How I Setup My LinkedIn Profile : A Guide

Hey, everyone! I’m back yet again, and this time, we’ll be discussing one of the most prominent — if not the most prominent — for university students: LinkedIn!

Now, I’m sure most of you have, at the very least, heard of LinkedIn. But for those of you with a vague understanding or none at all, let me clarify. LinkedIn is a social platform used mainly for professional networking. While it is similar to Facebook or Twitter, it is mainly used as a ‘second resume’. Everything, ranging from picture selection to connection invites is done to portray the person (i.e. you) as a professional. You select your most ‘formal’ picture (typically one of you wearing some fancy blazer), use professional language (no slang, unlike the typical language on Twitter or Instagram), and connect not just with your friends but with professionals in the industry in the hopes of seeming more established.

For us university students, having a good LinkedIn profile is one way to showcase your relevant experiences, skills, and qualifications when job hunting. Additionally, LinkedIn acts as a means to connect with professionals in your field of interest, and presents an opportunity for you to ask any queries you may have or to hear about the realities of the job and field. In essence, LinkedIn is pretty important.

However, it can be challenging to create a decent or ‘professional-looking’ account. There are many sections that you have to fill in, writing a professionally colloquial ‘About’ is just difficult because how does one strike that balance, having to actively brag about yourself can be unintuitive for some (i.e. me), and how does one even select a profile photo and background? If you have those questions or concerns, don’t worry. I too was extremely confused when I first started. I found it difficult to know what language to use, I didn’t know where to start, and overall, just felt overwhelmed and annoyed because there are just so many sections and so many details to fill in.

But don’t stress! Today, I’m going to take you through my LinkedIn journey. I’ll start by talking about the importance of LinkedIn in general, and share my own strategies when I was getting started. I’ll then take you through my profile. Without further ado, let’s jump in!

The Importance of LinkedIn

I don’t think I need to expand too much on the importance of LinkedIn. Most people are aware that LinkedIn can be used to supplement your resume — resumes are advised to be relatively short, and if you wish to elaborate more on an experience you can put it on LinkedIn. LinkedIn can also be used to connect to professionals and network — you can ask them questions about the industry, or just anything in general. You can even ask for advice from people in a company that you might be interested in joining.

However, I think some people might wonder how necessary having a LinkedIn profile is, especially if you are in a field that does not explicitly or rely heavily on networking. I think that is true to a certain extent — there are many professional and accomplished individuals who do not have a ‘strong’ LinkedIn. They may list their education and one or two experiences, but other than everything is blank.

Personally, I agree that while LinkedIn is not a necessity (i.e. it does not replace a legitimate resume or actual work experience), it does help to some degree. Some of my employers do take a look at my account, and I have used LinkedIn to reach out to professionals to hear more about their experiences. So, while it is not a must, I don’t think it hurts your chances either (in fact, I think it does quite the opposite). If you don’t want to invest time in setting it up, that’s fine too. But, in general, a strong profile is a plus point, especially with the current job market.

LinkedIn: How I Started

I believe it was my first year of university. I had joined the NUS Entrepreneurship Society (NES), a club that mainly comprised business students. No surprise, given the name and purpose of the club. But it was my first year and my first semester — I wanted to explore as much as possible while I could.

As part of the club, I joined a bootcamp for all NES members. During my time there, I was able to meet and interact with very impressive business students, including the President of the entire CCA. Over the bootcamp, many of them would talk about their work experiences, their classes, university life, and their LinkedIn profiles. They would not only talk about LinkedIn, but would emphasize the importance of setting up a decent account. And throughout my time in the club, many seniors (including the Vice President of Marketing and Communications, which was the section I was in) would talk to me and offer me advice on how I could go about setting up my account. Overall, my experience in the club provided me with two epiphanies: first, that LinkedIn might actually be just a tad bit important; and second, that one of the easiest and most efficient ways was to look up an established LinkedIn profile and copy the format. And that’s exactly what I did.

I had no LinkedIn experience (at the time I had practically no experience in general), and my friends around me did not have much of a portfolio either. But I did learn how to copy those who had a relatively established account. Based on the advice given, I found two profiles that I was impressed by and essentially just copied the formatting and style to the best of my ability. And even though I didn’t have as much work experience at the time, I just put what I could and hoped for the best. And even though it didn’t seem impressive to me at the time, it was definitely better than nothing.

For those who are starting from scratch, you can do something similar to me, which is to join a club or CCA that places a heavy emphasis on networking. In all honesty, I would say that business students tend to have strong LinkedIn profiles, mainly because the entire field tends to rely a bit more explicitly on social networking for job opportunities. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen in other fields — it does. But I do think that business is particularly known for opportunities being related to networking and connecting with others.

Alternatively, there are many who might not want to do that. You might just want a decent LinkedIn without committing to something for a whole semester. That’s fine — you can use your social network (i.e. ask the people around you for a good LinkedIn). And for those who might not know anyone with a LinkedIn that they want to emulate, or who might not have any connections, you can technically search me up on LinkedIn (just type in my name, Tabitha Chua, and I will come up). A significantly better solution is to look up NUS Entrepreneurship Society, find the members, and scroll through and find one or two portfolios you might admire. Afterwards you can base your own LinkedIn account on that.

