Have you ever Googled your name? There is a good chance that hiring managers, recruiters, admission officers, and the scholarship review committee will look up your social media profile. If you have a LinkedIn profile, it will likely show up as one of the first search results, guaranteeing your first online professional impression.
LinkedIn is dubbed to be the place for professionals to find and be found. With over 850 million members worldwide and two million from Singapore alone, 50 million people use LinkedIn to search for jobs each week; six people are hired every minute on the platform.
If you are a student or recent graduate and think that LinkedIn is of no relevance to you, 20.4% of LinkedIn users who are aged between 18-24 years will probably disagree with you. Whilst you may not need to apply for a job now, it helps to build a strong network as early as possible.
Connect with professionals whom you can use as mentors to grow your future career. Every new connection brings you closer to other potential allies. A LinkedIn survey showed that nearly 50 per cent of professionals in Singapore attribute finding their job to networking, and some human resource professionals put the figure above 70 per cent. With more companies filling jobs without even advertising for candidates, the power of career networking is not to be underestimated.
So, start building your professional network today. Aim to create a complete and compelling LinkedIn profile with an all-star rating, simply because LinkedIn algorithms are designed to give priority to users with complete profiles, ranking them higher in search results. Follow these steps to help you optimise your LinkedIn profile.
Adjust Your Profile Settings
To be hired or noticed, you must first be found. Check your settings to ensure that your profile is discoverable by everyone, allowing your full name to be displayed on the search results and your profile to be visible off the LinkedIn platform.
Customise Your Vanity URL
The LinkedIn vanity URL is an editable feature that is often overlooked. Clean it up, removing all the alphanumeric characters that come with the default URL, showcasing your name (separated by dashes), and keeping it short and sharp, so that it looks good on your CV or wherever you feature it. Here is an example: linkedin.com/in/john-doe.
Add A Professional Photo
Having a profile photo is proven to increase the viewership of your profile. Not just any photo, the image should be a recent professional headshot of yourself, dressed neatly, facing forward, and looking confident and friendly. It does not need to be fancy. Just use your mobile phone camera in front of a plain background. You can also add a nice touch by including a background image on your profile.
Write A Standout Headline
The headline is the tagline that appears under your name. This is prime real estate and the first description that people see before they click on your profile. It can make or break an impression—along with your profile photo.
Write a differentiating one-liner about yourself in no more than 120 characters, explaining what you are currently doing and what you are looking to do, showing your passion and using relevant industry keywords to make it easy for others to find you.
As a student or recent graduate without years of experience or impressive professional metrics to promote, you can still personalise and jazz up your headline. Instead of simply stating that you are a “Student at ABC University”, consider highlighting a notable recognition, a key skill, an internship, or your aspiration that can help you stand out. The key is to know who you want to attract and include the keywords that they will be searching for so that your profile has a higher chance to be served to them. Here are some good headline examples:
- Looking for internship:
Recent Computer Engineering Graduate | Seeking Internship in Renewable Energy Field
- Searching for jobs:
Aspiring Copywriter | Seeking Entry-Level Advertising Position| Freelance Content Creator for Fortune 500 Companies
- Building a professional network as a student:
Aspiring Risk Analyst | Senior at ABC University | Pursuing Statistics MajorData Science Student with Semester-Long Internship at Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab | Experienced Public Speaker
Tell An Authentic Story
Follow these pointers to craft the “about” section of your LinkedIn profile, bearing in mind to keep it brief, clear, and engaging.
- Summarise your academic, internship, and any other professional experiences, including notable projects and accolades. Beyond listing them, demonstrate how these experiences helped you grow professionally. Do not use heavy jargon. Be confident and sincere, never boastful.
- State your career goal and discuss your motivations and pursuits. Write with passion and reveal your personality and interests. Talk about your professional values and ethics. Getting to know this side of you helps employers determine if you are a good fit with their organisations.
- Showcase your strengths and abilities, including keywords that can optimise your profile for search results. Highlight only relevant key skills but do not overdo it, leaving the rest to the skills section.
- End with call-to-action inviting connections, such as by saying, “Feel free to get in touch with me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Finally, be original. Do not copy someone else’s profile. You have lived your own experiences and challenges. Surely you will have a unique story to tell.
Experience Is More Than Just Work
In the “experience” section, list any relevant jobs and internship experience. Do not present walls of text, making it difficult to read. Within each role, summarise your responsibilities and mention a couple of significant achievements. It should just be a short paragraph or no more than 3-5 bullet points. You can also include photos and videos of your work, if applicable.
Do Not Be Shy About Your Accomplishments
Now, as a student, instead of worrying that you do not have substantial work experience to feature in the above, take advantage of the “accomplishments” section to elaborate on your achievements in your academic journey.
If you have authored or co-authored any publication, contributed to projects, attended any courses that can show off your skills and interests, or earned any prominent awards, mention them all. List every language you know and indicate your proficiency. This is your chance to showcase your multilingual ability. If you have joined any clubs at school or outside, be sure to describe your role within each organisation, for example—Treasurer of a sports club.
Add Key Skills & Get Endorsements
To achieve an all-star profile status, you need to include at least five relevant skills. But, well, 50 will be too many. They can be both hard and soft skills. The “skills” section is a great place to organise your skills keywords that otherwise look spammy if you try to pack them all in your “about” summary.
To get inspirations on what high-value skills to add—of course, they need to be skills you possess—is to look up job advertisements of a role you aspire to take on, to know what skills keywords recruiters seek. If there are key skills that you are missing, this is your cue to get yourself equipped with them.
The next step is to get your skills endorsed. Ensure that your LinkedIn settings are adjusted to allow endorsements. Start by endorsing others, who will then reciprocate and do the same for you. You can also ask managers at your part-time or internship job, professors, or classmates who have worked closely with you to write a recommendation. These add extra credibility to your value.
Start Connecting & Engaging
Now that you have completed populating your profile, you need at least 50 connections to achieve all-star status. Seek quality connections, from personal friends and acquaintances to current and former colleagues and industry peers. Send a personalised note along with your connection request for a higher chance of having it accepted. Instead of trying to connect with influencers and power users, “follow” them to see their posts, activities, comments, and discussions.
Join groups relevant to your career interest and studies. If you are looking for a job, update the section above your dashboard to “show recruiters you’re open to work.”
Finally, do not simply exist on the platform. Engage by actively posting and sharing insightful updates, asking questions and creating dialogue. Repurpose your essays into posts, write about your projects, and comment on topics relevant to your industry. Aim to increase the visibility of your LinkedIn profile because who knows, you may be on track to becoming the next LinkedIn influencer or power user!
It is worth setting time aside to create and optimise your LinkedIn profile. Build connections early, and you will yield the benefits in time to come.