The Ideal Student LinkedIn Profile

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In a conversation with one of Xavier University mentees on the topic of job searching at some point I remember saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know… and who knows you.”


That is because so many job openings are filled by referrals. And not just from current employees but others outside the prospect companies. And then I related the other startling fact, that building a strong network takes time. With that in mind, students should not wait until their senior year, or after graduation to start building their network.


As the most powerful online networking tool, LinkedIn is a great place for students (and anyone for that matter) to begin networking. Before they can start however, they’ll need to build a LinkedIn profile. So here are 5 tips to start building and updating a great student profile on LinkedIn.


1. Pick an Appropriate Profile Photo


Let’s be clear. LinkedIn is not Facebook. It’s worth saying again. LinkedIn…is NOT your Facebook. Understand?


Good. So, when you’re selecting your picture—and we suggest you actually upload a photo—take the professional route. This doesn’t mean you need to go hire a professional in your community (unless you want to). It simply means you need to find a friend or family member with a digital camera to take a photo of you in front of a white wall.


Yes, it’s really that easy. Your photo serves as the first opportunity for people to see you as a real person. Make it count.


2. Brand Yourself with a Personal Headline


What do you do? Who do you do it for? Are you a student? PR Intern? Tell us…the LinkedIn community.


Think of this as your own personal branding slogan. This short headline will provide proper insight into who you are, what you do, and whom you do it for. Craft something unique to you but that is also relevant to your industry or field of study.


3. Craft a Professional Summary


This summary is an extension of your personal headline. Expand on the information you want your contacts, new and old, and those who find you via search to know about you. After all, that’s what LinkedIn is for.


Be concise and confident in your goals and capability. Communicate the value you bring to your market, customers, and clients. The fact that you’re a student changes nothing.


4. Share Your Work Experiences and/or School Projects


Why should I hire you? Why should I recommend you to a friend? Well, this is your opportunity to show me—aka the LinkedIn community—just why you’re a valuable asset. Are you a writer? Include examples of your writing. Perhaps you’re a designer and have an online portfolio.


Whatever your field of study, be linkable to your work. Include URLs and direct people through these links to your personal website, blog, or Twitter-feed (assuming you’re keeping things appropriate).


5. Be Keyword Specific in Your Profile


In your professional summary, be sure to include any keywords that are relevant to your capabilities and experiences. These are used in much the same way websites use keywords for SEO. The more searchable keywords you have in your summary, the higher you’ll appear in search results. Find people who currently hold similar positions in your desired field and see what common keywords/phrases they’re using.

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