Online-Profile for the Application

The topics of online recruiting and active sourcing are becoming increasingly important for companies. Applicants should therefore be equally present with online profiles in career networks in order to benefit from this trend. In the following, we would like to give you some tips on how you can use profiles in online networks profitably for your career planning and career start. 

Types and benefits of different networks

Social networks such as Instagram and Twitter are suitable for private use, for example to stay in touch with fellow students, acquaintances and friends. With regard to career matters, these media are particularly useful for obtaining additional information. Cross-industry and cross-departmental career networks such as XING and LinkedIn can be used much more directly and actively during the application phase. LinkedIn is currently the largest international career network; XING is currently the largest career network in German-speaking countries. How you can make the most of XING and LinkedIn is described below. In addition, expert networks such as Experteer or ResearchGate offer professionally experienced specialists, managers and academics the opportunity to network professionally and to be found by HR managers and headhunters.

Companies in career networks

Companies pursue various goals with their presence in career networks and social media channels. These include promoting the company and the employer brand, e.g. through advertisements and company profiles. In career networks, especially XING and LinkedIn, on the other hand, the focus is on recruiting goals. The possibilities here range from placing job descriptions and directly approaching candidates (active sourcing) to fill a specific position, to approaching potential candidates to build a talent pool for future vacancies.
Active sourcing involves searching for suitable keywords that are decisive for the position to be filled or the company. After the successful approach, there is often no need for a formal application; instead, the contact is deepened, e.g. directly in a telephone interview. 

Optimize your own online profile

Job seekers have various opportunities to present themselves as attractive candidates to companies in online networks. The first step is to optimise your own online profile. The more specialised candidates* are and the more specialist knowledge they can offer, the more they become the focus of Active Sourcing. In order to be found and approached, you should follow some tips:

  • Your profile should include keywords that are relevant to the position you are applying for, and your online presence as a whole should make it clear that it is a good fit for the job in question.
  • Compare your online profile with your "analogue" application documents and keep it up to date.
  • Avoid negative posts of any kind, e.g. about yourself, the current or former job, or references to political or religious views.

In the following you will learn how to optimize your online profile in detail.

The same requirements apply to a profile picture in career networks as to an application picture: friendly, open and at the same time professional. For more tips on application photos, please visit the KIT Career Service website.

If you use different career networks, use the same photo for all channels to increase the recognition of your profile. It is best to choose a picture that is facing the profile.


A short overview of your profile appears next to the profile picture. This short description is also displayed in search results. It should therefore provide a first, brief impression of your profile. For graduates, instead of the current job title and company, it may be useful to enter a short, keyword description of your studies, focus or initial practical experience and the desired activities. Example: "Industrial engineer with project and international experience" / "Application phase for the field of logistics planning in the automotive industry".


Further down in the profile, both on XING (section "I offer") and on LinkedIn (section "Skills"), keywords can be entered which describe the profile, knowledge and experience in more detail. This is an ideal opportunity to place key words for the desired area of activity. The profile will then be displayed in searches for these keywords and the networks can also make relevant job suggestions where appropriate.

In order to find suitable terms, you should, of course, be guided by your personal knowledge, skills and practical experience, but you should also research the requirements of your desired company or field of activity. Professional skills are best mentioned before soft skills.

Profile details on topics such as practical experience, education, qualifications and language skills should be as detailed as the respective sections of your CV. In addition to company name and position, this includes details of activities, (study) focus, relevant projects and achievements. Key terms should also be used here.


In addition to content similar to a classic CV, XING offers further options for entering information.
"I search": Parallel to the skills under "I offer", the type of job searched for can be specified here using keywords. As a job starter, open formulations may be useful if the desired field is roughly limited. In addition, this profile area can also be used to expand your own network by specifying which persons you would like to get to know, for example, for professional exchange.

Portfolio: In the portfolio there is the possibility to add free text or files such as photos or pdf documents. This can be used, for example, to explain past projects in more detail or to present one's own strengths, motivation for the job description or career goals, as well as practical activities or experiences abroad. Relevant keywords should also be used here in a specific way.

More profiles on the net: Here you can create direct links to other online platforms. These links can supplement the profile and refer, for example, to your own blogs, websites or presence in social networks. This also increases the chance of finding the individual profiles in the Google search. When using this profile section, you should take care not to link to websites that may portray you in a negative way that contradicts your appearance in career networks. In addition, all websites linked here should be just as well maintained and regularly updated as your profile in career networks.


Profile Slogan: At LinkedIn you can enter a slogan that will be highlighted below your name in your profile. Rather than e.g. a famous quote you can use keywords that help you to be found in the network. The best way to do this is to enter a meaningful text that summarizes your experiences, focus and/or strengths.

