- LinkedIn is the first place most employers or recruiters look to get more information about students.
- You can use LinkedIn even while still in college to make connections and stay up-to-date with companies that interest you.
- LinkedIn works like an evolving résumé, allowing you to showcase your skills and experience.
You’ve probably heard that LinkedIn is a valuable tool for networking and finding a new job, but did you know that you can use it to get a leg up on your future career even while you’re still in college? There are more than 500 million LinkedIn users, and over 40 million of those are students or recent graduates. Put in a little effort to stand out from the crowd, and it might just help you score the internship or entry role of your dreams post-graduation.
“LinkedIn lets you connect with your college peers and other corporate figures for networking,” says Joshua, a fourth-year student at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. “It’s a place to promote who you are to recruiters and companies.”
Not only can you casually stalk the profiles of people who have your dream job, you can also figure out which companies offer those jobs. You can then follow those companies to stay updated on new roles or internship postings, or even reach out to anyone you have a connection with (alumni, an old teacher, a friend of a friend) who works there. With so many candidates, going the extra mile to give a polite hello and express your interest in the company via a LinkedIn message could be what secures you an interview (or even the job itself).
6 ways to use LinkedIn as a college student
In a recent Student Health 101 survey, over 71 percent of respondents agreed that LinkedIn is the most valuable social media outlet for professional purposes. “You can look for jobs and see people who have had that job in the past,” says Morgan, a fifth-year student at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “You can also connect with people you have met in the past to widen your circle.”
“I’m able to list my skills out, which helps with résumé building,” adds Annalisa, a third-year student at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina. “I can also network and browse job boards to plan for the future.”
As a college student, you can use LinkedIn to:
- Show potential employers the career path you’re interested in and how your studies will help get you there.
- Learn which companies have roles that fit the description of your dream job.
- Guide your education in the right direction by connecting with people who have the type of jobs you want and seeing what kind of courses they took and the degrees they hold.
- Find and apply to job and internship postings.
- Network with employers, professors, professionals, and personal contacts.
- Showcase your skills, personality, and any work experience you’ve acquired.
LinkedIn works like an evolving résumé. It allows you to show off your skills in an in-depth way. And it’s worth updating your profile regularly: “LinkedIn is the first place most employers or recruiters will look to get more information about students,” says Allison Cheston, a career development and advancement advisor in New York City.
✓ Tips to make LinkedIn work for you
- Start by uploading a profile pic. It doesn’t have to be super professional, but keep it well lit, close-up, and in front of a neutral background.
- Create a headline to sum up who you are and what you’re looking for. For example, “Journalism student seeking editorial internship.”
- Write a brief summary about yourself, your interests, the program you’re currently enrolled in, and your career goals. Look at the profiles of alumni or professionals in your network to get an idea of standard formats and wording.
- List your work experience and achievements. For example: head of the volunteer committee, intern for the local newspaper, employee of the month.
- Add pictures or videos of your work and link to anything you’ve had published online (your soccer blog, for example).
- Get and make endorsements and recommendations. Ask professors, employers, or friends to write recommendations about what it’s like to work with you (in class, at a job, on projects). You can also endorse your contacts for their skills and hope they’ll endorse you in return.
- Follow companies you’re interested in so you can get updates about openings, internships, and events.
- Follow up on in-person meetings with a LinkedIn request. Did you meet with a mentor or have an internship interview? Send them a LinkedIn request—then they’ll know you’re serious about making a connection and it’ll help you show off your accolades.
- Feel confident about your profile by having a counselor from your school’s career center look it over and offer tips. While you’re there, be sure to ask about any potential internships that might line up with your career goals.
Allison Cheston, career development and advancement advisor, New York City, New York.
LinkedIn. (2019). About LinkedIn: Statistics. Retrieved from https://news.linkedin.com/about-us#statistics
LinkedIn. (2019). LinkedIn profile checklist. Retrieved from https://students.linkedin.com/content/dam/university/global/en_US/site/pdf/LinkedIn%20Profile%20Checklist%20-%20College%20Students.pdf