LinkedIn – Building your teen profile

Even if a teen has limited or no work experience, there are still many items to include on a LinkedIn a profile.

LinkedIn, one of the world’s largest professional networks on the Internet has opened its doors to teens. Students and recent college graduates make up LinkedIn’s fastest growing demographic, with 30 million strong. As of August 2013, LinkedIn is welcoming teens ages 14 and up to join their site to learn about careers, explore colleges, connect  with family, friends and teachers, search for jobs and internships, and network with professionals in their field of interest.

Understandably, parents may be concerned with their teenager joining a networking site predominantly made up of adults. According to Michigan State University Extension, with the addition of a younger audience to its network, LinkedIn created a number of special default privacy settings for members under 18.  LinkedIn reports some of the safety features include a hidden birthdate and limited public profile search ability.

Before a teenager connects on LinkedIn, it is important to remember this is a professional networking site. Think of your LinkedIn profile as a virtual resume. Always be respectful and make sure to consider the potential audience (employers, teachers, alumni or college admission officers) before posting information. What may be appropriate to post on Facebook to your friends often is not the type of information you will want to include on your LinkedIn page. A 4-H community service project you are involved may be very appropriate where as your family vacation pictures are not.  

Even if a teen has limited or no work experience, there are still many items they can include on their profile.

  • Organizations: What groups or clubs are youth involved in that would demonstrate leadership, problem solving, communication, creative, team work or other transferable work skills? Describe any positions you might hold and what role you played in the organization.
  • Honors, awards and achievements: What honors and awards have you received as a student, volunteer, employee or member of a group. From honor roll student to county 4-H recipient, by sharing your awards, it provides an objective confirmation of your character.
  • Coursework: Are there courses that you have completed that might be relevant to the career you are interested in or demonstrate your academic ambitions? Have you taken advanced placement or honors courses?  Include select classes that would help qualify you for a potential position.
  • Projects:  Are there civic, 4-H or class projects you are involved in that could show experience related to your career goals or commitment to the community?
  • Skills: What skills have you developed in school, part-time jobs, volunteer experiences or even hobbies?

Just as a resume is a work in progress, so is a LinkedIn profile. Keep your site interesting and flourishing by keeping it up to date as you develop new skills, complete courses, gain experiences and participate in projects and extracurricular activities.

You can learn more about looking for work and expanding your network through Michigan 4-H Youth Development. For workshops across the state, articles and additional career preparation resources, make sure to check out MSU Extension.

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