A Guide to LinkedIn for Beginners

As a first-year university student, I’ve recently gotten introduced to the world of LinkedIn and LinkedIn profiles—through the online platform, one can set up a comprehensive profile inclusive of past work experience, varying skills and achievements, CCAs. All-in-all, LinkedIn showcases a more holistic portfolio as compared to a formal resume.

LinkedIn has become one of the most popular platforms, to the point where sending them your LinkedIn portfolio alongside your resume has become commonplace when applying for jobs online.

And so, this article is for any beginner who is trying to set up a LinkedIn portfolio. It includes the things that beginners often struggle with (in my opinion), and provides five tips on how to structure a portfolio on LinkedIn.

1. LinkedIn vs. a Resume

I think it would be helpful to begin by writing how one should perceive a LinkedIn portfolio as compared to a resume. Although both outline your various records and experiences, a LinkedIn portfolio also serves to highlight your soft skills.

What do I mean? Simple. On a LinkedIn portfolio you can, for example, highlight the CCAs you’ve attended and the skills you’ve picked up along the way, instead of simply talking about your academic records and awards. So those leadership skills you’ve picked up from being the team captain in your school sports team? You can highlight them on LinkedIn!

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Keep this in mind when you begin writing about your experiences, be it work, volunteering, or co-curricular activities.

2. Writing the ‘About’ section

The ‘About’ section has the same function as an Instagram bio, but for a more professional purpose—to introduce you to potential connections, be it external speakers, mentors or potential employers.

Most students stress about getting their bio ‘just right’, and how professional it’ll sound. This often results in a long passage that is not unlike an essay, with all-too-formal language and an all-too-academic tone.

The best thing you can do when writing this section is to adopt a conversational tone as if you were introducing yourself to someone in real life.

The first section can introduce your name, your year, your major, and what you’re currently doing in general. The second section can be much more tailored towards a particular CCA or a particular skill set, or anything you wish to highlight. The final section can be about the current positions you are undertaking in that CCA, or a general statement about your other extracurriculars. But the most important thing about this section is to end it with an open invitation to chat with you. An open invitation allows others to see that you are receptive to networking with them, which can provide certain opportunities in the future.

Consult what your seniors have written, especially if they are extremely active on LinkedIn, and consider adopting a similar style or structure as them. It shouldn’t be an exact copy-paste replica; rather, examine the structure of their bio, or pick out certain points you like, and apply it to your own. After all, the best way to learn is from those who know more than you!

3. Writing About Experiences

Remember what I said about using LinkedIn to highlight your soft skills? You can share about the events that you took part in or organized in school. Do use action verbs that highlight initiative or leadership.

For example, you could write about how you ‘led a team’, or how you ‘set a clear vision’, or that you ‘initiated a fundraiser’, or how you ‘supervised’ or ‘spearheaded’ your group. All these words and phrases help you showcase yourself as an active individual capable of organizing and leading events.

If you don’t know what to write about, start by listing the CCAs you’re in. From that list, try to think back on what you’ve participated in, or any events you’ve organized, or any active role you took up in those CCAs. It’s good to start listing these things down now so that you won’t have to struggle to remember what exactly you did in JC or Poly in the future.

If you still find that you don’t have much to write about, don’t worry! You can join CCAs now or after entering university, where you’ll also have plenty of opportunities to take up leadership roles in projects.

4. Aesthetics and Structure

For those starting out on LinkedIn, there’s often a lot to fill up, and so a lot of people tend to neglect important factors like the profile picture and the structure of the portfolio as a whole.

If you’re starting out, keep in mind that the aesthetics are just as important as the content. A decent profile picture and a fitting background picture are both important parts of the portfolio. They’re often the first things people see when they click on your profile.

By ‘structure’, I’m referring to how you present your CCAs and work experience. Some like to have a section under ‘Education’ for ‘co-curricular activities and positions’, and list things like ‘Vice President of x Club’, only to expand on their activities under the ‘Experience’ section. Others like to have a section of ‘CCAs’, and underneath they state the CCA alongside the various tasks undertaken within that CCA directly in the ‘Education’ section.

5. Testimonials, Certificates and Pictures

Even if you’ve yet to acquire work experience, this is still an important tip to take note of.

When you find an internship or a part-time job, or go for some tournament, you will likely be able to receive some form of testimonial or certificate for your efforts. Whenever you receive those, add them to your LinkedIn profile so future employers can see some formal verification of your experience. As for testimonials, they allow others to see how you have fared in the company and provide you with more credibility as a future employee.

If there are no testimonials or certificates, pictures work equally well. For example, if you’ve planned an event online, perhaps take a picture of the message you sent out, or get consent to take a picture at the end of the event and post it online. These allow others to get a visual glimpse of the kind of things you worked on.

And that’s it for now—my five tips for LinkedIn beginners. I hope this has helped! See you next time!

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