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9 Things Employers Look For in a LinkedIn Profile

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CareerMap’s National Graduate Week offered a variety of talks from many different companies about how graduates can improve their chances of finding a job after university.

In one of these talks, Ian Wilkinson from Graduate Talent Solutions, provided some top tips on how students can best optimize their LinkedIn pages to get more job offers from recruiters.

Build an All-Star LinkedIn profile

All star profile

The top way to optimize your LinkedIn, revealed Wilkinson, is to make sure you hit the all-star status on your LinkedIn profile.

But what is an All-Star LinkedIn profile? LinkedIn has five levels of status, which indicates how complete your LinkedIn profile is. These levels are Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert and All-Star.

According to LinkedIn, users with All-Star profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn, including job offers and new connections. 

To get to this status and to attract employers to your LinkedIn profile, there are several things you’ll need make sure your profile has.

A professional headshot 

Professional headshot

Uploading a professional picture can help draw recruiters and employers to your profile. There are several dos and don’ts for a good LinkedIn picture, advised Wilkinson.

DO:

  • Look relaxed and approachable and make sure to smile. Employers will be more likely to click on your profile if you have an inviting presence.
  • Dress smartly. Whether you choose to wear a full suit or simply a smart shirt is really up to you, but no employer will look down on you for dressing smartly. 

DON’T:

  • Use a cropped group picture as your profile picture. This will often be obvious to employers and recruiters and will make you look unprofessional.
  • Have a distracting background. While this may be appropriate for other social media websites, LinkedIn is a site for networking professionally so a plain background is preferable. 

Wilkinson said: “We would suggest that the best type of image to use will be a headshot where you face occupies roughly 60% of the screen”.

Descriptions of professional accomplishments

Descriptions of professional accomplishments

Filling out your professional history is much like writing a CV and, like a CV, it is rarely good enough to simply add the company names and the dates of employment.

When writing this section, you should include both information about the positions you’ve held and “accomplishments in these positions if they’re relevant to the types of roles you’re applying for”, advised Wilkinson.

He said that it’s important to focus more on the value that you added to the company, instead of just describing the everyday tasks of the role.

“Where you’re talking about specific roles where you may have held responsibilities, try to use strong verbs and action words like ‘managed’, ‘led’ and ‘grew’”, he said. “These types of action words are much more attractive to recruiters than passive raises like ‘responsible for’, or even just ‘duties included’.”

These positions don’t necessarily have to be professional work experience roles, revealed Wilkinson, but may be positions in a particular society or association at university where the responsibilities held are similar to those in the role you’re now applying for.

Putting industry keywords into your profile can also help you stand out, said Wilkinson, even if you don’t have a great deal of experience. “It’ll ensure that your profile shows up in many more search results,” he said. 

A friendly, to-the-point summary

A friendly, to-the-point summary

Your summary has a prominent spot on your profile so it’s vital to get it right. The point of the summary is to explain to recruiters and employers a little bit about who you are and what you do.

“Your summary should encapsulate your experience, your strengths, your skills and your vision for your career,” explained Wilkinson. “Ideally you want the writing style to be really conversational and friendly and certainly try to avoid being technical,” he added.

Your summary can be as many as 2000 words, but most people use less than half of this. The summary should just sum up your profile and should be straightforward and easy to read. 

Five or more skills – even better if they’re endorsed! 

 

To gain an All-Star LinkedIn status, you’ll need to add a minimum of five skills to the skills section of your LinkedIn profile. These should be relevant skills that you believe you possess. By doing this, you’ll increase your visibility on LinkedIn, appearing in many more searches.

“Be quite strategic when you're listing skills,” said Wilkinson. “List the ones that are important in your industry or profession over other things and try to keep them relevant to your current career goals.”

You can then get endorsements on these skills. This is done by your contacts on the site, which may be your work colleagues, managers, friends and peers from university or other professional contacts. 

On gaining endorsements, Wilkinson advised: “if you endorse the skills of other people, they're far more far more likely to lend their support and endorse yours too. You can also ask people that you've worked for previously to provide endorsements.”

Detailed descriptions of your education 

Skills

It sounds obvious but filling in the details of your education is a vital part of building your LinkedIn profile and, as a fresh graduate, may be one of the first parts of your profile that an employer will look at. 

On top of the basic details of your degree you should include any honors or awards you received, any relevant extracurricular activities, as well as any relevant modules.

“So, for example, if you're looking for a marketing job, tie in relevant details from your time at university such as writing for a university group, or publication or association,” said Wilkinson.

A compelling headline

A compelling headline

You’re allocated a maximum of 120 characters for this section and it’s a great way to stand out from other university graduates. 

“Use the headline as an opportunity to highlight your expertise and your individuality instead of just listing your university or your job title and the company you’re currently working for,” advised Wilkinson. 

Plenty of connections

Plenty of connections

To earn the all-important All-Star status on LinkedIn, you’ll need to have at least 50 connections.

Where can you find these connections? They could be former co-workers, lecturers, people you volunteered with, managers, colleagues, university friends or school friends.

“Find some useful connections will endorse your skills and background and remember it’s quality over quantity,” said Wilkinson. “Look at organizations that frequently recruit graduates and look at well-known industry influences. Keep track of what they're posting, connect with them when posting insightful comments about their content.”

An active LinkedIn profile

Be active on LinkedIn

There are 20 million companies on LinkedIn, with 14 million jobs posted at any given time. This makes LinkedIn an excellent tool to help you find a graduate job, but you have to make sure you use it!

A good way to get the attention of these companies is to actively use the website. “Post updates, articles, share news, comment on other people’s content, join industry groups and give and receive recommendations frequently,” said Wilkinson.

LinkedIn is not meant to be used like a CV, updated infrequently and forgotten about it most of the time.

“Use it as a living breathing tool to continue to develop your business network,” Wilkinson recommended, adding: “Try to make it, if not a daily habit, then something you visit two or three times a week.”

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Written by Chloe Lane
A Content Writer for TopUniversities.com, Chloe has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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