LinkedIn 101 for College Students

October 13, 2018

First, let me start this blog post off by saying that I am by no means an expert on LinkedIn. However, like most of my internship-centric posts, I built my knowledge on the things I learned throughout my college experience, and I hope that this will offer you a couple cool tips to help you get started with your LinkedIn profile!

What is LinkedIn?

For those of you that haven’t heard of LinkedIn, it is a social media site catered specifically to professional networking. It has all the features of a normal social media network, but also the ability to look at companies, apply to jobs, and even learn new skills.

Even if you are just starting out your college career, LinkedIn is a great way to develop your network, explore your potential industry, and get an internship or job! According to recent statistics, 70% of hiring managers have had success with hiring with social media, so there‚Äôs never been a better time to start polishing your profile.

So…how do I start?

It’s really not that hard to set up a profile – it’s pretty much the same as a normal social media account! There are just a few distinct differences between LinkedIn and your Facebook page, but I’m here to help walk you through them. 

Upload a killer profile picture!

As the ~social media generation~, you and I both understand the value of a good picture. However, this social media site doesn’t necessarily warrant an artsy photo of you and your friends from that time you studied abroad. A great LinkedIn profile photo involves focusing on your shoulders up, with a clear view of your face (and ONLY your face)!

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a professionally-done headshot. I took my LinkedIn pic with a self timer on my camera, and I’m still happy with the way it turned out:

Additionally, it is important that you actually have a picture! One of the recruiters at my internship this past summer said that she would never hire from a LinkedIn profile without a photo, because that just seems sketchy. Don’t let a photo make you miss out on a great job opportunity. Upload that profile pic!

Update your summary!

Your headline is essentially the “Objective” section of your resume (if you have one), and it’s my least favorite part of my LinkedIn profile. Like elevator pitches, it feels impossible to summarize my entire life’s experiences into a couple of sentences. It took me forever to develop the one I have now!

However, it is worth noting that putting keywords into your summary makes it easier for recruiters to find you. For example, if you’re looking for a job in data science and management, it might be helpful to put that in your summary, as well as some key skills that are needed for a position like that. That way, recruiters know right away that you are the person they are looking for!

Check out this link by The Muse to see more tips on perfecting your summary!

Work + school experience – tedious, but necessary.

This might be the most self-explanatory part of your profile, because it is so similar to a resume. In this section, you are supposed to list all of your work experience and a description of each position. Here’s one of mine for an example:

Be as descriptive as possible, and use action words! Recruiters want to know what you did and what outcomes you created, not just your responsibilities.

Additionally, if you don’t have any work experience, don’t be afraid to list leadership positions in clubs as experience! After all, you learn so much when you run a club. Things like public speaking, budgeting, and running meetings are all skills I attribute to being on an executive board. Don’t shy away from including those things just because it wasn’t an official job!

It’s called a social network for a reason – add to it!

After you’ve set up the bulk of your profile, take the time to add people to your network. Whether that’s just adding your friends, your parents (I’m connected with both of mine on LinkedIn!), your professors, or your former co-workers, building a network is what the platform is all about. I love this part, simply because it’s fun to keep up with everyone’s accomplishments. It’s nice to see my friends thriving, and LinkedIn is a great way to showcase that.

If you want to expand your network beyond the people you know, don’t be afraid to send a message to someone and ask to connect! A great way to do this is to give an explanation as to why you want to connect (i.e. I’m interested in hearing more about your position/your company/Do you have any advice for me?). It shows initiative, and a lot more people will be willing to reply than you think. You never know who people know, and that shot in the dark might lead to your next job!

Don’t be afraid to explore all that LinkedIn has to offer.

Finally, there are tons of things on the platform beyond the basics of your profile. You can add skills, courses, endorsements, volunteer experience – the list goes on! There’s also a feature to add documents or website links, which is super helpful if you run a blog too.

Additionally, outside of profiles there’s so much to see! Lots of people post their business philosophies, and there is a feature you can use to stay updated on the news in your chosen industry. You can even sign up for tutorials to learn new skills or programs! I can spend hours on LinkedIn simply for this reason. Call me a nerd, but I absolutely love it!

Final Thoughts

Kudos to you if you actually made it to the end of this post! I hope this gives a little insight into how to get started with LinkedIn, and inspires you to set up a profile of your own. It’s a little weird, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll probably end up addicted (like me)!

Do you use LinkedIn? What are some of your tips?

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