Is high school too early to set up a LinkedIn profile?
College students know that a presence on LinkedIn will help them find and apply for jobs. But most high school students are years away from a full-time job search. Does it make sense for you, too?
When we first wrote about high school LinkedIn profiles four years ago, relatively few students were on LinkedIn. Since then, many thousands of students around the world have set up their LinkedIn profiles and are now preparing for the next chapter in their lives.
But because high school students are not job seekers, there is relatively little information about how to craft a relevant and meaningful LinkedIn profile for them.
Hundreds of students, teachers, and administrators have contacted us for advice, so we have pulled together a group of resources to help.
Build a Strong LinkedIn Profile
High school students who create a LinkedIn profile now will stand apart from the competition — but building a profile from scratch can be a little intimidating.
Many of the sections of the profile are not relevant for you. Don’t worry about that! Just complete as many sections as you can, and add more details over time.
Don’t use a photo from one of your other social media accounts. Dress in clothing appropriate for an internship interview, look straight at the camera, and smile. Crop the photo around your face.
Your background graphic (the image behind your profile photo) provides a visual way to differentiate yourself. Use this opportunity to share something noteworthy about yourself. Find a picture that speaks to your future career goals, current extracurriculars, or recent achievements.
Use a photo of you participating in an event that is relevant to your future career or current interests. An athlete could use a photo from a game. An artist could use an original drawing. Whatever you choose, use an image you own or get one from a free stock photo site like Pixabay. Do not go on Google and copy someone else’s image — that can get you in serious legal trouble.
Your headline (the line of text directly under your name) should tell people about your career goal or what you plan to study in college. You can also mention awards, immediate job goals (such as “Looking for a summer internship”) or causes you care about. You can include the year of your planned graduation as well.
The About section is similar to a college essay; this is where you can highlight your experience and qualifications while also expressing a bit of your personality. Share your goals — what do you want to do or accomplish? And why have you chosen that particular path?
The Featured section of your LinkedIn profile provides you with the opportunity to link to articles about you or by you, videos, or websites (such as BeRecruited for high school athletes).
You can include a video where you talk about why you have chosen your career path, or you could use a video to showcase a recent project.
Work & Volunteer Experience
List the jobs and volunteer positions you’ve held, whether they were full-time, part-time, or unpaid. For each position, talk about what your responsibilities were, what you accomplished, and what you learned.
Start with high school, and include any other education you’ve participated in, such as enrichment or summer programs.
Honors & Awards
Highlight any special recognitions you’ve received. This can include honor society, a prize for writing, an Eagle Scout award, athletic honors, or recognition from an employer or community organization.
Have you taken part in any projects that demonstrate your leadership abilities or initiative? Perhaps you led a team assignment, built a website, or took part in a fundraising drive. Include information about what you worked on and how you got it done. You can link to a website for more information.
List the classes you’ve taken, either in or outside of school, that are most relevant to your future career. You can include AP/IB classes that you particularly enjoyed or where you excelled. This is another place for you to highlight the skills and interests you’re most excited about.
LinkedIn allows you to list 50 featured skills, but it’s not necessary to include more than a few. If you have experience with programming, for example, include the languages you know. If you know Photoshop, Canva, Microsoft Office, or other applications, include those, too.
Have you participated in any clubs, teams, or groups? Include all of them, and highlight your leadership roles.
Speaking multiple languages is always impressive. Add any languages you speak or have studied, along with your level of proficiency.
How High School Students Can Leverage LinkedIn
Once your profile is complete, you can use LinkedIn for three key actions that can impact your future:
Start Networking Now
Send LinkedIn connection requests to your parents, teachers, mentors, coaches, and other adults you know. Make sure you connect to anyone who might someday write a recommendation for you.
Research College and Careers
As you begin to think about colleges and careers, do research on LinkedIn.
Almost every university has a LinkedIn presence. Visit that page to learn more about them. You’ll gain insight into each school and their programs — that’s information you can reference in applications and future conversations.
You can use LinkedIn to search for people who attended universities you are considering — and who have the career you want. Reach out to them and ask if they would be willing to give you advice.
You will be surprised at how many people will be impressed by your initiative and be happy to have a conversation about your future career path. They may be willing to introduce you to more alumni or colleagues, and they could potentially become sources for letters of recommendation.
Look for Internships
Everyone knows you can search for jobs on LinkedIn, but it’s also a prime marketplace for internships and part-time jobs.
Once you feel that your profile is ready to share with potential schools and employers, go into the Jobs tab and search for internships.
Many organizations list remote internship opportunities on LinkedIn, and you may be able to find one that will get your career off to a good start.
Stay Active on LinkedIn
Don’t just build a profile and abandon it! Once a month (or more frequently), log on and spend 15 minutes engaging on LinkedIn:
- Check your messages and respond
- Check your notifications to see if there is news about anyone in your network. For example, someone may have changed jobs or received an award.
- Send a few connect requests
- Like three posts from people in your network
At the end of each school year, update your profile—add new awards, extracurriculars, internships, jobs, volunteer work, skills, courses, and projects. Delete information that is no longer relevant. Consider updating your video, especially if the way you think about your career has evolved.
Here is a checklist we developed for high school students — use this to make sure you have included everything that might be relevant.
For a deeper dive into LinkedIn, watch our Student Profile Workshop below.
Focus on Your Future
Whether it’s college, an internship, or a part-time job, a strong LinkedIn presence supports the next step on your journey.
This is the perfect time for you to invest in an online profile and presence on LinkedIn that showcases who you are, your accomplishments, and your interests. From there, you can use the platform to start building professional relationships that will be an invaluable asset as you plan for your future.