How to Use LinkedIn to Get Hired: Tips for New Grads

The Prepped Team

October 28, 2022

6 Minutes

Back button
Back to Blog

How to Use LinkedIn to Get Hired: Tips for New Grads

You’ve just finished your studies (or are about to graduate), and now your sights are firmly set on finding your first job. You’re probably already getting career advice from your university or college, professors, and even your parents. And one thing all that advice will have in common is getting on LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn can be an excellent tool for professionals at all career stages, whether you’re just starting out or have several years of experience. So how can you use LinkedIn to get hired when you don’t have much actual work experience yet? This article provides tips specifically for new graduates like yourself so you can make the best use of LinkedIn right from the beginning.

In this article:

What is LinkedIn?

Owned by Microsoft, LinkedIn is a social network for professionals to connect, learn, share, and find career opportunities. Unlike social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, where you post about your personal life, LinkedIn focuses on professional networking, making business connections, and sharing work-related experiences. 

In 2022, LinkedIn had over 800 million users, making it the world’s largest professional network. Plus, a vast majority of recruiters use LinkedIn when looking for candidates. Having a LinkedIn profile is essential in the North American job market, especially if you’re a new graduate looking for your first job.

What is LinkedIn used for?

Don’t let the words “social network” confuse you. LinkedIn is about more than just connecting with a community of professionals (although that’s important too) and posting content. Here are some ways in which you can leverage LinkedIn for your career:

Professional networking

Networking is an important part of Canada’s work environment. Most job openings are filled through employers’ networks, without ever being posted publicly. Your connections can help you tap into this hidden job market, by providing referrals to jobs in their organizations, and helping you learn about your industry or a particular company. 

Job search

LinkedIn also has a job portal, with employers across industries and locations posting job openings on the platform. Using the “Jobs” feature, you can search for available jobs by title, skill, company, or location. You can also sign up for job alert emails for job titles you’re interested in. If you’re hoping to work with a particular employer, you can keep tabs on the jobs they post on their company page. Moreover, you can see if someone in your LinkedIn network works for a particular company and reach out to them for information or referrals.

Promoting your personal brand

When people come across your LinkedIn profile or the content you post, they make assumptions about who you are as a person. Carefully creating a personal brand allows you to project a positive image and highlight your strengths and skills. By using LinkedIn to promote your personal brand, you can increase your visibility, make a memorable impression on employers, and stand out as a potential candidate for job openings.

Skill building

LinkedIn is also a great skill-building tool. LinkedIn Learning is a subscription-based service that offers thousands of courses on various business, creative, and technology topics. When you complete a course, you can showcase the certificate on your LinkedIn profile to let employers know you’re skilled in that subject area. LinkedIn also enables peer-to-peer learning, allowing you to draw on the experience of other professionals and even find a mentor for one-to-one knowledge sharing.

Staying connected with people you know professionally

As you progress in your career, staying in touch with your colleagues, professors, classmates, and managers can be difficult. LinkedIn can help you keep track of their professional journeys, engage with their posts, and stay connected. You can also share your career milestones to let your network know how you’re doing professionally. People you’ve worked closely with, learnt from, or helped out previously are a valuable part of your network. You may be able to count on them for recommendations, honest feedback, or referrals to job openings.

Offering and asking for services 

LinkedIn's "Open to" feature allows people to showcase their services. If you’re looking for a mentor, you can leverage this feature to find professionals who can help you with career development or share their expertise on a particular topic. You can also use the "Open to" feature to promote your side hustle or offer services. You can list up to 10 services on your profile, choosing from a wide range that includes accounting, design, writing, photography, and more.

How to create or optimize your LinkedIn profile

Before you can use LinkedIn to get hired, you’ll need to create a profile. If you already have a LinkedIn profile, you may want to polish it to make it more effective and appealing. Here are seven tips to help you optimize your LinkedIn profile for your job search:

  • Use a professional headshot: A professional photograph can make all the difference to your LinkedIn profile. In fact, adding a photo to your profile can increase your chances of receiving connection requests nine-fold. So what makes a headshot professional? A plain, distraction-free background; a friendly, smiling expression; professional attire; and a frame that captures your face and shoulders.
  • Write an engaging headline and summary: These sections are usually the first thing people see on your profile. Make sure your headline and summary sections capture your skills and what you bring to the table while staying true to your personal brand.
  • Fill out all relevant sections: Your LinkedIn profile has sections on work experience, education, certifications, skills, and more. Make sure you fill out all the relevant sections and keep your profile updated.
  • Request recommendations: A recommendation attests to your skills, showing potential employers that people you’ve worked, studied, or volunteered with think highly of you. Add value to your profile by asking for Linkedin recommendations from your professors, colleagues, or managers from part-time or volunteer jobs.
  • Link your portfolio to your profile: You can also showcase samples of your work on LinkedIn or add a link to your digital portfolio or blog. A visual representation of your work carries more weight than a mere description of your skills and education, and by promoting your best work, you may be able to catch a recruiter’s eye.
  • Keep it professional: Assume that everything you put in your profile or post on LinkedIn will be seen by potential employers and recruiters. Put your best foot forward by keeping things professional, being respectful, and posting content that shows you in a positive light. 
  • Grow your connections: As a recent graduate, your professional network likely won’t be very large. That said, you should put active effort into growing your network, as employers can see how many connections you have until you reach the magic number of 500. 

