2013 / 7 April

Student and Recent Alum LinkedIn Tips and Tricks

LinkedIn logo

There are many underutilized and unknown ways to make the most of your LinkedIn profile page. Even if you are a student with limited professional experience or fresh out of school, there are many ways to make yourself much more appealing and easy to find on the professional social network.

There are already many resources available to find out how to make your profile stand out. This post will focus tips for people like me: students and young professionals trying to get our feet in the door with limited professional connections and experience. With that said, these tips are also applicable for people at any point in their career.

We will focus first on how to get found by potential employers and colleagues on the site. We will then move onto what to include and avoid in your profile. Then comes the finishing touches that can really make your page stand out from the crowd of competition.

Get Found

LinkedIn Search Bar

  • Make sure that your profile is set to public. This is not Facebook. There should be no need for a private profile in a professional social networking setting.
  • Be sure to include all of your education for searches by alumni and recruiters who may like to recruit from your alma mater.
  • Your profile headline one of the most important parts of your profile to help you get found on LinkedIn. You should include both your current position and what position you aspire to attain in this section of your profile. You also want your headline to be memorable as it is the first thing potential employees will see when you appear in a search. You may want to look for others in your industry or other students and recent alums for ideas and inspiration to create your headline.


LinkedIn Header


  •  Include industry buzz words and other words you want to be found by and endorsed for in your skills and also in your summary section, past job titles, and experience sections. You may want to scan the company sites and job listings for positions you are interested in to find these keywords to include.
  • Post on LinkedIn a couple times a week or at least once a month to get many more profile views and stay engaged in discussions in your professional field.
  • Join and participate in relevant groups to your major, professional interests, and career goals.
  • Connect to people you already know using the aptly named “People You May Know” tool. Although the optimal number of LinkedIn connections is up for debate, it is good to have a solid base of at least 50 or so because you never know who a friend or connection may be able to put you in touch with or put in a good word about you with. The more connections you have, the more likely people are to find your profile because of a shared or third-degree connection. LinkedIn does have a policy guideline of only connecting and inviting connections you “know and trust” on and to the site.

Look Presentable


  • Your profile picture is a first impression and if at all possible should be a professionally taken headshot. Present yourself in professional clothing and do not include other people in the photo. Don’t “cartoonize” or stylize your picture unless you’re in a creative industry. Most importantly, simply have a profile picture even if it’s not the best one out there. Having a face to put with a resume is a major plus for both potential employers and your prospects of getting a job.
  • If you are in the early stages and making many changes and updates to your profile you want to let everyone know you added a class course or made a minor edit to a job description. You can turn off this activity. Until your page is filled out more completely. For significant updates, and even added skills you should leave your activity on as your connections may see this and in an update email and know someone looking for those skillsets.
  • Put some time and thought into listing your skills with the right industry terms. You may also want to endorse others for the skills you know they have. You should not expect to simply endorse all of a connections skills to have them reciprocate. This should be a genuine endorsement you give to others and receive in turn, but do be sure to provide endorsements whenever appropriate. Most people do not give genuine endorsements so most recruiters will not be counting how many people have endorsed you for Microsoft Office.
  • Fill out your profile completely. This is no time to be shy or humble: you should list that stellar GPA you have, study abroad experience, every language you speak, all of your club and professional memberships, leadership and volunteer positions, awards and certifications, and include links to your personal blog, resume or any projects in your portfolio.

How to Standout (in a good way)


  • Individualize your invitation requests. The automatic “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” should at the least be personalized with a “Hi Joe Smith, as a fellow ____ I would like to connect with you on LinkedIn.” My personal feeling is that the more distant your relationship is to whom you are connecting to, the more personalized your invite message should be.
  • Just creating your LinkedIn profile now? Take advantage of your vanity URL! In “Edit Profile” click on the “edit” option next to the URL address below your profile picture. On the next page select “Customize your public profile URL” in the top right corner of the page. If available, change your LinkedIn URL to your name e.g. (www.linkedin.com/in/)johnappleseed.

    NOTE: If you already have an existing account your old URL will NOT redirect to the new address.

  • Ask a former supervisor or professor to write a recommendation for your page. This is easier said than done as a college student or recent alum, but it holds much more power than your endorsements and looks really good for any recruiters who visit your page. (Full disclosure: I have not done this yet)
  • Join groups and follow companies in your prospective professional field. Many universities also have groups for alumni to connect, share job opening, career advice, and network.

Other Helpful Resources

Recommendations straight from LinkedIn for University students

Huffington Post Article on optimizing for new search tools

Top LinkedIn profiles in the world. The #1 profile is of this GW alum.

This article with advice that was shared on the GW Athletics group page.

An amazing infographic chock full of outstanding advice.

What did I miss?

Did you take away anything from this post?

Let me know in the comments!

  • I finally made a LinkedIn profile a few weeks ago, and your tips are really helpful! I didn’t know a lot of these things about LinkedIn, but I’ve been using it as a great networking tool. In fact, I applied for a job that was posted on the website and just got asked to interview. Great post this week!

  • Merideth Tumasz / April 8, 2013 AT 11:38 AM

    I do not have a LinkedIn profile, but I believe that in today’s job market, I should! I’m going to take your advice and hopefully my profile will be great at the start! Thanks for all the helpful tips!

  • This is great! I am always struggling on LinkedIn, so getting some idea is always helpful!

  • What would you do if you saw that someone else created a Linked In pretending to be you? (not that this happened to me, but i think its interesting how much harm could potentially come from a simple action like that, with real world consequences.)

  • Our class in Social Media on LinkedIn pages was really helpful… so was this post! Thanks!

  • Super helpful suggestions as I’ve been struggling to build out my profile. Thanks!



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