gain first-hand industry knowledge from current professionals.
  • Improve your visibility and career progression in a particular field.
  • Demonstrate your skills, commitment and initiative.
  • Find voluntary work or work experience to enhance your marketability.
  • Access positions that are never advertised: the ‘hidden’ job market.

Building your network in person.

Here at Careers & Enterprise we will be running many events this autumn term. Check the website for details of the individual events: www.careers.ac.uk/events. These events often include alumni who come back to share their career experiences. Make the most of these events:

  • Do your research about who’s coming.
  • Think about what you would like to know, make sure it’s not available on their website first, and then find a moment to speak with them at the event.
  • Make a note of their e-mail address, so you can follow up with a thank you note.
  • If you have a career success, or you have another question for them, e-mail them again, reminding them how they specifically helped you and what you have done since meeting them.

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When attending a networking event, remember that everyone is there to network so nobody will think you are behaving oddly by walking up to complete strangers and starting a conversation with them. But it does help to prepare your introduction and practise beforehand. Introduce yourself in a clear and relevant manner, mention what your professional or academic interests are or why you are attending the event, and then ask an open-ended question to get the conversation going. Finally, remember to smile!

Here are some examples of questions that you could ask an employer:

  • What do you look for when selecting candidates?
  • What background experience would make me a good candidate for your company?
  • Are there any particular types of experience or courses that would be helpful to get into this area?
  • Could you please tell me how you got started in your career?
  • How can I make my application stand out?
  • What support and training would I receive?