30 Things College Students Should be Doing on LinkedIn Right Now

linkedin collegeThis past week I got an email from a member of the YouTern’s #InternPro Chat community. In that email was this question:

“I’m graduating in December 2014. When do I need to be on LinkedIn?”

My (admittedly snarky) response:

“December 2010.”

So the follow up question from that December grad was fair (and way less snarky than deserved):

“So what do I put in my LinkedIn profile if I’m only a student? And what do I do there?”

In response, and because I know this isn’t the only person with this question, here are 30 things every student should be doing on LinkedIn right now

  1. Upload a professional-looking, charismatic headshot (I know everyone says this, but poor photos are epidemic; please… this is so easy… get it done!)
  2. Grab your custom LinkedIn URL (here’s how)
  3. Build a great – and I mean GREAT headline (Example: Instead of “Teacher” use “Not just a teacher; a mentor…”)
  4. Create a summary that lists your desired industry (no qualifiers like “soon-to-be” and “burgeoning” – write like you belong already)
  5. Also in that summary, create a bulleted list of skills: soft, technical and professional (don’t just say it, demonstrate it with impact and quantified statements)
  6. One more item for that summary: your specific niche (what are you really, really good at? what sector of your chosen industry will you specialize in – and why?)
  7. In the ‘Experience’ section, list relevant experience to date and the impact you’ve had so far (be sure to list internships and co-op assignments)
  8. Under ‘Projects’ enter the projects you’ve taken on; fundraising you’ve done and community service missions you’ve completed (show people you care!)
  9. Under ‘Publications’ enter any relevant papers you’ve written or co-written (again, make sure they are industry relevant… no one cares about your freshman paper on the Occupy Wall Street movement)
  10. In the ‘Honors and Achievements’ section add any major awards won and accomplishments that show you’re not afraid of success (be careful here not to include high school achievements and minor awards from college; you don’t want to sound like a student, because no one hires a “student”)
  11. In ‘Organizations’ list every association, fraternity, national and regional organization you belong to now (this is a great way to be found… don’t leave anything out!)
  12. Under ‘Volunteer Experience and Causes’ list all your volunteer assignments, the causes you consistently support and those with whom you fill a significant role)
  13. Complete the section for Education (keep it simple… again, you don’t want to come off as an unemployable student; if your industry still cares a great deal about academics, however, be very detailed here and also in the ‘Courses’ section)
  14. Manage your endorsements, adding those you want to be known for and removing some of the default categories and those input by well-meaning colleagues (while the jury is still out on the impact of endorsements, this is a great place to make your niche known)
  15. Seek out former mentors; connect and update them on your current status, goals and career plans (you never know when a mentor will surprise you with something amazing)
  16. Reach back to previous managers for recommendations regarding your work ethic, communication skills and other high-demand characteristics (even a “the hardest working person I’ve ever known” from your manager at Honey Baked Hams is impactful)
  17. Visit your school’s University page on LinkedIn (for many, this is a world-class networking tool)
  18. Using the Groups Directory, connect with your Alumni group (let them know you’re coming… better yet, serve as a volunteer or a committee member)
  19. Next stop on the alum train is LinkedIn’s Alumni Tool, which shows where fellow alums live, work and what they do (again, a networking goldmine)
  20. Using the ‘People’ search, connect with not only alumni but students with same major as you, classmates, fellow members of communities, clubs and fraternities (every contact is a potential referral!)
  21. Join and contribute to LinkedIn Groups that serve your industry or where you share common interests with others (and don’t just lurk, share relevant content and participate)
  22. In those groups, start a discussion and introduce yourself in a professional manner (and when you do, don’t be surprised if you get 100+ new connections)
  23. Reach out to the top contributors to each of your LinkedIn Groups; connect, and then ask for 15 minutes of their time to find out more about them, and their success (amazing connections are made this way!)
  24. Comment on the blogs and posts of others on LinkedIn (Publisher has made it incredibly easy for influencers to post valuable content on LinkedIn)
  25. Follow all the companies on your “I would die to work there!” list (then seek out those who already work there for valuable connections, and perhaps informational interviews)
  26. Provide regular status updates including a great blog post you just read, an event attended, influencers you had the chance to meet and informational interviews completed (be sure to include the names of the bloggers, event sponsors, influencers and those kind enough to spend time with you)
  27. Go to ‘LinkedIn for Volunteers’ to discover new volunteer opportunities (and further build your soft skills, personal network and resume)
  28. Search for internships on the LinkedIn job board (as of today, there are nearly 10,000 internship opportunities still listed for this summer)
  29. About 6 months before graduation, start to look for work (a recent survey showed that 77% of all jobs are posted on LinkedIn!)
  30. Download the LinkedIn Mobile App (because once you get hooked, you’ll want to connect even more often than you do on Facebook… yes, really)

Yes, you as a college students should be on LinkedIn. You must be on LinkedIn. And when you get there, you’ll have plenty to do. These 30 tasks will not only get you off to a great start, they’ll ensure your time on LinkedIn… is time well spent.


Mark Babbitt AuthorAbout the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable and Forbes regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, Bloomberg News, Switch and Shift, and Under30CEO.

Mark has been honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors,” HR Examiner’s “Top 25 Trendspotters in HR” and CareerBliss’ “Top 10 Gen Y Career Experts.” Mark is currently working on two new books: “A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive (AMACOM, August 2014) with Ted Coine and “The Ultimate Guide to Internships (And Making Your College Years Matter Again)” (Allworth, September 2014). Questions? Contact Mark on Twitter.



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