LinkedIn is an amazing resource. It gives you access to the career history of millions of people around the world, many of whom have similar backgrounds or interests to you. It also makes real the possibility of actually communicating with these people to find out more about what they do now and their career journeys.
All that said, it can be scary and potentially awkward introducing yourself to people you don’t know online.
To help you get started here are 4 easy templates which you can adapt to reach out to people on LinkedIn or via email.
The key principles here are:
- Be clear what you’re asking
- Get straight to the point
People don’t owe you anything and people are busy but if you can be specific and gracious in your approach there are a lot of people who are happy to oblige (it’s a nice feeling to get asked for your expert opinion).
- Contacting Queen Mary alumni
Finding people on LinkedIn who studied the same thing as you (or were in the same clubs/societies as you) is a great basis upon which to strike up a conversation with someone. You automatically have something very concrete in common. So use that to your advantage as shown in this template:
Sandeep Saib, QMentor (pictured right)
During the six month mentoring process, both my mentee, Iqra Bari, and I have had a fantastic journey, which has indeed gone by so quick! I would only love to have more meet-ups and continue this relationship for years to come, come rain or shine!
Overall, my main motive for undertaking and participating in my University’s mentoring scheme is to give something back and teach the QMUL students that there is definitely more to life than just education, it is you and your life. However, to really know yourself and understand your needs and requirements, mentoring provides that necessary reflective time and space to work on yourself as much as possible, to be listened to and respected, and for that to be reciprocated.
It was also great going back to my educational roots, reminiscing of the good times at QMUL, and lovely hearing and learning from current students. Therefore, it was key for me to listen to Iqra and the meeting was really all about her needs, goals and aspirations in life, and how I can do anything in my power to help and support her and be there for her.
Hi, I’m Ani!
I have been a student at Queen Mary for five years and officially almost ready to leave with two degrees this August. I look forward to completing my MA in English studies: English Literature degree and looking especially forward to my first ever winter graduation!
I have always been interested in working in education ever since I knew that academia was for me. The pursuit of research and education as well as having conversations about the future of education is something I have always been passionate about. Hence my decision to experience first-hand tutoring professionally. The QMUL Careers & Enterprise Centre have helped me find the right job whilst studying my postgraduate degree to gain some experience in teaching part-time. I was working as a paid English Tutor and tutoring English Literature to post 16 year olds. I was really pleased to hear how much students enjoyed my sessions and personally found the experience to be so rewarding.
Earlier this year, we featured a guest blog from Sandeep Saib, who is part of our QMentoring programme. This week we hear from Sandeep’s mentee Iqra and what she has learnt from the experience.
When I started my first year of University, I realised that the next few years were crucial in building my skill set, knowledge, and experience in order to succeed in the field of work upon graduating. Coming from an unskilled family background, and attending a struggling state school, meant that I had very little insight or training for my future profession as a solicitor. Although I knew what steps I needed to take to reach my goal, I lacked the confidence to get there, as I knew that succeeding in the world of work was more than just academia, and involved a great degree of being able to give more through my personality and experiences.
Upon leaving Sixth Form and becoming independent, I knew that I needed to gain some experience and guidance on specifically building my professional character through my CV, interviews, networking, persona, and work experience, which would set me apart in the job market. Hence why I got involved in the QMentoring Scheme and was paired with my mentor, Sandeep Saib, who works in a Law firm.
In our initial meetings, we discussed my career goals and Sandeep advised me how to gain work experience by guiding me through the process of writing to a company, or a professional, and doing well in application processes. One of the first things we focused on were video interviews in which Sandeep helped me prepare for an interview with a Law firm. This really helped me understand more about interviews and the recruitment process – one of the main lessons I learnt was how to sell myself to an employer by targeting what I could specifically bring to their organisation. This has certainly stayed with me and helped me succeed in interviews for other ventures and projects, not limited to just the legal industry.
My name is Sandeep Saib and I have always wanted to get involved in mentoring at my former University and I finally had the exciting opportunity to do exactly that, thanks to QMentoring.
In February 2017, I was assigned to my mentee, Iqra Bari, who is currently in her first year studying History and we had our first introductory meeting at the end of February, followed by further meetings in March. I prepared an agenda for all of our meetings which was sent to Iqra beforehand to ensure that she has a direction and an understanding of the meeting objectives. It was key for me to ensure that I listen to and meet Iqra’s needs and requirements as much as possible in our mentoring relationship, and focus on areas which she would like to focus on and that it is really a meeting for and about her and what she would like to discuss. On the agenda, we also focused on Iqra’s training needs and goals and aspirations, which are as follows:
- To gain a better insight into her chosen career path and to decide if it’s right for her.
- To discover how to get to where she wants in relation to her career plan.
- To gain further knowledge about her chosen industry in general.
- To learn skills and qualities that are useful to a range of career paths.
- To acquire a life experience which will enrich her.
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.
At 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: