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5 tips to help school leavers use LinkedIn to kickstart their career

5 tips to help school leavers use LinkedIn to kickstart their career

04 Apr 10:00 by James Thornhill

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If you’re about to leave school or college and have decided to go straight into employment rather than university, a strong LinkedIn profile can help you connect with potential employers and leave the right impression. 

What is Linkedin and why should I use it? 

LinkedIn is a social media platform for business where over 467 million members network, share information and recruit. Think of it as your online CV where other professionals can find you, connect and talk to you about career opportunities. 

1. Choosing a photo

LinkedIn works in a similar way to social media platforms but never forget that this is a professional networking tool so photos of you on holiday, out with your mates or with a drink in your hand are definitely off limits. Ask someone to take a head and shoulders shot of you dressed smartly as if you were going for a job interview. It’s OK to smile – you want to look approachable after all – and definitely no pouting. A simple background, such as a bare wall works well. A picture taken outside can be a good option because it allows you to make the most of natural lighting. 

2. Writing your headline 

Your headline is a brief snapshot about you to entice employers and potential connections to take a closer look. It’s just 120 characters long and completely customisable so be creative and get straight to the point. If you’re looking for a job in marketing for example, you could say: “School leaver with outstanding language skills looking to make waves in marketing”. 

3. Filling in your profile 

You might think that at this stage in the career game you have very little professional information to share but you’d be wrong. Think of your profile in terms of skills. These could have been picked up as a sports team captain, waiter or volunteer. Anything that has taught you something that might be transferable to the world of work is worth mentioning. Don’t forget your natural attributes too although it’s important to remember to give them a positive spin. If your friends call you a chatterbox, you can confidently describe yourself as a good communicator and that’s something a potential employer will be interested in. Are you organised? That’s another great work skill to include in your profile. 

4. Padding it out

Completed profiles get more views so don’t forget to add examples of professional qualifications, extra-curricular activities and even part-time jobs. This is all about painting a picture of yourself so that an employer can assess whether it’s worth making contact to find out more. 

5. Getting connected 

LinkedIn makes it easy to find connections by syncing with your email address book. You might be surprised whose name pops up. Family and friends make ideal first connections because they will want to support your job search and may well be connected to some interesting people themselves. You’ll find that the more people you connect with, the bigger your network of second and  third connections becomes and this makes you easier to find in searches by people who are not yet part of your first degree network. 

LinkedIn from a recruiter’s perspective 

As recruiters we use LinkedIn strategically to source the best candidates for our clients and to match unique skills to specific jobs in HVAC. We also use it to search for school leavers to join our vibrant team in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Two of our school leaver trainees are progressing well with their career development with Thornhvac and we are currently recruiting for two more trainees to join our Management Degree Apprenticeship programme.