It’s a very 21st century thing to be Googled. Around 80% of employers Google applicants before inviting them to interviews – and that’s just the ones that admit it. I shouldn’t need to be advising anybody in the job market to lock down their personal Facebook or Twitter accounts, but LinkedIn works in the opposite way: it’s there to show you off to potential employers. If 80% of employers are Googling you, it’s about time you gave them something to look at. LinkedIn acts as a kind of digital CV and portfolio, that I’m sure will put the traditional paper CV six feet deep before long. The digital world is fast becoming the job market’s new home, with over 200 million LinkedIn members worldwide, if you don’t have a profile it’s time to get ahead of the curve.
It’s a common misconception that LinkedIn exists to serve those in the middle of their working lives, making big business connections. Students are in fact the quickest growing demographic on the site, and those who are in more advanced positions in their careers are using it to fish out our talent. Even if you’re in the very early stages of your career as I am, and you feel as though there isn’t much you could put on your profile, believe me there is. It’s not as daunting as sending a CV for a job application, if you upload all of your skills, experience, education, volunteering, interests – there are always going to be employers looking for something you have. It’s a great way to get noticed and although continuous hard work is always beneficial, you can frankly just slog it out in a few days and leave your digital self there to be scouted.
Start by linking your friends, family, colleagues, and joining your university or employer group; you can instantly access people in or seeking similar roles, with similar goals. LinkedIn doesn’t let you continuously try and connect with complete strangers, so sadly it isn’t a back door into the head office of Google. You can, however, piggyback off of the connections of your friends and colleagues. If you have a friend who has a connection you think can be of use, you can ask them to recommend you and it makes the whole thing a little more formal than ‘my friend wondered if…’. Getting yourself recommended via LinkedIn saves all the often dubious compliments your friend would give in person; employers can instantly see your profile and everything you have to offer.
Remember to be professional and sell yourself, but be personal. LinkedIn isn’t as rigid as a standard CV so let your personality be seen, employers want to see passion and ambition so talk about your desires and interests. It may feel like bragging but don’t be afraid to list your skills and expertise, everyone else is doing it! The more you endorse your connections, the more your skills will be endorsed and recognised in return, building your digital reputation. So if you haven’t got a profile already, get one! There’s no time to waste. I’ve been slowly working on mine for a month or so and it’s coming along, I hope to have it in full effect for the dreaded graduate job hunt. There are tons of help and information pages on the website itself, and the session I attended at Newcastle University was of great help.
There’s another session on Friday. Be sure to check it out and take control of your digital image!