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How to Effectively Use LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the most powerful social networking tools for professionals with more than 610 million members in over 200 countries and territories.

The evolving trend of connection-based recruitment is changing how UBC students and alumni tell their professional stories online, find work, and develop their careers. From new to expert LinkedIn users, whether you’re looking for opportunities to practice tell your story, build your personal brand, and strengthen connections or make new ones—don't worry! We've got you.

Build a profile

Tell Your Story by Focusing On Four Profile Sections 

Professional profile photo

A photo is an effective way to tell your story and engage your audience. Take a moment to consider including a profile picture as profiles with photos are 7 times more likely to be viewed. Your profile photo is a persistent element for your audience. Wherever you appear on LinkedIn, your profile photo will show. Consider what you are trying to convey to your audience (your network, colleagues, or prospective employers) and pick your photo accordingly—a headshot that isn’t cropped. Ask a friend with a smartphone to take your headshot using portrait mode.  

For the best quality profile photo, choose one with a resolution of 1400 x 425 pixels.

Tip: Consider changing your background photo as well. 

Headline

Your headline draws attention to your profile as it is another persistent element that shows up underneath your name.  The headline is an opportunity to show your personality and your uniqueness by telling others what you are interested in now or looking to be a part of in the future. You may want to consider which audience or opportunity you are trying to connect with -  write a headline that may interest them. Typical headlines include your title/position/student status.

Examples:

  • UBC Philosophy graduate seeking… position
  • Sustainability Advocate | UBC Biology student | Aspiring…

Summary

If your photo or headline compels someone to click your profile, your summary is the first place where they can learn more about you and decide if they want to engage with you further. The summary is similar to a cover letter, where you can speak about your unique skills and values that you bring to the workplace. This is a chance for your own unique voice to be heard, and ultimately, it should encourage people to read further into your profile.

Consider using a persuasive summary for framing:

  • Who you are
  • The value you provide
  • Something to add a bit of personality

Experiences

List all your work experiences - both part-time and full time. Each experience should be followed by a brief description of your accomplishments and responsibilities in those previous or current roles. Be sure to write using accomplishment statements to best showcase your experiences. 

Now that you have a list of experiences, use this section as an e-portfolio to add some media -  a layer of credibility to your written bullets. Examples include writing, infographics, videos, and website URLs, so long as they are not confidential. 

Tip: To display your works/accomplishments in a less public space, you can create an e-portfolio on UBC Blogs and add the URL to your profile

Other Sections of Your Profile

We recommend taking the time with the above four sections to ensure that a clear story is being told through your profile. Once you have worked on these four elements, you have an opportunity to continue to practice telling your story through the other sections of your profile, which you can learn more about below. 

Tip: If you are interested in learning more about using LinkedIn as a social media manager and building a brand, take a look at some great suggestions in this LinkedIn guide.

Make connections

Just because LinkedIn has over 610433 million registered users, doesn’t make connecting with people any easier.  Meeting new people and networking can be challenging, but consider LinkedIn a place for you to practice engaging with people. Networking is a form of relationship building, which means it takes effort and time.  This is why networking is difficult for the majority of us. The good news is that many of you are experienced and understand how to interact in a digital media setting. Do not be scared about the “professional” setting of LinkedIn, as long as you consider your reasons for engaging. Whether reconnecting with people we already know or reaching out to someone new, your first step is figuring out who you want to connect with and why? And how? 

Ways to connect professionally

  • Like or comment on their posts
  • Join LinkedIn groups
  • Ask for specific advice
  • Request an informational interview
  • Post content (articles, videos, job postings)
  • Send someone an article
  • Conference, association, event connection follow-up
  • Endorse them (and their skills)
  • Write a recommendation

Methods to Connect

LinkedIn provides a platform that allows you to engage in passive and active ways of connecting with others. Wherever your level of comfort is, you use the passive and active methods below to build up the repetitions and courage needed to define, test, and implement the ways you connect with others through LinkedIn.

Use the UBC Alumni Search Tool to discover connections

You can passively search to see all UBC Alumni on LinkedIn. This is a great way of understanding where graduates are working, what positions are out there, and gather information on how other alumni progressed in their career. Information gathering is vital to understanding your own story and clarifying what you want you future story to be—in careers, you can’t be what you can’t see.

Use Personalized Connection Requests

You can actively build your network through connection requests. LinkedIn provides you with an auto-generated connection invitation. However, you can practice crafting a personalized message emphasizing why you wish to connect. 

This can be viewed as a simplified online version of an elevator pitch, a great skill to practice for your career. 

Reaching out to someone you do not know can be  daunting, so consider practicing with someone you have already worked with in the past. Remember to have grace for yourself, as the process of reaching out to someone will not be perfect and can feel discouraging if we do not hear back from the person. 

