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Boost Your PhD Job Search By Doing These 10 Things On LinkedIn Right Now

Written By: Aditya Sharma, Ph.D.

My advisor used to tell me that LinkedIn is a waste of time and that I shouldn’t make a LinkedIn profile.

Only weirdos who have failed and left academia are on LinkedIn.

So of course, I did nothing with the LinkedIn profile I created the first year of my PhD.

I actually remember thinking that maybe I should delete it.

I wasn’t a failure, so I didn’t need a LinkedIn profile. Right?

That mentality stuck with me for a while.

I wanted desperately to succeed in academia and to become a professor.

I saw anything else as a failure.

But as I neared the end of my PhD, I realized that I did not want to be in academia anymore.

There was not a clear future for me in academia, and I was tired of the academic culture that surrounded me. I wanted something different.

So I started to research the career options that were available to me outside of the university, hoping that I would find something great.

And what I found was abundance.

There were so many different types of jobs for PhDs, and so many different companies who wanted to hire people like me.

If I wanted to get noticed by these employers I had to enter their world.

That meant I had to be on LinkedIn.

So I learned how to create a good profile, I joined groups, and I contributed to the LinkedIn platform regularly.

I made great connections on LinkedIn, and some of those connections did lead to job opportunities for me.

Why PhDs Must Be Active On LinkedIn To Get Hired In Industry

LinkedIn is the largest and most popular online professional networking platform.

According to LinkedIn, there are more than 30 million companies represented on LinkedIn, and more than 20 million job openings listed.

There is so much opportunity for you on LinkedIn.

To ignore this platform will put you at a major disadvantage in your job search.

You need to have a LinkedIn profile so that employers can find you online.

The Society For Human Resource Management reported that 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn when finding job candidates online.

So recruiters are actively looking for job candidates.

But you need to find a way to stand out to recruiters, because as of this year, LinkedIn has 590 million users.

And the key to standing out is to be active.

You can’t just have a LinkedIn profile, that’s not enough, you need to use LinkedIn regularly.

Kinsta reported that although there are more than 500 million LinkedIn users, only 3 million people share their own articles every week.

LinkedIn will reward those active users by showing their profile and their posts to more people.

For you, this means that by being active on LinkedIn, employers are more likely to see your posts, and you are more likely to show up in their search results.

10 Things You Can Do On LinkedIn Right Now To Get Noticed By Recruiters And Hiring Managers

You cannot just make a LinkedIn profile and then walk away.

To really make the most of LinkedIn you need to engage with the platform.

LinkedIn is a social networking platform, and they will reward you for using it to network, to share and to interact with others.

Put whatever fear you have about using LinkedIn aside and start getting noticed by recruiters.

Here are 10 strategies to boost your LinkedIn visibility and get hired in industry…

1. Remove ‘Graduate Student’ or ‘Postdoctoral Fellow’ from your Linkedin headline.

The LinkedIn algorithm is working behind the scenes to rank your profile in the search queries that people make on their platform everyday.

Recruiters rely on this algorithm to show them potential candidates for the jobs they are trying to fill.

A recruiter will go onto LinkedIn and search for the position they are trying to fill. They will use keywords for the job.

So if they are looking for a product manager in Toronto, that is exactly what they are going to put in the search bar, ‘product manager Toronto.’

Then LinkedIn will show them profiles that match the search.

If you were targeting product manager positions near Toronto, then you would really want to show up in that recruiters search.

That way they will contact you.

But if your headline on LinkedIn says ‘Graduate Student,’ ‘Graduate Research Assistant’ or ‘Postdoctoral Fellow’ you will never show up in the search results.

LinkedIn weighs your headline very heavily when deciding what search results your profile will appear in.

So get rid of the academic titles.

Instead, add in the key words for the industry positions that you are targeting.

This means including the position title, key skills, and the location in your headline.

Once you do that, the algorithm will associate your profile with those keywords and you will start to appear in the search results.

2. Comment regularly on other people’s posts.

Networking is about making connections with other people.

To do this on LinkedIn, you can send messages to people, but an even more powerful way to connect is to comment on their posts.

Leave a text-only comment that is several sentences long.

Don’t just write, ‘Great post!’

Instead, be considerate and write a comment that adds to the discussion they started with the post.

Show them that you are interested in what they have to say, because this is an incredible way to build rapport with someone.

And plus, if you comment on their posts they are more likely to comment on your posts, and then the LinkedIn algorithm will rate your profile higher.

It’s win-win.

3. Add a personalized banner image that contains text.

Most people who view your profile will only look at the very top of your LinkedIn profile, the ‘above the fold’ section of your profile.

‘Above the fold’ refers to the part of a web page that the viewer sees without scrolling down.

The main item that appears in this section of your LinkedIn profile is your banner photo.

This is valuable real estate.

Do not just leave your banner as the default LinkedIn photo, that is a big mistake.

Personalize this banner with a stock photo.

And to really take it to the next level, put some text into the banner photo. Use keywords or a key quote that is representative of you and the positions you are targeting.

4. Make regular text-only posts on LinkedIn.

You have to be active on LinkedIn to get any value out of it.

It’s just the way it is.

