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Why you should have a LinkedIn profile – and how to use it

Posted June 22, 2021

LinkedIn describes itself as “the world’s largest professional network on the internet”. And with 756 million members worldwide(1), it’s important you have a presence on here too. Find out where you should begin and how to get the most out of LinkedIn.

This is a meaty guide, so if you haven’t got 5-10 mins to read the whole blog, use these hyperlinks to jump down to the sections you’re most interested in:

Why join LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is different to other social networks. People connect on this platform on a professional level. This doesn’t mean it’s all about suits and university chat. But it does mean that it’s a work environment. It’s a place for you to talk about your work/education history and achievements to date. To find companies you’re interested in working for or to learn about what they’re doing. And to connect with past colleagues, like-minded individuals and, perhaps, those whose career path inspires you. It could even be a place you find a job, as some companies use LinkedIn to advertise and find new recruits.

Do I really need to join another social network?

Perhaps you’re already using Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok, and have a good number of followers already… why do you need to join another social network? Or maybe you steer clear of social networks altogether, preferring to connect with friends in real life…

Whatever your feelings towards social networking, don’t ignore LinkedIn. It’s not like more personal networks – like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok – where you might share bants and cat pics. The mindset of people on LinkedIn is different. On TikTok, for instance, you probably scroll through posts to be entertained or to kill time. You’re in a ‘casual mindset’. But on LinkedIn, most users have what’s called a ‘purposeful mindset’. They’re actively investing their time – whether it’s to make useful contacts, search for job opportunities or engage with brands they’re interested in(2).

This also makes it a positive environment; generally, there’s less negativity and angry ‘noise’ than you find on other platforms. It can also be a very supportive place; with members congratulating you on achievements or work anniversaries, for instance.

And if that hasn’t persuaded you that you need to sign up pronto, these staggering stats might:

  • 40 million people use LinkedIn to search for jobs each week
  • Three people are hired every minute on LinkedIn(1)
  • There are 57 million companies on LinkedIn – one of them is likely to be your future employer!

How do I get started?

The first thing you need to do is sign up to the platform. It doesn’t matter if you’re not in work, or still at school, college or uni. You can sign up to LinkedIn from the age of 13 so you don’t have to worry about being too young to use the platform.

Your step-by-step guide

  1. Create an account with LinkedIn. You need an email address and to complete some straightforward security checks.

  2. Answer some questions about your current position (e.g. whether you’re in work or college) and where you live (LinkedIn will use your location to show you information it considers relevant to you). You can also import contacts and ‘connect’ with some people it suggests at this stage – or skip these steps for now.

  3. Once you click ‘finish’, you’ll be able to see your LinkedIn page. Your ‘feed’ contains posts from brands or people you follow, along with promoted posts (these are ads – and usually they’re targeted so they’re considered relevant to you. You can choose to follow anyone they recommend – or ignore).

  4. Before you go any further, take some time to explore the site. Toggle through the tabs at the top – like ‘My network’ and ‘Messaging’ – to get a feel for how the site works. And click on some of the profiles of people or companies that LinkedIn recommends to get an idea of how they use the platform (bear in mind that company profiles look slightly different to individual profiles).

Personalise your LinkedIn profile

The best way to think of your profile is as your online CV. So, you want it to show all your qualifications and achievements to date. Along with your work and education history. That’s the bare minimum though – ideally you want to personalise your profile and make sure it represents who you are.

LinkedIn has lots of useful tools to help you improve your profile once the basics are in place. If you go into the ‘Me’ section and click on ‘View my profile’ you can see how your profile looks to anyone visiting the site. There are also some handy steps here to help you fill in any missing sections.

Top tip! Click on ‘settings and privacy’ in the ‘Me’ section to control what appears on your profile and manage notifications at any time (see more on this below).

How can I improve my profile?

Click on the ‘add to’ section by your name at any time to add new sections to your profile. Try to include as many as you can. Some will be more straightforward – e.g. ‘background’ is a list of your work and education history to date. But try to personalise each section. For instance, if you’re talking about a work experience placement, talk about the skills you developed or if you were praised for any achievements.