Recommendations & References: The skills entered in your profile can be confirmed by other LinkedIn members. In addition, there is the possibility to obtain references from your own network. Such confirmations may appear more authentic than mere self-declarations, so these features can add real value to your job search.

Select URL: LinkedIn offers you the possibility to choose your own URL. Here you should create an easily recognizable reference to your person, e.g. first and last name.


As with other online platforms, privacy settings are particularly important in career networks:

  • The actions taken while creating or editing the profile should not be initially visible to contacts or other members. Only when your profile is complete and up-to-date should you make it visible to other members.
  • If you want to be considered as a candidate for direct contact, you should allow the reception of messages from all members.
  • Only allow contact details and personal information to be shared with a very limited audience.

Overall, you should try to find your personal balance between privacy and providing enough accessible information to be identified and approached as a candidate. 

Job Search in Career Networks

One way to start your career through online networks is to be passively found by companies or headhunters. The central step for this is the profile optimization as described above.

In addition, you can also actively expand your network with interesting contacts through which you can obtain information on companies, entry opportunities or concrete job offers. You can find out how to proceed in the following sections.

Contacts who at first glance cannot help you with your career start can later be useful to your network. Therefore, add contacts to your network that you have met in various contexts outside the career network. These can be (former) colleagues, superiors, fellow students, customers, suppliers, business partners, but also relatives and acquaintances.

In addition to direct contacts, you can also connect with second level contacts, i.e. contacts of your contacts. You can find them by asking your contacts directly if they can recommend people who can help you with your job search or specific question. You can also use the member search function, e.g. on XING, to filter for second-degree contacts, or you can see in the employee overview of companies whether second-degree contacts are employed here. If you should come across interesting members in this way, first ask your direct contact whether he/she can recommend you or whether you may refer to the existing contact when making contact.

In groups that deal with technical or career topics, interesting members can be found who, for example, are active in the targeted industry or position, or who post concrete job offers. As a Premium Member on XING, you can also use the advanced search function in the "I'm looking for" category to enter keywords from your own profile, such as course of study, major or career goal, and thus display people who are looking for profiles like yours.

If you have found interesting members, you should not visit their profiles more than once without comment, as this may be visible to your counterpart. No later than your second profile visit you should contact the person. The following sections will show you how you can proceed in a clever way.


The first contact with members in career networks should always be accompanied by a personal message in which you establish a relationship with your counterpart. This could be a short explanation of how you came across the contact, what similarities both of your profiles have in common, or to what extent there has already been interaction between you, e.g. through profile visits, group memberships or in the context of a career fair. You should also briefly explain why you would like to get in touch with the person - for example, to discuss professional topics or experiences.

Hint: Messages to non-contacts can often only be sent as part of a premium membership. You can bypass this restriction by sending a contact request with an attached message. If the request is accepted, you can send messages to the contact without restriction.

Once you have built up a network, you should try to become constantly and actively involved. Even little time-consuming actions such as sending birthday wishes, congratulations on a new job or sharing posts can leave a positive impression. You can also write news yourself that your contacts can see. These can be short news related to your area of expertise, such as references to interesting press articles, blogs or study results. In addition, (specialist) articles or job search posts can be written in groups, you can also comment on the posts of other group members. You can use your contacts on personal level to obtain information on job announcements and employers, for example, or general advice on career planning. Such conversations can be continued by telephone or at a meeting. Asking directly for a job is only recommended in exceptional cases, e.g. if the member explicitly offers this in the profile or in groups.


Both XING and LinkedIn offer job exchanges where companies can post job offers. These job portals can be helpful resources, as they offer the possibility of using direct or indirect contacts as a source of information or even recommendation. Similarly, job offers are often posted in groups. This is a particular opportunity to contact the member who posted the job offer directly.

Career networks can also be used for career orientation before the search for a specific job:

  • Potential employers can be identified by using the search function to find out where employees with specific skills are needed.
  • By searching for people who have the same education as yourself, you can narrow down possible occupational fields.
  • In addition, it is possible to determine which qualifications, skills, and possibly further training, people have who already work in your desired position.
  • If you already have a specific job or employer in mind, company profiles or contacts who work there can be used to gather more detailed information for the cover letter or to prepare for an interview.
  • Career networks are often used to publish dates for career fairs, career events, workshops or webinars that can be helpful in the job search. (last access 02.02.2018) (last access 29.01.2018) (last access 01.02.2018) (last access 29.01.2018) (last access 02.02.2018) (last access 02.02.2018)

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