How to make the most of 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.

About LinkedIn

Job seeking through networking and connections is changing how UBC students and alumni tell their professional stories online, find work, and develop their careers.  LinkedIn has more than 610 million members in over 200 countries and territories, creating a huge network that you can use to create or seek out opportunities. 

Whether you are new to LinkedIn or have been using it for some time, don’t worry. Use the language that best represents you, your values and personality to tell your story,  build your personal brand, and strengthen existing connections or make new ones. Follow the tips below to effectively use LinkedIn.

Access LinkedIn Learning

As a UBC student, you have full access to the LinkedIn Learning tool. In this tool, you can find short courses and individual videos to help you develop employable skills and learn about career options. 

Find out more

Build a profile

Your LinkedIn profile contains several sections that you can update to communicate your skills, knowledge, and experience. As you continue to gain new experiences, be sure to update your profile. 

Professional profile photo

Profiles with photos are 7 times more likely to be viewed. A photo is an effective way to influence first impressions of you. Choose a photo that is engaging, professional and authentically represents who you are . 

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.

For the best quality profile photo, choose one with a resolution of 1,400 x 425 pixels.

You can also consider changing your background photo for one more way to share a sense of who you are. Remember that whatever you use will further inform your professional network’s ideas about you.

Headline

Your headline weighs heavily in the LinkedIn algorithm and shows up on every page.  The headline is an opportunity to strategically message to the world what you are looking for and capable of doing. Use keywords that you think will resonate with your desired audience. 

Common headlines include your title/position/student status.

Examples:

  • UBC Philosophy graduate and aspiring non-profit professional 
  • Sustainability Advocate | UBC Biology student | Aspiring Marine Scientist

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 get to know you better. 

The summary is also weighted heavily in LinkedIn’s algorithm, meaning that the words you use will directly impact your chance of showing up in any given search (be that from a recruiter or any potential new professional contact). Similar to a cover letter, this is a chance to introduce yourself in a way that leaves your audience intrigued and wanting to learn more. 

Consider using a persuasive summary that includes:

  • A compelling statement about who you are
  • An articulation of your strengths (What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing?)
  • Sharing your “why” (What are you interested in contributing to? What matters to you?)

Experiences

List all the work and volunteer experiences you have, both part-time and full-time that can speak to your knowledge, skills and abilities.

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 where possible in order to showcase your experiences in ways that emphasize their value to the employer. 

Now that you have a list of experiences, use this section like a portfolio: add some media, such as an image, presentation or video as  a layer of credibility to your written statements. Other examples include writing, infographics, and website URLs. Be careful not to share confidential work information. If in doubt, ask your project supervisor or collaborators. 

To display your work or 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 compelling story is being told through your profile. Once you have worked on these four elements, you have an opportunity to add value to your profile through additional sections, which you can learn more about below. 

If you are interested in learning more about using LinkedIn to build your brand, take a look at some great suggestions in this LinkedIn guide.

Make connections

Just because LinkedIn has over 610 million registered users doesn’t necessarily make connecting with people any easier.  Cultivating new relationships can be challenging, but consider LinkedIn as a place for you to work towards this important goal. . 

The dreaded word “networking” is simply a form of relationship building. It takes effort and investmentThe good news is that many of you are experienced and understand how to interact in a digital setting. Try not to be scared about the “professional” setting of LinkedIn. As long as you are respectful and polite with your communications, you will be able to leverage this tool to get to know others and access new opportunities.

Ways to connect professionally on LinkedIn

  • Like or comment on others’ posts.
  • Join LinkedIn groups.
  • Ask for specific advice from those that have experience you value.
  • Request an informational interview with someone you want to learn from.
  • Post content (articles, videos, job postings).
  • Send someone an article you think they would be interested in.
  • Send an invitation as a follow up after meeting someone new at an event.
  • Endorse those in your network (and their skills).
  • Write a recommendation for someone whose quality of work you can vouch for.

Expanding your network on LinkedIn

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 to learn where graduates are working, to generate ideas about work opportunities, and gather information about how alumni have progressed in their career. Information gathering is vital to understanding the world of work and identifying where you can find opportunities to be paid to do work that matters to you.  

Use Personalized Connection Requests

You can actively build your network by sending  connection requests. LinkedIn provides you with an auto-generated connection invitation. However, it is much better to  craft a personalized message emphasizing why you wish to connect. 

This can be viewed as a simplified online version of an elevator pitch, an essential tool to progress your career.

Imagine you are the person that receives a connection request. Ask yourself the following:

  • What would be in that message that might interest you to accept the request?
  • How do you want to utilize their expert opinion and their time? 
  • What value can you bring to the prospective connection? 
  • What might get them excited to meet you?

LinkedIn 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 to ask for a recommendation

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.

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. 

How to ask for a recommendation

Before sending a recommendation request through LinkedIn, for courtesy, email the individual asking for permission to request one. Follow-up through 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.

Craft a personalized message and be mindful of the individual’s time. Nothing says “I don’t value your time” like a non-personal message that was obviously sent to many people.

Share 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.

After a recommendation is made

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.

No one has 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 tips for writing a great recommendation.

Keeping your LinkedIn up-to-date

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 2 or 3 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.

Finding a job

Now that you've built out your profile and made some connections, you can start to use LinkedIn as a tool to grow your career.

  • Download the LinkedIn Students App
    Download the LinkedIn Students App to get a personalized guide to potential career paths. It’s a resource designed specifically for students. 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 or internship.
  • Use a filter for your job search
    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.
  • Join the LinkedIn Discover section
    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.
  • Use your personal connections
    This is also a time to make use of your existing 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 a couple of questions you have. This will give you information to strengthen your application and may also be a way to get more connected with decision-makers in the company. Check out LinkedIn’s tip sheet for students who are looking for a job or internship.

Career events and workshops

Attend workshops to improve your job application, explore your career, or enhance your LinkedIn profile.

Browse events

Additional resources

  • Informational interviews
    Get a better understanding of the industry you're interested in through informational interviews.
  • Networking
    Learn about the benefits of using your connections for your career and how to do it successfully.

External resources

  • Ten Thousand Coffees
    Create a free profile on The UBC Hub to join the mentoring platform, and receive monthly mentor matches specific to your area of interest.
  • 50 Ways to Get a Job
    Explore this guide to finding work that is personalized to you and where you’re at in your job search.
  • Glassdoor
    Search jobs and get the inside scoop on companies and salary ranges through anonymous reviews written by employees.
  • Start Proud LGBTQ+ networking and mentorship
    If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, register to connect with a LGBTQ+ professional each month.

If you have questions