Note: For more tips, read Arrive’s article on optimizing your LinkedIn profile for your job search.

How to build your network on LinkedIn

We discussed the importance of networking and how LinkedIn is the ideal place to start, but how exactly does one build their professional network through LinkedIn? Here are some tips to help you get started:

Send connection requests to professionals

Start by connecting with professionals you already know: your classmates, professors, and colleagues or managers from part-time jobs. After that, you can expand your network to alumni of your school and other professionals in your field. 

Tip: Don’t forget to personalize your LinkedIn connection messages, so people know how you found them and why you want to connect. To craft impressive LinkedIn connection messages that increase the likelihood of being accepted into someone’s network, use our message templates or read Arrive’s tips on writing LinkedIn connection messages.

Reach out to potential employers

Connect with people at all levels in your industry and at companies you want to work with. Your network should have a good mix of recruiters, senior-level managers, and entry-level employees. Many new graduates make the mistake of focusing only on senior professionals, but it might be easier to get a response from entry-level or mid-level professionals. Plus, if you intend to learn about a company or its hiring process, someone who recently joined the organization may be able to provide you with more recent and relevant information. 

Ask for networking recommendations

As someone just entering the job market, it might not always be easy to identify the right people to connect with. But don’t worry, your network can help with that. When you start to build a connection with someone, ask them for recommendations on other professionals you can connect with. 

Ask questions like “Do you know other digital marketing experts who I can learn from?” or “Are there any IT professionals in your network who are skilled at cloud computing?” If they know professionals with expertise in your area of interest, ask if they can make an introduction. An introduction helps you make a warm connection, gain trust, and lay the foundation for a stronger relationship.

Join industry groups on LinkedIn

Industry groups offer a wealth of information on what’s new in your field and can help you stay on top of the latest developments. Joining industry groups on LinkedIn also allows you to meet professionals with similar interests, learn from their experiences, and ask for advice. When you come across people who can guide you in your career journey, don’t hesitate to send them a connection request. 

Keep the conversation going after introductions

Networking goes well beyond sending professionals a LinkedIn connection request message. Your objective is to make a meaningful connection that you can leverage if, and when, needed. 

After you add someone to your LinkedIn network, send a thank you message and initiate a conversation on common grounds, perhaps a mutual connection or shared interest. As your discussion progresses, ask about their industry, work, and interests. 

Ask if they are open to a one-on-one coffee chat, either in-person or virtually, and use this opportunity to learn from their experiences. Always have a list of questions ready before your coffee chats so you can extract the most value out of the time your connection is giving you. Be interestED in them over trying to be interestING. If they have any challenges or pain points at work, offer help where you can and always follow through on your offer. Once they know you better and see the value you can bring, they’ll be more willing to help. You can then nurture your relationship by maintaining engagement over email, LinkedIn, or follow-up coffee chats.

How to use LinkedIn to get a job

LinkedIn can be a powerful job search tool, not just because it has job postings. There are many ways in which LinkedIn makes it easier to find suitable jobs and increases your chances of getting hired.

Leverage your network to learn about jobs and companies 

Nearly 65 to 80 per cent of available jobs are never publicly posted, and LinkedIn helps you tap into this hidden job market through your network. 

When you establish a strong connection with someone, you can check if they know anyone hiring in your field or at a company where you want to work. LinkedIn also allows you to see your second-degree connections (connections of your connections) so you can identify if anyone in your network knows someone working at your target company.

Get referrals to jobs

Let’s say, employer A is hiring for a role you’re interested in. LinkedIn shows you if anyone in your network (or someone they are connected to) works with A, making it easier for you to reach out for information or referrals. Don’t forget to make meaningful connections with professionals before asking for their help.

Sign up for LinkedIn Premium

LinkedIn Premium is a paid service that helps increase your visibility with recruiters and get your application to the top of the list. LinkedIn Premium also gives applicant insights based on how well your profile matches a particular job posting. Plus, you can send InMail messages to recruiters/employers for more information about the position or follow up after you apply.

