In this post we will go through how to create a great student (or graduate) profile on LinkedIn. This will be extremely useful for finding job or internship opportunities as a student/graduate.
The platform is not something new, in fact it was created way back in 2003. As it quickly became the largest professional network on the internet, few questions have come up from the student community.
Is LinkedIn useful for university students? Should I have a LinkedIn profile as a student? What should I put on my LinkedIn profile as a student? Just to list a few! The short answer to those, as we will see, is yes.
Just like most social media, LinkedIn allows you to create a profile where you can list your education, work experience and interests.
It also allows you to connect with other people (just like you request friendship/follow on other social media), as well as having an instant messaging service. Basically, it’s a sort of online CV.
The aim of the platform is quite simple: connect job seekers with employers. In fact, employers have their LinkedIn accounts too; those can be pages you can follow, or, most importantly, actual people.
Let’s get an idea of its presence in the UK. As of July 2022, LinkedIn had approximately 31.2 million users in the UK! (source: Statista – stats will be updated once 2023 data is available)
Should I have a LinkedIn profile as an university student (or graduate)?
This is one the most common questions in the university student community. The answer is very simple: yes you should create a compelling profile (don’t worry, we’ll walk you trough it step by step).
However, for some reasons there still are many students who do not have a profile yet, despite having one on all sorts of social media.
No matter who you talk to, lecturers or recruiters; no matter in which sector they work in, public or private; neither the size of those firms, large or SMEs..
Everybody will tell you the same thing: networking is still the most effective way to find a job. Graduate jobs and internships are not any different!
Obviously, networking on LinkedIn is not the same as doing it in person, but it could be the reason why you will meet someone face to face!
Make sure to follow the companies you are interested in, engage with them and attend their events. This is an essential activity to do.
We have gone through the importance of those networking events in another article; 10 tips to be successful at university, you might find it useful.
Is LinkedIn useful for university students?
Before we get into how to build a good LinkedIn profile as a student, it is worth mentioning another reason why it is useful for students.
In case you did not know, LinkedIn has an enormous online course platform called LinkedIn Learning (what once was known as Lynda.com).
This makes LinkedIn useful for students even more. Firstly, unlike many other online e-learning platforms, LinkedIn Learning is free for students (only)!
Most UK universities have partnered with the platform to give you free access, although many don’t know about it.
All you need to do in most cases is to find it in your university portal, and link the two accounts. If you are not sure your university can give you access, ask the career advise department, they will know!
Secondly, these courses (which are split into three categories: business, software and creative) award you with certificates of completion.
What’s so special about it? They go straight into your LinkedIn profile!
Obviously, there are other good platforms that offer quality online courses (we’ll go through the best ones in another post).
However, unlike LinkedIn Learning, they are not free generally (although some do offer free courses at a very basic level).
Moreover, the fact that those certificates show automatically on your profile avoids the hassle of doing it manually!
How to create a good LinkedIn profile as a student
We will now explain how to create a compelling university student profile on LinkedIn.
In order to do so effectively, we will go trough it step by step, completing the most important sections of the profile from scratch.
So, what should you put on your LinkedIn profile as a student? This is the biggest concern for many students, particularly those who don’t have skills or experience to display.
Don’t worry! We all possess some skills, sometimes it’s just a matter of marketing! Let’s now start building your student profile:
LinkedIn profile picture as a student
First, you should really have a profile picture, that empty grey profile icon does not look good at all! But what picture should you use for your LinkedIn profile as a student? Should you use a professional picture, or a casual one?
There is no right or wrong answer here, it is really up to you. In any case, a nice positive picture of yourself would do!
As usual, a bit of creativity that differentiates you from others can pay well. Why should we all have the same profile picture on LinkedIn?
If you want to have a professional picture, you could dress smartly (either a suit or business casual); and book a professional study/meeting room to take pictures in a office-alike environment.
Alternatively, you could check if your university/student association run some professional photo shooting days (in most cases appositely for LinkedIn and usually for a small fee).
However, although it is certainly a good thing to have a professional picture on your LinkedIn as a student, it’s not a must!
