**I do FREE Zoom LinkedIn workshops for college students. I have done LinkedIn workshops for fraternities and sororities, MBA students, as well as undergraduate students across a variety of majors. My schedule fills up quickly, so please contact me if you would like to work with me.**
LinkedIn is a professional social networking site that allows professionals and college students to showcase their skillsets, achievements, work, and academic experiences. LinkedIn can be essential for college students who are just getting started in their careers because it lets them connect with individuals in the industry and build a network. This guide is a summary of how to use LinkedIn for college students.
Never underestimate the power of networking. Your network, whether it’s professional, personal, or academic can help you build skills, gain experience, and even get you a job. While you’re in college, now is the time to build your network.
Additionally, your network may be able to connect you to a possible employer, they may know when a job opening will happen, or they can give you insight into the industry. Studies show that 70-80% of jobs are never advertised. How are these positions filled? Through networking. If you build a good enough network when you graduate all you have to do is reach out to them and someone may be able to recommend a job position—and you’re in!
Every Student Should Have A LinkedIn Account
I recommend every college student has a LinkedIn account. If you haven’t already created an account, sit down with a laptop or computer to start your profile. If you already have an account, this guide will ensure that your profile is ready for your peers and potential employers to see. Don’t try and create an account on the mobile app. I find the mobile app is best for maintenance and messaging and the computer is best for creating and setting up the account.
A well-put-together LinkedIn profile can set you apart from other college students. Let’s get started on creating a first-class profile that will gain the attention of recruiters and employers.
Be sure you clean up your social media profiles before you create a LinkedIn account, 5 Tips For Cleaning Up Your Social Media Profiles.
Your College Sensei on LinkedIn, feel free to connect with us.
1. Profile Photo – Your First Impression
The photo that you use for your profile will be your first impression. Therefore, it should be professional. Do NOT use a selfie, a trendy photo, or a photo with others in it. Instead, use a headshot in which you are wearing business casual or professional attire. You don’t need to have a professionally taken headshot, simply have someone take a headshot photo of you. Your background should be simple and not too distracting. Be sure to smile and look approachable and friendly.
2. Headline – Emphasis On Keywords
By default, LinkedIn will create your headline based on your current job title and company. The default headline that LinkedIn uses is pretty basic. You should ALWAYS update the headline to include more keywords. Employers and recruiters utilize keywords to find qualified job candidates. You can increase the chances of your profile matching the qualifications of hiring managers by incorporating keywords into your headline summary. You have 120 characters and I want you to use them all strategically and purposefully.
Including your current college name or company name is optional. List hard skills and job titles in your headline and separate them with / or |.
Examples of Good Headlines:
“Financial Controller at Company Name | Accounting & Finance Leader”
“MBA Finance Candidate at College Name | Seeking Opportunities in the Financial Sector”
“Supply Chain Project Manager | Innovative Problem Solver | Growth Driven Professional | Effective Communicator”
What If You Are Unemployed?
If you are unemployed, this should never be included in your headline as “Unemployed”, but always as “Seeking new opportunities”.
“Experienced and Certified HR/Training Professional Seeking New Opportunities”
3. About Section – Summary And Media
For college students, the LinkedIn About section can be intimidating as you try and write a summary of yourself. I’ll make it super easy for you. Just write a summary of your skills, talent, and expertise. You should mention a passion you have and a strength, award, or honor. It should be neatly organized into paragraphs of about 3 or 4 sentences each. If applicable, use bullet points to break up content. Take your time on this section. Your headline and summary are what most people, employers, and recruiters look at.
The media section is where you can add links to websites, blogs, and/or social media accounts. It is crucial to note that you should not link to personal social media accounts. Only link to professional accounts such as the company you work for, volunteer for, or a professional account that highlights the products or services you have for sale.
If you are a graphic designer, you may have a website and social media that showcases your designs and past work, these should be linked to your account.
4. Experience – Employment, Intern, And/Or Volunteer History
The Experience section is your own customizable informal resume. Since it is informal, you can use the first person. Experience should go beyond traditional employment history, also include any internships or volunteering that you have done, and highlight the skills you gained from those experiences. The Experience section can easily be utilized to expand on information on your resume.
Use bullet points to organize responsibilities, duties, and accomplishments. Note: LinkedIn currently doesn’t have an insert for bullet points. Therefore, you will need to copy and paste them from a Word Document.
Where applicable, try to include one quantifiable accomplishment in each experience. Such as increasing efficiency by a certain percentage, or sales increasing by a certain amount.
5. Education, Licenses, And Certificates
For those who have any college or trade school, whether in progress or completed, you don’t need to list your high school graduation or GED information. Employers will already know that you have a high school equivalent because of your in-progress higher education. All in-progress education should be included with your anticipated date of graduating.
