College application season is upon us, and as you scramble for recommendation letters and put the finishing touches on your college essays, you might not think about one application component that could make all the difference: a LinkedIn profile. The Common App does not require a student-submitted resume, so including a link to your LinkedIn profile in the "additional information" section could make all the difference.
Optically, the fact that you have a LinkedIn profile could set you apart from other applicants. According to Forbes, "Having a LinkedIn profile tells a potential new boss that you are serious about building a career, rather than just socializing online."
There are also legitimate career benefits. "If you know what field or company you want to work in, you can instantly search your connections for a link to a specific company, institution or field," Forbes reports. You could connect with alumni of your high school working in your desired field, and set up informational phone conversations.
Strategies for Using LinkedIn As a High School Student
Once you have your profile completed, you can begin using LinkedIn to establish a professional online presence. It might seem a little confusing at first, especially if you are the only one amongst your friends using this platform, but with a little practice and observation you’ll be up and running in no time.
Here are some tips to get started:
If you meet important professionals at a school event, through your parents or friends, or through a summer job, follow up soon afterwards with an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. Make sure to do so while you’re still fresh in this person’s mind. If you’re worried that they won’t remember you, include a brief message saying that it was pleasure to meet them at this specific event.
You should also reach out to successful alums from your high school, whether you knew them personally or not. This is particularly important if they’re in a field that you intend to pursue. Connecting through LinkedIn at a young age shows ambition, and lets others know that you’re thinking about your future career.
LinkedIn is a unique social media platform. Spend some time observing the feed before you begin to share material. Content shared on LinkedIn is distinctly different from Facebook or other social media platforms. Keep it minimal and professionally relevant.
Know What To Brag About
You should definitely describe your accomplishments and awards, giving details about each. After all, you are actively trying to market yourself. Don’t include your grades, GPA, or test scores, though. These can come off as superficial achievements, since professionals are more interested in what you DO with your talents and knowledge than whether you have them in the first place.
This should go without saying, but as on your college, job, or scholarship applications, you should never lie or embellish the truth. Something that starts as a small embellishment could really catch up to you professionally in the future if it plays a role in you getting a job. Don’t put yourself in that position.
Create A Customized Url
When you open your LinkedIn account, you’ll be assigned a random web address for your LinkedIn profile. This will usually include a long line of numbers or random letters. You can customize the URL using these directions from the LinkedIn website.
Customizing your LinkedIn URL makes your profile easier to find and appears more polished and professional. It also shows that you have some technological savvy and pay attention to details. We hope this helps and will follow up with some best practices for LinkedIn. Come chat with us and learn how to go through this application process!