Unlocking career opportunities: Tips and tricks for optimizing a LinkedIn profile

Unlocking career opportunities

For the average student, setting up a LinkedIn profile can seem like a daunting task. You are instantly met with a flood of profiles from peers asking to connect and an empty slate you must fill with personal information. However, simply writing in your relevant work experience isn’t necessarily going to catch a job recruiter’s eye. For some useful tips and trips on optimizing your LinkedIn profile as a college student, read more below. 

If you have not yet made an account on LinkedIn, follow this comprehensive guide by ASU Career Services. They have an abundance of resources available for ASU students, including step-by-step lists for LinkedIn optimization and resume-building instructions. 

Whether you’re currently studying at ASU or have recently graduated, an organized and efficient LinkedIn profile is necessary for building up a professional portfolio. It is the most accessible version of your CV and resume, and many employers will request it during the application process. 

Kelly Lankey, the president of the Women’s Business Leaders Association at ASU, shared why it is important to begin crafting your LinkedIn profile as a student.  

“Your LinkedIn profile gives you another opportunity to impress a potential employer with additional achievements and insights that you might not include on a traditional resume,” Lankey said. “LinkedIn is a great way to show more of your passions and personality in a professional manner.” 

With the right profile, descriptions and skills, a student’s LinkedIn profile can help attract attention and make connections within their field before they enter the job market.

  1. Book an appointment with ASU Career Services

One of the most effective first steps ASU students can take in optimizing their LinkedIn profiles is setting up an appointment directly with ASU Career Services to discuss long-term goals and how they can be achieved. 

Dakota Webber, the assistant director for Career Services, said students should look to start their professional presence online sooner rather than later. 

“I would recommend during your first semester with us, make an appointment and talk about where you want to go with your career,” Webber said. “We can begin discussing what kinds of career opportunities are out there, so you have a clear focus as you are going through ASU about why your major relates to your career afterwards.”  

To set up an appointment with ASU Career Services, log in to your ASU Handshake account and navigate to the career services tab. For specialized appointments on how to improve your LinkedIn profile, select the ‘online profile optimization’ option. 

“We help make sure your LinkedIn is polished,” Webber said. “If you aren’t sure where to start with LinkedIn, we can sit down with you and walk you through how to best utilize the platform.” 

  1. Complete the basics

According to an article by Diana YK Chan, a career and business coach at LinkedIn, “studies show that you are 40 times more likely to get found and receive opportunities when you have a complete and optimized profile.” 

What might this look like for an average ASU student or alumni? 

One of the more important aspects of developing a LinkedIn profile is a clear and professional headshot. Without an image attached to your profile, it is difficult for job recruiters and your peers to connect to you. Having a professional headshot not only gives them an idea of how you look but also the ways you choose to physically present yourself. Dress professionally and position yourself against a clean background. 

Including a great headshot, be sure to have a completed bio indicating your region of work, an up-to-date description of your current position(s), a list of your education, and any relevant skills you have. 

  1. Think like a recruiter

While this may seem self-explanatory, it is important to remember that job recruiters are familiar with LinkedIn and sort through prospective profiles constantly. Therefore, one of the most important things you can do is try to stand out while remaining personable. 

Are you passionate about a particular charity or act of service? Add it to your volunteering section. Have you completed or published a recent project? Post it and describe what you learned from the assignment.  

“Everything that you put out there for the world to know about you and what you want to do with your career is going to be important,” Webber said. “Then, recruiters will start finding you. You will start popping up because you’ve made these connections with your profile.” 
Recruiters frequently begin their search with relevant job titles and keywords. To appear in their searches, make sure you list the kinds of positions you want to one day work in and any skills closely associated with your industry. 

The other side of this is following companies you are interested in working for to show recruiters you are passionate about the position. 

“Before I have an interview, usually I will research the company on LinkedIn to see what they’ve posted recently and what the company is currently working on,” Lankey said. “It’s super impressive to recruiters if you show up to an interview already knowing a lot about the company and their initiatives.”

  1. Be authentic in your bio

The summary section on LinkedIn is your chance to express who you are, your passions and your career aspirations. In this bio, you have a chance to describe yourself in 2,000 characters or less so it is important to make them count. Utilize the space efficiently by writing a solid hook within the first two sentences. 

What makes you unique as a worker? What motivates you, and what have you learned from your prior work experience and education? To give your bio dimension, elaborate on your listed skills and positions with short stories or examples of work you have completed. This is a chance for students to share the more personable side of themselves, outside of listed experience and resume details. 

  1. Add endorsements and certifications

Adding specific endorsements, certifications and awards will help distinguish you from the crowd of other college students looking to enter the field. 

“Use platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, Coursera and HubSpot Learning Academy to add certifications to your profile,” Lankey said. “These can be super helpful in displaying certain skills or software that you have experience working with.”

There are certifications across a variety of fields, ranging from Python coding to professional construction management. If you are curious to see what certifications are relevant to your career path, browse the LinkedIn Learning certification page here.  

Endorsements on LinkedIn are closely related to the skills listed. Any 1st-degree connection can endorse a skill you have listed publicly, helping to reinforce your experience and validate how proficient you are in that area. Endorsements are visible on your public profile and will help give recruiters a more stable understanding of both your expertise and professional connections. 

Students should look to receive endorsements from professors in their field of study, ASU faculty, and professional connections garnered through internships or undergraduate work opportunities. 

Finally, including any relevant awards can help students stand out, no matter the contest or award. Did you perhaps win a creative writing contest at ASU as an undergraduate? Do you have any specialized scholarships? List them on your profile. 

  1. Post and repost

While it may be difficult to get in the flow of posting, staying active on LinkedIn is crucial to optimizing your profile. Students who consistently interact with peers and colleagues through LinkedIn and share their own accomplishments, no matter how small, can differentiate their profiles and build professional connections. 

For example, are you a journalism student at Cronkite that just published a story for class? Post it to your LinkedIn and tag any relevant sources in the caption. Are you an art student featured in an upcoming gallery show? Share your work from the exhibition and mention other peers involved. 

There is a wide range of opportunities for students to interact with one another and share on LinkedIn, helping show recruiters any professional connections you have made through your work and the wide range of projects you complete during your time at ASU. 

While it can be intimidating to start your LinkedIn journey, there are many resources at the disposal of ASU students. Career Services has a comprehensive checklist here of all the most important elements to include in your profile. For additional, personalized help optimizing your online presence, consider booking an appointment with the Career Service’s team. 

“A lot of students think that networking needs to happen in their third or fourth year of school, but really it needs to start earlier,” Webber said. “Networking takes time to cultivate and develop. Using LinkedIn is a perfect way to do that.”

Mia Milinovich, ASU Student Life


By Sarah Perrone
Sarah Perrone Director, Career & Professional Development Services