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LinkedIn is a professional social networking site that’s actually been around for almost a decade now. If you don’t yet have an account – definitely invest a Sunday morning in setting up your profile!
It’s an incredibly valuable tool for any job seeker aiming to make connections with professionals in your industry. Below is my Q & A with one of our expert Careers Adviser Ruth Wilcock on how to set up a powerful and professional LinkedIn account.

Is a LinkedIn profile pretty much like an online version of your résumé?
In terms of content, the two are very similar. However LinkedIn gives you the ability to be much more creative in the way you demonstrate your professional achievements. You can upload pieces of work, such as a published article you’ve written, and you can add links – for example to a website you designed, etc. While you can control your account privacy settings, your LinkedIn profile is still more accessible to the public in comparison to a hard copy résumé, so always bear professionalism in mind when setting it up.

What should my Headline be?

Your headline should be a succinct and specific indication of your career goals. It’s similar to what your career objective would be on your résumé. If you’re unsure about your career direction or have a broad range of interests, mention the industries you’re interested in.

What should I write in my Summary?
Your summary should include information about who you are, what you want to do, and what you can bring to the table. You may have done many activities in University and even high school that have enhanced your skills and experience relating to your profession. You may have done a part-time job. List those things that may appeal to future employers so that your summary backs up your professional headline.

Should I put all my experience in my Summary, even if it’s irrelevant to the profession I’m entering into?

Absolutely. You’re always developing skills that can be transferred to other industries, and having your retail jobs and extra curricular activities on your summary shows a development throughout your work history. The more complete your profile is, the more prospective employers can learn about your capabilities. That being said, you should definitely highlight the skills you’ve gained from previous work experience that relates to your future career path.

On the flip side – what if I have very limited work experience? What should I then put on my profile?
If you’re a fresh graduate, then populate your profile with your volunteering roles and extra curricular activities, focusing on skills valued by employers, such as leadership, organisational skills, etc. Be sure to highlight your achievements within those activities according to your prospective employer’s wants, and avoid writing shopping lists of duties. In this situation also make full use of the Education section– discuss your major projects and highlight your academic achievements and skills. LinkedIn has also developed new profile sections that are specifically relevant to graduates, such as projects, honours and awards, and projects, so be sure to make full use of these sections.

Does it matter who I connect with? Can I have high school and Uni friends on my LinkedIn?
Definitely bear it mind that it’s quality over quantity with LinkedIn connections. They comprise your network of professional connections, not friends. Before connecting with someone, think about what you can learn from that person. Are they a colleague in your industry? Do they work for a company you might like to work with?

Putting pictures on résumés is frowned upon in Australia. Should I include a picture on LinkedIn?

Definitely include a professional picture of yourself.

What are the types of groups I should be looking to join?

There are thousands of different groups on LinkedIn and you can join up to fifty of them! So it’s important to think broadly about your interests and the industries you are interested in going into, while being selective about what you join at the same time. These groups will have insightful discussions between members and will provide you with a variety of valuable contacts across the industry. If for example you are a psychology student/ graduate, groups you could also join include the University of Sydney Alumni network, the USYD Science Department group, the Psychology professional association APS, and any psychology related groups in different countries if you’re looking for work overseas.

How should I go about requesting recommendations to put on LinkedIn?

Go about asking for a LinkedIn recommendation in the same way you would ask for a reference from an employer. Be selective about who you ask -make sure they are people you’ve worked closely with, and they’re people you trust! Try to ask them in person if you can before sending them a request online.

Any final tips on how to set up a stellar LinkedIn profile?
LinkedIn has a great online tutorial that really clearly sets out how graduates can use LinkedIn professionally to find their ideal job.

If you have any further questions about using LinkedIn, be sure to check out the Careers Centre’s upcoming LinkedIn Profile Review workshops. Register on the Events Calendar online.

-Zahra Anver & Ruth Wilcock

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