Jobs & Careers

How to use LinkedIn to get a job

Not using LinkedIn? You could be missing a trick! We show you how to set up a profile and use it to land your dream job.LinkedIn tattoo on boy's foreheadCredit: smi23le – Flickr

On the face of it, LinkedIn is just some place to post your CV – but that’s not a bad thing when there are scores of employers scouring its pages for prime candidates every day. You can even use it to boost your own business if you've got the entrepreneurial spirit.

The key to using LinkedIn effectively is to make sure you’re ‘discoverable' to employers and agencies. Not only that, it’s home to a vast amount of industry expertise that can help you choose, refine and boost your career choices.

It’s completely free to use LinkedIn – you don’t need to fork out for LinkedIn prime membership to make the most of it.

How to set up a LinkedIn profile

Once you’ve signed up for a profile, come back and follow through with our tips below. You can change and update your profile as often as you need to, so continue tweaking any bits that don't work, or add to it as you go.

Note that the more changes and additions you make, the more ‘active' your profile appears to the system, which increases your chances of being seen by potential employers.

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Add a photo

Woman taking selfie with phoneCredit: Paško Tomić- Flickr
Whether it’s a simple selfie or a bit more creative, make it hi-res, relevant and suitable for work. If you wouldn’t rock up to the interview in board shorts, you probably want to leave them out of your profile pic, too. And it’s a categorical ‘no' to extreme pouting and sparrow face.

Try not to make your pic too uptight and formal looking either – although this is a professional network, you are expected to smile at work occasionally!

Top tip: Do make sure you include a photo. Profiles without a pic look inactive and unimpressive in search results. You can even use your photo opportunity to sell any relevant skills (think hand-drawn portraits, your face as an app logo or a chance to show off your photoshop skills).

Write a professional headline

billboardCredit: David Evers – Flickr (edited)
You can enter whatever you like here, so don’t just stick with ‘student’ as this isn't likely to make you stand out from the crowd. List a dream job, your freelance or part-time work, relevant hobbies or even the title of your last work experience gig.

Alternatively, go for a combination:

  • Politics blogger
  • Aspiring games designer
  • Award-winning student writer

Top tip: if you want to be found by recruiters, or any one else searching the site, choose keywords over eccentricity. Being a ‘word monkey’ might tickle you and impress your mates, but doesn’t often appear in job ads meaning you'll be less searchable.

Sell yourself in a summary

The word 'me' in a walnut shellCredit: Christoph Settgast – Flickr (edited)
Use the summary box to showcase your achievements, aspirations or present an elevator pitch: why you make a great employee, a process you’ve improved, or why you just downright rock – all in around 50-100 words. Easy peasy!

Try to include keywords that recruiters or others are likely to search for (and don't forget that your profile could show up in internet searches, too).

Some examples to get your juices flowing:

Final-year student working towards a career in Journalism. As section editor for the university newspaper, I’ve become hooked on crafting good copy and developing other writers. I’m also fascinated by the rise of digital publishing versus print – a battle I’m following keenly in my blog.

As a freelance web developer, I create beautiful and functional websites for businesses in Gloucester and across the UK. I revel in streamlining user experience (UX), finding ways to reduce page load speeds and making sites mobile responsive – so your content reaches all your customers, all of the time.

Top tip: include contact details in your summary if you want people to get in touch, but don't use a personal email address unless you like spam. Link to your website instead.

Pump up your profile

Inflatable chair in corridorCredit: romana klee – Flickr
Follow prompts to list your work experience, any courses you’ve taken, voluntary work and exam results – there’s a pretty hefty list of things to choose from. You don’t have to add all of them: pick and choose the ones that add value to your profile, that you’re proud of, or that you’d like to show up in searches.

Don't forget to add a location. It doesn’t have to be where you are now – it could be where you’d like to find work.

Use the projects and publications options to link to your work in progress or achievements. Include blog posts, magazine articles, your photography/artwork, a shop or business you created, videos, or social media accounts you helped with. If there’s something you’re proud of, stick it here and show it off!

