Throughout your college career, you’ve undoubtedly heard of LinkedIn. Maybe you’ve heard that making a profile on the site can help you get a job. The question is how can you make sure your LinkedIn is ready for potential employers to view? Do you format your profile like you would your resume? What kinds of skills and previous or former positions should you include? Not to fear, Cathy Day’s ENG 400 Discovery class is here to offer some guidance for anyone who wants to establish a professional online presence through LinkedIn.

More importantly, the Discovery class will be open on January 28th and January 30th in NQ 160 from 5-6:15 PM to anyone who would like to come and work on or create their LinkedIn account. Can’t attend? Here are some more tips on how to get your LinkedIn up and running.

Your LinkedIn, your story.

At its core, LinkedIn is a social platform. The top of your page includes the standard fare: profile picture, banner, and a bio. LinkedIn differentiates itself by including a “Headline”—a brief chance to sell yourself in one sentence. Let’s break down how to polish your first impression.

Profile picture

Your photo is the first thing potential connections will see, and you want to make sure that your photo portrays you as a professional, bright person. You don’t need to wear a three-piece suit! A nice shirt, a plain background, and a smile will do. Want a professional headshot for free? Keep an eye out for information on this semester’s Cardinal Career Fair.


Use this to tell people about the cool things you’re doing or are looking to do! Remember: this is quite literally a headline. You’ll have room to tell your story in your bio. For now, keep it to things like:

  • Your major
  • Professional experience
  • The field you’re interested in
  • A job title you’re striving for
  • Anything you think will make you stand out

About you

Do you have an elevator pitch for yourself? Don’t worry if you don’t—it’s not easy to condense who you are into 30 seconds. Luckily, Austin Kleon, author of Show Your Work!, has a strategy to help you summarize your life in three to five sentences. He breaks it down into a three-act structure. This is where the storytelling really comes in. 

Act I: The Past 
  • Where you’ve been
  • What you want
  • How you came to want it
  • What you’ve done so far to get it
Act II: The Present 
  • Where you are now in your work
  • Example of how you’ve worked hard to get there
Act III: The Future
  • Where you’re going
  • How the person you’re speaking to/writing to can help you get there

Once you’ve answered each of these prompts, begin trimming the fat. Tighten the story up so that inquisitive employers can go from finding out who you are to wanting to help/hire you after reading a short paragraph. You can also use your concise, moving bio to introduce yourself on cover letters!

Your experience

From here, the profile creation process becomes fairly intuitive. LinkedIn will ask about your professional experience, your education, licenses & certifications, and your skills.

Professional Experience – List all the jobs you’ve held, even part-time gigs! Provide a brief, accurate summary of your responsibilities. If you have deliverables from that position, LinkedIn allows you to host them here!

Education – List your major, as well as any minors you may have. While you’re studying here at Ball State, feel free to use your projected graduation date in this section—you can always change it.

Licenses & Certifications – Many certification programs will give you the option to embed them onto your LinkedIn account. Take them up on that!

Skills – It’s a broad category, right? However, there’s a good chance you’ve already written it. Look back on your employment history, pick out the skills you developed through those jobs, and list them here. Pay attention to these competencies that employers are looking for. What has your time at Ball State taught you? What did your certifications entail? Use this section as a treasure trove of talents. Also, consider getting past bosses and co-workers to endorse these!

Making connections

Now that your LinkedIn presence is polished and ready to go, it’s time to yield the benefits. LinkedIn is best used for:

  • Building connections with past, present, and future employers.
  • Keeping up with students and alumni from your university.
  • Reaching out to people who work in similar fields that you may want to collaborate with.

When you send a request to connect with someone, make sure you send a personalized message introducing yourself and explaining why you’d like to connect with them. People (especially strangers) are far more likely to accept your request when you do. Do not hesitate to mention that you are a college student! People love to help college students—they’ve been there!

Cardinals Connect

Did you know that there’s a Ball State-exclusive LinkedIn? It’s called Cardinals Connect and it is built to foster mentorships. From resume reviews to job shadowing, Ball State alums are joining this platform to help students like you. Want to hear even better news? You can register with LinkedIn and all of the above information will carry over. We’ve created a page to help you set up your Cardinals Connect account and use it to join our network of humanities students and alums.

Once again, the Discovery class will be open on January 28th and January 30th from 5:00-6:15pm in NQ 160 to anyone who would like to come and work on or create their LinkedIn account. Come by for free coffee!