How to create a winning LinkedIn profile to land your first job

By Sean Campbell• Last updated: Jun 26, 2023
How to create a winning LinkedIn profile to land your first job
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Alright, some real talk. Some day, you’re going to graduate from university and begin your hunt for a full time job. But we often encounter a problem here: Most jobs require experience. And how do we get experience? By having a job! But, how do we get that job? Well, you’re gonna need some experience….

It’s a bit of a Catch 22 situation. But fear not. With the right approach to marketing yourself and searching in the right places, it’s still possible to find the right job once you graduate, even with no direct experience. 

One good way of standing out and gaining notice from potential employers is to have an impressive LinkedIn profile. But here’s another potential catch: LinkedIn is usually used to showcase the work we’ve done, or are currently doing. But if you’ve been in full time education all your life, it’s going to be pretty tough to impress, no? 

Not at all actually! There’s always a way to stand out and create some impact, even if you haven’t joined the working world yet. It’s all about showcasing a few key things: enthusiasm, honesty, passion & activity.

How to create a linkedin profile for job search?

  1. A great headshot
  2. A concise, memorable intro
  3. Use the summary to your advantage
  4. Use keywords to optimize your skills
  5. Be active on LinkedIn
  6. A final LinkedIn trick for job seekers: Activate the “job alerts” function

Here are some tips we’ve picked up along the way to create a winning LinkedIn profile that can help you land your first job. 

1. A great headshot

Start simple and show the world who you are. Having a decent profile picture pays off, since according to LinkedIn themselves, profiles with photographs get 14 times more views than those without. 

If you have a friend with a good camera and photography skills, or if you have some spare cash to get your headshots taken professionally, go right ahead and do that. If you have neither of these things though, don’t worry. These days, phone cameras are good enough to snap a good headshot. 

While a whole load of LinkedIn profiles show people in formal business clothes, you don’t necessarily have to go that far. But on the other hand, maybe avoid using a photo of you in the pub with a beer in hand... Something smart-casual will suffice! 

2. A concise, memorable intro

For writing short captions, headlines and intros, here’s a golden rule to stick to: Get to the point. People’s attention spans are short, so you have to give them key information up front. Tell them who you are and what excites you (i.e. what you want). An example of this might be, “Advertising student seeking graduate position,” or, “Creative computer science graduate looking for a chance to shine.” Keep it simple and effective. 

Another example of this is how short I’ve kept this paragraph… see what I did there?

3. Use the summary to your advantage

Those already working will use this section to detail the things they’ve done in their careers, and the things that they specialise in. However if you’re still studying or you’re light on work experience, there’s still a way to make the summary work in your favour. 

Use it to talk about your goals and ambitions, the kind of difference you’d like to make, as well as the kind of work you’d like to do. Talk about your passions, your strengths, and your curiosities. Of course, this also makes a great place to share any qualifications you have, and any life experience you’ve gained (e.g. travel, volunteering, university clubs you’ve joined, studying abroad). As above, try to write this quite succinctly and clearly, while not making it too dry. This is your chance to show off a little bit after all. 

4. Use keywords to optimize your skills

You’ll notice that your profile has a window for selecting your key professional or personal skills. Well, it’s sensible to align your key skills with those which are sought after in the field you’d like to work in. Take some time to check out job adverts and make a note of the key requirements. Tailor your own skills accordingly so that, if a company does go searching on LinkedIn, you stand a better chance of being seen. 

5. Be active on LinkedIn 

This is the most important tip of all. Use your account. Make connections with people who impress you even if you don’t know them. After all, they could be the person that gives you a job or lets you know about an opening.  

Your LinkedIn profile is much more than an online resume, it’s a place to “network” and find opportunities, to showcase who you can be as a professional. You’re unlikely to get too far just making connections with your university or school friends. Instead, try to climb the ladder a little -- send polite, engaging messages to new connections and let them know a little about you. 

But it’s also about much more than making connections with people. It’s about making an impression on them. Think of joining someone’s network as an introductory handshake (or fist bump in these pandemic times). Then, think of what you post and share on LinkedIn as the content of your conversations with them. 

Share things that interest you, articles that catch your eye (particularly within your field), and projects you're working on or worked on during university. Like, comment, subscribe, and engage with people. 

The more of an impression you make, the higher your chance of finding a job on LinkedIn itself. It’s worth noting that around 80% of job openings are never advertised. You might have heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Well, that takes on a new meaning on LinkedIn.  Make the right connections and the right impressions, and the right opportunities can come your way. 

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A final LinkedIn trick for job seekers: Activate the “job alerts” function

OK, we did say that 80% of jobs never get advertised, but still, let’s not neglect those that are advertised. The Job Alerts function on LinkedIn is criminally undervalued. It works in a simple way too -- just search the kind of jobs you’d like, and create either a daily or weekly email alert. This way, you can get your application in early. And, even if you’re unsuccessful in your application, you’ll at least be on record with that company. Put it this way -- you’re only going to get a job if you know one’s available! 

So there you have it -- some simple hacks to make your LinkedIn profile work for you. Just like any social network, be it Instagram, Facebook, or… I forget the others because I’m old... the more you engage with it, the more it’ll engage with you. 

Good luck out there, and happy job-hunting. 

Related tags:
how to set up linkedin profile for job search
how to create a good linkedin profile for job search
making your linkedin profile stand out
how to land a job on linkedin
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Sean is a freelance writer, copywriter & & editor from Ireland....Read More

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