In the professional world, making a good impression starts with the smallest details—like how you structure your LinkedIn profile. For high school students with aspirations to step into their future careers, this professional network can act as an early window into the working world.
LinkedIn isn't just another social media platform; it's a goldmine for networking, internships, and presenting your professional self. What are the benefits to a high school student of setting up a LinkedIn profile?
Early Networking: LinkedIn allows high school students to start building a professional network early. Connecting with peers, teachers, and professionals in fields of interest can open doors to opportunities like internships, mentorships, and job shadowing experiences that are invaluable for future career paths.
College Admissions: An impressive LinkedIn profile can serve as a dynamic extension of a college application. It allows students to showcase their accomplishments, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and projects in more detail than traditional applications. Admissions officers and scholarship committees increasingly review social media profiles, including LinkedIn, to gain insights into applicants.
Professional Development: LinkedIn offers a wealth of resources for professional development, including articles, online courses, and webinars. High school students can use these resources to gain knowledge in their areas of interest, stay updated on industry trends, and develop skills that will benefit them in college and beyond.
Personal Branding: Creating a LinkedIn profile encourages students to think about their personal brand—how they want to present themselves professionally from a young age. It helps them to be mindful of their online presence, which is crucial in today’s digital world. A well-maintained LinkedIn profile can set a positive tone for their professional image.
Job and Internship Opportunities: LinkedIn is not just a networking site; it’s also a platform for finding job and internship opportunities. Many companies post listings that are open to high school students looking for early work experience. Having a LinkedIn profile enables students to apply for these positions directly and makes it easier for employers to find them.
Here’s a comprehensive step-by-step guide that will help you build a profile that shines and attracts the right kind of attention from potential universities and employers.
If you're ready to stand out, let’s dive in.
Step 1: Creating an Account
LinkedIn's website provides a clear 'Join Now' button. Click on this, and you'll be prompted to enter your first and last name, email address, and a password you'll easily remember. Once you've entered all of the basics, LinkedIn will pop up with a prompt to import your contact list to get connected. This is optional, so you can skip it if you want to start with a clean slate.
Tips for setting Up Your Account:
Choose a professional email address: Ideally, using your real name or a combination of your name and initials. Keep in mind that your email domain should look as professional as possible, so save the nicknames for friends and other social media.
Choosing a Professional Username: Your username can reflect your personal brand – keep it professional, simple, and searchable. A formula could be your first initial, last name, and some numbers. For example, JohnDoe2024. Avoid nicknames or terms that could be misinterpreted professionally.
Step 2: Profile Picture and Headline
The importance of a profile picture that screams 'professionalism' cannot be overstated. This might be your first impression of a potential connection or employer. Your profile picture should:
Aim for a clear, high-quality headshot where you are the only person in the photo (no stray arms in the picture of people you have cropped out).
Wear something that you would wear to an interview to give off a job-ready vibe.
The background should be neutral, so no beach selfies or distracting landscapes.
If you don’t have a professional photo, a smart-casual head and shoulders shot with a neutral background will do just fine.
Remember to smile in your picture!
Remember, your profile picture should inspire confidence and approachability.
Your headline is a brief professional tagline that appears under your name. It's one of the first things people see when they find you on LinkedIn, so it is important to focus on crafting a good headline.
Tips for your headline:
Aim for something that accurately sums up your professional identity. For high school students, this could be your intended college major or your aspirations. Something like "Future Astrophysicist" or "Passionate about Environmental Law" tells viewers what you're all about.
Keep it short, no more than 120 characters, and make every word count.
Step 3: Summary and About Section
Crafting a Compelling Summary
Your summary section is your personal elevator pitch. It should be a short paragraph or series of bullet points that succinctly describe who you are, what you do, and what you're passionate about. Talk about your goals, what motivates you, and any pertinent interests or hobbies. Remember to
Use strong action verbs and first-person language.
Write in a warm, approachable tone that invites people to connect with you.
Although it's a summary of your professional self, don't be afraid to inject some personality into it.