Consider you are the person that receives a connection request and what would be in that message that might interest you to accept the request. What value  do you bring to the prospective connection? How do you want to utilize their expert opinion and their time?

Tip: consider including your UBC education in your “Education” section of your profile. Not only will it keep you connected to other UBC students and alumni, but you'll find it especially useful after you graduate to keep up with what they're doing.

Lifelong LinkedIn Learning

You have looked at how to build a basic profile and some passive and active ways to make connections. Moving forward, using LinkedIn as a platform for practicing, you will be able to continue to refine your profile, build confidence, or add and maintain your network, ultimately to increase your future career opportunities. Take advantage of the many LinkedIn features that can help further showcase your strengths and skills to employers, which will  help to tell your unique story. Showcase how you were able to engage with unique experiences during your time as a UBC student and how those skills will be transferable to the workplaces you want to be a part of.

Recommendations

LinkedIn recommendations are testimonials given by people who know and appreciate your work. By having your strengths, skills, and positive contributions highlighted by others, recommendations provide you with an “opportunity to have others reinforce your claims.” Remember: these individuals are taking time out of their busy schedules to vouch for you. Consider the following tips to ensure you’re making the most out of this valuable feature:

WHO?

Aim to have one recommendation from each organization you worked at. Ideally, choose someone who you reported to or directly saw your work. You can even request a recommendation from a subordinate; that is, someone who you led and could vouch for your leadership skills.

Hint: When someone writes you a recommendation, it will show up on their own profile under “Given.” Ensure that whomever you are requesting a recommendation from will be happy to provide you one. Try browsing their LinkedIn profile to see how many recommendations they’ve given in the past, and to whom. If you see none, you can still request one. However, have a plan B ready in case they do not respond. (Don’t take this personally - some individuals don’t give recommendations to be fair to everyone they work with).

HOW?

Before sending a recommendation request through LinkedIn, for courtesy, email the individual asking for permission to request one. Follow-up via email if they do not respond within a few days. Once you get the “okay” from the contact, send them a formal LinkedIn recommendation request, but ensure that you are already connected on LinkedIn. If you’re not, your first step is to request to connect.

Although it is possible to send your request to up to three contacts at a time, this is not recommended. Craft a personalized message and be mindful of the individual’s time. Nothing says “I don’t value your time” like an evidently mass-sent message.

Provide context that will make it easy for the individual to write you a recommendation. List your official job title, relationship to the recommender, and strengths you would like highlighted. Even better is listing particular projects you helped execute and the skills and behaviours you demonstrated in the process. Try to make your skills and strengths as specific as possible so the individual can quickly think back to what you accomplished.

What now?

Once your contact writes you a recommendation, read it carefully and let them know if there is something you would like tweaked. Remember that you don’t have to accept it if you think it doesn’t add value to your profile. If you are happy with it, remember to publish it. Go to “Recommendations,” and click “+ Add to Profile” under the “Received” tab to have it appear on your profile.

Say thank you! No one is obligated to write you a recommendation. If you receive one, remember to show your appreciation. Send a nice thank you email or handwritten card, and consider writing them a LinkedIn recommendation in return. Read more for tips on writing a stellar recommendation.

As you gain experience

As you gain experience in different positions and at different organizations, you can start to gradually remove bullets from each individual list of experiences. As a general rule of thumb, stick to two to three concise bullets that relay your experience in a way that is easy to understand for anybody. Also feel free to remove whole sections of experience as you tailor your profile to a certain career field, especially if you feel they are irrelevant to that industry. Less is sometimes more.

Find a job

Now that you've built out your profile and made some connections, you can start to use LinkedIn as a tool to start your career.You may just be who they're looking for!

  • Download the LinkedIn Students App to get a personalized guide to potential career paths. It’s a resource designed specifically for students to explore career options. You can find out the kinds of positions that UBC alumni are in right now as well as the companies that they are working for. The app customizes what it shows you based on your profile details so you’ll be getting information best suited for you.
  • Follow companies and organizations that you're interested in. You'll get updates about what the company is up to and if they're hiring. You might just learn about a new student opening, internship, or a shadowing opportunity.
  • When you're ready to start your job search, head to the “Jobs” tab at the top of the LinkedIn site. From there, you can filter the kind of work you're looking for by location and experience level.
  • LinkedIn also recommends jobs for you in the “Discover” section, so make sure to customize your job preferences in the “Preferences” tab to see the job opportunities that are tailored for you.
  • This is also a time to make use of your Connections. If you have a Connection working at a company you're interested in, send them a message and see if they're willing to answer any questions you may have. You never know if you they can get you acquainted with someone or somewhere closer to where you want to be.
  • Check out LinkedIn’s tip sheet for students looking to find a job or internship.

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