LinkedIn for school leavers
Our social media training is always a revelation to school students because for many years all they’ve been told is “Don’t use social media in school time”! Another revelation, perhaps not so welcome, is discovering how much is already ‘out there’ in cyberspace about them if potential employers check them out …. All your youthful commentary on the meaning of life (and alcohol, and football teams, and other people…) is there to be viewed, in perpetuity….
While you can delete some accounts and comments (assuming you remember how to access them!), some will always remain. The key is to develop better materials and keep adding to them so that more recent (more sensible) profiles come to the fore when anyone searches for you online.
As a good start to your professional career, create your own LinkedIn profile (www.linkedin.com). It’s free to sign up and you will be able to showcase activities, projects, training and qualifications that demonstrate how you have taken responsibility (= shown leadership) or participated (= learned about teamwork) in school, uni, neighbourhood, family or other community activities. All these will help to build a picture of you as motivated, organised and responsible – an asset to any business! For examples of the type of information to include in a LinkedIn profile, look up a range of people in different industries – local business owners, people you or your parents know, for example. All of the people listed in our School Dynamics team will also have LinkedIn profiles so feel free to check us out for ideas as to how to create your own profile.
Once your profile is set up, start to connect to people you know. Don’t worry that as a school or uni leaver you won’t have many connections initially. This will build as you get more involved in business activities and meet more people. On your profile, you also give a contact email address where people can write to you – make sure that’s a sensible email address: time to leave the childhood quirky ones behind…
If you’re interested in a career in particular industries or companies, explore individual company pages on LinkedIn and particularly check out the special interest groups. Many groups are open for anyone to join and you can review the range of discussions in there to see what is current and topical, give you inspiration for questions to ask at interviews or identify further areas to explore. You can also ask the expert group contributors for their advice on anything you’re interested in – you never know what opportunities may come from that! Contributing to the groups will also enable you to ‘meet’ more people to add to your connections.
Also on LinkedIn you can use the ‘share’ facility to post updates about activities or projects you get involved in – this all helps to increase awareness and expand your presence on the site. Make sure also that you give your LinkedIn profile address on any CV you send to a potential employer.