Follow companies you’re interested in

You can keep track of job opportunities by following companies you’re interested in and recruiters in your industry. Following your target companies also helps you stay on top of pertinent news, company developments, special programs, and their long-term plans—information that will come in handy when you reach the interview stage.

Let employers know you’re open to work

Actively looking for roles? Let employers and recruiters know by putting an “open to work” tag on your profile. This makes it easier for recruiters to identify candidates who are readily available for immediate opportunities.

Sign up for LinkedIn job alerts

You can sign up for personalized job alert emails on LinkedIn and choose how often you want to receive them. Customize your alerts by setting your preferences for job title, city, industry, seniority, part-time or full-time work, and in-person or remote jobs. When you’re actively searching for jobs, job alert emails can help you cut down the time you spend looking for suitable opportunities so you can focus on your applications.

Showcase your skills

LinkedIn Learning courses can help you bridge skill gaps and gather certifications to showcase on your profile. You can also complete assessments on LinkedIn to earn skill badges that prospective employers can see. Plus, you can list skills on your profile and people in your network can endorse you for them.

Find a mentor through LinkedIn

A mentor can help you navigate the job market, build skills, polish your resume, and prepare to enter the workforce. You may be able to find a suitable mentor through your network or by searching for professionals on LinkedIn who are open to mentoring a new graduate.

How to apply for jobs on LinkedIn

Now that your LinkedIn is optimized to impress employers and you know how to leverage the platform for your job search, it’s time to start applying for jobs.

  • Shortlist jobs that interest you: Use LinkedIn’s search feature to look for openings by job title or company. Carefully review the job description to identify relevant positions for which you are eligible. You don’t need to be a 100 per cent fit. Job postings often describe an ideal candidate, so don’t hesitate to apply even if your skills are a 75-80 per cent match.
  • Customize your resume and cover letter: Tailor your resume to the role by including keywords from the job description. Most employers use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to shortlist resumes that best match the job posting, so an ATS-friendly resume can significantly improve your chances of being selected. You should also include a cover letter even if the job posting doesn’t specifically ask for one. A well-written cover letter tells employers why you’re interested in that particular position and allows you to elaborate on skills and achievements that make you a strong candidate.
  • Apply for jobs through LinkedIn: The Apply button on LinkedIn jobs takes you to the job posting on the company page, where you can fill out the application and attach your resume and cover letter. LinkedIn also gives you the option to share your profile with the job poster when you click apply. Some job posts have an Easy Apply option, which auto-fills a short questionnaire based on information on your profile and allows you to attach or upload your resume directly through LinkedIn. Since you’ll be customizing your resume for each role, it’s best to figure out a naming convention for different versions of your resume so you can quickly find and select the right one.

What should you post on LinkedIn?

Staying active on LinkedIn keeps you visible to professionals in your network and prospective employers looking for candidates. But what you post is even more important than how frequently you post. As a new grad looking for your first job, here are some thought-starters on what you should be posting on LinkedIn:

  • Professional ideas or insights: Do you have a solution to propose for a recurring challenge people in your field face or a better approach for a particular task? Don’t let inexperience deter you from sharing your views. Your academic knowledge and fresh perspective may be valuable to someone who has been in the industry for years.
  • Something you learnt or were inspired by: Read an autobiography or quote that resonated with you? Share it with your network to inspire them. (Don’t forget to attribute it to the original writer.) 
  • Updates on your professional life: Keep your network in the loop by sharing updates about what you’re up to professionally. If you recently completed a certification or landed a new job, share your achievement with your connections. This is also a great way to showcase new skills to employers in your network.
  • Industry news and developments: You can also share informed opinions on industry news or your predictions about how a particular development will impact your sector.
  • Opinions or insights on other people’s posts: Engage with other people’s posts to initiate or continue a conversation. Avoid posting uninformed or argumentative opinions. It is okay to disagree as long as you do so in a respectful manner, explaining why you think differently.

Tip: Avoid posting personal updates irrelevant to your professional life or getting into arguments with trolls on LinkedIn. Adhere to basic Internet etiquette, be mindful of your language, avoid all caps (it’s the internet equivalent of screaming) and proofread your content to ensure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes. Before you post anything, ask yourself whether it will reflect well on you if a potential employer were to see it. If the answer is yes, post away!

Be Prepped to get hired

At Prepped, our objective is to help you approach your job search fully prepared. Our tools will help you build an ATS-friendly resume and improve your interview skills, so you can navigate your job search with confidence. Sign up for Prepped to access the tools and resources you need to land your first job.