Social media channels vary in their effectiveness for job searching, and raising your profile. Apart from some niche areas, I would say that LinkedIn is the most important. I would recommend that everyone has a profile. It’s free (there are paid plans too, but you probably won’t need one).

There are many methods that I use to fill jobs that I am working on (which basically means finding the right graduate for the employers I represent). Each method is responsible for a certain percentage of the jobs that I fill. LinkedIn is one of the highest; in the 3+ years since I started the business, 23% of the graduates I placed in jobs were found through LinkedIn.

But that percentage could be higher. Many students and graduates are missing out on great opportunities.

Your profile is essentially an online CV; many employers and recruiters (myself included) actively look for people on LinkedIn, so it’s important to make sure that you can be found. And the more information there is on your profile, the more likely you are to be found.

I pay a 4 figure sum each year for a Recruiter licence, and this gives me wider access, with more results in searches; I also get ‘InMails’, which are messages that can be sent to people.

Whenever I get a new job to work on, one of my first places to look is LinkedIn. I will put in search terms (for example degree subject), location, etc and a list pf profiles will come up. I will look through them and send an InMail to the ones I would like to speak with. If they are interested, we arrange a time to speak in more depth.

But many graduates may not see the message. Either through having a dormant account that they don’t use; or not checking their emails regularly. And some don’t follow through after expressing initial interest (not sending their CV, or confirming a time to speak).

Here are some things to bear in mind if you would like to make the most of LinkedIn (especially if you are looking for work):

  • Firstly and most importantly, make sure you log on regularly to see who has contacted you, so you don’t miss out on anything. Check your inbox. I can’t stress this enough – you could miss out on your ideal job by not doing this (I have seen this happen loads of times). Ideally, log on daily, or at least a couple of times a week. Also check for new connection requests.
  • Add a profile picture. Something professional with you looking at the camera- not a cropped photo of you on holiday or in the pub.
  • Make sure the employment section is filled in, including temporary or voluntary roles- and check the dates are the same as on your CV (some employers cross reference this).
  • Add a headline that is relevant to what people may look for, for example ‘2023 Marketing graduate looking for a Digital role in Manchester’ – and make sure to update it when you get a job.
  • Add connections. These can be course-mates, people from the university, friends, work-colleagues, etc. The more connections you have, the more 2nd degree connections you have. Without going into too much detail, this is hugely important in developing your presence.
  • Try to keep connections relevant, and don’t just look at the numbers. For example, adding too many people in other countries is not a great idea if you won’t be doing business or looking for a job there. It can be counter-productive, as LinkedIn uses an algorithm that affects what content you see, and who sees yours.
  • As with all  types of social media there are occasionally fake profiles, and I would advise against connecting with them. These are often easy to spot (mainly as they have few connections, and little content on the profile, with a very attractive, model type photo).
  • Try and get written recommendations, for example from managers at work,  or maybe lecturers. These are hugely effective. Recommendations from course-mates, work-mates at the same level, or friends, are not as powerful, and I wouldn’t recommend it. Of course they will say nice things about you; and they have not managed or supervised you. They can also take away emphasis from the really good ones.
  • Make sure you mark yourself as being available for work. This can be done by adding a ‘looking for work’ banner. Or more discreetly by selecting the ‘finding new job’ option from the drop down menu in the ‘Open to’ section below your photo. This won’t be seen by your current employer, but can be seen by recruiters who have access to the premium LinkedIn package. Remember to take this off when you do get a job, or you will still come up in recruiters searches.
  • If you get an InMail message from a recruiter on LinkedIn, reply asap if you are interested. And if you are asked to send your CV do it as soon as you can. Some graduates leave this for days, or even weeks, which runs the risk of giving a bad impression, or missing out on the job.
  • If you are not interested then it is good practice to click the ‘not interested’ reply option, then they will know not to follow up. Or even better, accept the message and reply to say you are not interested but let them know what you are ideally looking for; then they may contact you if something more suitable comes in.
  • If you connect with someone it is polite to reply when they send you a message; especially if it was you who sent the initial connection request. If someone requests that I connect with them I always send a thank-you note after I accept, and ask them to let me know if I can be of help. You may be amazed how many do not reply (around 75%). This is poor business etiquette. It takes seconds to reply (you can even keep a template to paste so you don’t need to keep typing it out. Keep it in the drafts in your emails, or a document, or notes section on your phone- wherever you like). This reply is something simple, but will help you to stand out.
  • Add sections like skills, etc. Follow businesses, and join groups. Use the search section to find these by typing in key words.
  • If you have more time to spend, and really want to raise your profile then you may like to contribute to discussions or add posts. Think who the audience is that you are looking to engage with; it will most likely be potential employers. Remember, what you post will show up on your connections news feeds, and potentially their connections too if they engage with it.
  • Try and make the content meaningful; don’t just add things for the sake of it. For example, just  regularly sharing memes is probably not a good idea (especially as people will probably already have seen it many times). You may risk being ‘unfollowed’ by a connection, or even your connection being removed, if doing too much of this. It’s unlikely that potential employers will want to be seeing this, especially if it relates to something you are discussing with friends or peers (jokey memes about university, or job application experiences, that kind of thing). Though there is more flexibility for roles such as Marketing, where the content itself may be taken into account by employers.

It shouldn’t take more than an hour to get a good, solid profile. I would say that if you don’t want to invest this time (or if you are not going to use it) then it would be better not to have a profile. It doesn’t look good when a profile comes up with just a name, degree type, one connection and nothing else. Or if it’s not being used at all. It can be interpreted as not following through with actions, or give an impression of inactivity. It can do more harm than good.

The one thing I would say that all social media channels have in common, is that you need to think about what you put on them. Consider how happy you would be for your boss to see your photos and content; and if the answer is ‘not at all’ then make sure that settings on Facebook etc are private. Many employers do search online to check out potential and current employees, including on social media profiles. I have even heard of offers being withdrawn, or people losing their jobs, in extreme cases.

I also use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok to advertise jobs, and post content, and if you use them it is also worth looking to see if there are any accounts that would be useful to follow. My account details are below.

Instagram sme_graduate_employment

Twitter https://twitter.com/SMEgraduates

TikTok https://www.tiktok.com/@smegraduateemployment

Facebook https://bit.ly/48t8GVW

Matthew Parry,
Director. SME Graduate Employment

Email: matthew@sme-graduates.co.uk Telephone: 0370 774 9500

SME Graduate Employment is a specialist student and graduate recruitment agency covering permanent jobs, placements, and internships across the UK. Most job types and business sectors are covered.

You can see student and graduate jobs advertised here Student and Graduate job vacancies (sme-graduates.co.uk) and read more blogs and advice to help develop your employability skills here University student and graduate employability advice and tips (sme-graduates.co.uk)