Perhaps you have heard of LinkedIn at least once or twice by now, and as a student, new graduate, or a person in search for a job, you are debating with yourself about whether to set up a profile or not.
I’ll start off by saying, yes you definitely need to. Unlike the other social media platforms, LinkedIn is specifically tailored for business. It’s a social media platform for professionals.
Having an active profile allows you to network, or, as LinkedIn describes it, gets you “connecting” to industry professionals, potential employers, investors, small business enterprises, start-ups, and more. If you’re just starting out in your field, this is the best way for you to learn what your industry peers do, the experience and skills required, and more.
Your profile showcases your qualifications, professional experiences, and achievements. It’s basically your digital resume. You can use it to search for and apply for jobs.
The platform exposes you to opportunities that you were not necessarily searching for. Potential employers might see your profile through a mutual connection, and, if they like what they see, they might just reach out to you directly for a position.
People will send you a connection request or you send one to them. A connection request is like a friend request on Facebook. When you receive a connection request, it will ask you if you know the person. In most cases you would know the person, and in some cases, you won’t know the person. It could be a recruiter or a potential employer or someone who is in the same industry you’re in or trying to work in.
So, let’s get started! You’ll find LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com.
If you are viewing from a laptop, on the top menu bar, you’ll see Home, My Network, Jobs, Messaging, Notifications, Me. And if you’re viewing from the mobile app, these options will be on the bottom of your screen, except for the ME or Profile icon and Messaging icon, which sit on the left and right side on the top.
You need to make sure you have an active email address, and that you have all the documents with the required information, so that it doesn’t become a tedious exercise to try and work out certain information, such as the date of your graduation, or the details of the role you last occupied.
• When you are on the home page of www.linkedin.com, you’ll see a section to sign in. Written in small font is Join Now prompt. Click on it.
• It will take you to a short form where you’ll enter your full name, email address and a password.
• Once that is complete, LinkedIn will send you an email to verify your account, all you have to do is click on the provided link and follow prompts.
Setting up a profile:
After the registration process is complete, you’ll be able to set up your profile. When you reach the homepage, you will be faced with numerous options, but you’ll need to start with the basics.
On the top menu bar, you will see a ME option. Clicking on it reveals a drop-down menu and you have to click on view profile.
You should then see a pencil icon. Clicking on it will allow you to do the following:
• Add a profile photo. This has to be a professional looking head and shoulder photo.
• Add your first name and last name.
• Add a headline. This is a summary of what it is that you do or what industry you’re in. For example if you’re a journalist or studied journalism you’ll write, “I have a journalism degree from[insert university or college name]. As a student, I was involved in the school digital magazine. I contributed more than 10 articles on news and sports. I also helped manage the magazine’s social media platforms.” This summary will be visible on the page of your profile and it gives potential employers a round up of what it is that you are qualified for and what skills you have.
• Education. You can add as much information as you like.
• Industry. (The platform already has a list of industries that you can choose from: medical practice, law, engineering, tourism, film, media and more. You’ll choose the one relevant to what you studied, or what you have experience in.)
• Summary. This is an extension of your headline. Here you can explain more about your education and work experience.
• Media. This is any type of portfolio that you have such as links to published articles, documents, photos, videos, presentations, etc.
Once you are done adding all of this information, you can click save.
You’ll then go back to your profile, and, as you scroll down, you’ll see more information to add, namely:
• Background: work experience, education and volunteer experience.
• Skills: you can add up as many skills as you want in relation to your industry.
• Accomplishments: this is anything from awards, honours, certificates such as the employee of the month or top student etc.
• Recommendations: this option allows people who have worked with you to recommend you by writing out statements of endorsement.
LinkedIn has a premium option that you have to pay for. The premium option or membership has more features than the ordinary option. These are things like InMail, which allows you to send an email to anyone who is not on your connection list. Premium allows you to see who has viewed your profile. This is helpful because you can reach out to the people that viewed your profile if they are potential employers or recruiters. You also have free access to over 13,000 courses on LinkedIn Learning. While you won’t receive a certificate of completion, it’s still worth learning new knowledge and skills.
But first create your free profile and then start visiting the site to find interesting articles and links about your field. Good luck!
Tell us: do you have a profile on LinkedIn? If not, are you going to create one?