High School Students: Embrace your skills, show your professional side, and create a LinkedIn Profile

February 21, 2014

I was introduced to LinkedIn during my senior year of high school. As one of the twenty high school students selected to work as part of Microsoft’s high school apprentice program in 2013, we had the opportunity to participate in weekly trainings on everything from finding our strengths to delivering a perfect elevator pitch to developing our career. As part of the career development training, we were taught the importance of developing a professional brand for ourselves as well as how we could build that brand using the tools LinkedIn provides.

To be honest, I hadn’t heard much about LinkedIn before our career development trainer explained how it could help young adults like myself shine in professional settings. What quickly became clear to me was that LinkedIn could be an easy and efficient way to connect with other professionals while also exploring work experiences and potential career paths. I immediately created my professional profile and learned how to use LinkedIn. Through this process I found that many people I worked for in the past had LinkedIn profiles, which made it easy for me to begin to build my professional network. I began logging into LinkedIn every day to ensure my profile was always up-to-date and that I was proactively building my network wherever I had the opportunity to.

By reading career development articles, connecting with professionals via LinkedIn, and building my network at a young age, I’ve discovered that the sooner you put yourself in the professional community, the better your chances of finding the opportunity you want. Active participation on LinkedIn even made my college search easier. I’ve been able to use LinkedIn University Pages as a resource to help me learn more about colleges and their individual admissions processes. I used the Alumni tool to search to see where alumni are working today.

Here are my 5 top tips for high school students interested in learning how to use LinkedIn:

  1. Have an outstanding professional headline: This will be one of the first things a recruiter or university admissions professional notices on your profile. Choose a headline that accurately describes and captures who you are.
  2. Complete your Summary section  -- and don’t be afraid to use some creativity: Your Summary section should give potential employers insight on who you are, what your skills are and what you are looking for in your career. Beyond that, think about including some color around what you as a student has to offer and how your skills and specialties could positively contribute to a work setting.
  3. Follow University Pages of schools you are interested in or are attendingLinkedIn University Pages are a great way to find and connect with alumni who can help direct you to specific counselors, internships, experiences, and other opportunities.  Unsure about the major you’re considering? Why not reach out to alumni of the school you are currently attending or interested in attending for their first-hand experience?
  4. List all your experiences: All experiences count and mean that you have learned something in a work setting. If you do not have paid work experience, use the Volunteer Experience and Causes section to list your volunteer experiences and organizations you are involved with. You can also add courses you’ve taken, test scores you’re particularly proud of or languages you speak.
  5. Join LinkedIn Groups: LinkedIn Groups are a great place to meet professionals in the industries that interest you. They are also a valuable resource for finding opportunities within your field of interest as well as staying up-to-date on relevant news that relate to your future profession. It’s important to be an active participant in all the groups you join and share interesting articles that you read as well. The more you participate, the more you’ll be noticed by other professionals.

If you want to get noticed by other professionals who have your dream job, get started on LinkedIn with these five tips.  Best of luck!