One final note: I will say that setting up a LinkedIn from scratch can be very time-consuming. Even with two portfolios to copy, there was a lot of admin to fill out. Aside from coming up with an About section (which was made significantly easier after copying the portfolios), the number of dates I had to fill out relating to my education and my experiences was definitely a headache. Additionally, while I could roughly copy out the aesthetics of the Experience section, having to write out my contributions in fancy language was definitely time-consuming. But to all beginners out there, starting is the hardest. Once you’ve set up a general format, adding on new experiences over time becomes significantly easier.

My LinkedIn

Now, for my own LinkedIn. If you would like, you can take a look at my profile. It is definitely not the most impressive, but I think it is decent enough for employers who might be interested in my work experience and background. Anyways, let’s take you through it.

First, we have a relatively formal picture of me – I was wearing a blazer and was at NUS law campus, which explains the nice background. For me, as long as my background photo does not distract from the profile picture and looks somewhat decent, I’m fine with it. I personally am aware that it is not the best match, but I don’t think it is the most important.

Of course, many would want to find a good photographer so that they can have a good LinkedIn or resume picture — I was fortunate because a member of the NUS Criminal Justice Club (CJC) was interested in photography and helped all of us take good formal pictures. If you can, find a friend like that, and even if they just have some mild interest, it should be more than enough. If you don’t have anyone like that and you still want a formal picture, you can technically hire someone professional, but I think you can just grab a friend whose phone has a good camera. But in my opinion, it is not the most important — as long as there is some picture there, it should be fine.

Next, we have the About section. This section should give a brief introduction about yourself (i.e. what major, what university etc.) and should quickly highlight some of your relevant experiences. I emphasize quickly because it should not be a long, detailed paragraph, but rather a brief outline. However, do note that you should also aim to make it more colloquial in nature, and you can do that by sharing about some of your hobbies or interests. One final note is that I would put the phrase ‘connect with me’ somewhere in that section so viewers can know that you are interested in forming connections. Even if it doesn’t actually push people to connect with you, it is just a decent phrase to have in general and makes you sound open and friendly to networking.

Finally, we come to the main section — the Experiences section. This is where you get to show off and brag about all the hard work you have done over the years! I have attached a brief overview of the section just so that you can see what it might look like, but I’ll talk about it in-depth and highlight what I think is important to include. But for now, take note that you generally put the company/organization (e.g. MOE, NUS etc.), the dates of the experience, whether it is part-time or full-time, the location (Singapore, on-site etc.), and your role (e.g. Principal Investigator). When listing an experience, you can also input the type of skills it requires — for example, as a Principal Investigator of two research projects, I require quantitative research skills, critical thinking etc, and you can see the skills listed under that experience.

We can take a closer look at one relevant experience, just to see the formatting and the language used. So first, you can see that I use bullet points for each point I make. I just personally liked it, I thought it made it visually clear, and it just looks relatively neat overall. You can use whatever you want, but do find some way to make the points more readable in general. Second, when writing about your experience, remember to use formal language, and put down as many work activities as you can (although please do not lie about what you did, if you did not do a lot in the job just put down what you can). Third, you can also see the skills I thought were relevant to the work experience. Finally, if it is an internship, always ask for a letter of recommendation — you can upload that letter to LinkedIn so any future employers can always take a brief look. Of course, you can do much more with a letter of recommendation besides just uploading it on LinkedIn, but it doesn’t hurt to publicly showcase it either.

Regarding writing, I personally use VMock. If you are a university student, you should be able to access it. It is essentially a resume editor — you can craft a resume on the site, and it has an AI that helps suggest possible improvements. In VMock, when I write about my work activities in a new job, they tend to suggest possible improvements (e.g. instead of using ‘assist’ they suggest more action-oriented alternatives like ‘conduct’). I tend to update both my resume and LinkedIn so I always use VMock to check through my points and improve them. I type down all points first before copying and pasting them to LinkedIn. Afterwards, I delete the weaker points from my resume, since a resume is supposed to be a summary (employers can refer to my LinkedIn for further details). This definitely helps me have stronger points crafted on LinkedIn, and can overall help improve the language I use to show more initiative in my internships and experiences.

In my opinion, those are the three most relevant sections — for the rest, you can just input the years of your education for employers to look at, and if you have any awards or certificates feel free to upload them.

In my experience, the most important section is definitely the Experiences one. Having a strong Experiences section can definitely help you when applying for work, and having a history of certain types of jobs can make you more employable than the others. Of course, I am studying psychology, and it might be different for other fields — maybe other fields also look at more volunteering and awards alongside Experiences. But, if you have a strong Experiences section, you are likely alright.

Anyways, that’s my LinkedIn journey! I hope you’ve taken away something useful from it, and I look forward to seeing you next time!

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