LinkedIn is different from other social media websites in that the focus is on professional development. LinkedIn provides a way to help jobseekers and industry leaders connect across the globe. A LinkedIn profile is even advantageous to those that have yet to enter the job market on a full-time basis, such as students. Building a profile as a student can help create the right network to secure an internship, a first job, or even aid in the graduate school admissions process. Without much experience in the professional world, there are key factors to keep in mind to create a great LinkedIn profile for students.
Choose a Professional Picture
The profile picture is the first thing that those on the website view. For some employers, it is all they view. A student should choose a picture in a professional format. Business attire is best for this picture. An individual picture rather than a group picture makes it easier for a professional connection to determine who someone is. This is not the social media website for pictures that include alcohol, pictures from the beach, or anything else that make a student appear less professional.
Build an Online Resume
Many students struggle with what to include on the profile with limited experience. Just because some students have little to no paid job experience does not mean that they should leave this section blank. In order to construct a powerful online resume, students should begin with a list of experiences including school clubs, volunteer experience, and leadership roles. Then, students can formulate that experience into skills that employers need, such as event planning as social chair for a sorority or fundraising for a children’s charity. Even as a member of a group, students are likely to learn problem solving and organizational skills.
Students can make a more attractive profile by connecting with other students and professionals. Unlike other social media websites, users do not send an invite to everyone they know. Instead, users carefully select professionals in industries of interest. For students, this can be peers in the same major program or school club in addition to working professionals. Groups and companies with online profiles offer another way to engage with professionals in a targeted field. Students need to keep in mind, though, that the quality of a contact is more important than the number of connections.
Maintaining a professional network as a student on LinkedIn helps create essential connections that can foster a professional reputation before it even begins. Even with little to no employment experience, a student can stand out as a great candidate for a job with the right LinkedIn profile.