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Marketing yourself on LinkedIn

It's one thing to have a LinkedIn profile but it's another to have one that will be found and noticed.

A high proportion of corporate recruiters use LinkedIn to recruit final year students and graduates. An algorithm search notifies the organisation when students match certain criteria. They can then initiate contact with the student/graduate directly. This algorithm will search the words in your entire LinkedIn profile – intro text, CV, skills, endorsements.

What's in it for the organisation?– it's extremely time and manpower efficient and very targeted.

What's in it for you?– you may skip early stage screening in the recruitment process. You may be found and contacted by organisations that are an excellent fit for you but which you haven't yet considered. It's a good way to demonstrate your networking skills through your contacts. Student friends of today turn swiftly into a range of professional contacts across many sectors.

An organisation may set an algorithm to search LinkedIn for students/graduates from a key, but fairly wide, range of Universities. They use keywords to filter results according to their needs. Typically, these might be:

  • Graduation date
  • Skill words like leadership/president, teamwork, finance/budgeted, initiated/created, (they use a broad spectrum of search words so don't worry about getting the exact phrase)
  • Active engagement level
  • Which hits on LinkedIn are then contactable

How to get found by a recruiter:


    • Privacy and contact settings: Use a current email or they won't be able to contact you. Don't use as it will expire after graduation and you might not remember to update LinkedIn.
    • Profile Privacy– Set to full profile viewing or they won't be able to see your experiences or send you an inmail.
    • Messages from members must be inmail enabled, otherwise they can't contact you.

Profile - Include a graduation date on your profile. Organisations search on a spectrum from penultimate year through to around 3 years graduated.

Job Headline/Summary - make it easy for them to see who you are, at what stage and what you're looking for. E.g. "Final Year Student looking for graduate career in FMCG”. This contains many trigger words that they are looking for (final, graduate, FMCG). They know you're at the right stage and that you want them.

Photo - Doesn't need to be you in a suit but you do need to be presentable. They need to be impressed enough to interview you but won't judge if you're smart casual. Photo won't pull through if they print off your profile as a pdf.

CV section:

    • Complete your full profile – don't leave fields blank or they will appear online as "Add location" or "Add description"
    • Show how you added value and had impact, don't just list activities – this is a job description and doesn't sell you to the reader. Use active verbs and show the results of your action.
    • Keywords - "took part in” "helped…” "worked in…”. These are vague and won't be key words that an algorithm will find. Tell the reader specifically what you did using active verbs e.g. 'Managed', 'led', 'budgetted'.
    • No limit on size for a LinkedIn profile but they may well print this out and waffle still looks like waffle on LinkedIn.

Videos - You can upload videos to LinkedIn but organisations in the corporate sector don't tend to look at these as it's too time consuming. Organisations in the media or creative industries may well be impressed though.

Skills section - Add your own skill set and then gather endorsements. Start with your friends, extend to those you work with in internships and work experiences. Endorsements still look good (even though the organisations know they're your friends). It's harder to get endorsed for skills by employers so get a good start now.

Active engagement - Engage with the brand of organisations you're interested in on LinkedIn and other social media. They get notifications of who is actively engaged and it's seen as proactive, showing interest and commitment. This helps make you stand out from the crowd and survive the algorithm filter.

    • Follow the organisation – twitter, facebook, Instagram etc
    • Like them on LinkedIn
    • Like comments about them, or comment about them
    • Inmail with someone at the organisation. Or at least try. Use this feature like GradLink, so ask alumni for advice in the same way.
    • If there's anything graduate related then engage with it intelligently

Those who have been actively engaged appear higher up the list that LinkedIn generates for the organisation. Try not to be active just once but on an ongoing basis.