I have seen a lot of students wondering whether they should have a LinkedIn page while in school or at university. The answer is: definitely yes! If you’re in school, this is the perfect time to make a LinkedIn page to network, get acquainted with the platform, find a job, and build your online personal brand. In this post, I will teach you how to make an eye-catching LinkedIn profile that reflects who you are and how you can better portray yourself.
Add a profile picture
If you have a LinkedIn profile you should have a profile picture. It is the first thing anyone sees when they visit your profile. It helps people recognize you and put a face to the information that they read. Having a profile picture helps you build your personal brand. It shows who you are and what you are all about. Make sure your picture:
- Is high quality
- Is professional
- Only shows you, not anyone else (this includes pets)
- Shows your personality
- Fits the image that you’re trying to convey
Even though your profile picture should just be a clear picture of you, you can have fun with it and show off your personality. Look at some other profiles for inspiration.
Add a header
The header or background image is the image behind your profile picture. This is an image you can be creative with. Here are some tips for the perfect header image:
- Make it reflect your personal brand. This means that the image conveys a message that fits how you want to portray yourself and that it is consistent with your other images and information.
- Use Canva or a similar website or app to make your own header. I made one that shows some images of me in professional settings. You can also add text. For example, add three words that describe you in a way that is relevant to future employers and coworkers.
- You can also use one of the templates LinkedIn offers. Choose one that catches your eye and reflects (you already know what I’m going to say) your personal brand.
Add a headline
Your headline is the line under your profile picture. Usually, this line is just your function and the company you work for. But, if you’re a student you can use the headline to show your passion and creativity. You could write something like: “marketing student at Cambridge University | passionate about data analysis and creative branding”. Always keep anything you put on LinkedIn professional, but don’t be afraid to have some fun with it.
Add a summary
Your summary is your pitch. In school, you may have had to present an elevator pitch. Your summary is the same thing. It is one of the first things people see and it is the first opportunity on your profile to really get to know who you are and what you stand for. If you keep these tips in mind you will craft a summary that is vibrant and valuable to anyone who wants to get to know you:
- Think about your personal brand. Yes. Again. It’s important. The tone in your writing should be a representation of your tone in real life. Choose your words carefully to reflect your personality.
- Only the first three lines will be visible without expanding the text. Use those three lines to hook your reader. This is your pitch. You want to be so compelling, interesting, or creative in your first three lines so that the reader just can’t help but read on.
- Share your accomplishments, your career goals, your personality, and your mission statement (also known as your “why”, why you do what you do, why you are passionate about that work that you do).
- Think about your target audience. Who are you writing this for? Your teachers? Coworkers? Future employers? What do they need to hear? Write your summary with your target audience in mind. Your pitch should resonate with them.
- Add some keywords that will help you get found on search engines, like Google. Keywords are words that describe you. If someone is looking to hire someone like you or connect with someone like you, they might search for a particular word on Google or LinkedIn. Which word or words would those be? Include them in your summary.
Add work experience
On LinkedIn, you should add any and all work experience that is relevant to your next job. As a student, you may not have much work experience and that is fine. Make sure to highlight the relevance of the work experience you have.
For example, let’s say you worked in a fast-food restaurant. Unless you’re looking for another job at a fast-food restaurant your ability to flip burgers is likely not going to be relevant to your next employer. So don’t mention it.
On the other hand, your experience working in a high-pressure environment can be extremely relevant. Maybe you learned amazing communication skills in that customer service job that you had. Or maybe you gained experience in time-management in your job as a cleaner.
Be honest and don’t overdo it. You should have the skills or experience you claim to have. But don’t sell yourself short either. You learn more than how to flip burgers or fold shirts neatly at part-time or summer jobs. You gain transferable skills that will be valuable in other fields as well.
If you don’t have any work experience you can think about volunteering or extra-curricular activities that you took part in. You want to show your work ethic, those transferable skills we talked about, and that you took the initiative to do some things beyond your regular school work.
Add skills and endorsements
On your LinkedIn page, you can add your skills. Again, be honest but don’t sell yourself short. Add:
- Technical skills, like HTML or Microsoft Word
- Interpersonal skills, like communication or active listening
- Industry skills, like creative writing
- Other skills, like networking
You can ask previous employers, friends, and teachers for endorsements. They will then click on the skill they know you possess and say: “yes, she is good at this.” This will show up as a number next to that particular skill to show how many people have endorsed this skill. This is an easy way to prove that you excel in the things that you claim to be good at.
LinkedIn is a professional website but it is still a social media platform. You can share posts via the home screen. You can share:
Make sure these posts are informed and professional. You should not share the same things on LinkedIn that you would share on other social media platforms. Your posts should reflect your (…drum roll…) personal brand.
Yup. Same as before. Keep your target audience in mind. LinkedIn is about networking and finding opportunities. So share articles and videos that are relevant to the personal brand you portray to your target audience. You can share updates on your development. Or share articles and videos that are relevant to and resonate with your target audience. Don’t forget to mention why you are sharing this particular article or video. Let your network (your “friends” or “followers” on LinkedIn) know why this post is relevant.
Add featured posts
Featured posts are posts that will stay on top of your profile. This is your chance to show examples of your work. You can share:
- Blog posts or articles that you’ve written
- Videos that you made
- Pictures of you speaking to an audience
- Graphic designs you made
- Anything else that shows your skills and creativity
LinkedIn lets you join groups. There are groups for basically any field or interest. Just type any group you want to join in the search bar in LinkedIn and search by “groups”. Type in something like: “finance”, “female professionals”, “photography”, or “young entrepreneurs”. There is a group for everyone.
Join a few groups to start with and interact with the posts and the members. Write your own informed and valuable posts in the groups. This way, you get to:
- Network with relevant professionals
- Stay up-to-date on industry news
- Get advice from people with valuable experience
LinkedIn is a networking platform. So, network! You can network through groups, but also through private chat and other people’s posts.
When you start networking on LinkedIn, keep in mind that you need to add value. Other people on LinkedIn also want to network. Give them a reason to want to talk to you and connect with you.
- Share insightful posts
- Give people recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn (as long as you’re in a comfortable position to do so)
- Comment on other people’s posts
- Be active: be consistent in the intervals at which you post on your page and in groups, and respond to messages in a timely manner
- Always keep it friendly and professional
- Make yourself approachable, invite people to connect with you and add questions to posts and comments to start a conversation
- Be engaging: interact with people, build rapport and share informative and interesting information
If you are a student, you are allowed to be more creative, make some mistakes, and learn about the platform whilst using it. You can experiment with your personal brand and type of posts. Have fun with it.
Good luck in building your successful LinkedIn profile! Let me know how it went in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.
Written by Merel Melchers