How to Make an Effective LinkedIn Page
In the digital age, a well-crafted LinkedIn profile can be just as important as a well-crafted resume. Often times, a LinkedIn page is the first thing an employer will see when looking up a potential job candidate online. In this way, your LinkedIn page can serve as the first point of contact employers have with you. Thus, it is vital that make sure that the first impression employers have is overwhelmingly positive; in order to ensure this, you should take great care and perform due diligence when building your page.
You maybe be wondering whether, as a high school student, you even need a LinkedIn at this point. It is true that most high school or even college students may not be using their page very often, but this does not mean that you shouldn’t maintain a page at all. On the contrary, it is in your own interest to start building your online presence now.
The earlier you start, the better, because it takes time to develop a strong LinkedIn presence. You can begin to garner recommendations, obtain endorsements, and widen your professional networks without the stress and immediacy of conducting a simultaneous job search. By the time you are ready to enter the workforce, you will have a stellar LinkedIn that can help make your search for employment significantly easier.
So what exactly do employers want to see in a LinkedIn page? In this post, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of maintaining a LinkedIn presence. We’ll go over different tips, tricks, and insights in order to ensure that you walk away ready to build a spectacular LinkedIn page that is sure to wow future employers, classmates, and professors alike.
Choosing a photo
Let’s start with the basics. Most likely, the first thing that someone will see after clicking on your page is your LinkedIn photo. Because of this, you should ensure that your photo is appropriate, professional, and presents you in a good light. Consider the alternative: if your photo is unprofessional or inappropriate, then this is the very first impression an employer has of you, and first impressions are extremely hard to shake.
Professional headshots generally make for the best LinkedIn headshots, so use a headshot if have one available. If you don’t have a headshot, don’t fret. Especially on university campuses, offices of career services often provide free LinkedIn headshot services. Alternatively, if you are willing to spend a little money on your photo, many photographers today also offer professional headshot packages. These kinds of services can be particularly useful, because the people offering them likely have significant experience in this area and know what makes for the most compelling photograph.
However, if you are unable to have headshots professionally taken, there is no need to worry. Most in-focus pictures of your face and shoulders work. You can choose a nice background — blank walls, greenery, and solid-colored backdrops often work well — and ask a friend to take a clear, focused photo of you. However, you should avoid any photos with significant others, other people in general, alcohol, and any other unprofessional elements. The photo should just be a standard, appropriate, and professional shot of you – nothing more.
LinkedIn is all about demonstrating your qualifications, and one of the easiest methods through which to do so is to list your past experiences. While filling out this section, you can borrow significantly from your resume. Many of the same resume writing rules apply here. For one thing, you should try to use quantitative descriptions, meaning it is useful to include numbers. This gives potential employers a concrete idea of the significance of your accomplishments..
For instance, if you are writing about your work as a congressional intern, instead of writing that you just “assisted with casework”, you should try to quantify that statement. Saying that you “assisted with 40+ constituent cases related to veteran’s affairs” is far more effective, because you are establishing the scope of your work and giving employers a clearer idea of what and how much you have done in the past. By using these kinds of specifics, you now give employers a better sense of what you are capable of handling, and they can better imagine how you will be able to handle the tasks they will need completed.
These kinds of details are far more useful you may initially think; using quantitative descriptions also has rhetorical benefits. Numbers stand out far more than words do. It is easy to become distracted and start skimming when reading over large bodies of text, and in doing so, a reader may lose some valuable information in the process. You want to do your best to ensure that a potential employer is reading every single important detail that you have written, and one way to do that is to break up walls of letters with numbers. In doing so, your average reader becomes far more likely to zero in.
You should also try to use as many action words as possible. Your language should pack a punch here — high powered words often come with positive connotations, and beyond that, directed language can actually give employers a better sense of what your past responsibilities have looked like.
Let’s take another look at our congressional intern example to help illustrate this. You could describe an element of your work as such: “I helped write briefs on upcoming legislation”. While this statement gets the message across, it isn’t as effective as it could be. The language is a little dry, and it doesn’t quite grab the reader’s attention. Remember, resume writing is all about capturing a potential employer’s interest, and this statement just isn’t energizing enough to successfully do so.
However, you can address this problem with some simple rephrasing. Focus on your actions, and keep those actions at the beginning of your sentences. We can rewrite our example as such: “Researched and drafted 20+ briefs on legislation concerning education and immigration policy”.
See how much more effective the sentence becomes? By placing the actual actions you undertook right at the beginning, you get to your point far more quickly. Instead of burying what you actually did somewhere in the middle of the sentence, employers know exactly what you contributed right from the get go, and that becomes the focus of the statement.
