Over the last decade, the networking site LinkedIn has gained more and more popularity; it has been dubbed the ‘professional Facebook’ and has been deemed as a ‘must have’ for all those seeking employment. Stories that revolve around people securing jobs through LinkedIn are increasingly commonplace, and it’s starting to feel like if you aren’t linked in, you’re left behind. Not wanting to be left behind, I recently created my first LinkedIn account and have decided to reflect on the construction of the process.
After quickly signing up to LinkedIn (takes about 3-5 mins) and entering all my basic information, such as: email, location and profession, I got stuck into editing my profile. I was pleasantly surprised how simple, straight forward and easy LinkedIn’s ‘Edit Profile’ feature was to use; I had no problems when using the feature and was never left feeling confused or lost.
One drawback I noticed whilst editing my profile, was that LinkedIn presents extremely vague and brief descriptions of what you should write into each section of your profile. Like the majority of people who encounter LinkedIn for the first time, the ‘Skills’ section baffled me, so I turned to trusty Google and discovered a useful guide written by The Social Media Hat that explained how to correctly use the ‘Skills’ section.
Please do not disregard the importance of this section on your profile! It is incredibly beneficial as it informs potential employers or clients in your chosen field what skills you possess; you can add up to 50 skills so be sure to add as many as you can to increase your profile views and endorsements!
While writing my information into LinkedIn’s ‘Experience’ section, I felt self-conscious that I did not have enough professional experience to fill in my profile adequately. After an hour or two and finally having set up my profile, I proudly realized that I had more experience than I thought I did.
I also realized when editing my profile that for students and graduates who have had few internships, placements, work experiences, etc., it may be a struggle to fill a profile. Without work experience your profile will be extremely short and there would not be enough information to inform potential employers about yourself and your skills, therefore I would advise making a LinkedIn account after relevant experience, just to ensure your profile is as professional as can be.
As I haven’t began to use LinkedIn regularly, I am unsure at the moment whether or not I will benefit from creating a profile, but it is beneficial to have all of my professional contacts in one place. Another advantage of LinkedIn, in particular for students and graduates, is that you can actively seek for internships through company pages and can then contact the person advertising the post directly through an InMail.
Overall, much like creating a profile on any social networking site, creating a LinkedIn profile is not a quick and easy process, it takes time. While the site has great potential for professional people, it isn’t much use for students and graduates who have little work experience. I thought creating my profile was easy, yet there are still aspects and features I would like to look into further to enhance and maximize my professional presence on this site i.e. purchasing a Premium account.
I’ve attempted to make a LinkedIn account once before a couple of years ago, but it seemed complicated, and not really applicable to my (up until that point) strictly service industry career. However, post graduation, occupying a world where having LinkedIn seems as necessary as having an email address, I gave it another shot.
It was simple enough to start up an account with basic information, and LinkedIn offered me the chance to download the app to my devices and sync my email contacts, ensuring optimum connectivity with your profile. Unfortunately my email address is fairly new, and I don’t save that many contacts, so I didn’t have anything to sync. Instead, after I’d created my profile I had to use the search function to individually find people, which was easy enough, so there are ways round it if your email address isn’t any use.
After this set up, it prompted me through creating my profile content, using blue prompt boxes at the top of the page with questions, which was simple and I liked. I followed the boxes all the way from ‘beginner’ to ‘expert’ level (indicated in a bar at the side of the screen) and ended up with an almost complete profile at the end of it, and if I wanted to add more I could click ‘continue editing’ to be given more boxes to fill in.
The biggest issue I hit was needing a profile picture – you need something like a professional headshot, and while I’ve got selfies aplenty, I didn’t have anything appropriate. For the moment I’ve gone with my graduation picture, but getting something more appropriate just made my to do list.
Some of the categories didn’t quite apply to me, because of my media background and the flexibility of some of my positions, and I found the some of the sections weren’t hugely clear on what they meant; in particular I struggled with ‘What organisations do you support?’ as I wasn’t sure whether it was career, political or charitable affiliations they wanted, but overall LinkedIn was easy enough to use, and at the end of the set up process I had a complete profile which showcased all of my work history, although the strict chronological layout wouldn’t be my first choice in some cases.