Your biggest opportunity for promoting yourself is the ‘about’ section. Use this to summarise the skills and qualities you have. Don’t worry if you don’t have much experience to draw on yet. If that’s the case, use this section to talk about where you want to be in the future (for instance, at the end of your apprenticeship) or what motivates you. 

Think about how you can sum up the essence of you in a few sentences (avoid writing more than a couple of paragraphs here – few people will read an essay). But don’t skip this section – this is the main thing people will read when visiting your profile.

Top tip! Are you a Young HPC member? Don’t forget to mention this when talking about your skills! If you’ve taken part in our Elevate programme, mention this. Or if you’ve been on a site tour, a skills day or dialled into a web chat, include this too. It shows valuable skills like commitment and a willingness to learn.

Also – think about what words people might use to search for you. So if you’re looking for an apprenticeship in welding, make sure you mention this (e.g. ‘I’m looking for new opportunities to begin a career in welding’), as this will increase your chances of being found in recruiters’ searches.

Top tip! Include a photo on your profile. You might be online and connecting with people virtually, but everyone likes to see who they’re dealing with. Try to include the most professional shot you have of yourself – it might be relevant to your career aspirations (e.g. showing you in high vis on a work site) or perhaps a shot from school or college. Avoid pics of you with your mates in a social setting.

Don’t forget about recommendations and endorsements. This is particularly important if you’re looking for work or making your next career move. If you’ve had a chance to do work experience, message your boss on LinkedIn and ask them if they’d be kind enough to spare some time to write you a recommendation or endorse any of your skills. Offer to do the same for them in return.

If you haven’t got any work placement contacts or previous employment, could you ask a teacher or family friend to write a recommendation for you? Or endorse any of your skills? It doesn’t have to talk about what you’ve achieved at work; it could simply be about your achievements and how you’ve demonstrated any in-demand skills or behaviours in a non-work environment.

How to find potential employers on LinkedIn

You’ve finessed your profile… now what? LinkedIn isn’t just great for showing off your skills; it’s also a really handy platform for learning more about employers you want to work for, researching new industries, and making connections.

In short, we’re talking about networking. And the beauty of LinkedIn – particularly if you’re shy about meeting new people face to face – is that it’s all done virtually. In fact, if you’re new to networking, LinkedIn is a great place to start. Read on to find out how…

The easiest way to start is to use the search engine on LinkedIn to find employers you’re interested in (see the Useful links section below for a list of employers at Hinkley Point C you might want to look up). Click on the ‘follow’ button to start following them – this will ensure their latest updates come directly into your feed. 

Also check out which companies are recommended down the right hand side of your profile, in case there are any related brands you don’t know, but which interest you. There’s no limit on how many companies or individuals you can follow. Your aim is to build your network – not by following everyone indiscriminately, but by selectively choosing who you’re interested in.

If you’re specifically looking for jobs, you can register for job alerts with employers too. Click on the ‘jobs’ tab beneath their profile and then click on ‘create job alert’ to set this up. You’ll then get notified whenever the company posts a job.

Top tip! Avoid connecting on LinkedIn with your mates. Get into the habit of using this platform for building connections with people that are related to your work or career goals. It’s not meant to replicate your profile on more personal networks; keep these platforms for your social life and LinkedIn for your work life.

When it comes to approaching individuals, you should personalise your ‘follow’ request. Click on the ‘add a note’ section in your message and type this in. Not sure what to write? Take a look at some of our sample templates below… Bear in mind, these are a guide only and you should customise your request each time, depending on what you want to get from the connection.

