LinkedIn is a social networking site used for professional networking. It provides a way of building a network of business contacts as well as a tool for hunting and applying for jobs. It is important that you use LinkedIn in a very different way to Facebook and Twitter as it is a reflection of your professional self. Here’s what should and should not be on your profile. 

What should be on your profile

A profile picture and background photo 
When employers are searching through profiles it is important you stand out so make sure you have a picture. Keep the picture neutral and as professional as possible. A lot of people use the headshot from their employer but if you don’t have one something like a graduation photograph would work really well. For a background image, similar to a cover photo on Facebook, try and show something that represents your career aspirations. For example if you are applying for roles in Law an image you have taken of The Royal Courts of Justice demonstrates you have a genuine interest in that area. 

A personalised URL
LinkedIn automatically generates a URL for you which is normally a lot of numbers and your name. Where possible personalise this so it is something short like /G.TaylorUK. This enables you to be more easily found by prospective employers and allows you to share your LinkedIn easily. 

Academic background
As graduates often don’t have a lot of work experience, focus on your academic achievements and any positions held at university. For example if you were the captain of the football team at university this shows leadership and team-working skills to employers. 

Voluntary positions
Volunteering is often looked upon highly by employers so put anything down you have been involved in. If you have worked on a project then don’t be afraid to write about it. 

Your skills
LinkedIn allows you to list your skills such as Microsoft Word, Team-working, Management etc. Don’t be afraid to list your skills but make sure you are honest about what skills you currently have. If you have any past employers or teammates who have seen you demonstrate your skills encourage them to endorse you. 

Plenty of connections
Don’t be afraid to add as many people you know as possible on LinkedIn. People you have worked with are best, but you never know who someone you went to school with might know and where that introduction may lead you. 

What shouldn’t be on your profile

Posts that should be on other forms of social media
Avoid sharing links to a Buzzfeed article or funny cat video. This will make it appear that the time you are spending being professional, looking for work, is spent procrastinating which is not a great impression for an employer or recruiter. 

Irrelevant work experience
Work experience such as working in a local cafe can look fairly random. If however you managed the cafe or closed at the end of the day and were responsible for money this can provide a great first role to put on your LinkedIn as you’re showing transferable skills. If however, it’s not going on your CV then don’t put it on your LinkedIn. You can always edit, add, and delete roles as your experience grows.

Skills you don’t have
There’s no shame in not having a certain skill such as a type of software like Photoshop, there is however shame in lying. Being caught in a lie can put a huge downer on your application whereas being willing to learn a new skill is much more appealing to an employer. 

A funny headline
LinkedIn encourages you to add a headline to your profile which appears when employers search for you. Ensure that this is professional and actually reflects what you want to do career wise. For example you could be a ‘Motivated graduate with strong team building skills pursuing a career in sales’ rather than a ‘bubbly grad who’s up for a laugh’. 

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Jazz Panesar is a Digital and Technology Apprentice at Severn Trent. Read Jazz’s story here.

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