How to create a good LinkedIn profile when you have no working experience
There’s a bitter-sweet scene in The Grapes of Wrath where the head of the family approaches a bank branch to request a mortgage. “Do you have any properties that you could use as guarantee?” asks the bank clerk. Puzzled, the poor man replies, “Well, if I already owned a house, I wouldn’t need a mortgage, right?” Something like that happens when looking for the first job without previous working experience. Your first job can land you in that kind of situation: you need work experience to find a job, but you need a job to have work experience. As always, the first step is the most difficult one. Thinking up ways to enhance your CV (resumé) has always been a challenge. Now the really big test is to get a LinkedIn profile that makes people stop and take notice.
Fear no more; it’s like anything else in life− your approach and your attitude are the things you need to focus on. Sell yourself by bringing all your strong points to the fore; that will do the trick. Playing to your strengths can open more doors than you would expect. Here are some points to work on to improve your chances of kickstarting your professional career.
1. Don’t be afraid of being upfront about wanting working experience
For your headline you can use expressions like “2016 University of York Law Graduate with special interest in patents, seeking Legal Consultant position”. Catherine Fisher, senior director of corporate communications at LinkedIn, explains that this can be a useful way of portraying your current situation, as well as your ambitions for the future.
2. Pay attention to technical details
Look for a decent profile picture. That photo from your graduation party may not make the cut… Conveying a reliable and professional image hinges on that kind of things. Also, double check all your texts to ensure consistency and correct spelling. A great way to show you don’t focus on unimportant detail is by going straight to the point. Human Resources departments have to browse through hundreds of CVs; no matter how brilliant a student you’ve been, a simple spelling mistake can put you on the pile of rejected candidates straight away.
3. Include any social work you are involved in
Have you taken part in projects to help the elderly? Have you ever had a stint at Meals-on-Wheels? Do put that down; your commitment and your social awareness are as important as your work skills. People who go above and beyond the call of duty always impress.
4. Remain active in your areas of interest
Your employer is also interested in your attitude and your passion about what you do. Do you keep a cooking blog? Don’t be shy, mention that, and say that you’ve been updating it for two years; mention all those fantastic sushi pics (tell readers how much you love the stuff!) in each post, and underline that the photos came straight from your own camera.
5. Keep your LinkedIn profile alive
Following on from the above point, try to keep your LinkedIn status posts updated, whether by adding your own comments or by sharing any articles you find either interesting or related to the area you specialize in professionally.
6. Join groups
LinkedIn is much more than a professional network; it’s also a social network. Get involved, and make yourself known; take part in groups that focus on your areas of interest. Besides learning from more experienced people, some HR manager or other professionals may find your contributions interesting, and give you advice on how to climb the professional ladder.
7. Mention personal projects that may highlight your abilities
Ok, maybe not that airplane model you lovingly crafted at primary school. But you may have set up a university sports league, or perhaps you have programmed an app in your spare time. Use those things to show your initiative and organizational skills. Were you the chief editor of the university magazine? Throw that in too! It all adds up.
What other things do you think could help to enrich your LinkedIn profile and make it more relevant? How did you get your first job without having any previous experience? Let us know, and now you are here, why don’t you check out our job offers for fresh graduates?