Logging on to LinkedIn as a student can feel daunting. As the self-described “world’s largest professional network” with over 774 million members dotted across the globe, the site pitches itself as a platform for incredibly ambitious and – we imagine – highly qualified executives.
It’s not as scary as it seems, however. There are plenty of ways to use LinkedIn successfully as a GCSE or A level student, whether you’ve got no work experience at all or are looking to change careers. We’ve compiled a list of ten simple steps to get you where you need to be.
This is key. There’s only one thing worse than not having a LinkedIn profile and that’s having a severely neglected LinkedIn profile. What are potential employers – the kind who check professional networking sites, anyway – looking for if not people who are willing to put the effort in?
This is your corner of the internet to be as gushy as you like about what motivates you. Use your About section to tell us about your hopes and dreams, the relevant experience that you have and the direction in which you’re heading. Let the world know what you’re passionate about and throw in a version of your personal elevator pitch for good measure.
Unlike your CV, your LinkedIn cannot be left to fester in between job searches. Recruiters or potential connections will still probably be looking at your profile and if you haven’t kept it up to date with your latest experiences and achievements then you might be missing out on showcasing some new skills.
This is a surefire way to boost your offering as a student. First make sure that you list your NEC courses and qualifications in the Education section of your profile. Then, in your spare time, research additional courses to show off your inquisitive mind. The Open University offers over a thousand free courses through their platform OpenLearn, and you can even import the certificates of completion straight into the Licences & Certifications section of your LinkedIn profile. Easy as pie!
If you’ve got samples of your writing, design, photography or video-making skills that you think would be of interest to any potential employer looking at your profile, attach them to the relevant item in your Experiences list. This is also a great way to signpost any news articles relating to your accomplishments (even if you’re only starring in the local paper) – you can link to online articles by URL or upload files from your computer or phone.
There’s collecting connections like old pennies and then there’s actually connecting with them. If you spot somebody you know bravely posting on LinkedIn, engage positively! Even just a friendly applause reaction or short personalised comment will instantly make them feel proud for putting themselves out there, and they’ll hopefully respond in kind when you…
Say you’ve completed an extra GCSE with NEC and now you’ve got the qualification you need to retrain as a teacher. Share your success with your connections and tag us! Tagging (relevant) people and organisations on LinkedIn means that their followers will see and hopefully interact with your post too. They might even re-share it if you’re lucky…
First making sure that you have private mode switched on in your settings, take the opportunity to have a mosey at the profiles of people you admire. This is not an exercise in comparing yourself to others – remember that people very rarely discuss the not-terribly-glamorous bits of life on platforms like LinkedIn – but it is a chance to pick up inspiration about how to present yourself on the site.
If you’re looking for work experience or even a job in a particular industry or profession, say so! Make it prominent in your headline (“A level student and aspiring biology teacher…”) and explain what you’re looking for from LinkedIn in your About section. And, like with a CV, tailor your experiences where applicable. If you’re very specifically hoping to go into journalism, for example, emphasise your experiences relating to writing, people skills and keeping to deadlines.
If you’re already studying with NEC or are even just thinking about it, you clearly have more than enough independence and drive to achieve your goals. This is what people mean when they talk about being a self-starter: LinkedIn is designed for people like you! Enjoy yourself, be your truest self and celebrate what you have to offer the world. It’s really that simple.
Helen Grant is a recent graduate from Murray Edwards College, Cambridge and a current NEC marketing intern.