Written by Joe Quantick Reading time: 6 mins
LinkedIn can be a great resource for students. If used properly it helps you get past the gatekeeper of the company, someone like a receptionist. You can speak directly with the Practice Manager or Clinical Director about any vacancies. But having a profile alone is not enough. Ask yourself these two questions:
What makes you different?
How many people view your profile?
The good news is you don't have to do much on LinkedIn to do more than most other people. Take a look below at our advice on how to get the most out of LinkedIn as a student:
Building Your Profile
Use a proper photo
No mirror selfies or Snapchat filters, use a professional-looking headshot for your profile. By no means do you need to go and pay a photographer to take your headshot - get a friend to take a picture of you from the shoulders up with a plain background such as a bedroom wall.
Make best use of the headline
Ensure that your headline is descriptive, accurate, and uses keywords linked to the industry. Remember, LinkedIn is essentially a search engine so make sure your headline at the top of your profile is best suited for search engine optimisation. Think about what potential recruiters and connections will be searching for and include those words in your headline.
Don't cut corners on writing your summary. This is what recruiters and potential connections will look at to decide if they want to continue reading or not. Think of it as a cover letter; what could you bring to a company in the future? What are you passionate about? Maybe include a fact or two about yourself too.
As a vet student, you will probably have little experience or maybe none at all. That's okay- you are a student and are not expected to have 10 years' experience. You might want to think about enquiring with local practices if there are any work experience positions available over the summer though. This section shouldn’t be limited to veterinary experience when you are a student, include all the experience that you have. Different roles show transferable skills to the veterinary industry, for example, hospitality roles show experience working with customers. Any experience shows a willingness to wake up in the morning and turn up – don’t underestimate the value of that!
Going back to my earlier question of ‘What makes you different?’ be sure to list any awards you won at school. These can be academic, athletic, character-based… it really doesn’t matter! It helps to put you above the rest, which is what we are aiming to do. If you speak another language – fantastic! List. It. Down. There are specific sections for all the above, so be sure to fill them out fully. Don’t be lazy – it will make a difference.
What Should You ACTUALLY Be Doing On LinkedIn?
Build your network by connecting with relevant people. Start with friends and family and build it from there. Don’t just send out 100 connections a day, search for veterinary professionals in your area, graduates of the same alma mater, local business leaders, etc. When you send a connection request – send them a message alongside! Be sure to make it personal and tell them why you want to connect. When you have built up 100 or so connections you can start to make the best use of the ‘People You May Know…’ tab. Remember… quality over quantity!
What’s the point of having a LinkedIn profile if you aren’t active?! You don’t need to write 15 paragraphs on a clinical procedure, but if you learned something particularly interesting at vet school, post about it. If you want a practicing vet’s opinion on something, post about it and tag some vets in it. Tagging is really important. People are more than happy to enter a debate/weigh in if they have been tagged in something and it’s a great way to share a post. When someone comments on your post, sometimes it will pop up on their connections’ timeline, and then they might weigh in too! Make sure you thank them for their opinion, don’t just leave them hanging. It’s important to comment on people’s posts too. It’s a great way to grow your name and start a discussion. Congratulating people on new roles is a great way to do this. All of the above helps to forge stronger relationships with your connections and also find new ones!
There are 100s of Veterinary Groups on LinkedIn. Just go to the search tab, type in veterinary, and then filter by group. Of course, not all will be pertinent to you, but pick 10 or 15 that are and request to join. When in the group, it’s another place that you can share your posts – it’s full of your ‘target market’! The same rules apply as before – be sure to tag people in it and reply to any comments thanking them for their input.
There’s such a shortage of veterinary professionals right now… it’s never been easier to get a job. Practices are counting down the days until the next batch of fresh-faced students graduate so they can snap them up. If you know of a particular practice or area that you would like to work in once you graduate, connect with the Practice Manager or Clinical Director, and send them a message. Introduce yourself, explain that you’re a vet student and would love to work in ‘x practice’ or ‘y area’ when you graduate, and enquire about their recruitment process. The most important part about this is to MAKE IT PERSONAL! So many people go around sending the same copy-paste message to everyone, just changing the practice name and location. You need to tell them why you want to work at that practice in particular. Even if you are a first-year student, they may invite you in for some work experience or even just for a coffee. It’s never too early to build connections!