The effect that COVID-19 has had on the job market both domestically and globally has been astronomical. While some players within the tech industry have thrived in the current environment, such as Zoom, others have incurred significant losses and have undergone widespread layoffs.

While you may potentially be a great fit for a role you’re applying for, there are likely a lot of other people with similar qualifications and experience vying for the hiring manager's attention.

In such a competitive landscape, it’s crucial as a new entrant to the job market to stand out from the crowd. Finding a way to cut through the noise amidst the chaos is a challenge but, thankfully, not impossible.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, do yourself a favour and set one up ASAP. Chances are that recruiters and hiring managers will look at your LinkedIn so having a presence here automatically makes it easier for potential employers to check out your professional background.

While it’s still necessary to do the groundwork of going through various job sites, signing up to alerts from companies you’d like to work for, and tailoring each application, there are other ways in which you can set yourself apart from others and get noticed on LinkedIn.

1. Add a profile photo 📷

Your profile photo represents the first opportunity you get to show recruiters you mean business, and first impressions count. By simply having a picture, it will increase your profile views by 14%.

Take some time to either find or take a high-quality photo of you alone, professionally dressed, facing forward.

Make sure it’s appropriate for the audience (i.e. no mirror selfies or photos of you at your local). LinkedIn is not Facebook or Instagram, and it’s most definitely not Snapchat.

Feel free to scroll through some examples here to give yourself a bit of a laugh and find out what NOT to upload as your profile picture on LinkedIn.

2. Write a great headline and summary 🖊️

Next, have a look at your headline. This is a chance to tell prospective employers why they should keep reading and should be short and sweet.

Resist the temptation to use this as a mini-summary and, instead, use the space to succinctly highlight the value you have to offer or the career path you’re looking to go down.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Have a look at people in your desired industry’s profiles or people who were in your course and draw some inspiration from them.

“Business graduate seeking marketing opportunities” is a plain but effective example of a headline a business graduate could potentially use.

Avoid superfluous words or phrases such as sales guru, strategic thinker, creative problem solver, etc, etc.

Think of the summary section as a personal advertisement that expands on your headline. This is the place where you really get to sell yourself so you shouldn’t be afraid to show your personality.

Write a few concise sentences about who you are, what experiences and qualifications you have, and your career goals.

Research keywords that recruiters in your sector will be looking for and make sure you use them throughout this part of your profile.

3. Highlight all of your past experience💡

A lack of job experience doesn’t have to be a barrier to success; for example, 41% of LinkedIn recruiters consider volunteering to be as valuable as paid work experience.

List all of the experiences you’ve had, including part-time jobs, volunteering, societies, and work placements — anything you’ve done that showcases a skill that is transferable to the workplace.

Reference examples where you used your initiative to make something happen, where you led a project or team, or where you achieved something you are proud of.

It goes without saying that for some careers, you will be required to have achieved a relevant degree in a specified area. However, oftentimes employers are looking for more than just a great set of exam results when they’re hiring.

Instead of merely looking at academic scores, employers look for candidates that are not only a cultural fit but they feel will work well with their team.

They’re looking for candidates with a strong personality and the right combination of soft skills.

Being a strong communicator and being able to work well as part of a team are two examples of soft skills that every manager would typically look for in a new hire.

4. Engage with and grow your network 🌐

LinkedIn is a great tool for building a professional network by connecting with people in your desired industry, maintaining contacts, and following organisations that you’re interested in.

One of the quickest ways you can stand out is to engage with your connections and share updates relevant to your field of study.

You can also connect with hiring managers/recruiters at your target companies and start engaging with their content.

Although it might feel a little bit awkward as a graduate, don’t be afraid to approach people you don’t know on the site and connect with them.

However, if you send a connection request and it’s not someone you know well or have worked with, be sure to personalize it. Many people generally reject requests otherwise.

One great way to make connections is to find alumni from your university who will often be more than happy to help someone whose shoes they were in not so long ago.

Conclusion

Put simply, if you’re not on LinkedIn you don’t exist in a professional context. Not only is it important to make some of the changes outlined above now, but you should also look to update your profile regularly.

At the start of your career, new experiences and achievements occur on almost a weekly or monthly basis. Don’t forget to add them to your profile as you go, even if you’ve already landed yourself a role — it’s good to keep things up to date for when the time comes for a change further down the line.

Gradguide is a career guidance and mentorship program designed to help college students and recent graduates land their first job in tech. We pair you with a mentor to help improve your CV, find the right roles to apply for, prepare for interviews, and seek referrals to the best companies around.