If you are a student and you haven’t explored LinkedIn yet – you are in the right place. One mistake that I made in university was not creating my LinkedIn profile sooner. Using LinkedIn as a student is the perfect stepping-stone towards beginning your professional career. However, most students struggle with using LinkedIn or transforming their profiles. You can connect with professionals, post about your successes and struggles (both of which are very important in your journey) and search for job opportunities too.
If you are unsure of using LinkedIn as a university student, don’t fret – I have got you covered. In this blog post, I’m going to cover how to set up and transform your LinkedIn profile. Next, we will look at what you can do to set up your profile for success.
Table of Contents:
What is LinkedIn?
According to the official LinkedIn website, LinkedIn is ‘the world’s largest professional network‘. It’s a place where you can meet, network and connect with fellow professionals and seek opportunities. It’s an excellent place to look for jobs which you may not normally find elsewhere on the internet. If you are looking for jobs, graduate programmes, even a new income, you have got to try LinkedIn – there tend to be more employment opportunities that are constantly advertised on it on a regular basis.
There is a free version and a paid, premium version but both are equally as good as one another. The difference is that the paid premium version offers more features like knowing who is checking out your profile. As a student, however, the free version is more than enough for you.
Since we have covered the basics of what is LinkedIn, now is the fun part of actually setting up your LinkedIn profile and setting it up for success – with screenshots.
1. Go to LinkedIn.com to join LinkedIn and start using it!
Before you start using LinkedIn as a university student, you need to join the platform!
You need to do a few things first before you can begin posting and updating your profile on a regular basis. The first step is to go to LinkedIn.com and click on ‘Join Now‘.
Next you’ll be taken to a page where you will be asked to enter your email and create a password. Alternatively, if you have a Gmail account, you can set up your LinkedIn profile using your Gmail address. (which is quite convenient and easier). You’ll be requested to enter further details such as your job title, what university you attended. Pretty standard stuff and you can easily fill all of that out on your own.
Now that you have set up your LinkedIn profile, there are a few things that we need to be aware of. Using LinkedIn as a university student can be tricky, the reality is that you need to be wary of how you use it.
There is 1 thing that you need to remember:
This isn’t Facebook so please don’t treat Linkedin like Facebook/Instagram. Remember those Facebook days where you’d accept anyone and everyones’ Facebook friend request? Maybe don’t do that here. This isn’t an app where you want to upload your ‘living your best life’ selfies or group photos. This leads me to my second point.
LinkedIn is a professional platform. That means that your future employer could be on this platform. It’s perhaps not a good idea to post about your favorite holiday this year or your birthday celebrations when starting out. Although they are special occasions, and you are absolutely allowed to share that with the world, as a student yet to begin their career, I would hold back on it for a while. Unless this is what you want your account to be like, in which case let no-one stop you (including me) however typically, most students would hold off. Maybe think twice before sharing it to the world versus sharing it to your world (one that is private to you only).
3. Include a headshot image – but you don’t need a professional photo
Your LinkedIn profile picture is the first thing people will look at before they actually check out your profile. If you are not in a position to get a professional headshot image, then don’t fret, in fact, it is perfectly normal. It will not be the end of the world. LinkedIn is an opportunity for you to make a mark for yourself and the first step is including a decent profile picture!
Now, you do not need to spend money to hire a professional photographer to take your LinkedIn picture. You can easily take a photo on your phone or choose an old image that is professional and appropriate.
Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to choosing a LinkedIn profile picture.
- Do have a clear/plain background – something that will not distract the viewer
- Do smile a little! Studies show that if you smile in your profile picture, recruiters, potential clients and professionals are more willing to want to connect with you. So – smile!
- When in doubt of how to pose, do imagine that you are taking your passport photo but this time, you can smile a little and tilt your head.
- Do take a couple of photos using your phone and choose whichever one you like the best.
- Don’t do the following – the ‘duck face’, look away from the camera, throw up gang signs, or the peace sign (however tempting it may be)
- Don’t use an edited photo – by this I mean, having a sunshine effect/filter on your photo – the more natural (or as close to natural for you) the better! You are fine as you are so let your beauty shine.
- Don’t change your photo too regularly – this is a professional platform, and people don’t really change their Linkedin images unless necessary. I have changed mine once and I don’t intend to change it for another while.
4. Don’t forget to include a background image too
Most university students ignore this. They neglect to include a background image and opt to stick with the standard LinkedIn background image. Now there is nothing wrong with keeping it as it is. But, I think if you really want to stand out, it’s a good idea to choose your own background image.
Now it is up to you to choose what background image that best represents you. If you can match the colours in your Linkedin Profile picture to your background image – then that is a very good start!
Here is my current background image (my bio info has since changed):
As you can see, I opted for a sandy background image. You can see the shadow of what I presume to be palm tree leaves. The reason why I choose this image is that the colour of my skin and the sand are similar. Because I have dark curly hair, it makes my profile picture stand out in its own way.
I have seen some other profiles that include a little bubble of their contact details or some people use a quote. But the thing is that those people are a lot more established than university students. My best suggestion is a simple background that complements your profile picture. This will make your LinkedIn profile stand out amongst the crowd!
5. Include relevant information in the headliner about you using LinkedIn as a student
A headliner is the line below your profile picture. it is a snapshot of who you are and what you do. (See the brown box below). I used to think that I needed to include details of everything I do and what I want to be known for in my headliner. I have realised that this is just not necessary.
Although, I can see the benefits of including a lot of information of what you do. If you are just starting to use Linkedin as a university student then you don’t need to tell all.
I have included what course I am studying and the name of the blog that I created myself. This is a very short summary.
My previous summary used to be “LL.M International Human Rights Law | Founder & Blogger of Yennusick Legal Corner | Aspiring lawyer | Volunteer at ISPCC | Positivity Advocate”
Yeah, I know – it is a mouthful. And I thought that it was perfect… In hindsight, I was probably just too* excited and eager to get my name out there and show that I am more than just a student.
I changed this is because I felt like I was suffocating potential connections with information overload. Instead, I moved this information to my summary section which has a lot more detail of who I am, what I have done in the past, and what I plan to do in the future. You can check out my profile here.
So these are my 5 top tips for using LinkedIn as a university student. The best thing about using LinkedIn is including all of your experience in one digital platform. Sometimes, we neglect to include certain experiences on our profile because it’s not the perfect experience including non-legal work experience. Check out this blog post on the value of non-legal work experience.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment below. Alternatively, I am very active on Instagram – drop by and say hi!
Until the next blog post,
Slán go foill!
Featured Image designed on Canva.