If you’re a college student, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of LinkedIn. The professional social network is extremely popular, and I’m sure more than one professor, career counselor or mentor has told you to join it.
LinkedIn can be intimidating to use at first for inexperienced students, but a solid LinkedIn profile can go a long way in your internship and post-grad career search. According to LinkedIn, 9 in 10 companies use LinkedIn to recruit new hires. Additionally, you can apply for many jobs and internships directly through LinkedIn.
Here are five suggestions for students to polish their LinkedIn profiles.
- Add a (good!) photo.
This one is more important than you might think—according to LinkedIn, profiles with pictures get viewed 14 times more than those without! Use a clear, high-quality photo of you in appropriate clothing. No grainy shots, cropped group pictures or crazy expressions. A simple smiling photo is perfect! Many colleges offer professional headshots for free or reduced cost at career fairs and other professional events—or just have a friend take one for you.
- Write a short and sweet summary.
Below your name, photo and headline, you have the opportunity to write a bit about yourself. A lot of people leave this blank, but take advantage of it! Think of this as your written elevator pitch. If someone clicks on your profile, this is one of the first things they see, so try to hook them in. First, give the basics: your school, major and when you plan to graduate. Next, tell a little about yourself, and give a simple rundown of your professional experience and interests. Industry terms are great to use here. For example, my summary says:
“Hi! I’m a rising senior at Indiana University Bloomington graduating in May 2018. I am majoring in Journalism with an outside concentration in Spanish. I have a passion for video production, whether journalistic or promotional. I have 5 years’ experience in DSLR videography and non-linear editing.”
- Attach your resume and any other portfolio items.
It’s always better to show than tell! If you can attach a few good work samples in the “Media” section of your LinkedIn profile, it gives credibility to the rest of your profile and to your resume. For example, I have a link to my YouTube channel on my profile that has all the videos I’ve made professionally on it. Without that link, there really would be no way to know that all the job descriptions I listed in my profile and resume were true.
- Include extracurriculars and volunteer work.
This tip is especially relevant if you don’t have much work experience, which a lot of students don’t! Including these activities can exhibit some of your skills and values to a potential employer just as much as a previous job or internship could. Be sure to be specific about your duties in each role, because simply listing that you volunteered or were a member of a group won’t cut it. For example, instead of putting “Member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority,” say, “Member of Alpha Chi Omega 2014-present, acted as head of social committee for 2 years and member of philanthropy committee for 1 year.”
- Put down your key skills and reel in the endorsements.
In the “Skills” section, it’s important to reach a good balance—don’t list 20 different skills, but don’t leave it blank, either! Newsflash: it’s 2017, every student knows how to use Microsoft Word, so you don’t need to put that down. Try to use key terms from your industry when listing skills. Once you have your skills listed, your LinkedIn connections can endorse your skills, which gives even further credibility to your profile. If you have connections that you feel comfortable asking to endorse your skills, go for it!