Career guidance: using LinkedIn

Online networking is a very powerful tool when used properly in a search for a job. Target Jobs, providers of online careers advice and a job search engine, say that LinkedIn has more than one hundred and twenty million users worldwide, making it the most popular professional networking website in the world. Job hunters can use LinkedIn for information and leads about career paths, organisations and specific jobs.

Setting up an account

Setting up an account on LinkedIn is simple, however, people who are using LinkedIn to find a new job, should remember that their profile page will be visible to potential employers. In order to set up an account, visit the LinkedIn website, and enter a few personal details such as name, email address and location.

Have a think about your e-mail address before signing up, comedy e-mail addresses might seem like a good idea, however, it could seem very unprofessional to a potential employer. People who do not have a suitable e-mail address can create a new one using their own name and/or profession, for example,

Your LinkedIn profile

Take the time to fill in every section in the profile. LinkedIn measures ‘profile strength’ from 0-100%. The more complete the profile is, the better the chances are that recruiters will find you. Do make sure:-

  • the profile picture is professional
  • the profile is like a resume, for example, by highlighting any accomplishments
  • to include industry/job function key words and phrases in the profile
  • to check spelling and grammar
  • to update status regularly.

For further information about how to edit a profile, see the LinkedIn Help Centre.


There are numerous ways of developing a network once an account has been created. There are three degrees of connection, known as the first, second and third degree connections.

People with whom you have a direct connection are known as first degree connections. Everybody connected to your first degree connections is a second degree connection and all those connected to the second degree connections are classified as third degree connections.

You can also join any groups that interest you. To search for groups, use the search field at the top of your homepage, or alternatively, use the LinkedIn Groups you may like page. For further information about group networking, see the LinkedIn Help Centre.

Anybody who is not in any way connected to you falls into the ‘out of network’ category. People in this category can be contacted via InMail, however there is a charge for this service.

For further information about InMail, and how to use it, see the LinkedIn Help Centre.

Who can see your profile?

The default setting on LinkedIn generally allows everybody who uses LinkedIn to see your profile. Personal information, such as your email address and telephone number, can only be viewed by your first degree connections and people with whom you have corresponded via InMail.

For further information about visibility, and how to control your settings, see the LinkedIn Help Centre.

Skill endorsements 

Skill endorsements can add value to your profile. This is a one-click system that allows your first degree connections to endorse the skills listed on your profile. You do not have to ask people to endorse your skills, some of your connections may visit your profile page and do this anyway.

Skills will ordinarily fall into two main categories. The first is general transferable skills, for example, communication, problem solving and supervision. The second would be the more specialist skills that relate to your particular profession, for example, MURs, consultation skills and flu vaccinations.

For further information about endorsements, see the LinkedIn Help Centre.


Endorsements are not the only way that you can get recognition for your skills and qualifications. Unlike endorsements, which are a simple one-click way to recognition, a recommendation is a written statement from a connection. According to LinkedIn, viewers of your profile will often look at recommendations to see what others have to say about your work. For further information about recommendations, including how to request them and who can see them, see the LinkedIn Help Centre.

Looking for jobs

Here are some of LinkedIn’s top tips for searching for a job:-

  • register for the free Job Search Webinar
  • build your network
  • update your profile
  • check the Jobs You May Be Interested In and Jobs in Your Network sections on the Jobs page
  • tell your network you are looking for a job by posting an update on your homepage but only if you don’t mind everyone, including your current employer, knowing
  • ask for recommendations from the people who know you best.

Try to ensure that your LinkedIn profile sells you as well as your CV does and ensure that your network represents your professional network, rather than your social network.

Other useful information

See our Looking for work: job vacancy sites fact sheet

See our Careers advice and options for pharmacy graduates fact sheet

See our Career guidance: creating a CV fact sheet

See our Career guidance: completing a job application form fact sheet

See our Career guidance: job interviews fact sheet

See our Looking for work: creating a CV fact sheet

Special thanks go to Renovo, a provider of career management, redeployment and outplacement support, for their help with the production of this fact sheet.

This fact sheet was last reviewed on 6 February 2020.