LinkedIn is the most widely-used social networking site in the world. Many adults use LinkedIn as a way of finding jobs and internships more easily. The networking site functions as a virtual resume: users can create a personal LinkedIn page with details about their work experiences and other achievements that potential employers can easily view.
Why High Schoolers Should Have LinkedIn
As popular as LinkedIn is when it comes to adults wishing to market themselves to potential employers, the social networking site can be a surprisingly useful tool for teenagers, too. Creating a LinkedIn page while in high school or college allows teenagers to create a network early on, which makes finding an internship or job much easier. Another benefit to having a LinkedIn account is the impact it may have on college admissions. Many college admissions officers may Google you online and take a look at your social media and social networking accounts—another reason to be careful of what you're posting online. Having a LinkedIn account not only shows that you are prepared for college and serious about your future, but it also lets admissions officers take another look at your fantastic resume, which can never hurt.
How To Create A Fantastic LinkedIn Page
Now that we've established why joining LinkedIn is a good idea, you may be wondering how to start building your LinkedIn page. It might be a little intimidating at first—but no worries, we have you covered! Here are the basic steps you should go through to create a stunning LinkedIn page that is sure to stand out from the rest.
Choose a good profile picture
To embarrass myself (and also to show that you don't have to be great at taking photos to have a decent profile picture) I've included my profile picture above. Your profile picture will undoubtedly be the first thing many potential employers or college admissions officers see, so make sure you choose a good photo. And by good, I don’t mean something you would post to Instagram. Your LinkedIn profile picture should meet a few requirements:
Front-facing photo of your face starting from a little above your head to a little past your shoulders
Nothing distracting in the background and definitely no other people
Smile a little—it’ll make you look much less intimidating (trust me, I would know)
Wear something semi-formal, like work-attire
Make sure there’s natural lighting so the photo doesn’t show up too dark or too bright
Write a brief headline
After your profile picture, your headline is the second thing most people will notice. It shows up right beneath your profile picture and should be a very short description of yourself. Most high school students write the name of the high school they attend and any major organizations they are involved in. For example, mine is simply “Phillips Academy ’25”.
Write a summary of your main interests and future goals
Now, onto the summary, which is arguably the most important aspect of your LinkedIn profile. The lengths of these summaries vary from person to person, but they should be around two or three paragraphs. Your summary should go over your main interests, so talk about the organizations you’re involved with, at school or out of school. Highlight any work experience that you have, as well. Focus on your accomplishments and everything you’ve learned from those experiences. End your summary with a couple of sentences about your future goals. What do you want to study in college? How does that relate to everything you’re working on now?
Keep in mind that the things you write don’t need to be anything fancy, like winning a prestigious competition or interning at a big company. If you worked at a cafe over the summer, write that down. If you won a school award for your writing, talk about that. Don’t be shy when selling yourself! It might feel weird to brag about yourself, but this is the one place you can (and should) shamelessly rattle on about your accomplishments without feeling arrogant.
Even though this is your LinkedIn profile, try to let your personality shine through in your summary. It’s where people will go to get a better sense of who you are as a person, so make sure it doesn’t sound like you’re rambling out a list of things in monotone. Be enthusiastic and engaging! You want everyone reading your summary to feel your passion and dedication through the screen.
Fill out the work experience section, if any
This is where you can go more in-depth on your work experience—but don’t panic if you don’t have any yet! Most teenagers don’t, so leaving this section empty is completely normal. However, you can also write about any organizations you’re involved in instead, whether they’re school clubs or non-profit organizations. Whatever you write, make sure to give details about what your responsibilities were and your achievements in those positions. Bullet points are the best way to go for most of these descriptions—it’ll make the information seem more readable.
Emphasize your awards and achievements
Here’s the section where you can showcase all the cool things you’ve done so far. Whether they’re school-level achievements or national awards, anything notable that you’ve accomplished goes in this section. And again, it doesn't have to be anything fancy—as long as it was significant to your interests and goals, it's important to include it.
Fill out the education section
This may seem like a relatively minor step if you haven’t yet graduated from college, but trust me, it’s a game-changer. Filling out your education so far, even if that only includes high school, can be very helpful for making connections on LinkedIn. Your profile will often be recommended to others as potential connections because you went to or currently attend the same school, which makes finding connections so much easier. Believe me, a good ninety percent of my connections are students and alumni from my high school.
Any outside organizations or volunteer work you’re involved in
If you’re involved in outside-of-school organizations or volunteer work, definitely include it on your LinkedIn profile. Whether it’s volunteering as a peer tutor at school or, in my case, writing for The Teen Magazine, these are all things to include on your LinkedIn profile.
Include any courses and test scores that are relevant to your interests
This is a less crucial step, but something you can use to boost your profile even further. If you’ve taken a couple of Honors or AP-level courses at school that relate to your interests and future goals, write those down—if it’s an AP course you also took the exam for, you can also write down your score. If you’ve taken courses on an open online course provider like EdX, even better. You can include your completion certificate from those courses on LinkedIn, too.
List a couple of skills
These can be a variety of things, from language proficiency to coding ability. Even better, you can have friends endorse your skills or take tests to determine your skill level, which makes your profile a lot more credible.
Having a stunning LinkedIn page is all well and good, but if you don't have anyone looking at your page, then it will not be very useful. Once you're satisfied with your LinkedIn page, start making connections. Try finding people you know or people from your school who are likely to connect with you. Then, request to connect with anybody they are connected to (second-degree connections). After some time, you'll see that your connections have increased, as will the number of clicks your profile receives. And there you have it—your very own LinkedIn page!