On LinkedIn, students may include their GPA (if you want that information to be known). However, I recommend waiting to include your GPA once you have completed your degree as each semester it may change. Only include your GPA if you feel it makes you look like a hard-working and dedicated student. A low GPA isn’t the information that an employer needs to know about. Additionally, GPA typically doesn’t matter.
If applicable, include activities and societies:
- Honors Program
- Tutoring for certain subjects
- Academic Groups/Clubs
List all Licenses or Certificates with issue and expiration dates. Your licenses and certificates may not be applicable to every job that you want to apply for, but LinkedIn is your informal resume. Licenses and certificates show that you have taken the time to gain specific knowledge and skills which may set you apart from other qualified candidates.
College students should summarize their educational backgrounds in the summary of the About section, those on Linkedin like this. Being a student, your in-process of a college degree and any extracurricular activities are some of the strongest information you can include in your summary, especially if you lack work experience.
6. Skills And Endorsements
In the Skills section, you should add 3 main skills that you want to be known for. By default LinkedIn will display 3 skills only, to view other skills on your profile you will have to expand by clicking “Show More.” Don’t be afraid to re-arrange your skills as you gain new skills or change employment or industries.
If you speak multiple languages, you can list them here. However, I recommend listing them in the Accomplishments section instead. This will provide more visibility to your languages spoken and written.
Endorsements can be specifically given for individual skills that you list on your profile. Endorsements come from your connections. Your connections should be familiar with your skills and abilities. Therefore, endorsements of your skills validate them to recruiters. Note: Often endorsing others will encourage them to endorse you back.
Recommendations are not required to have a complete and effective LinkedIn profile. However, they can give your profile an edge. Recommendations can be received or given and you can ask for recommendations from your connections. The best recommendations are from Supervisors/Managers, Coworkers, Professors, and Clients. Develop your professional relationships prior to requesting a recommendation. Recommendations must have a personal touch, they must explain how you know the individual, and the qualities and skills they displayed to encourage you to leave the recommendation. Recommendations from fellow college students should reference how they worked in a group environment and what they contributed that is unique.
Accomplishments can be categorized as a Publication, Patent, Course, Project, Honor and Award, Test Score, Language, or Organization. With so many categories of accomplishments, it can be overwhelming to identify what information to include on your profile. Recruiters do not expect you to have an accomplishment in every category.
These are the most important accomplishment categories for recruiters:
- Organizations: Include all Organizations you’re in through college, employment, or volunteering.
- Language: List all languages spoken/written. Recruiters may be seeking bilingual candidates, and this gives your profile an edge.
- Course: As a college student, list courses that give you specialized skills that are applicable to the industry your career is in.
- Project: College students may also have projects that they worked on either in college, in a research program, or internship which gave them great experience and expanded their skills.
- Honor and Award: Include scholarships, academic awards, Dean’s Honor Role List, etc.
9. Create A Custom URL
Creating a custom URL will make it easier for people to find your profile. It also looks cleaner when included in your resume, job applications, or emails. Customize your URL by removing the string of letters and numbers that are automatically used when your account is created and replacing them with your first and last name. If your name is already taken, you can add your middle initial or middle name or include dashes between your names. Here are the instructions on how to Manage Your Public Profile URL.
10. Settings – Double-Check These
There are some settings that you should review to ensure they are set how you prefer. You can show recruiters you’re seeking new opportunities by adding the “Open To Work” photoframe to your Profile photo.
You can also update your Visibility, under Settings & Privacy. Update your “Profile viewing options” and “Edit your public profile.” If you are currently searching for a job, you want as much visibility to your profile and the information included on your profile. Therefore, you should allow all LinkedIn users the ability to view your profile. You can also update who can see or download your email address. Personally, I keep my email address available to my connections but not my extended network because I want to protect myself from any spam. I trust that I have built a valuable network of individuals with whom I’m comfortable with emailing me.
11. Tips to Build a Valuable Network
Before I finish up this LinkedIn summary for college students I want you to start building a valuable network by connecting with friends, family, peers, professors, and coworkers. You want valuable connections that you can reach out to when you need help or are seeking new opportunities. You also want connections that will engage with you and celebrate your successes. As you begin to grow your career you will grow your connections.
- Expand your connections by Connecting with Presenters and Guest Lecturers in your classes, training programs, certificate programs, and/or networking events.
- Connect with attendees that you have met and spoken to.
- Do NOT connect with strangers or random people who send you connection requests as they are not valuable connections.
Post updates about your academic and employment career, your job search/status, industry updates, and projects you’re working on to build engagement with your connections.