And this means that you need to add to the discussions that are happening on LinkedIn by making posts.

The best posts are those that contain only text.

Create a strategy for yourself and plan to post something about your field of interest once a week.

Use your PhD skills to create a strategy and then be consistent.

Over time this will make a huge impact to your LinkedIn visibility and you will see an increase in the number of people contacting you.

5. Tag other people in your posts when relevant.

When you do make your posts on LinkedIn, tag your connections when it’s relevant.

Perhaps you know they are interested in the topic you are posing about, or maybe something they said inspired the post. Tag them.

You can tag people using the @ symbol.

You might find it difficult to tag people in your posts at first, but the more you engage on LinkedIn the easier it will become.

If you are posting regularly and commenting on other people’s posts as well, you will start to build up a network of people that you will want to share your posts with.

Be sure to not tag people if it doesn’t make sense to tag them, that’s a good way to annoy someone.

6. Use hashtags in your posts.

In your posts you should also be using hashtags.

LinkedIn uses these hashtags to decide who should see your post and will show it to people who have previously shown interest in the words you tagged.

When starting to use the hashtags, LinkedIn will recommend what keywords you should be using.

So if you start to write #drug, LinkedIn will give you some suggestions for how to finish the hashtag.

Use these suggestions because these are the keywords that other people are using, and if you use them too, more people will see your post.

People can also ‘follow’ a hashtag.

So if you use a certain hashtag then your post will show up in the newsfeed of anyone who is following that hashtag.

Using hashtags in your LinkedIn posts is a great way to increase the visibility of your posts.

7. Get above 500 connections on LinkedIn.

500 is the magic number.

Once you reach this number of connections, LinkedIn will automatically favor your profile more than those that do not have 500 connections.

Start by connecting to the people who you already know.

Include a nice note with your connection request and open the door for a conversation, you never know what might come of it.

Next, start a regular habit of connecting with a certain number of people every day.

Whether it’s 2 or 20 people you connect with every day, be sure to send a personalized note along with your connections request.

Then make a follow up plan to send those new connections new messages regularly, add value to them, build rapport and build up the quality of your network.

Don’t stop connecting once you’ve reached 500, but once you do reach this number LinkedIn will give your profile a boost.

8. Curate and share high quality content.

You might not always have something interesting to post on LinkedIn.

But other people are constantly posting things, and you see lots of these posts in your newsfeed.

So in addition to making your own text-only posts, you can share other people’s content.

You might share an interesting article you read, or share a post that someone else made that you found interesting or impressive.

Be on the lookout for good content to share.

Don’t share everything you see.

Be selective and become a curator of good content.

You want people who see you posts to think, “Wow, they always share such interesting posts.”

By being active on LinkedIn, the algorithm will reward you, and by sharing good content you will build up rapport with your network.

9. Use the special ‘Kudos’ feature on LinkedIn to highlight someone’s accomplishment.

LinkedIn recently created a new ‘Kudos’ feature.

This is a special type of post that is used to congratulate or thank someone on LinkedIn.

The post has a fancy banner associated with it.

Kudos is not something you should use regularly.

This is a very special and selective type of post that you should reserve for people who you know will appreciate it.

Was there someone who went above and beyond when they helped you out during your job search?

Do you have a colleague who has just been doing an amazing job and you want to thank them?

Those are times to use the ‘Kudos’ feature.

When you do use ‘Kudos’ make sure you describe why you are giving the person this recognition and then tag them in the post.

10. Write and publish ‘articles’ on LinkedIn.

In addition to the regular posts that you make on LinkedIn, they have a separate part of the platform called ‘Pulse’ where you can publish articles.

This is a place where you can showcase your written communication and your knowledge of your field.

Remember as a PhD you are an expert in your field and you have a valuable perspective to add.

You can write an article summarizing a recent paper you enjoyed or discussing a recent development in your field.

This does not need to be a scientific paper.

In fact, it shouldn’t be!

This is a place for you to practice translating your technical expertise into a format that a general audience can understand and enjoy.

Choose a topic you are passionate about and get writing.

LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool in your job search. It can connect you with industry professionals, recruiters, and hiring managers that you would never have known about. Plus, considering the way job searching works now, not having a LinkedIn profile is harmful to your job search. But you can leverage LinkedIn and start getting contacted by recruiters if you remove ‘Graduate Student’ or ‘Postdoctoral Fellow’ from your Linkedin headline, comment on other people’s posts, add a personalized banner image that contains text, make regular text-only posts on LinkedIn, tag other people in your posts when relevant, use hashtags in your posts, get above 500 connections, curate and share high quality content, use the special ‘Kudos’ feature on LinkedIn to highlight someone’s accomplishment, and write and publish ‘articles’ on LinkedIn.

To learn more about how to Boost Your PhD Job Search By Doing These 10 Things On LinkedIn Right Now, including instant access to our exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the wait list for the Cheeky Scientist Association.

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Aditya Sharma, PhD

Aditya Sharma, PhD, earned his advanced degree at the University of Toronto, Canada. Now, he combines his passion for all things STEM with keen business acumen, and he works as a scientific consultant at a top Canadian consulting firm.
Aditya Sharma, PhD


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