Top tip: Remember the golden rule: don't just say what you did, show what you contributed and how it made a difference.

Get recommended

Man's hand giving a thumbs-upCredit: Sarah Reid – Flickr
Ask current or former employers to post testimonials to your profile page to add credibility to any skills or projects you’ve listed (you don’t have to accept or show any that you don’t want the public to see, though).

Top tip: As well as sprinkling relevant keywords throughout your profile, you can add skills separately. Your LinkedIn connections can then confirm that you're good at something by endorsing you for the different skills you've listed, and these will appear on your public profile to show how talented you are!

10 ways to use LinkedIn to find work


  1. Use the search function and subscribe to job alerts, or keep an eye on status updates to follow new listings before they’re advertised. Or check out internships and graduate jobs on the LinkedIn student portal
  2. Grow your network: Connect with folk you’ve worked or studied with and ask them to introduce you to their connections (however, it's bad etiquette to add anyone you don't know, so avoid doing that)
  3. Follow companies you’d like to work with so you're first to know about any job opportunities, graduate schemes or expansion plans, etc.
  4. Join and contribute to groups related to your industry. Get inside info and learn how your sector works from the inside out, get known for having an opinion or specialism, or find people who can tell you more about their career path to see if it interests you
  5. Check out CVs of folk you'd like to emulate to see their career route, the buzzwords they use, and how they pitch themselves
  6. Once you've joined a few key groups, you can message other group members to introduce yourself or your services (but avoid being seen as a spammer – make sure you're sending relevant emails to the right people, ask questions or offer to help with their projects)
  7. Post status updates: include your news and achievements, opinions, or link to your work in progress. Remember to pay it forward by sharing or liking other posts that you rate!
  8. Read company blogs to get a handle on how they work – or publish your own articles
  9. Don't forget to follow your university or college profiles (and ask if they'll share your breaking news and updates)
  10. Build up a bank of connections, bookmarked link and industry insight to prep for any interviews you get.

It (almost) goes without saying, but make sure you comb through your profile for typos, goofs and bungled links! Any mistakes in this area will reflect pretty badly on you to any potential future employers.

Top tip: Grab a (free) personal URL for your profile. You can use your name, a job title or other keywords – and you can change it later if you need to. Bonus.

Privacy settings

As with any other social site, only post the stuff you want to be found, and only accept valid invitations to connect.

Your privacy settings also affect whether your alerts and profile updates are blasted out to the universe, to your other social accounts, or just your contacts. Look for the ‘Notify your network’ button when you’re editing your profile – if you select ‘yes' this means every time you make an update or add something to your profile, it'll appear in your connections' news feeds.

Remember to choose an audience type when posting an update (pubic or just connections), and try hovering over the thumbnail of your profile pic in the menu bar to see all your privacy settings.

Another option you might want to check out here is the ‘Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile’ option. This lets you browse other people's profiles anonymously (otherwise they will always be notified, so go on a mad snooping spree and the LinkedIn world will know all about it!). The trade-off is you lose out on the same info about who’s been looking at your own profile in turn.

The benefit of ‘open browsing' is the chance to connect with people who checked your profile out, while setting your privacy settings to DEFCON 5 might be safer if you're looking for a job but don't want your current employer to know which companies you're following. Check out which works for you and switch as you need to.

Top tip: From privacy settings you can also set the options for your ‘public profile’ – what people see when they’re not connected to you, including in web searches.

Fixing your privacy settings are just one part of the puzzle of professionalising your online profile to impress potential employers.

Over to you…

Girl giving thumbs upNow it's time to land that dream job with the world's biggest business networking site!

Sadly, it's not just a case of posting a profile and then waiting for the jobs to come rolling in while you get busy with Buzzfeed.

While we're not saying reading the definitive list of doughnuts isn't time well-spent, sharing some screen time with your CV can be just as sweet, with half the calories. Think of LinkedIn as your ‘master' CV, a job ads portal and a less intimidating way to network in one, and you'll be sorted.

Not fussed about LinkedIn? What about using other social media channels to land yourself that dream job, or try one of our top tips for smarter job searching.

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