Three of the most overlooked (and most important) elements of strong student LinkedIn profiles

LI 3 intros

A colleague and I were recently chatting about good LinkedIn student profiles, following a request from another member of staff as to whether we had any good example student profiles which they could show to other students. In the process of our conversation, a few things really stood out (for all the wrong reasons!).

The top section – what I call the ‘introductory section’ – of your profile is really important; it is the first thing people will see.  However, three key parts of this section are what myself and my colleague most frequently see being overlooked, or neglected, on students’ LinkedIn profiles.


1. Profile Photo

Firstly, have a photo.  According to LinkedIn, simply having a profile photos results in 21x  more views and 9x more connection requests

The type of photo is equally important.  LinkedIn is a professional network and your profile photo should reflect this.

Profile photo should be:

  • You alone and easily recognisable as you.  Appearing warm and friendly is good – this is easily achieved by smiling in your photo
  • Your face should be clearly visible (i.e. no sunglasses etc.), and take up the majority of the frame
  • Professionally related – i.e. you as you would appear for work.  This might be dressed formally suited and booted, might be you in a lab or field work setting, or anything else.  But make it relevant to your professional interests if possible – either in dress and/or location.  Not a holiday snap or picture from a night out.
  • Taken against a simple background – avoid backgrounds with lots going on or that are distracting to the eye.

See this post from LinkedIn for some further tips on taking great profile photos.

2. Headline

Your headline defaults to your current or most recent position but you can easily – and should – edit this to give a synopsis or your professional interests and experience.  For most of you this means your headline will read something like “Student at University of Leeds”.  Yours and x thousand others.  Change it so it says something about you.  You have 120 characters; use them! For example;

“Final year Medical Sciences student with industry experience seeking graduate role in Research & Development”

Aspiring Digital Marketer │Social media, content & SEO experience │Seeking placement for 2017/18

Politics Student at University of Leeds │Seeking to build on existing experience to progress career in Public Affairs

Teaching Assistant and PhD student in Roman History & Culture │Particular interests in identity and culture in Roman Britain │

There are some additional tips on writing compelling LinkedIn headlines in this post, aimed specifically at students and recent graduates. And some more detailed advice on formulating compelling LinkedIn headlines in this post.

3. Summary section

The summary section allows you to go into a bit more detail about your relevant skills, experience and aspirations.  Keywords are crucial here (as they are throughout your LinkedIn profile).

Keywords are the kinds of words recruiters will be using to search for potential candidates, so try to think of what terms they might be searching on.  For ideas on this you could look at profiles of people doing the type of jobs in which you’re interested (see this short video for how to do this on LinkedIn), or look at job advertisements.  Particularly if you have specialist skills, knowledge or experience gained from your degree or elsewhere, make sure you include it here.  This post has some good tips for coming up with keywords. Although this post is written with experienced professionals in mind, it contains some excellent further tips on writing a killer LinkedIn summary section, which is easily transferable to students and recent graduates. For example, when it talks about highlighting impact made in previous jobs, this could be transferred to impact you’ve made in any work experience, position of responsibility, university project, and so on.

Further tips on developing a strong profile

Further advice on LinkedIn

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