How to find a graduate job or internship on LinkedIn, a complete guide

In my previous article I have explained in detail how to create a good student profile on LinkedIn, which is basically how I set up mine. However, in this post I will go trough how to use LinkedIn to find a graduate job or internship.

Best education and learning quotes
Best education and learning quotes

Unsurprisingly, creating a compelling student profile on LinkedIn is the first step. Therefore, if you don’t have one, or if you think your profile is not strong enough, I’d strongly suggest you have a read through my previous post and come back here after that.

Sometimes step 1 is enough, although quite rarely, to find a graduate job or internship on LinkedIn. What do I mean by that?

Basically, the stronger your profile (filled with keywords!), the more it will get views and requests to connect.

These will most likely come from employers and recruiters looking for certain skills (those keywords).

Basically, job opportunities might come to you rather than the other way around. This is happening to me right now by the way.

In any case, I have already explained this in my other article, so let’s focus on how to use LinkedIn to find a graduate job now.

What is the best way of using LinkedIn as a graduate or student?

So I assume you have now built a good LinkedIn profile as a graduate or student. As it becomes more popular it will get views, requests to connect and it will appear in companies/recruiters searches.

These are all great benefits that come with a good LinkedIn profile. However, I would consider this a “passive” way of using LinkedIn. It will take time for your profile to gain traction on its own.

Moreover, you might get some job opportunities or you might not, it depends from many factors (e.g. demand for your skills, competition, macroeconomics factors etc).

What you can do for sure though, is to complement the passive use of LinkedIn with an active one. So how to use LinkedIn effectively to get a graduate job or internship?

The first thing you might think is to go to the job section and apply for jobs. After all, you now have a great student profile to apply directly, right?

Obviously this is great, but is this the best way of using LinkedIn? What is the difference then with other platforms/websites such as Indeed or Reed? None!

You can make a great student or graduate CV and then apply there. There is a really high chance that the same jobs are advertised across those platforms anyway!

How to use LinkedIn effectively to find a graduate job, the active way

Now let’s start from the fundamentals, what is LinkedIn? Or better, is it the same as other job websites?

No, not at all! It’s a social network, it’s meant for professional networking! This is where most students get it wrong, they misuse it.

In most cases, they either have an uncomplete and out of date LinkedIn profile that they randomly use; even worse, in other cases they use it just like other social media, commenting on friends’ posts and activities.

While there is nothing wrong in connecting with your friends or university mates on LinkedIn, it’s probably the easiest way to start growing your network. However, an unprofessional use of it looks bad, really bad..

Having said so, expanding your network on LinkedIn is key to find a graduate job or internship! So now we will go through how to expand your professional network as a student. It is here that the real active part starts!

Phase 1 – Expand your professional network on LinkedIn as a student

Now remember the goal, find a graduate job or internship. Who do you need to connect to on LinkedIn for that? This is what I had done at that time; (mind that you should do this only after you have a strong graduate profile!)

  • Go to the search bar and type “recruiter”, or “talent”, or “hr” etc; then your city or the city where you want to find a job (e.g. search for “recruiter London”, then “talent London” and so on);
  • You will see a huge list of people (several pages, depending on the city you are looking at);
  • Send a request to connect; only send a few per day, if you send too many you might be blocked for a couple of days, it happened to me!
  • Not everyone will accept your request to connect on LinkedIn, don’t worry, many will!

After going through this process for a couple of weeks, you will end up with a large network of recruiters in your contacts. Those will likely be from two main categories: agencies and actual companies.

Obviously send your request to all of them, although I will touch on both separately in the following steps. Now we can move to the next phase, which is to establish contact!

Phase 2 – Establish contact with recruiters, “hunting” a graduate job or internship

This is your opportunity to show how proactive you are.. trust me, they love this! Prepare a standard message where you introduce yourself, explain what are you looking for and show your ambitions!

You will need to contact recruiters directly; (remember to change name at the beginning, sometimes I forgot and it was a bit embarrassing!) something like this:

“Dear Mr/Mrs…, thank you for accepting my request to connect. My name is… and I am a graduate (or future) at the university of… I am specialized in… and I have a strong interest/passion for…I am now actively looking for a graduate role (or internship) to start my career in…Please feel free to have a look at my LinkedIn profile where I have listed all my education, skills (and work experience if any)…looking forward to hearing from you, with kind regards…

Obviously that’s just an example, only you know how to market yourself best! Again, from my experience not everyone will reply to your message, it is what it is unfortunately.

What happens next? Many will visit your profile (that’s why you should build a strong one before making contact); others will ask you to send your CV and will provide an email address for that; some will schedule a call to know you better or invite you to the office for a 1 to 1.

Those will most likely be recruiters from recruitment agencies rather than actual companies.

Few tips

A very important tip is to check your feed constantly!! This type of recruiters always post jobs ads on their profile first.

Why? Because they rely on their network! Why do you think they accepted your connect request in the first place?

Because they need to expand their network too! They need you as much as you need them (almost).

Recruiters who work for agencies have targets to meet, sometimes they need to find applicants on a very short notice.

They post those job ads on their profile so that their contacts can see them and enquiry directly.

In most cases they find what they need without needing to publish a proper job ad.. Basically, you will never see those jobs advertised anywhere unless you are in their connections!

