A lot of information on Google seems to suggest undergraduates are inept at putting together a LinkedIn profile. The online advice ranges from making sure there aren’t any mistakes in your personal summary, to having a profile photo that looks professional… aka, not one taken at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand or a selfie in your parents’ bathroom; obvious, right? I’ll spare you the basic details and share some advice that should help to speed up your job search, expand your opportunities and make you, as a potential applicant, stand out from the crowd.

First and foremost, it’s not just LinkedIn that can act as your future online best friend in searching for jobs after university. There are so many sites out there, some more popular than others, but keep an open mind – be creative with your online presence. You might find that using different sites can add to your work as well as life experience.

Internwise.co.uk

Internwise is a great place for graduates and undergraduates to find UK and London-based internships. Searching is made easy with the wide variety of filters, including location, career field, and the length of time you want to spend working. Alternatively, you can search and scroll through all the internships on offer. As of 23rd April 2019, there are 36 pages of internships ranging from London-based to all over the UK, as well as around Europe and the rest of the world. As internships are targeted to such a niche market, you won’t find as many opportunities as you will on Indeed.co.uk or CV-Library. However, the companies listed on the site are looking for students and recent graduates, so there’s a better chance of them actually responding to your application.

The length of the internships on the site vary from just 1 month to 10 months plus. Some are paid, some cover expenses; you can even opt for part time internships to go alongside your studies. Internships are a fantastic way of gaining some real-world experience in your chosen field, and Internwise offers them under one roof (or one corner of the internet).

There is the option of searching for internships abroad but, when I looked, I was unable to locate any that had been posted on the site itself. I’d recommend looking elsewhere if you have your heart set on interning in Europe. Furthermore, if you have an idea in mind about the type of internship you want to do, and where you want to do it, you can get in touch with Internwise for more information. Under career resources, you can also get general info about interning, career advice, interview tips, finding accommodation in London, and CV advice. Plus, there’s a page dedicated to visa information if you live abroad and want to do an internship in the UK. While most of the online resources on Internwise are useful, some pages are lacking in detail and on others the links don’t always work. Don’t rely too heavily on the site’s advice, but it’s definitely a good starting point for your search.

Angel List

If you’re business-savvy or want to work in start-ups after you graduate, Angel List is the place to go! Do note, however, that while Internwise is mainly focused on UK-based jobs, Angel List is an American company so that’s where most of the advertised jobs are located. You have the option of searching for a job within a start-up company in London or India, but most of the jobs are based in US cities.

Signing up is quick and easy, with an additional option to sign up with one of your social media accounts. Unlike Internwise, but similar to LinkedIn, you need to create an account before browsing for jobs. Angel List will ask whether you are a student or new grad, and then tailor your job recommendations to your experience level. Given the nature of working in a start-up, you should probably be pretty interested in how business works. My problem is that I have no intention of entering a career in the fields advertised (engineering, management, marketing, sales, and operations). But, if this is the type of career you are looking for, Angel List is definitely your best bet in finding meaningful work, post-university.

A bonus to this website is that you can narrow down your job recommendations by where you are in your job search (e.g. open to offers), type of job (full time, internship, contract, cofounder), desired salary, role, location, whether you have US work authorisation, and company size. As it is a site primarily focused on opportunities within start-ups, there isn’t a large choice available, an aspect I mentioned earlier. However, if this is your thing, you’ll be blown away by the quality of positions up for grabs.

Shapr

First and foremost, it’s not a website… it’s an app! Think LinkedIn meets Tinder – it does sound like an odd mix, but it works. The guys behind Shapr had one goal: to make professional networking simple, efficient and enjoyable for everyone. They want to get as many people as possible habitually meeting at least one new person each week. Shapr uses a smart algorithm to provide 10 – 15 profiles of other professionals nearby who have similar interests. It’s evaluated daily, and users swipe left or right to indicate if they want to connect with the individual. If you both swipe right, it’s a match! Time to meet them and begin networking.

Signing up is simple; use your LinkedIn account. You answer a few questions about when your career started/whether you’re still studying. Then, type in key words to describe your interests (both personal and professional), add three of your current goals (what you want from the site), a small statement about yourself, and how you’d like to meet up with people,. You also have the option of adding links to your LinkedIn, website and social media accounts.

The app was intended to be used by millennials, mostly because we are far more used to connecting online than in person. It’s just easier. I mean really, who wants to go to a big hall full of individual stalls, and try to impress the bored guys running them (who are probably going to meet hundreds of people that day). It’s hardly a way to make a real impression on potential employers. With that in mind, don’t think it’s just graduates and young professionals using the app. There are also many older, experienced professionals, so is a great way to efficiently network with people in your prospective field. You can so easily make meaningful connections this way; you pursue the connections you think will be valuable, mutually beneficial and genuine. The app has moderators to ensure those pursuing unprofessional connections are reported. Lastly, in a similar way to LinkedIn, you can tailor your results and profile. So, for example, if you are moving to a new city you are able to make connections and network before you even pay your first bill.    

LinkedIn

That’s right. The big boy. The granddaddy of the online career building platforms. He’s not just all talk, he can walk the walk too. As I stated earlier, I have been using LinkedIn as a way of recording and sharing my working life online for a while now. What I didn’t know however, was that I could use LinkedIn to find jobs, in addition to the other websites I was already loving and using. LinkedIn uses your profile to search for jobs it thinks you may be suitable for, based on, quite simply, the information you fill it with. Just make sure it’s up to date!

