Daniela Teixeira is a journalism student at the University of the Arts London.
Journalism students up and down the country receive lots of guidance throughout their studies on breaking into the industry.
Go-to advice usually ranges from nailing your cover letter to preparing well for interviews, to the all-too-common customary nod to LinkedIn and using it to its fullest potential.
Promises that it will boost your profile and put you in front of potential employers fall flat when many students are unsure of what it is, how it works and why they should care.
Here is the low-down: LinkedIn has built a massive pool of 590 million users, across more than 200 countries, since its launch 16 years ago. It works like all your traditional social media networks. You can connect with contacts, create a profile, upload posts and media, comment and share on your contacts' posts, and crucially, search and apply for jobs.
It is like a digital, social CV, in front of a potentially worldwide audience and your next employers.
This idea alone puts a lot of students off creating a profile. Some also see it as too time-consuming, and others might feel it is not suited for young people.
To dispel those myths, social media expert Clare Jones recommends LinkedIn for journalism students as a place to show your talent and portfolio of work. You never know who might be viewing, after all.
"Numerous companies use LinkedIn for recruiting — most of the Fortune 100 use it," she said. "LinkedIn is your number one business network and it is not just for old fogeys.
"Used correctly, it is a great place to sell yourself professionally."
This is something that John Thompson, owner of Journalism.co.uk agrees with, as the platform allows both himself and his company to make connections.
"I have built an extensive network of journalists and related professionals in the UK which helps me propagate some of the content generated by Journalism.co.uk. This is also useful to anyone who successfully connects with me since they will immediately have second level access to a lot of useful industry contacts," he said.
However, having a presence on the platform is a bit of a double-edged sword. Being visible to potential employers and having a platform to communicate with those hiring is an obvious benefit and a good first impression. It can even improve your chances of landing an interview if done well.
As with any other social network though, Jones warns to think before you publish. Recruiters will undoubtedly do background checks on any applicant and the last thing you want is to give them a reason to put your application in the shredder.
"It’s also a place where things can go horribly wrong. There is probably also value in having a ‘crisis plan’ around damage limitation just like businesses do. Your reputation can be destroyed in a second and takes years to build," said Jones.
This is a point of view that is shared by Sue Llewellyn, social media consultant and former BBC journalist.
"If they can’t be bothered, I certainly can’t be bothered and you’d surprised how unprofessional and lazy some people can be. If you want to mess about with social media, have a locked account or use a false name," she said.
"It’s too easy to come unstuck if you’re not careful. But, if you use it well it will help you — I’m living proof of that."
They both advise to do regular Google searches to check-up on your online visibility for two reasons. One is to weed out any content you do not want to be seen. The second is to make sure the content you do want seen is ranking highly on search engine results. If it is not, you need to think about search engine optimisation.
"Be careful about details, for instance, that the spelling and grammar is fault-proof. Don’t just leave your profile to chance, keep checking and updating it regularly," Llewellyn added.
Next time your lecturer recommends you make the most of LinkedIn, do not roll your eyes or think it is not for you. Create an account and get active. It is the place to get on the first rung of the career ladder. This tells them that you are thinking of your future and how you come across — vital skills as a journalist.
You could be surprised at opportunities that open up for university projects, collaboration or work experience. If you start building your LinkedIn profile now, you will thank yourself when you become a post-graduate.
Journalism.co.uk runs a number of bespoke and in-house courses to help you with search engine optimisation, media and the art of Instagram with industry professionals. Check out our range of courses and book your place today
Free daily newsletter
- BuzzFeed UK launches #What2Watch live programme on Twitter
- Tool for journalists: Thread Reader, for turning Twitter threads into articles
- 'Speed dating' events help regional journalism students gain confidence and industry contacts
- Tool for journalists: SumAll, for gauging your social media presence
- Tip: Step up your networking skills