Obviously avoid putting a picture of you sunbathing or partying; but instead a nice photo of you with a nice background (e.g. a park, a fine building) would do the job.
Something that highlights your energy, your positivity, your brightness! Remember that this is the first thing someone sees when visiting your profile.
About: what to write in the about section of LinkedIn as a student?
What’s the next thing they see? The section “About”, and here there is another common mistake, it’s often left empty.
You might think this part is not relevant, but remember that first impressions are crucial! So right after a nice picture of you, your about section on LinkedIn should be a summary of YOU, what’s your story in a nutshell?
Introduce yourself, where are you at the moment (student, graduate)? What are your interests (career wise, hobbies, sports)? Make it interesting, show your ambitions!!
Use small paragraphs with a simple language and small sentences,
Work Experience (if any): should you put your student job on your LinkedIn profile?
Many think their work experience is irrelevant to their CV because it’s not related to what they want to do in the future.
As a result, they avoid even mentioning it on their profile, wrong! Any job you do as a student (most common are in hospitality and retail) provides you with valuable skills.
The worst thing you can do is to actually ignore it, or just list your workplace and job title. You need to make this part interesting.
As mentioned earlier, sometimes it’s just a matter of marketing! It doesn’t matter where you had that work experience as a student.
If in a small coffee shop or a restaurant, if in a hotel or retail shop; for a large large known company or for a family business; maybe you volunteered in a charity shop or event; shifts in a factory or production site etc.
Whatever, just put it on your LinkedIn profile! In this case though, it is definitely necessary to spice it up. You need to put some keywords (employable and transferrable skills) in those description.
Think along the lines of meeting company’s targets and standards; hard-work; ability to work on your own or as part of a team; creative approach to problem solving; ability to plan ahead, attention to details; multitasking and so on.
Employers and recruiters love to see those!
Education: what to include in the education section of your LinkedIn profile as a student?
A common mistake students make is to list their education with “no soul” in it. Add some value to your profile!
Simply putting your degree title on your LinkedIn, whether you are still studying or already graduated, isn’t going to mean anything.
Go on your university website and find your course description. Then get the most interesting parts and put it on your profile.
Don’t forget to mention any accreditations your degree holds, these are important as well!
What academic skills your course is (was) designed to give you? Your university website contains all this information, use it!
What were/are the main modules you studied? In this case it is ok to list them as bullet points. Those will enrich the course description without making it too messy.
What about extracurricular activities, academic competitions and so on? Include anything that could add value to your profile, but remember, do not simply list things.
Provide a short and good description of it!
Licenses and certifications: how you can get some to show on your profile
Licenses and certifications are a key part of a compelling student profile on LinkedIn. What can you put in this section?
These are technical skills you possess (don’t worry, we’ll also explain how to quickly get some). You might have gone trough some technical certifications in your prior or current studies.
If so, make sure to list them here. However, now let’s assume you have nothing to put in. Remember the LinkedIn Learning platform? In this case it’s extremely useful!
On that platform you can find free courses that are quite “generic” and very useful for your CV and LinkedIn profile.
For example, one of the most common and useful, is without a doubt the Microsoft Office package. You can take some basic Microsoft 365 courses that will award you a certificate (e.g. excel, power point).
Those are very easy to obtain (if you are familiar with the package it will only take you few minutes to get some basic certifications) and they will go straight into your LinkedIn profile!
You could also progress to intermediate and advanced certifications, and it is actually a very good thing to do while you still have free access!
Mind that in most cases your free access also continues after graduation for some time. So, if you already graduated check if you can still access it!
Obviously, the Microsoft package is only an example. You could get various certifications, from leadership and management courses, to further IT skills (e.g. coding, programming languages).
More licenses and certifications ideas
Moreover, if you have a student job or previous work experience, are you sure there is nothing you can put in there? Any major trainings you went through at your job?
Things like health and safety, fire safety, first aid, handling food, serving alcohol and so on. These might be internal trainings, so check with you manager if you can include them.
Skills: what skills should you put in your student LinkedIn profile?
