You know by now that your future employers will be checking you out online. You may have already cleaned up the party photos on Facebook and changed your privacy settings. Now you need to project a professional online presence that employers can view. Before you start searching “find me an essay writer online,” start with creating or updating your LinkedIn profile.
There’s a lot more to learn and love about LinkedIn but the entry point is definitely the profile. For most people, this will be the best online representation of your professional brand. College students are wise to create and develop this profile before they graduate. Think strategically about the keywords you want to be associated with and make sure they are in your profile so you can found during searches. Here are the top 10 areas to focus on with your LinkedIn profile as a college student:
1.) Photo: Your professional photo is essential. It should be a headshot with a friendly smile. No friends or animals in the photo! If you don’t have a great photo, then it’s time to get one taken. Some colleges are now offering LinkedIn workshops and photo booths.
2.) Headline: The headline you select is very important and will change throughout your career. A college student’s headline will likely change multiple times per year. You have the opportunity to create a great headline that is descriptive and contains relevant keywords. You might have a headline such as “University junior interested in accounting internship” or “Social media marketing intern” or “Recent grad seeking PR position in NYC”. Sometimes viewers to your profile will only see the headline and photo, so take your time to think strategically about it.
3.) Summary: The LinkedIn summary is an upbeat overview of your experience, capabilities and goals. This should be a succinct paragraph or two. In addition, you may add a list of your specialties at the bottom of your summary section which serve as additional “keywords”. Examples of specialties might be: Social media, Sales, Blogging, Business Development, Statistical analysis, etc.
4.) Experience: Enter in your jobs and internships with title, dates and descriptions. If you don’t have that type of experience yet, consider adding a volunteer job experience. Volunteer job experiences are very valuable.
5.) Education: Indicate your high school and college. You should also add in your activities and any relevant description. Examples that you would include: President or officer of fraternity, sorority or club; sports involvement; arts involvement, and extra curricular leadership roles. Employers like to see that students are engaged with their college or university in meaningful ways. Leadership positions are highly valued.
6.) Personalized URL and Contact info: LinkedIn lets you personalize your URL so it’s wise to try to snap up your name if you are able to. Proudly include your personal LinkedIn URL on your resume and email signature. Your contact information should also be included in the profile.
7.) Skills: Pick the top 10 skills that you have or are in the process of developing. If you have not had a lot of work experience and you aren’t sure, you can still choose meaningful skills. If you are a math major, you can choose “mathematical analysis” as an example. If you are a liberal arts major, you might consider “written and oral presentations” or “communications”. If you are interested and well versed in environmental causes, you can consider “environmental policy”. Pick skills that truly reflect your current skills and those that you are developing. Also think strategically about what you want to be known for. You can also chose very specific technical skills like “Microsoft excel”, “Twitter” or “Hootsuite”. It’s smart to have a combination of different types of skills.
8.) Groups: Choose groups that are related to your career aspirations. There are LinkedIn groups for everything from sports marketing to workplace innovation to social media. It’s always wise to choose groups that are connected to your college or university. The groups you chose will be displayed on your profile. In addition, these groups are an essential element in industry networking which will be covered in a future post.
9.) Recommendations: Consider asking an employer for a LinkedIn recommendation. This will set you apart from other college students. You may also ask a professor or internship supervisor who knows your and your work well. Aim to have at least 3 recommendations from people who are enthusiastic about your capabilities.
10.) Special items: LinkedIn gives you an opportunity to add special capabilities that can give a very distinct appeal to your profile. These include: Awards, languages, courses, certifications, test scores, and volunteering. You shouldn’t load it up with everything but definitely pick out any strong points you wish to project. You can also upload a presentation or video to showcase special talents or expertise.
There’s a few last things to do. Be sure to check your spelling and grammar. Make sure your profile is 100% complete. Keep your keywords up to date as your interests and skills evolve. Ask your roommate or close friend do a double check. Develop the habit of checking and updating your profile regularly. Every time you update your profile your connections will be notified. This will keep you “top of mind” throughout your network.
LinkedIn Profile for College Students and Recent Graduates
Is your LinkedIn Graduation ready?