Before we get to the how, let’s talk about the why. Why do you need a LinkedIn profile?

For starters, 37% of surveyed job recruiters say social professional networks are one of the most important sources for hiring and 77% of all job openings are posted on LinkedIn.

You might be thinking, “I have years of college left…I don’t need to start looking for a job now.” While this may be true, we believe in the old adage: the early bird gets the worm! If you start thinking about your professional goals now, you will be more prepared when the time comes to find a job, internship, or volunteer opportunity.

LinkedIn is a great way to establish an online presence and grow your professional network (i.e. find people who can help you build your future plans). These connections may also be the first step to help you score a great internship.

How do you build a strong LinkedIn profile as a college student? Here are five easy steps to get started or to spiff up your profile:

1. Post a Professional Profile Photo

Remember LinkedIn is not Facebook. It is a professional networking site—everything you do, add or write on this platform will be seen by hundreds of fellow professionals. You should post a professional photo (preferably a professional headshot) that establishes you as someone employers would want to hire.

Professional:                                                                                                    Unprofessional:

Unprofessional LinkedIn Photo

Professional LinkedIn Photo

Tips for your perfect professional photo:

  • Dress to reflect the atmosphere of the profession that you hope to join. Not sure what that means? Play it safe and wear something business casual.
  • Be aware of your posture—sit up straight. Good posture signifies confidence and competence.
  • Don’t use photos with friends, pets or dark backgrounds.

2. Write a Clear Summary

An effective summary should answer these three questions:  Who are you? What do you do? What are you looking for? Use first or third-person to write your summary. Don’t forget to highlight your interests and impressive achievements.

Grab professionals’ attention by sharing something about yourself that isn’t shared in your resume.

Summary example:

David Brown is a second year Business Administration student at UC Riverside. He is passionate about marketing, advertising, and social media. He is seeking a summer internship to apply his experience assisting a company’s branding needs through social media outreach, developing marketing plans, digital marketing, and conducting customer research.

Specialties: event planning, social networking and marketing, account management, Microsoft Office, Adobe CS5.5 Suite.

3. Add Education and Work Experience

Use this online resume to showcase the stuff that matters: leadership positions, internships, and jobs. Make sure to use strong action verbs (research, manage, copy edit, collaborate, invent, etc.) to describe your experiences.

4. Add Skills and Experience

Are you a Photoshop guru? Is French your second language? Do you live and breathe social media marketing? Awesome! Add it to your skills section.

You can also use LinkedIn to showcase your recommendations and endorsements from professors, employers, and connections. Recommendations indicate to the online world that your previous bosses adored you, and endorsements allow you to show your skills.

5. Check for Grammar and Spelling Mistakes

Just like your resume, your LinkedIn profile should be error-free. After you have completed your profile ask a friend or family member to proof it.