LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking site. It helps its over 500 million users find the right job or internship and connect with other professionals in their industry. Similar to a resume, your LinkedIn profile showcases your professional experiences and interests. However, LinkedIn does not duplicate your resume, it supplements it.
Why is it Important?
Using LinkedIn gives you an opportunity to create a strong profile that represents your personal brand. This includes displaying your skills, achievements, work history, and more. LinkedIn is an important online tool to connect with faculty, alumni, other students, and administration professionals of prospective colleges.
If you’re a high school or college student without much experience, this is an opportunity to showcase what experiences and interests you do have. Use your profile to showcase what you aspire to be, while still highlighting your valuable talents.
The top portion of your LinkedIn profile is the first thing viewers see when they land on your page, so it needs to be professional, polished, and complete. Here’s how to make a good first impression.
Profile Photo: Keep it professional but authentic. Your face should take up most of the photo. Avoid distracting clothes, hats, and use a plain background.
Background Banner: LinkedIn has a default banner, but why use it if you can add something personal? Use your high school or college logo or an image that showcases your interests or talents.
Headline: This should be attention-grabbing. If you don’t have much experience, tell people what you are excited about experiencing in the future.
About: This is a summary where you get to be authentic and unique. State your interests and goals. What motivates you? What career are you interested in? You can write your summary in first or third person, either is fine. Note: Viewers will see a preview of the first two lines of your summary, so make them count!
Experience: List what jobs or internships you’ve held and include a short description. It’s okay if you don’t have much experience yet; you will be able to build on this section.
Organizations: Are you a member of any school clubs? Community organizations? Include initiatives or any important roles you’ve held.
Education: High school students: Include your high school. College students: Add your college, graduation date, and area of study.
Volunteering: Volunteer work is valuable and something admissions officers look for, so be sure to include it.
Skills: Are you good at navigating Microsoft Office? WordPress? Photo/Video editing? Graphic design? List a few key skills to begin and add to this section as you gain more skills.
Honors & Awards: Include awards or special projects in high school or college.
LinkedIn displays a profile level tool on your profile page to let you know how complete your profile is. The more sections you complete, the higher your profile will rank. Everybody starts as a beginner, but be sure you are actively working towards an intermediate and, eventually, an All-Star rating.
Once your profile is complete, take advantage of its features. Add and follow interests, such as companies or key people. Read articles and comment on posts people share. Write or share an article. Most importantly, make connections–and be sure to include a personal note with every connection request. It’s never too early to start building a professional network, and LinkedIn is a good place to start.