LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking platform, with over 722 million users worldwide as of October 2022. While LinkedIn is commonly associated with job seekers and business professionals, high school students can also benefit from having a LinkedIn profile. Here are some quick answers about whether high schoolers should create a LinkedIn account:
- Yes, it’s a good idea for high school students to make a LinkedIn profile to start building their professional brand and online presence.
- LinkedIn allows high schoolers to connect with professionals in fields they are interested in pursuing.
- A LinkedIn profile can help high school students discover and prepare for career paths by viewing others’ profiles.
- High schoolers can list achievements, volunteer work, and extracurricular activities on their LinkedIn profile.
While a LinkedIn profile is recommended for high school students, it does require maintaining and keeping information up-to-date. Having an incomplete or sparse profile is worse than not having one at all. High schoolers will get the most out of LinkedIn by actively engaging on the platform.
Benefits of High School Students Using LinkedIn
Here are some of the main benefits high school students can receive from creating and using a LinkedIn profile:
Gain Exposure to Potential Careers
The biggest advantage of LinkedIn for high schoolers is the ability to connect with professionals working in fields the student may be interested in pursuing. LinkedIn provides exposure to a wide range of industries and career paths. High school students can leverage LinkedIn to:
- Follow companies to learn about industries they may want to work in.
- Connect with professionals in desired careers to ask for career advice and guidance.
- Join industry or career-related groups to gain insights and participate in discussions.
- Follow colleges and universities to learn more about academic programs.
- Research job openings and required skills/qualifications.
This allows high school students to truly explore potential careers of interest.
Build a Professional Online Presence
A LinkedIn profile represents a professional online presence for high school students aiming to pursue higher education or enter the workforce. LinkedIn profiles are often ranked highly in Google search results, so students can get their name out there for colleges and employers recruiting online.
Highlight Achievements and Extracurriculars
LinkedIn provides a place for high school students to showcase academic achievements, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and honors. These details are not always fully captured on a college application or resume. Publishing this information on a student’s LinkedIn profile allows it to be discovered by more people.
Through LinkedIn, high schoolers can connect with family, friends, peers, alumni at schools they are interested in, and professionals working in fields they may pursue. These connections could lead to internship opportunities, career advice, job referrals, and more.
Practice Professional Communication
Navigating communication and interaction on LinkedIn in a professional manner is great practice for high school students. It gets them comfortable with networking digitally and representing themselves professionally.
Gain a Competitive Edge
With 92% of recruiters using LinkedIn to hire, having an established presence on the platform as early as high school can provide an edge over other candidates. High school students have more time to build up their brand and network.
Potential Drawbacks of High Schoolers Using LinkedIn
While there are many advantages, here are some potential drawbacks for high school students to consider:
Time Commitment to Keep Profile Updated
To gain benefit from LinkedIn, high schoolers need to dedicate time to build and maintain their profile. Unlike a resume or college application that is completed at fixed times, a LinkedIn profile needs ongoing attention to remain accurate and active.
Potential Age/Career Discrimination
Sadly, some professionals may not take students seriously on LinkedIn due to their young age or high school status. Students need to be prepared for discrimination in some cases.
Limited Professional Network
Since high school students are just starting out, they may have a much smaller network and fewer connections than typical LinkedIn users. A sparse network can undermine the purpose of using LinkedIn.
Potential Overwhelming Career FOMO
Exposure to so many professionals and career paths has the potential to overwhelm students if they get FOMO seeing certain careers highlighted on LinkedIn. It’s important to keep perspective.
Less Relevant Usefulness Compared to Older Users
The core value propositions of LinkedIn around job seeking, business networking, and professional branding are often less relevant to high schoolers than older users. The utility may be limited.
Risk of Irrelevant Connections and Interactions
High schoolers have a higher risk of receiving spam or irrelevant connection requests compared to professionals on LinkedIn. They need to be selective and guarded with interactions.
Tips for High School Students Using LinkedIn
Here are some top tips for high school students to get the most out of LinkedIn and use it effectively:
Complete Your Profile
Don’t leave your profile sparse or blank – take the time to fully build out sections like your summary, work and volunteer experience, education, skills, and interests. This provides the context needed for connecting.
Highlight Extracurriculars and Leadership Roles
Include involvement in school clubs, sports teams, organizations, and any leadership positions held. These activities show well-rounded interests.
Tailor Your Profile Summary
Make the introductory summary statement professional yet personable. Tailor it specifically for the audience of colleges and employers.
Build Your Network Selectively
Be selective in connecting with professionals – focus on those in careers or industries you are seriously interested in pursuing. Quality over quantity.
Join Relevant Groups and Follow Companies
Based on professional interests, join LinkedIn groups and follow companies to gain exposure to those fields and network.
Engage Professionally on LinkedIn
Act professionally on LinkedIn by sharing relevant content, commenting constructively, and liking/replying to others’ activity. Add value to your network.
Leverage Connections for Informational Interviews
Connect with professionals you share common interests with and request informational interviews to learn more about their career journey.
Ask managers, teachers, coaches, and others you work with for recommendations that validate skills and achievements to boost your profile.
Send Connection Requests Thoughtfully
Don’t spam connection requests. Personalize them to explain who you are, your commonalities, and why you wish to connect.
Stay Current and Relevant
Maintain an up-to-date profile by adding new roles, experiences, education, and updating the summary statement as interests evolve.
What to Include in a High School Student’s LinkedIn Profile
Here are key sections and content high schoolers should include in their LinkedIn profile:
The headline under your name can say “High School Student at [School Name]” or relate to career aspirations like “Aspiring Software Engineer”.