For approaching someone you’ve worked with previously

Hi [insert name], you might remember that we worked together for [insert project or employer name] in [insert date]. I’m keen to stay in touch in case our career paths cross again. I look forward to keeping up to date on your developments. All the best, [insert your name]

For following a new work colleague

Hi [insert name], I’m looking forward to working with you at [insert company name or project]. All the best, [insert your name]

For approaching people you’re inspired by or interested in working with in the future

Hi [insert name], I am really inspired by the work you’ve done at [insert company name] I’d really like to keep updated on your activity in case our paths should ever cross. Thank you, [insert your name]


Hi [insert name], I’d really like to connect with you, as I’m interested in working in the [insert name of industry]. I find the information you post really useful for helping me learn more about the sector and I’m keen to stay up to date. If you have any pointers for how I can break into the industry, I’d really like to hear them too. Thank you for your time, [insert your name]

For approaching someone you met at a careers fair or employer event

Hi [insert name], I met you at [insert event name] on [insert date]. I really enjoyed talking to you and learning more about [insert company name]. I’m keen to stay in touch in case any new opportunities should arise that are relevant to my situation. All the best, [insert your name]

Once you start to build your network, you might notice when you’re researching an individual that you already have a connection in common. In this scenario, you might want to message your shared connection and ask them to introduce you instead. Particularly if it’s to an organisation you want to work for or somebody you’ve not met previously. Alternatively, you could mention your shared connection in the ‘follow’ request direct to them (e.g. ‘I spotted that we both worked with [insert connection name]. I’m really interested in the work you’re doing now for [insert company name] so I’d like to stay in touch’.)

Top tip! Once you begin using the platform, you will start to receive follow requests from others. But don’t feel that you have to accept every invite you receive. Have a look at their profile and think about how they might support you on your career journey before you click ‘accept’.

How to raise your profile on LinkedIn

So your profile is set-up and you’re following the companies and individuals you’re interested in… what next? Do you just sit back and wait for the job offers to flood in?

We’d suggest not… Like your CV, your LinkedIn profile is a work in progress. You want to update it whenever you learn a new skill, make a new connection, add to your work achievements, and so on. And as well as updating the existing content in your profile, consider writing a post about it.

You can share pictures, videos or documents, alongside your status update. You can also write an article (but perhaps save this avenue for when you’re 100% comfortable using LinkedIn). Visual imagery is so important – think about it, would you be more likely to read a post with or without a pic? So think about posting a photo (it could be you proudly holding up your qualification certificate if you’ve just qualified) or another type of visual that fits the content of your post. Not sure where to find free images? Read this blog from LinkedIn to get some ideas.

Top tip! Be selective about what you post. Don’t do an update every time you have breakfast. This isn’t the platform for sharing your food choices or your favourite track on Spotify. Before you post, think ‘what do I want this to say about me’ or ‘how will this benefit my network’?

Your content doesn’t have to be life-changing. But it does have to be useful. It could be relevant to your own position (e.g. a job promotion or achievement). It could be topical (e.g. Mental Health Awareness Week). It could be relevant to your industry or workplace (e.g. a milestone reached in the construction of Hinkley Point C). Or it could be applicable to other people like you (e.g. a news story on T-Levels). There’s a lot of noise on LinkedIn, so make sure that your posts will be read by your network.

Some do’s and don’ts when posting on LinkedIn

DO bring in the personal touch, but only where relevant. People connect to one another through stories and shared experiences. So if you want to share your experiences of being turned down 10 times before landing your first apprenticeship, then do.DON’T share pics from your holidays; LinkedIn isn’t the place to share holiday snaps or discuss what you got up to at the weekend
DO tag other people and organisations – but only where relevant.DON’T tag everyone you know. Your followers will be updated when you post anyway; so only tag those who are relevant to your post.
DO use hashtags – the optimum number is 3-5.DON’T overdo the hashtags – this isn’t Instagram and the LinkedIn algorithm may view your post as spam if you include more than five hashtags in your posts.

Sharing is caring

Networking is a two-way interaction. So as well as sharing your own updates, consider sharing those from your network, posting a comment or interacting with your followers’ content.

For instance, someone you previously worked with gets a promotion. So underneath their post you leave a comment (e.g. ‘Great news on the new job – I look forward to celebrating with you soon’).

You can also share posts from your followers. For instance, EDF posts an update from Hinkley Point C on the latest milestone achieved on the project. Share this to your followers with your own commentary on it (e.g. ‘I’d love the opportunity to be working on a project of this scale and size one day.’) 

Alternatively, you might share a reaction instead – the most common being to ‘like’ a post. But you can also use another of LinkedIn’s reactions – read more on these in this LinkedIn help guide.

