Last week, I gave you one good reason for why you should get on LinkedIn this summer.
In today’s post, I will cover three key things to include in your LinkedIn profile.
1. A good profile photo
Do not overlook the importance of the profile photo! Profiles with photos get significantly more engagement and add life to an otherwise screen of text.
In the past, you may have been urged to use a professional headshot.
Unless you so happen to have a professional headshot lying around (If so, who are you?!), don’t sweat it. You are a student, and are thus not held to the same standards as a working professional in their mid-30s.
There is no need to appear more serious, mature, or “adult” than you are. The photo should look like you.
But do avoid the following:
- A selfie
- A group photo
- A party photo
- A beach photo
- A photo of/with your pet
- A cartoon/comic/screenshot from a movie or TV show
Ask a friend to take a portrait of you. Keep the background as simple as possible. Smile.
Once you have a simple, clean, approachable photo, the next step is to communicate to your potential connections why you’re on LinkedIn in the first place.
2. A clear summary
Are you on LinkedIn to network? To locate an internship? To research big companies? To review the work histories of professionals in the field?
Make sure to clearly identify your purpose on LinkedIn in the “Summary” section of your intro. For some inspiration, check out these three LinkedIn summaries and for a guide tailored for students, check out this article.
Once you have drawn potential connections in with an approachable profile photo, identified your purpose on LinkedIn and shared a bit about who you are in your summary, fill out the rest of your profile.
Try to not get overwhelmed with the Education, Work Experience, Volunteer Experience, and Skills sections. All of those fields are really asking you just one question: how do you spend your time?
3. Relevant experience
It may feel like you have nothing to put down on your LinkedIn, but I guarantee you that is not the case.
If you are like most high school students, you are not going to have an extensive work history to boast about. If you have held part-time or summer jobs, however, do list those occupations (along with your duties and responsibilities while on the job) in your profile.
If you haven’t worked, turn your attention to other sections of your profile:
Do you volunteer at a community organization? Walk the neighbour’s dog (for free)? Did you run a fundraiser as part of a school club?
“Volunteering” can be loosely defined as unpaid work, and “work” can be defined as something to which you dedicate your time that you can reasonably expect to be financially compensated for.
If you don’t have volunteering experience to include, consider seeking out volunteer opportunities. Volunteering is a great way to build your skills, get experience, and learn about what you like (and do not like) doing.
In addition to listing the high school you attend, include any clubs to which you belong in the “Activities and Societies” sub-section, emphasizing particularly those clubs in which you hold a leadership position.
“Publication” sounds intimidating, but it need not be. Have you written for the school paper? Guest wrote a piece on a friend’s blog?
If you have been on the Honor Roll, list it as an “Honor and Award.”
If you are an athlete, include any medals, championship titles, and recognition such as most MVP (Most Valuable Player).
Do not overlook “participation” awards, such as the perfect attendance award that certain schools distribute or MIP (Most Improved Player).
Such awards indicate a commitment to and seriousness about your education or sport, which in the eyes of employers, translates to commitment to and seriousness about your future career.
Note that there is also a “Courses” section. Restrain from filling out the basics like Grade 10 Math. Rather, use this section to highlight any advanced placement courses you are taking.
You may also highlight some optional courses (bonus points if said course relates to your career path!) Perhaps psychology is not a required course, but you took through all four years of high school psychology because you plan to declare psychology as your major.
“But what skills do I have?“ you may inquire with shaking fists.
The answer is: all of the skills that allow you to do what you do. And we’ve already explored what you do: study, volunteer, play a sport, are member of a club etc.
Being a good student requires self-discipline, effective priority-setting, and time-management skills. Playing a sport demands commitment, grit, and the desire to push yourself to improve at every practice and every game. Running a club calls on your leadership and communication skills.
This article is by no means exhaustive. You may also wish to include any language(s) that you speak, causes that you care about, and references from supervisors or teachers.
Note that this article is a list of suggestions. Take what works for you, and leave the rest.
Keep it simple!