Highlighting Skills and Aspirations
Use the 'About' section to speak to your academic achievements, career goals, and any significant extracurricular activities (such as leading a local volunteer group or a science club). You should:
Talk about how these experiences have shaped you and what skills you've developed.
Showcase the achievements you're most proud of. Don't list your responsibilities; this isn't a résumé – it's an opportunity to show who you are beyond the classroom.
Step 4: Education and Extracurriculars
Adding High School Information
In the 'Education' section, input your current high school information, including the name, location, and the years you’ve attended. Make sure to update your profile with your graduation date and add your college information when you graduation.
Pro Tip - LinkedIn allows you to link your high school to its official LinkedIn page, doing this increases your profile’s authenticity and connect you to the wider alumni network.
Showcasing Involvement in Clubs, Sports, and Volunteering
Under the 'Experiences' section, you can highlight any significant roles you've held in school clubs, your sports team, or volunteer organizations. This is where you get to share the leadership experiences that have helped shape your goals and skills.
Make sure to focus on the roles where you have had a tangible impact or learned important skills. For example, rather than just listing "Member of the Science Club," say "Co-Organizer of the Annual Science Fair" to give more context to your involvement.
Step 5: Skills and Endorsements
Listing Relevant Skills
Be sure to:
Select skills that are relevant to your current academic and professional aspirations. This might include software skills you’ve picked up in school, soft skills like leadership and communication, and language proficiency.
Think about the skills that a potential employer or college admission officer would want to see. What sets you apart? What are you good at?
Encouraging Endorsements from Teachers and Peers
Ask mentors, teachers, and even peers to endorse your skills. These endorsements add credibility to your profile, and they also function as miniature testimonials. They're especially valuable if they come from people with whom you've worked closely in classes or extracurricular activities.
Step 6: Experience and Projects
Including Part-Time Jobs, Internships, or Relevant Projects
Add any part-time jobs, internships, or special projects you've worked on. You should:
Describe your roles and any accomplishments or lessons learned. This can include anything from babysitting to contributing to a family business.
Make sure to quantify your accomplishments when you can. For example, "Managed a team of four during our city clean-up day, resulting in a 30% increase in volunteer productivity."
Step 7: Networking and Connections
Connecting with Classmates, Teachers, and Professionals
Now that your profile is coming together, it's time to start building your network. Start with your classmates, teachers, and parents' professional contacts. Personalize your connection requests, reminding people where you know them from and how they might remember you.
Joining Relevant Groups and Communities
LinkedIn has a plethora of groups and communities. Some are based on location, while others focus on specific industries or even hobbies.
Join groups that align with your interests and career goals.
Actively participating in these groups can expand your network and help you learn more about the industries you're interested in.
Step 8: Recommendations and Learning
Lastly, seek recommendations from your teachers and employers on your LinkedIn profile. A glowing recommendation from someone you've worked for or learned from first-hand can be a major asset.
Utilizing LinkedIn Learning
For high school students, LinkedIn Learning can be a powerful tool. Many high schools offer access to LinkedIn Learning to their students. Take advantage of this resource to enhance your skills and knowledge about the fields you're interested in.
Check out this helpful video from a former LinkedIn employee with some additional tips on setting up your LinkedIn profile.
By now, you’ve crafted a LinkedIn profile that presents you as a professional, driven individual with clear goals and a well-rounded skill set.
Here are a few things to remember as you continue to build and polish your profile:
Update regularly: As you continue to grow, add new skills, experiences, and projects to your profile.
Use keywords: Think about the language hiring managers or university admissions officers might use and incorporate relevant keywords into your profile.
Keep it professional: Your LinkedIn profile is not the place for personal content or jokes. Save that for other platforms.
Engage: Like, share, and comment on content that resonates with you. It’s a simple way to stay active on the platform and show your interests.
Building a LinkedIn profile as a high schooler is a great way to get a head start on your professional journey. As you create and cultivate relationships with people who share your passions, you're setting the stage for a future that's ripe with opportunities. Good luck, and remember—the only way to go is up!