A very important section to complete here. Again, many students and graduates are unsure of what skills to put on their LinkedIn profile.
Let’s start with some obvious ones, because they are always the best! Remember those mentioned for work experience?
In case you don’t have any, you can use your university experience to dig them out. Did you have a group project? That’s teamwork and collaboration skills.
You obviously have exams and assignment to submit. That’s working under pressure and meeting deadlines. Are you studying different subjects? That’s multitasking and so on.
If you think doing this is inappropriate, then you are wrong. The graduate job market is very competitive, same thing for internships.
You got to be smarter than the average if you want to increase your chances of finding a job or internship. A good profile on LinkedIn as a student is a massive help!
Endorsement: how to get your skills endorsed professionally
Here a very good tip to strengthen your student or graduate profile on LinkedIn. Someone from your network can endorse your skills!
The good thing is that, on your profile, endorsements are visible; e.g. “the person X has endorsed your time management skills.”
It is then up to you if you want those endorsements visible on your profile or not, but obviously it is great to show them.
How to get endorsements as a student at university
Are you working or do you have past work experience? Politely approach your managers (or ex), and ask them if they would mind endorse some of your skills.
Anything you were (are) good at and you left a good impression for. (e.g. customer service skills, time management, multitasking).
What about your past professors? This should be a problem if you ask lecturers from previous years/modules (not current) where you particularly performed well.
For example, you could get endorsements for your presentation or writing skills; or even interpersonal skills! One thing is for sure, building good relationships is always beneficial!
However, do not start asking or “exchanging” endorsements with other students or friends. Remember that those will be visible on your profile as well as who has actually endorsed you.
Therefore, keep it professional and credible. Overdoing this part or trying to “cheat” can have the opposite result and make your student LinkedIn profile look bad!
Why you need a good student profile on LinkedIn
Building a strong student or graduate profile is key to find a job/internship on LinkedIn, it’s like having an updated CV online all the time.
Whether you are looking for a graduate job, an internship or other job opportunities, you can use your LinkedIn profile to apply directly. Hence, the stronger the better!
However, this does not only work one way, also employers can use LinkedIn to find you! Remember when we mentioned “keywords” earlier? Now it’s time to talk about them.
Think about when you research something on Google, you simply put sentences with keywords (sometimes just keywords) to get where you want.
The Google algorithm does everything for you, it understands what you are looking for and presents you with results.
A good LinkedIn profile will help you find a job.. or be found!
This is exactly the same for social networks. Now imagine you are a recruiter or employer looking for good candidates on LinkedIn. What would you put in your profile research?
Obviously the location, although many jobs now have the option to work from home; and then.. keywords!
This does not mean just previous work experience, but also all those skills mentioned earlier (time management, multitasking, problem solving etc).
Or maybe specific academic background (your degree title could make you appear in the research, but all other keywords you provide in the description can make a difference!);
What about some specific technical skills and certifications (excel, access, leadership etc.); maybe a combination of all!
Basically, the more keywords you have on your LinkedIn profile, the more chances you have to appear in research results!
Having a good LinkedIn profile is not only useful to apply for jobs, but also to be found! So play both sides well, you really want to be ready when they get to see your profile.
Conclusions, how to make a great student (or graduate) LinkedIn profile
In this post we went trough how to create a compelling student profile on LinkedIn step by step. We have seen everything, from your profile picture and about section, to work experience and education.
We have gone through some “hidden gems” such as licenses and certification for free with LinkedIn Learning, and the skill endorsement activity.
Moreover, we have seen how a good student profile on LinkedIn increases your chances to be found and contacted by employers and recruiters.
LinkedIn is a very useful tool for university students, and its use will continue to grow in this social media era we are living in right now.
After all, it follows the same principles although it focuses on professional profiles. However, how to make the most out of LinkedIn as a student depends on you.
Our next post is how to use LinkedIn to find a graduate job or internship.
As usual, we need to disclaim the obvious. Everything you read on this blog is based on the authors’ opinions, experience and research. Therefore, consider it as an opinion only, thank you for reading!
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