If we look back at our example, we can see another resume writing guideline in action. You should aim to be as specific as possible when describing your work experiences. Why? As we discussed before, employers what to know precisely what you have done in the past so that they can envision what you can contribute in the future.
Beyond that, using specific details allows you to differentiate yourself from other applicants and increases the chances of your sticking in the employer’s mind. It is extremely likely that many other job applicants have written briefs in the past, but how many have written education and immigration policy briefs, specifically?
By using these directed details, you are giving yourself a distinct identity. You aren’t just someone who assisted with casework, but someone who assisted with casework related to veteran’s affairs. If the job you are applying to has anything to do with education, immigration, veteran’s affairs, or any other field you have referred to in your past work experiences, then you have just significantly increased your chances of obtaining that job by including these specifics. Even if the position is entirely unrelated to those fields, you still have helped differentiate yourself from other applicants and increased your memorability in the employer’s mind.
Writing a summary
The summary is often considered the most important part of your LinkedIn profile, as it pulls together all of your interests, accomplishments, and experience into a cohesive representation of yourself. This is your opportunity to craft a distinct narrative that clearly outlines what you want the takeaway from your resume to be.
When writing your summary, there are some key tips to keep in mind. First, you have to know and understand your audience. Think long and hard about what you are seeking to gain from your LinkedIn profile. You may be searching for job opportunities, a future internship, exposure to a specific field, or any number of different outcomes. You should identify exactly what your goal in creating this profile is, and once you have done so, it is time to think about how you can go about achieving that goal.
One crucial question to keep in mind is: What information do you need to communicate, and to whom, in order to realize your goal? You should place the majority of your focus on precisely this information; each sentence of your summary should be crafted with consideration towards what is most important in realizing your aspirations. You want your audience, whoever they may be, to leave your LinkedIn page thinking that you are a perfect fit.
Additionally, be wary of simply listing your accomplishments. While it may initially seem like a good idea to simply reiterate all of your past successes in order to wow employers, this can actually be damaging to your overall LinkedIn presence. A laundry list of awards or prestigious experiences will not be effective, because it does not tell any clear story about who you are and what you are seeking to accomplish. LinkedIn has a specific section designed for listing your awards and honors; your summary is not the place to do so.
It is a bit like sending in a resume with irrelevant experience; counting off achievements is unlikely to benefit you. Your LinkedIn summary should be carefully tailored to the position or objective you are seeking, and thus should provide a narrative clearly focused on that position or objective.
In a similar vein, you must think strategically about what to include in your summary. Keep in mind that there is a word limit. LinkedIn does not allow for summaries longer than 2,000 words, so you cannot include everything and anything. As a rule of thumb, however, you should shoot for around 500 words because most employers don’t want to read summaries that are too lengthy.
You can emphasize tangible awards and accomplishments, if relevant, but the summary should not be focused purely on externals. It should include your interests, special skills, and passion as well. This will make for a more complete picture of you as an individual, and a more interesting summary that will set you apart from others.
Connections, Recommendations, Endorsements, and Networks
As we mentioned earlier, it is in your best interest to start building a LinkedIn early on. Even if you are not actively searching for employment opportunities, getting a head start can ensure that your future searches will be far easier.
With that in mind, you should work on obtaining as many connections, endorsements, and recommendations as possible. By doing so, you are establishing yourself as dedicated worker, trustworthy potential employee, and competitive candidate. When others vouch for you and give you their stamp of approval, employers take notice.
Additionally, it is very helpful to start building your professional networks early on, and to make as many occupational connections as possible. You never know when a professional connection can come in handy.
Perhaps eventually, one contact will tell you about a job opportunity they’ve heard about that they think would be perfect for you. Or maybe you will find that you have a connection at a company you would love to work at, and they put in a good word about you with their employer. In any case, it is always in your best interest to connect with as many people as possible, so don’t feel shy about asking people to connect with you on LinkedIn.
We hope that armed with this guide, you feel ready to start building your LinkedIn page. Maintaining an online presence is crucial in today’s digital world, and your LinkedIn could prove extremely important in future job searches. Even if you aren’t thinking about employment opportunities right this second, it is still a good idea to work on creating a compelling LinkedIn page to set yourself up for future successes.
Want access to expert college guidance — for free? When you create your free CollegeVine account, you will find out your real admissions chances, build a best-fit school list, learn how to improve your profile, and get your questions answered by experts and peers—all for free. Sign up for your CollegeVine account today to get a boost on your college journey.