Graduate job opportunities or internships gone like that..

Phase 3 – Engage with companies directly to find a graduate job or internship role

Remember that I mentioned a sort of difference between agency recruiters and company recruiters. We covered the first ones above, now let’s look at the others.

These will most likely come out of the results of your search for “talent + city” or similar. Many of those recruiters will have the job title of “talent acquisition manager” or “graduate recruitment manager” etc.

They have a high level of leverage in decision making when it comes down to talent recruitment.. You are proactively looking for a graduate job or internship, they really appreciate that!

Mind that here I’m not talking about the usual large companies everybody knows and applies to. Getting a graduate job with them would involve several stages including numerical and reasoning tests, video recorded interviews, assessment centres and so on. (I’m sure you know the drill with those!)

Here I’m talking about hundreds of companies you might never heard of, but that play a key role in the economy.

And I’m not referring to small or family businesses here (with all due respect), but to large established companies with great career prospects.

The good part is that their recruitment process is usually much more “human” than those multinationals, it usually involves a face to face interview and maybe a test, that’s it.

Not only you are establishing contact with their recruiters and hiring managers, but you are also putting your name out there..

The graduate job market is very competitive, simply applying for jobs is what the majority does, be different!

How to engage with companies directly to find a graduate or internship opportunities

As opposed to agency recruiters (who hire on behalf of many companies); company recruiters obviously hire on behalf of the company they work for. From my experience, they’ll reply to your message with more “enthusiasm”.

However, it is unlikely that they’ll advertise graduate jobs on their profile or invite you for a chat, although you might get lucky.

Usually they will encourage you to visit the company’s websites and the career section.

What you can do though, is to keep putting your name out there.. see the companies where they work? Follow them on LinkedIn.

They share an article on LinkedIn? Read it carefully and leave a comment, your opinion, a question, whatever!

Again, the objective here is to get your name known! When you make a thoughtful comment or ask an interesting question, other employees will interact with you. Some will even look at your profile and request to connect.

You are essentially networking virtually. Think about it this way: when a graduate job becomes available in that company and you apply, your name will be well known..

Basically you’ll have an advantage over other applicants!

Few tips

This process can be quite time consuming, although surely less than those standard graduate scheme applications (by now you can tell that I am not particularly keen on those).

Anyway, I would not suggest spending your days commenting on companies’ posts, networking with employees and so on.

What you could do, after having connected with those graduate recruiters and sent your message; is select few companies that you might have an interest to work for. You might also consider which ones are more likely to offer graduate roles or internships soon and start from those..

Another very useful thing you could do in order to find a graduate job on LinkedIn is to ask for an “informal chat” about the role.. Example:

  • you notice a graduate or internship role available for a company; you have recruiters from that company in your connections; before applying you contact them and ask for some insights on the role; (possibly asking for a short meeting on Microsoft Teams, which is widely used by companies nowadays).

Why is this useful? On top of what we already discussed (being proactive, interpersonal skills etc), you will show another important aspect: you think rationally! You are unconsciously showing a part of your decision making process on serious matters.

Phase 4 – Apply for graduate jobs and internships with your profile

This is what for many is phase 1, which again it is not the best way of using LinkedIn effectively! As we have seen in this post, there are so many things you can do to add value to your graduate job search!

In any case, this part is quite straight forward. If you are not familiar with LinkedIn at all, there is a portal where job ads are listed.

This is not any different from other well known job websites such as Indeed, Reed, Totaljobs etc. Again, you can use the search bar to simplify the whole process.

I’d suggest you type in things like “graduate”, “trainee”, “internships” and so on (even “entry level”).

This will basically give you results more in line to what you are looking for, and avoid you going through an infinite list.

When you apply for a job, three main things can happen; you apply straight with your LinkedIn profile (I loved that!); you are redirected to the company’s website to start an application (hated it); or you get an email address to send your CV to (usually happens with smaller companies/agencies).

Few tips

An important tip I want to give you is to filter your search results. For example, sorting your results from newest to oldest. Remember that sometimes being among the first applicants can be really advantageous!

In terms of location filters, I would not stress too much. Flexible working has never been so popular and it will continue to grow.

This means for example, an job ad that says London might also include a remote working option. So if you exclude London from your job search (let’s say you don’t want to move there), you might miss out on opportunities that include working from home.

I’m using London as an example since most companies are based (or have offices) there, but you get what I mean.

How to find a graduate job or internship on LinkedIn, conclusions

The graduate job market is extremely competitive, and unfortunately many struggle to find a graduate job or an internship role.

This often results in poor mental health, lack of confidence in the future and loss of hope/ambitions.

Most graduates and students looking for opportunities focus on the same companies. While for those few who manage to land a job this is great, for the majority who are rejected this causes a lot of stress. I know what it means, having myself being trough that.

With this post I wanted to provide an alternative route to find a graduate job or internship role. Sometimes the most obvious thing to do is to differentiate yourself from others, in this case from applicants.

I really hope you find this post useful, never give up! Best of luck, I’m sure you will get a graduate job or internship soon. If you like the content of this blog, you can find all posts HERE.

The network effect: “A phenomenon whereby increased numbers of people or participants improve the value of a good or service”; (source: Investopedia).