There are many types of people who this is useful for. If you’re moving to a new city, you can change your profile information and LinkedIn will change its search criteria to reflect the future location. It also works if you’re wanting a career break, or even a new career altogether; simply change your profile to mirror the change in your circumstances or newfound career passions, and LinkedIn will do the rest. Don’t ask me how. Just accept that this is amazing for (lazy) users, and is, honestly, an impressive feat. Not only does it cancel out the legwork of having to scroll through endless grad schemes and job postings, but it can tailor its findings to the criteria you select. For example, if you’re looking to utilise the skills you learnt during your university course – say, critical thinking, fast-paced problem solving, and data analysis – LinkedIn can find the most suitable jobs for you. All you have to do is update your profile with each new or relevant skill you acquire that you want to improve or use in your future career. You can then narrow down the search results by location, job field, salary; you get the idea. Gone are the days of finding jobs yourself; the free websites that can do it for you are here, and they’re brilliant!

Another great LinkedIn hack is the “be an early applicant” notification which appears under jobs the website has found for you, or those that appear within your own search. Either these jobs have been very recently been posted or, not many people have applied for whatever reason. As we all know, the early bird catches the worm – a statement that certainly applies well here. Not only will you be one of the first 25 applicants, but this gives you time to have a little snoop around the company profiles, including any staff members who may potentially be interviewing for the role.

If you find someone who’s past experience or current position within the company mirrors the type of career you would like to have, send them a message. One of the best things about LinkedIn is that it’s purpose is to connect people within the professional world, so, no, this isn’t a weird thing to do at all. Actually, sending messages, or just connecting with people in your future line of work, is a great way to establish relationships with potential employers and enables you to really get ahead of the game. Ask questions, ask for advice… even mentorship, whatever you want to know. The worst that can happen is that you get ignored. The best thing is that you walk away with a job offer. So, really, what have you got to lose?

Top tips

We’ve seen what the internet has to offer in helping us poor students and recent graduates find work. Now it’s time for me to patronise you (just a little) and let you know the best tips and tricks to make your LinkedIn profile really stand out.

Profile photo

  • A lot of online articles have decided that people are bad at selecting profile photos for their LinkedIn page. I’m not sure why they think that this is the case. Are the vast majority of LinkedIn users unable to comprehend what a “professional-looking” photo is? It’s simple – pick something your gran would put on her mantelpiece. She wouldn’t have your seductive Tinder pic up there, nor would she have a pouty selfie. Your photo should scream “I’m approachable and dependable” (I know, how boring but it has to be done). Obviously, it should be recent and of good quality; that goes without saying.

Education

  • Highlight your education! You paid for that degree, milk it for what it’s worth. What did you accomplish academically? Mention your classification, or average so far if you haven’t graduated yet. What skills did you learn or become better at? Did you do a research project or a dissertation? Include it all. Also, if you were involved in anything outside of heavy drinking, note it down. Were you captain of the netball team, or treasurer for the horse riding society? Did you write for the student magazine, or work in the union bar? There is always space to mention your study abroad year. I wouldn’t dream of telling language students not to talk about their year in France. Employers want to see that you have something about you; having interests outside of your studies shows them that you are able to prioritise and discipline your time. It also suggests that you’ll be a socially active co-worker.

Experience

  • Your experience includes any internships you may have completed during your time at university, part time and full time jobs, and freelance work. There is a separate section for any volunteer work, so make sure you mention it to gain extra brownie points. When talking about your past experience, try not to list what the job role actually entailed – I think all 7 billion people on the planet know what a sales assistant does. However, if you earned performance-related pay (i.e. you earned extra commission through sales), do highlight it. Some employers really want to see that you can deliver results when required. Talk about your achievements within the role, as well as any new skills you may have learnt, or old ones you improved upon.

Recommendations

  • Recommendations will really make your profile stand out from the crowd. Think of them as tiny reference letters; they let future employers know that you got on well with past colleagues and managers. They also increase your chances of being hired. Your profile will rank higher in LinkedIn search results if you have a greater number of endorsements for a skill an employer is seeking. Asking for them is quite simple: choose what skills you’d like to be recommended for and choose a list of people from your connections who are likely to offer positive feedback. Make sure to personalise your message to avoid seeming like you’re begging for endorsements. Remind the person in question of what job you did together and offer to return the favour for them. If you don’t feel comfortable asking this, give the people you know recommendations first and this will encourage them to reciprocate for you.

Final suggestions

  • First, make profile changes often, share updates and engage with your connections. By frequently using your LinkedIn account, an employer is more likely to stumble across your profile – as long as you’re sharing meaningful content. Memes don’t count. In your headline, be brief: state your job, what you bring to the table, and offer credibility/back it up with evidence. Lastly, update your profile regularly. It needs to evolve and doing so also keeps your contacts in the loop with what activities you are currently involved in. It is your CV after all.

How to create impressive online profiles – a summary

Internwise is a great option for finding UK-based internships, has great advice if you apply for an opportunity in London and need help finding accommodation. However, the website isn’t very detailed in its other advice.

Angel List is a perfect place to go if you’re interested in working for start-up companies. It’s also good if you’re after a career in engineering, business or marketing. If this isn’t where your interests lie, there’s still good, old, reliable LinkedIn.

Shapr is a recently invented app which makes networking easy, simple, and efficient. With a Tinder-like layout, users swipe right or left on pre-selected people and if it’s a match, start connecting!

LinkedIn is obviously the number one choice for many, and has become one of the best places to network online. The hours you put into your profile really pay off, so make sure you keep updating regularly with relevant content. There’s nothing worse than a profile that’s too long or serves random information.

Your online presence on these sites should be meaningful and professional. I’d recommend using a variety to better increase your chances of finding employment. There’s still the old-fashioned generic job sites, in addition to those focused strictly on helping students find grad schemes, but these four sites above offer a more dynamic and forward-thinking way of job searching. On some, you don’t even have to search at all. Keep your profiles relevant and keep them updated. The world is rapidly heading into a digital age, make sure your career goes there too.


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