Building your LinkedIn network

Another avenue to explore on LinkedIn is Groups. These are a way to connect with like-minded individuals and build your network through a shared interest. There are an estimated two million groups, so you should search for those most relevant to you to avoid disappearing down a rabbit hole!

If you’re not sure where to begin, type the industry you’re interested in into the search engine, and click ‘in groups’ before you press ‘return’. For instance, a search for ‘lifting in groups’ produced this selection.

Joining groups is a great way to stay on top of industry developments, meet others in the industry (particularly important if you’ve not been able to do much face-to-face networking) and get advice if you’re job seeking.

Find out who’s interested in you!

LinkedIn comes with lots of powerful tools that help you find people you’re interested in – but also which help people find you. Click on the ‘view my profile’ tab under ‘Me’ and you will see a dashboard (only visible to you) of who’s been looking at your activity. The dashboard gives you stats on the following:

  • How many people have viewed your profile – and who they are
  • How many views your posts have had 
  • How many searches you’ve appeared in

If they’re not already following you, this could be an opportunity to contact some of those individuals checking out your profile and create a new connection. Just remember to have a look at their profile first to make sure they’re relevant to where you are now or want to go with your career in the future.

Then, depending on how serious or committed you are to using LinkedIn, there’s a huge range of tools and analytics available to you for building and refining your network or reviewing the success of your posts. For instance, click on ‘views of your post’ to get stats on the number of views of your posts and reactions (e.g. likes). If you want to pursue this, read more about LinkedIn analytics in this LinkedIn help article.

A quick word on privacy…

As with any social network, you need to know what people can and can’t see from your profile or when you’re networking on the site. To do this, click on ‘Settings and privacy’ under ‘Me’ and then click on ‘Visibility’ on the righthand side. Here you can choose whether you’re visible or viewing in private mode when you look at people’s profiles and their stories.

There are three levels of privacy for each and you can pick which one you want. If you’re visible, your search will show up in anyone’s account activity – and they will also be notified about it (assuming their notifications are switched on) . This is good if it’s someone you want to make a connection with. But perhaps not so good if you’re researching a rival company and don’t want anyone to know…

Just be aware that if you up your privacy settings to the highest (so you’re completely anonymous), you’ll likely limit the number of new connections you make, as they won’t know who you are!

Also under the ‘visibility’ section is the option to choose what your network sees – for instance, when you’re active on LinkedIn, update your profile or are mentioned in an article or blog post. So it makes sense to check you’re happy with the default settings – and change them if not.

There are numerous other privacy options in the ‘Settings and privacy’ section. For instance, you can check how your profile appears to non-logged in members via search; or who can see your list of connections. So it’s definitely worth familiarising yourself with the options available to you. While you’re here, also take a look at the ‘communications’ section to see your options for who can connect with you on the platform.

Don’t neglect your profile

If you’re new to LinkedIn, this is just the beginning of your journey in understanding how you can use the platform. New developments and tools are emerging all the time, so the best advice we can give is simply to use the platform.

Invest time in exploring how it works – it’s free, after all! – and how others are using it to see if you could be working smarter.

Useful links

Interesting young people to follow on LinkedIn:

Companies at Hinkley Point C or involved in apprenticeships to follow on LinkedIn:

More tips on getting the most out of LinkedIn:

  • This explanatory video from apprentice Molly Johnstone on getting started with LinkedIn is brilliant.
  • This blog is written for graduates, but there are some useful learnings for anyone when creating their LinkedIn profile.
  • If you’re using LinkedIn to find a job, this Google search is about LinkedIn tools available for job seekers
  • Read more info on LinkedIn Groups.
  • This blog has some really useful suggestions for how to use LinkedIn’s analytics data to improve your presence on LinkedIn.
  • If you want to become a LinkedIn pro, take a look at LinkedIn Learning. This is their learning and development programme – there are thousands of online courses on here, focused mainly on business, technology and creative skills. There’s a rolling monthly fee, but you can trial it for a month. So if you want to finesse your skills in a short time, consider taking up the free trial and cancelling at the end of the trial period.

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