We were reading the other day on BuzzFeed about how LinkedIn doesn’t matter to the people who need it most (yeah, they don’t just post funny lists and cute pictures). The piece shows that the average age of LinkedIn users is 44. But with nearly 1 million young people out of work in the UK, shouldn’t that average age be a lot lower?

More than 11 million people in the UK are using LinkedIn, but it seems that young people aren’t really active users. In fact, statistics suggest that just 10 per cent of users in the UK are aged 18-24. Although a LinkedIn spokesperson told BuzzFeed that there are more than 20 million students and recent graduates on the site worldwide, older mid-career types still dominate the site.

Why should you use LinkedIn?

What you might not know about LinkedIn is that it’s not just for finding out who out of your schoolmates has made it and who’s still trying to get a foot in the door. In fact, a lot of companies post their vacancies on LinkedIn, and even if they’re not posting them, you might just get spotted by a recruiter who likes the look of your profile. A lot of recruiters spend all day trawling LinkedIn to find the perfect candidate for a vacancy so if you’re not on there you could be missing out.

How do I use LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a professional networking site, which is a bit like a social networking site but with less pictures of you getting drunk. It works a lot like other online networks though, so you have a profile and you can add other people as connections. The main difference is that your profile, instead of being about your personality, is essentially a CV that others can view. One quite nice feature of LinkedIn is that you get a notification when people have been viewing your profile, so you’ll know if someone is checking you out for a potential job.

There’s lots of advice online about how to create the best LinkedIn profile. The most important thing though is to complete it all. Having an incomplete or out of date LinkedIn profile is the equivalent of submitting a job application that’s only half finished. It’s not going to get you a job.

Here are our top tips for making the most of LinkedIn while you’re looking for a job:

  • Have a stand-out summary. Arguably the summary is the most important part of your LinkedIn profile, and also one of the hardest parts to write. What you need to remember is that the summary is a shortened version of why you do what you do (or why you want to do what you want to do). Be creative, without using the words “I’m a creative individual”. Write it in the first person (using I and me). It’s your opportunity to make you stand out from the crowd in a memorable way so make it memorable.
  • Have a professional picture. We don’t mean you need to have a really serious expression in your picture, but you probably shouldn’t use a photo where you’ve got a drink in your hand for example. A friendly, head and shoulders shot will be fine. Consider whether it’s the kind of picture you would put on the website for the company you dream of working for. If not, then you should probably reconsider using it as your LinkedIn profile picture.
  • Use keywords. The skills and expertise section of your profile is your opportunity to go keyword crazy. Think about every skill you have and can make use of in a work situation. Everything you can do should be in there, drawing, Photoshop, writing, social networking, analysing. Put it all in there. And encourage others to endorse your skills – nothing says ‘I can do this’ quite like someone else saying it for you.
  • Get recommendations. If you have people you have previously worked for as contacts on your LinkedIn page, ask if they would mind writing a recommendation for you. This will be shown to anyone who views your page and it’s a great way for potential employers to see that you really as great as your profile makes out.
  • Join groups. There are a lot of groups on LinkedIn that are perfect for jobseekers, but LinkedIn only lets you join a maximum of 50 so choose wisely which ones you decide to join. If you’re not sure where to start, Mashable have a list of some of the best for jobseekers.

Make sure you look out for GoThinkBig on LinkedIn too: our page is coming soon so make sure you join for all the latest features and opportunities.

Want help with your LinkedIn profile? The team at O2 will take a look and give you advice! Apply here.