Use a professional headshot of you dressed neatly. Photos with friends or casual settings don’t portray the right image.
Briefly summarize your academic interests, extracurriculars, goals, and what makes you unique. Tailor it to college admissions or employer audiences.
List any formal jobs, internships, freelance work, family business involvement, entrepreneurial ventures, or informal work like tutoring.
Include current high school and any other relevant education. Can also list prospective colleges with intended major.
Highlight volunteer work and causes you devoted time to. Shows compassion on top of academics and leadership.
Honors & Awards
Academic awards, honor roll achievements, and other accolades demonstrate excellence in education.
Clubs, sports teams, organizations you are involved in show well-rounded interests and leadership skills.
List key skills like software proficiency, foreign languages, marketing, management, research, writing, etc.
Ask managers, teachers, coaches, employers to write LinkedIn recommendations that validate your abilities.
Highlight academic or extracurricular accomplishments that don’t fit other sections, like awards received or projects completed.
Examples of Strong High School LinkedIn Profiles
Here are some examples of well-crafted LinkedIn profiles for high school students:
Molly structures her profile to highlight academics, leadership, activities, and goals:
– Professional Headline: Honors Student and Varsity Athlete
– Summary: High honors student at Smith High School with a passion for STEM subjects. Varsity lacrosse player and Math Club president. Excited to study engineering in college.
– Experience: Math Tutor, Babysitter
– Education: Smith High School
– Extracurriculars: Varsity Lacrosse, Math Club, Robotics Club
– Skills: Time Management, Leadership, Problem Solving, Math, Science
– Accomplishments: Awarded “Outstanding Math Student” (2020), Captain of varsity lacrosse team (2022)
James tailors his profile to highlight technology skills:
– Headline: Aspiring Software Engineer
– Summary: Software engineering student at Central High School. Passionate about coding and experienced with several programming languages. Seeking software internship opportunities.
– Experience: Computer Repair Technician, Website Design Freelancer
– Education: Central High School
– Accomplishments: Designed website for local non-profit organization. Won 3rd Place in State Coding Competition.
Sarah’s profile captures her mix of academics, arts, and goals:
– Headline: High School Scholar & Performing Artist
– Summary: Top 5% honors student at Washington High School. Lead roles in school musicals and plays. Excited to study literature and theatre in college.
– Experience: Barista, Camp Counselor
– Education: Washington High School
– Extracurriculars: Drama Club, Debate Team, Yearbook Committee
– Skills: Theatre, Singing, Dancing, Writing, Editing
– Accomplishments: Lead Role in High School Musical, Editor of Yearbook
Do’s and Don’ts for High School LinkedIn Profiles
Here are key dos and don’ts for high school students creating their LinkedIn profile:
- Use a professional profile photo of just you dressed neatly
- Write a summary that highlights goals, achievements, and personality
- Include volunteering, extracurriculars, and leadership positions
- List any work experience, even informal jobs like tutoring
- Showcase achievements, honors, awards
- Get recommendations from teachers, employers, coaches
- Follow relevant companies and join industry groups
- Use casual photos with friends, pets, or inappropriate attire
- Leave your profile incomplete with blank sections
- List hobbies or interests not relevant to careers or academics
- Exaggerate achievements or honors
- Send spam connection requests
- Post unprofessional content
- Engage in arguments or heated debates
FAQs About High School Students on LinkedIn
Here are answers to frequently asked questions about high school students using LinkedIn:
Is LinkedIn really beneficial for high school students?
Yes, LinkedIn provides many benefits specifically useful for high schoolers like exploring careers, building an online presence, networking, and highlighting achievements. It can give a competitive edge for college and jobs.
What if I don’t have any formal work experience yet?
You can still list informal work like babysitting, lawn mowing, tutoring students, and any family business involvement. Extracurriculars also demonstrate valuable experience.
Should my profile reflect future plans or current status?
Strike a balance. Use the headline and summary to describe goals and aspirations. But the rest of the profile should reflect proven experience and current academics.
Is it okay to connect with strangers or recruiters on LinkedIn?
It’s best to be selective and only connect with those you have a direct common interest or context with. Mass connecting to strangers rarely provides value.
How can I make meaningful connections on LinkedIn?
Join groups related to your interests, comment constructively, and connect with high school alumni at colleges you are interested in attending. Engage thoughtfully.
How important is getting recommendations on LinkedIn?
Recommendations from teachers, coaches, employers carry a lot of weight. They validate skills and achievements listed in your profile from credible sources.
How much time per week should be spent maintaining a profile?
To keep your profile active and accurate, plan to spend about 30 minutes to an hour per week sharing content, connecting with new contacts, joining groups, and replying to messages.
What’s better – many loose connections or fewer strong connections?
Quality over quantity. It’s better to have fewer meaningful connections with those you have shared interests, experiences, or goals with rather than simply amassing connections.
Is a LinkedIn profile more for college or getting a job?
It benefits both. For college, it shows maturity, broad experience, and drive. For jobs, it establishes your professional brand and network earlier on. The profile can evolve over time.
What if I want to change my career interests later on?
One of the benefits of LinkedIn is you can constantly update your profile to reflect evolving interests over time. The profile you build today can be adjusted in the future.
While high school students have traditionally not been very active on LinkedIn, opening a profile during these years has many advantages. By showcasing achievements, exploring careers, networking, and building their brand early on, high schoolers can get a head start over their peers professionally. However, profiles need to be kept up-to-date and students should be selective in making meaningful connections to maximize benefits. With some time and effort, LinkedIn certainly provides a valuable tool for high school students preparing to enter college and the workforce in the coming years.