With more than 31 million users in the UK, LinkedIn can be a brilliant tool for building your professional network, connecting with likeminded people and learning about the world of work.

Over 15% of the social network’s UK users are aged 18-24. But if you’re just starting out in your career or looking to land your first job, it can be tricky to know how to get the most out of LinkedIn. Here are our top tips to help:

Build your profile

Your profile is the first thing potential new connections (and employers) will see, so it’s worth spending a bit of time making sure it gives the right first impression and keeping it up to date.

As well as adding details of your education history, gap year or summer jobs and work placements, writing an optional summary is a chance to say more about your interests, experience and what sort of opportunities you’re looking for. Click on ‘Add summary’ under the ‘About’ section of your profile. Write this in the first person, as you would introduce yourself to someone, rather than as if someone else has written it about you.

Don’t forget to add a (suitable) photo. People are less likely to trust or engage with faceless accounts. If you wouldn’t take a beer to a job interview, probably don’t have one in your LinkedIn profile pic.

You can find handy guides to editing your profile – and other features of the platform – in the LinkedIn help section: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin

Start growing your network

Most LinkedIn users are unlikely to accept random requests to connect, so a good place to start is with your university classmates, schoolmates and people you’ve met while doing work experience or internships. You can seek them out manually or sync your contacts via your account preferences settings on the LinkedIn app.

Connect with them now and it’ll be fascinating to see what everyone is doing in a few years. And who knows what opportunities will come from those connections further down the line?

What to say

If you aren’t an expert in your field (yet), it can be hard to know what to post about. And while there’s no point commenting for the sake of it, here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  • Post about what you’re up to – it sounds obvious, but if you attend an event, open day or seminar, it’s often good to thank the organisers or speakers and say what you thought about it. Include a photo or video clip to get more engagement
  • Follow companies or organisations you’re interested in or might want to work for – commenting on or sharing their content is a great way to show your interest. This will also help you gain a better understanding of what they do and get a feel for their culture
  • If you’ve seen a news report or read an article that’s relevant to the field you want to work in, why not share it with a comment?
  • Find influencers in your field and see what they’re talking about. Again, engaging with their posts shows you’re taking an interest and deepening your knowledge
  • Follow relevant hashtags to see more posts that are relevant to you and join conversations where you can add something of value

Whatever you do, do it consistently. Doing one or two posts then nothing for six months makes it look like you’re not really trying.

Be professional – but don’t be boring

Ultimately, LinkedIn is a place for professional networking, so the type of content you post and the language and tone of voice you use are likely to be different to on other social media platforms such as Instagram or Facebook.

It’s worth keeping in mind that your future boss could be reading anything you post, but that doesn’t mean you have to be boring. People tend to do business with (and hire) people they like, so don’t be afraid to show your personality.

Best of luck with your search for that dream job – and don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn at PKF Francis Clark chartered accountants and business advisers.

For more information about early careers with PKF Francis Clark, please visit: https://www.pkf-francisclarkcareers.co.uk/early-careers/