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How to use LinkedIn effectively

How to use LinkedIn effectively

Many studies have shown us the link between social media usage and increased anxiety. There’s always so much to live up to when you live your life online—and the pressure gets intense. LinkedIn is no different. It’s also a platform where you have to live out your corporate life—and is a fairly common requirement for many jobs these days. Having a LinkedIn presence is vital for career development but if it leaves you feeling worse after using it, that’s not a good sign. Let’s talk about how to use LinkedIn effectively.

Sharing her extensive insights with us is Valeria Ioureva, Founder of the career platform Mind the Grad. Valeria, a seasoned HR professional, embarked on her career journey with a bachelor’s degree in economics, initially unsure of her path. Her passion for working with people led her to HR roles at JP Morgan, where she gained extensive experience across various functions. After leaving her corporate career for personal reasons, Valeria found herself providing career advice to many, which eventually led to the creation of her platform which aids international students in navigating their careers, offering resources and personalised guidance.

Why use LinkedIn at all?

Let’s level with each other: we both know that LinkedIn isn’t strictly necessary for life—but it’s currently indispensable for career growth. Now, it’s mostly known for aiding in the job hunt, and that’s true. For industries where online presence is critical, a well-maintained LinkedIn profile can make a notable difference in how many interview invites you receive.

Valeria stated, “Having a LinkedIn profile with your achievements and a professional photo allows recruiters and potential employers to verify your credentials easily.” 

LinkedIn is your digital ID, but far more dynamic because it’s not just about proving that you’re a real person. It lists your job history, showcases your skills, connects you with professionals across industries, and keeps you updated on hiring trends—and that’s barely scratching the surface. 

“If a technical recruiter wants to see candidates’ experience quickly, LinkedIn is a go-to,” Valeria explained. “While it may not replace CVs entirely, LinkedIn can complement the job application process, streamlining it for both candidates and recruiters.”

On LinkedIn, you become a brand yourself—and you do whatever you do on there to appear more “attractive” to employers or even peers and employees. In the job market today, it’s not just about what you know, but who you know. Platforms like LinkedIn open doors to opportunities that might not be advertised elsewhere and give you access to the best mentors in their respective fields. Recruiters use it to find candidates, companies use it to promote their culture, and professionals use it to network and learn from each other. 

You’re not alone in disliking LinkedIn

Despite its benefits, many people remain hesitant to embrace LinkedIn. There are many, many reasons why—each vastly different—because LinkedIn happens to be a place where people like to be positive. There is often a flood of cheerful quotes waiting for you on your feed first thing in the morning, and when you’re having a tough day, it might not be what you want to see.

“There can be different reasons as to why some people don’t use LinkedIn. There could be religious reasons, where you don’t want to share a lot of personal information in your photo, or maybe personal privacy issues. Some people really care about their online footprint. They don’t want someone to be able to Google their name and find where they work, their location or their position,” Valeria shared.

“The third reason is mental health. A lack of confidence or comparing yourself to others (could worsen it). Let’s say you graduated and then took a one- or two-year break, and you join LinkedIn. You start connecting with your peers and they already have top jobs. They’re earning, they’ve been progressing or promoted, or they’ve got another master’s degree and you’re still in the same place.”

This insight stems from Valeria’s own experiences with feeling less confident while using LinkedIn. “You start comparing yourself and because you’re not confident with where you are in your life at the moment, you start thinking people are judging you. I felt that way when I left my corporate career and started a business. Everyone was getting promoted, and I was posting videos about how to create a CV,” she said.

Focus on your mental health

For those struggling with LinkedIn’s impact on mental health, Valeria’s advice is to be mindful of who you follow and the content you engage with. 

“For any user of social media, whether it’s TikTok, Instagram, or LinkedIn, you should be mindful of who you follow and what content you engage with, because you can control that algorithm. You can follow people who are motivating or leaders in your field, or mute people if you don’t want to unfollow them,” she elaborated. 

“I have people reach out to me and say, ‘Valeria, I see so many negative videos on TikTok that it’s affecting my job search. It’s super difficult. Everyone is so unfair.’ And I tell them, ‘The algorithm knows that you are re-watching those videos, commenting on them, and saving them. So, it gives you more and more of the same, altering your reality.’”

Just like you clean up your desk, clean up your online algorithm on LinkedIn as well—choose who you follow, and which companies and organisations you follow. If it keeps feeding you stories you don’t want to see, you might need to unfollow or mute those sources and use the platform for networking, messaging, and job applications instead. If it’s not making you feel better, consider leaving those feeds.

“I feel that in any social media or social situation, if you’re going through trouble or not achieving something you desire, it can be triggering. You need to recognise when you’re being triggered and try to avoid those situations as much as possible, without completely quitting social media, which I don’t recommend. There are healthy boundaries you can establish,” she added.

Remember, LinkedIn posts don’t show the whole story. Use others’ achievements as motivation rather than a source of comparison.

Here’s how to use LinkedIn effectively

Now that we understand what the issues at hand are, let’s dive into how to use LinkedIn effectively in a way that benefits you. Is your LinkedIn profile blank or non-existent right now and you don’t know what to put in it? That’s perfectly alright. Everyone starts somewhere and we have more extensive guides on how to set up your LinkedIn profile and optimise it.

