10 LinkedIn Profile Must-Haves for Your Student Years & Beyond

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Are you waiting until after graduation to start building up your LinkedIn profile? It’s time to reconsider.

Trying to make yourself stand out in the sea of graduates looking for jobs is tricky. Having a LinkedIn account can be a key way to build up contacts while still at college.

“Every student is blindly trying to make a resume, but surprisingly many don’t have great LinkedIn profiles,” says Natan Edelsburg, senior vice president at Sawhorse Media. “I often hear, ‘Here’s my resume. My LinkedIn isn’t great, but here’s the link.’ I usually respond, ‘Make it great, and then get back to me!'”

More than 50% of surveyed job recruiters identified social professional networks as one of the most important sources for hiring. Social professional networks are also the fastest-growing source of quality hires. Still not convinced?

  1. Ninety of the Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn’s corporate talent solutions to find future hires.
  2. If you’re active on LinkedIn as a college student you get identified as a college student, and as a potential candidate, passively, which means job recruiters could find your profile and consider you for a position, without you even having to apply!
  3. Plus, some obvious yet often forgotten reasons such as: it has millions of members including your potential recruiters.
  4. And, the indisputable fact that your LinkedIn Profile shows up at top of Google Searches when somebody googles you.
  5. Overall, it makes your profile visible, networked, well connected, updated & organized, thus endowing awesome Personal Branding blessings on you!

But, how do you actually build a great LinkedIn profile as a college student? We have you covered. Just follow these rules.

1. The Fundamental.

Get LinkedIn in your first year at university (Employers want to see it as an evolving online CV).

Be active. (Update your profile at least a couple of times a term). If you complete an activity such as a first aid course, update it to show that.

2. Keep it Professional & Optimized.

First, Post a Profile photo. Some college students are wary of including their profile pictures on LinkedIn for fear of looking too young. However, a profile picture could actually work in your favour. A photo provides a face for your digital personality and helps recruiters see you as a human, rather than a hyperlink. However, use a professional photo in formal attire and posture (No mirror selfies!)

Second, Use keywords (search for popular keywords in your industry and use them in your profile). Third, keep your title professional (that means no ninjas or gurus!). Third, make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete – Employers are more likely to look at a finished profile. Finally, Customize your profile URL – Use a customized URL like linked in.com/in/juntaedelane rather than linkedin.com/pub/juntae-delane/4a/z89/145/

3. Include coursework and extracurriculars.

Your LinkedIn profile should weave together the story of your professional development, so it’s good to be as detailed as possible. Include information about relevant coursework, clubs and organizations in which you’ve participated at school. If you’ve done any internships, projects, or gained work experience of any kind, be specific about what skills you developed, how many hours you worked. Most importantly, Don’t ignore Skills Endorsements—Endorse others to get your skills endorsed in turn. More endorsements you have for your specific skills, the more impressing your profile looks.

4. Show off your Trophies, Certificates, and Accolades

You can now visually illustrate your skills with rich media, such as pictures and videos. If you have a presentation you’re especially proud of, or a design project you executed for an internship, include it on your profile to help recruiters visualize what type of talent you bring to the table. Display Certificates from Internships, Projects, Online Certifications, etc. to show your edge.

5. Ask professors and advisers for recommendations.

One common misconception of LinkedIn recommendations is that they have to come from previous employers. A recommendation from a university professor or academic advisor, especially one with experience in your desired field, speaks volumes to your ability to stand out from the crowd. Aim to get recommendations from professors who know you personally, or who have a good sense of your work ethic, and can speak specifically to your accomplishments in the classroom.

6. Connect with Industry Leaders.

One of the most exciting aspects of social media is the access it gives you to influential people in your industry. Try to get a network of at least 100 such key people. Start approaching business mentors, people who can help you grow in your career and make contacts. Don’t be intimidated by someone’s professional clout; reach out to people whose careers you admire, but be sure to personalize your request to connect by including something you both have in common, like a hometown or a favourite publication, or offer a compliment or a respectful comment about the person’s professional work instead, and most importantly, the reason, “Why do you want to connect with this person?” Your reason should not be a request for a job. Instead, engage him or her with a request for career advice, a personal question, or offer up a skill that could be of service.

7. Share, Post, or Comment on Industry-specific Articles.

LinkedIn Pulse is not just for Professionals, you can post too. When you post industry-specific articles using, you prove you are passionate, engaged and paying attention to your career of choice. Avoid including controversial or personal opinions on LinkedIn, unless you want that opinion to be associated with your professional persona. Instead, offer a professional takeaway or ask a thoughtful question. This shows that you are not just reading industry-specific news; you are also engaging with it analytically.

8. Join & Ask questions in LinkedIn groups.

LinkedIn groups are a great way to engage directly with people in your industry and establish yourself as a contributor rather than a passive reader. Get to understand which groups are on there that you want to be part of and join them. One of the best ways to get noticed is to elicit conversations and ask smart questions. While the saying “there are no stupid questions” may ring true in most situations, be conscientious of what you ask in groups. Do a bit of research or at the very least a Google search, before you ask a question. This will ensure you convey an informed professional persona, and your questions will most likely be stronger if they don’t have an easy answer.

9. Check for spelling and grammar errors.

As is the case with any professional work, your LinkedIn profile should be error-free. After you’ve combed through your profile for spelling errors, ask a friend to look it over for unclear phrases or grammatical faux pas.

10. Look into different career paths.

LinkedIn lets today’s college students access information on career paths in a way no other generation could. Now, you not only see where someone has gotten in her career, but how she got there. More often than not, people are surprised to see how non-linear careers are today. And who knows, looking at someone else’s career path may inspire you to take a chance you otherwise wouldn’t.

If you want to attract positive attention, your profile must have certain components, which we have already elaborately explained, or as outlined in this infographic from Neal Schaffer and Market Me Suite.

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