Chances are good you don’t have to encourage your teen to use social media. But as they Instagram and Snapchat their way through life, consider pointing them to another platform they should really check out: LinkedIn is the place to be for the up-and-coming “professional.”
It’s a relatively new option for teens – they just lowered their age requirement to 14 in 2013. But it’s a very useful addition to any teen’s high school resume. Here are answers to four common questions about a LinkedIn presence:
What are the benefits of being on LinkedIn as a teen?
- It brands you as serious about college and career goals.
- Creating and maintaining a profile on LinkedIn demonstrates that you have the discretion to know how to use social media in a professional manner.
- It allows you to connect with students, alumni and decision makers at prospective colleges in a more informal setting.
- It gives you a place to showcase all your high school achievements, including work and extracurriculars.
- It helps you polish your digital profile because it will be one of the first links displayed if a prospective college or employer searches you.
What should I put in my profile?
- Basic information in your summary, such as your high school, favorite classes, best traits and a brief description of the field of study that interests you, if you know it.
- Awards or achievements you have received — Don’t be modest. Let them know you’re always on your school’s honor roll or part of the school’s winning Robotics team.
- Clubs or teams you belong to and any other extracurricular activities, wehther it’s community theater or playing the piano.
- Your community service interests and involvement.
- Scroll down to the Skills and Expertise section and choose some. This allows people to “endorse” you, but also makes your profiles look more complete.
- LinkedIn has a helpful guide here on LinkedIn for teens you might want to check out.
With whom should I connect?
- Start building your connections with your parents and their colleagues and friends by sending a politely worded request. There’s a default message in the connection request area, but it’s best to customize it by giving them a succinct summary of your interest in LinkedIn. Try something like “Good afternoon, Mr. XX. I am Robert and Nancy’s daughter and have just created a profile in LinkedIn. I’d appreciate you connecting with me.”
- Employers/coworkers from a part-time job
- Your friends’ parents
- Volunteer associates
- Connections you make on college trips or during your college search
What else can I do to stand out?
- Join groups. LinkedIn has thousands of groups, so find ones that pertain to your field of interest, regional groups and groups associated with colleges that interest you.
- Follow companies that interest you. Their updates will show up in your news feed and you can comment or share them. We’d love to have you follow us!
- Post “status updates.” This might be something about a project you completed, or news you share from companies or industry publications you follow.
- Personalize your web address – click here to learn how to designate your LinkedIn address as your name, rather than the random string of numbers it automatically provides.
- Seek recommendations. Ask employers, teachers or other adults with whom you interact to write you a recommendation on your page.
- Research universities through the University Pages feature, a relatively new addition that allows colleges to have their own page, just like a company. Here’s the one for Cal Berkeley (my alma mater!), for example. As you can see, it shows which companies alumni work for, what fields they are in and statistics like the admittance and graduation rates. You can check out as many colleges as you like and then follow the ones that most interest you to get their status updates on your news feed. Being active on the page demonstrates your interest to the admissions committee and allows you to ask questions from students and staff.
LinkedIn can be a great resource for showcasing your skills and career interests and can be useful in connecting with potential internships and colleges. Including your profile address on your applications can help direct interested colleges to your page and offer instant credibility.
Is your teen on LinkedIn? We’d love to hear about how they are using it.