To start, you need to have your name and your profile picture up. Valeria advises choosing a photo that conveys friendliness and enthusiasm rather than a strictly professional, overly serious one. A positive, approachable image can make a significant difference, as people naturally gravitate towards those who appear personable and motivated.

Following this, you can focus on the specific details you need to add to enhance your page. LinkedIn profiles should highlight your unique perspective and potential, not just your past jobs. Valeria’s advice is that your ‘About’ section, which is prime space for showing off professionally, should be eye-catching. “I’ve read some about sections that show why they’re passionate about a particular career, what they’ve learnt about it, and why they would be amazing at it—and this would be enough,” she explained.

Beyond work experience

Valeria also shared tips on optimising your LinkedIn profile beyond just listing job experiences, suggesting highlighting education, certifications, volunteer work, and even personal projects. LinkedIn offers numerous features to showcase your skills and build a well-rounded profile. 

Additionally, you should include any relevant projects, volunteer work, or certifications you’ve done. The goal is to showcase what you can bring to a future employer, and if you don’t have a lot (or any) formal work experience, you can still build a case for yourself.

“You have to realise that none of us have ‘nothing’ to show. Even if you’ve just finished high school, that is something you’ve done in your life. There are so many other features and aspects to it that you can utilise even without work experience or even with limited education. You can continue to upskill and get certifications and badges to display on LinkedIn. You can get people to write reviews on projects and volunteer work you’ve done.” 

The possibilities really are endless!

Humanise your LinkedIn profile

As we touched on earlier, the pressure to appear strictly formal could actually negatively impact your profile—there’s no personality to make you stand out. On the other hand, treating LinkedIn as a social media platform with a professional twist can be beneficial.

Valeria explained, “If you can smile or demonstrate positive energy in any way—enthusiasm—it’s always better. We are humans who are looking at photos. We’re not looking for the best-looking employee (unless this person is using LinkedIn to model for a TV show). So, someone who is smiling and looks positive is more likely to be invited to the next stage.”

Use imagery and text to craft that friendly and forthcoming persona. You can do this by being a little vulnerable in your About Us section and your posts, which is a great way to signal that you’re passionate and open.

You can even find a mentor

One of the biggest benefits of using LinkedIn is how easy it is to find a mentor. Valeria stresses that anyone can reach out to professionals for these informal meetings. Platforms like Zoom, popularised during the pandemic, have made virtual coffee chats more accessible than ever.  “It’s called coffee chats or quick meetings. These meetings can just be an informational exchange—informational interviews or informational coffees.”

Despite the daunting thought of reaching out to industry giants or well-established professionals, a well-crafted LinkedIn message could open doors for you. The key is specificity. 

When you reach out, explain precisely why you’ve chosen that person and what specific insights you hope to gain. This clarity not only makes the request more compelling but also helps the recipient understand how they can assist you.

“People love talking about themselves. You got me here because I feel important, I can share my knowledge and I can talk about myself. This is completely normal. We all love talking about ourselves, sharing our knowledge and feeling useful.”

What if they don’t respond?

We’ve all been there, where we’ve feared sending out a message and getting ghosted. Addressing the common fear of rejection, Valeria believes you shouldn’t take non-responses personally. She notes that even with the best approach, only about 20% of people may respond due to various reasons, including their own busy schedules. However, this is not a reflection of your worth or potential. Persistence is essential, and a single positive response can significantly impact your career trajectory. Valeria’s advice is to view these efforts as mutually beneficial—you’re offering your enthusiasm and potential as much as seeking their guidance.

Valeria encourages you to reach out confidently, knowing that not everyone will respond, but those who do can make a profound difference.

Valeria advises against using LinkedIn’s generic suggestions like “How have you been?” Instead, she suggests greeting someone positively and clearly stating why you’re reaching out. While you share your aspirations, make sure to highlight why you’re reaching out to that particular person. What did they say or do that made you think they were the right choice?

Starting a conversation with your request can be off-putting and may not yield the best 

To sum it up

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for professional networking, but its effectiveness depends on how you use it. In fact, for some careers, LinkedIn can be a critical part of the recruitment process. For example, if you’re claiming to be good at sales or branding, your LinkedIn profile should reflect those skills. 

Making your profile personable, sending thoughtful messages, and focusing on building meaningful relationships can significantly enhance your LinkedIn experience. Successfully reaching out to the right people, sending convincing messages, and confidently engaging in initial interactions can fast-track you to an interview. 

Additionally, while growing an audience can be beneficial for some, it’s more important to be intentional and strategic with your interactions. For those who prefer traditional networking methods, in-person events and industry-specific conferences remain valuable. 

Essentially, your LinkedIn activity can serve as a demonstration of your capabilities, particularly in fields that require strong networking and communication skills. LinkedIn can accelerate your job search and career growth while leaving you feeling more confident when used effectively. 

If you want to kick your career off the right way this year, book a call with us, and let’s talk about it. You can also subscribe to our newsletter for the latest career information, tips, and updates. (They’re both completely free!)




Kahless is a writer with a special interest in sociology. He spends much of his free time travelling, reading, writing, and stopping his cats from ripping apart everything he owns. It’s advised to bring along a strong cup of coffee (3 espresso shots minimum) when approaching him.

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