Employability Skills: Historians and LinkedIn – Ask an Expert

This week, we have a very special guest: Tasneem Dakri, a Career Development Coach who has very kindly agreed to be interviewed by me about how to use one of the most powerful professional networking tools of all: LinkedIn!

LinkedIn HQ. Photo: Greg Bulla, Unsplash.

Today’s topic: The LinkedIn Master Class

LinkedIn is one of the most influential professional networking platforms out there. Get your LinkedIn profile right and it can help open job and new opportunities for the future. You and your skills become far more visible to potential recruiters, mentors and future colleagues.

To help you all get the most out of this effective tool, I have enlisted the help of Career Development Coach and LinkedIn expert Tasneem. Together we’ve put together some top tips for designing your LinkedIn profile.

Hi Tasneem! Thanks for joining me in our History blog series! Could you tell me a bit about your role in the Changemaker Team and at Northampton?

Hi Caroline, thank you for inviting me to contribute to this exciting blog! My role as a Career Development Coach is to support students with all aspects of their careers and Employability, from career planning and developing skills to interview preparation and writing a successful LinkedIn profile.

The Changemaker Hub is still available to help in these uncertain times, providing one to one appointments via telephone/ Skype and a range of online sessions on topics including how to complete our flagship Employability Plus Award. All the information you need can be found on The Changemaker Hub Portal here.

We all know LinkedIn is one of the most famous platform for professionals. How exactly do recruiters and professionals use it?

Recruiters and professionals use LinkedIn to search for candidates, it’s a similar concept to a recruiter looking through a database of CVs.  So, it is important to use the right language in your profile as recruiters will search for key words. Students, recruiters and professionals to build an extensive professional network and gives students the opportunity to search for opportunities. Also think about the groups you join as some recruiters may search for activities within relevant LinkedIn groups. Joining specific groups also exposes you to what’s happening within that sector and helps demonstrate your interest in that field.

What makes a LinkedIn good profile?

Your LinkedIn profile is part of your personal brand and with over 60% of jobs being found through networking (according to The Balance Careers, 2019) it is important you have a profile that standouts from the rest. Here are some basic points to follow:

  • Include a photo and ensure it looks professional! Remember LinkedIn is a professional network.
  • Use your headline to standout! Don’t just say you’re a student, think about any other relevant job titles/experience you have.
  • Your summary is an opportunity to tell people about you, think about the skills and experience you have. Think about what you have been involved in at university that will help you to stand out from the crowd.
  • Highlight your skills but make sure you keep them relevant. You can also validate your skills by getting endorsed. You can do this by endorsing others for their skills which often leads people to then endorse you. Or you can reach out to people, just make sure you ask those who know you well enough.
  • Follow companies and join groups to expand your network and raise your profile.
  • Use the Alumni tool. This a fantastic way to find graduates from your course and the University of Northampton. Find out what they’ve been up to and if they are working in an industry or role you’re interested in, this can help you identify the career path they’ve taken.
  • Start connecting! Now you have a great profile start connecting with people. There is no point in having a great profile if you aren’t going to actively network. Take advantage of opportunities where possible, for example if you meet an employer at a university event follow it up by connecting with them on LinkedIn. This will not only help you grow your network, it will help you stand out to employers.

How can you make your profile easy for your target audiences to find? What will help make your profile appealing to your target audience?

Following the tips mentioned above should help your profile get noticed. Pay attention to the strength of your profile, LinkedIn will automatically provide tips on how to make your profile stronger if information is missing.

Try and keep your profile up to date by adding any new projects or activities you’ve been involved in. Sharing and posting interesting articles or commenting on posts can also help. Doing this will ensure your profile stays relevant and that it continues to show up in the news feed of recruiters and key contacts.

What about pictures?

Most employers will google candidates at some stage of the recruitment process. Having a professional picture on LinkedIn always comes across well and helps your profile to look complete. A 2015 article by Stephen Hart, suggests having a picture on your profile can increase the number of hits on your profile by up to 40%. Thought there is no right or wrong way, some prefer to use a black and white headshot. Go with what works for you as long as it looks professional.

What other tips do you have for History students working on their profiles?

Take your time and look at other profiles to give you an idea of what works well. There are some great resources for students who are getting to grips with using LinkedIn, some links can be found below.

In addition to building an online network, LinkedIn is great for finding opportunities. There is a job search tool with opportunities across all sector, ideal for students looking for placements and graduate roles.  

The Changemaker Hub Portal has some great online resources for students looking for tips on LinkedIn. The Changemaker team can also provide support through one to one appointments which can be booked here

Any resources you wish to highlight?

LinkedIn: https://university.linkedin.com/linkedin-for-students

Prospects: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/getting-a-job/social-media-and-job-hunting

Target Jobs: https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/networking/449493-the-graduate-s-guide-to-creating-the-perfect-linkedin-profile

To access the Changemaker Hub Portal and to complete your Employability Plus Award, click here.

Tasneem Dakri
Tasneem Dakri, a Career Development Coach at the University of Northampton

To contact Tasneem and her team, and to book an employability coaching appointment, go to the Changemaker Hub appointments and events page here.

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