2021 LinkedIn Guide for Parents and Students

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2021 LinkedIn Guide for Parents and Students

March 24, 2021
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Table of Contents

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. It has more than 740 million members. The fastest-growing demographics on LinkedIn are students and recent college graduates. (Source: About LinkedIn)

Watch or listen to the SmartSocial.com podcast: What Parents Need to Know About LinkedIn:

What is LinkedIn.com?

Professionals of all ages understand the importance of having their resume online and the power of networking. LinkedIn is becoming a very important tool for students who want to improve the first page of their Google results when applying to colleges, internships, or jobs.

Having a LinkedIn account can help students:

  • Share their story, accomplishments, interests, and strengths
  • Learn about universities from around the world. Find the latest college news and discover fields of interest from existing students attending that school
  • Be found by college admission officers and future employers

Where is LinkedIn available?

linkedin logo
  • Students must be 16 years or older to create a LinkedIn profile
  • App Store: 12+
  • Google Play: E (Everyone)
  • LinkedIn.com
  • Owned by Microsoft Corporation, Headquarters in California

LinkedIn in the news

NBC Today headline: Man with autism writes powerful cover letter, leads to 7 million views on LinkedIn
The 20-year-old's handwritten cover letter posted on LinkedIn has now been viewed nearly 7 million times... Today.com
The State Press headline: Students turn to LinkedIn for a virtual handshake
'Shifting to virtual networking has required a bit more work and attention on my behalf...Reaching out to someone on LinkedIn has never been easier.' Arizona State University's The State Press
The New York Times headline: new Item on the College Admission Checklist: LinkedIn Profile
'I did not make a LinkedIn profile for my friends,' said… a high school senior in Marietta, Ga. 'I made it to show people who don’t know who I am what I am about.' The New York Times

How should students use LinkedIn?

Screenshot of Josh Ochs' LinkedIn profile
  • Create one account for yourself using a professional headshot that would help a school recruiter or hiring manager recognize you in person
  • About: Ask yourself, your parents, and your teachers “what am I good at and what do I want to be known for?” and build your profile to tell your story
  • Experience: Even if you don’t have a lot of work experience yet, use your volunteer projects or student club experiences as job experiences
  • Education: It’s ok to list only your high school degree.  Highlight any study of focus you had in your classes
  • Projects: Highlight your favorite class projects where you’ve applied your creativity and talents
  • Accomplishments: Did you make the honor roll or earn a merit-based scholarship? Add it to your LinkedIn profile
  • Organizations: Do you participate in on-campus or external organizations, play sports, or have an interesting hobby? Admission officers and hiring managers like to know that you are a good team player or leader of a group 
  • Recommendations: Think outside the box about who knows you. You must be connected to someone for them to leave a recommendation on your profile, which may not be possible with your high school teachers because of the school’s social media policies for staff and students. For instance, your peers, employers, volunteer supervisors, etc. could all provide brief recommendations that support your official application recommendations
  • Find your dream schools or organizations and follow their official accounts. Look for the national organizations for your local clubs and follow their accounts

Why should parents care about LinkedIn?

Screenshot of Josh Ochs' LinkedIn Profile
  • A student’s Google results can have a major impact on college or job applications.  LinkedIn is very good at appearing on the top page of Google results and students have complete control of what is on their LinkedIn page that appears in the results
  • Students will often receive connection requests from strangers and spam messages in the Inbox that could be a distraction or temptation to check frequently
  • Any contact information students put in LinkedIn may be seen by any other LinkedIn user or visitor to their profile
  • Students may receive “phishing” emails trying to get them to reveal website log in or financial information

What can parents do?

  • First, work with your students to develop the brand they want to establish for their applications
  • As with all social media, talk with your students about appropriate strangers to interact with online and remind them that people may not be who they say they are online and to contact a trusted adult if they feel uncomfortable at anytime
  • As a family, talk about personal information that should never be shared on social media, such as, login information for any websites or bank information
  • Assure your student that the quality of achievements in their profile matter more than quantity and their online information must be truthful at all times
  • Decide how much time is appropriate for students to spend on all social media, including LinkedIn, and building their personal brand
  • Become a Very Informed Parent (VIP) to learn more about the dangers of social media and how to talk to your student about their overall online presence


LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for taking control of the content about your student online. Just like all social media websites and apps, students must be cautious about the quality of their content and the connections they engage with. However, one great profile may not be able to “undo” poor online decisions on other social media platforms, but a positive footprint with LinkedIn can help build your student’s positive online reputation.

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