LinkedIn began as little more than an online CV platform but has quickly transformed into a global professional networking site. It can be a valuable tool for students and graduates who want to network with alumni and recruiters, or simply research potential occupations.
LinkedIn is useful for developing your professional identity, network and knowledge:
- Identity: create a professional online profile to complement your CV; ensure that potential employers are impressed by what they find when they google you.
- Network: join groups and make contacts with people working in your chosen sector - they may provide you with inside information or advice on getting in.
- Knowledge: find profiles of professionals in your chosen field, including Edinburgh alumni - you can learn how they got to where they are now, and use this to inform your own career path; search for organisations to follow by location or occupational sector.
The most effective users of LinkedIn will have a complete profile which they update regularly. They may also be active in relevant groups and offer support to other users by answering questions or sharing expertise.
This all takes time so here are our tips for students and graduates getting to grips with LinkedIn.
1. Build an honest but aspirational profile
Browse other student and graduate profiles on LinkedIn for ideas on how to structure yours.
As an example, take a look at the profile of 'student' Alex Winter.
- Your headline will default to your current job title which might at the moment be your part-time job but you can edit this to reflect your future goals: ‘Edinburgh MSc graduate: Digital Education’.
- Remember to keep your profile up-to-date, especially if it is public. If you are happy to do so, you can include a link to your profile in the contact details section of your actual CV.
2. Tweak your account settings
- Consider adjusting your privacy settings to prevent your connections getting notifications every time you edit your details or view their profile.
- While you work on your profile, you can limit which elements can be viewed publicly (via Google, for example).
3. Connect with people and increase your network
- Add your friends, family and classmates on LinkedIn in order to widen your network. You could even ask them to endorse you for relevant skills.
- Search for relevant groups to join, including those for alumni, specific sectors or geographic locations. Group membership is a good way to expand your network and exchange ideas with other LinkedIn users. You can find a list of groups below (some of which are closed, meaning you must meet the eligibility criteria to be accepted).
- As you build your connections, personalise your requests with a friendly note, and, if necessary, a reminder of where you met, who you met through, or what organisation you have in common.
4. Search for profiles, jobs and employers
- Use other profiles to research career paths and find inspiration for your own LinkedIn ‘CV’.
- Many employers have a company page on LinkedIn which you can follow for updates or use to interact with potential recruiters.
- LinkedIn can be a useful tool for searching international opportunities. Use the advanced search to find graduate or entry level positions in specific industries.
Examples of groups
You will need to be registered on LinkedIn to view the groups listed below. This is just a selection - use the 'Groups' search to find those which match your interests.
University of Edinburgh
Alumni tool - find Edinburgh graduates
In 2013, LinkedIn introduced several new features including the launch of the university pages. All current students and alumni are automatically connected as followers of their university.
A key component of the pages is the alumni tool which allows you to explore the University of Edinburgh (or any other university) to see where graduates live, who they work for and the types of jobs they’ve had.
Other filters include date range, degree and expertise. This can be useful when choosing a course, starting your job hunt or looking for inspiration.