Good things come to those who wait. Great things come to those who play their cards right.

If you’re a student, you’ve probably been told by your instructors to make a LinkedIn profile.

If you’re anything like me, you made one, got overwhelmed because you couldn’t figure out how it works, and left it to gather digital dust on the worldwide wild west.

No One Page GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

That’s a shame, because LinkedIn can be a great way to network and land jobs – you just have to know how to use it.

Here are some parts of your LinkedIn profile you might not know existed, and how you can customize them to optimize your account.

1. Stay up-to-date

Reporting The Dirt GIF by Kathryn Dean - Find & Share on GIPHY

You’re always changing – your LinkedIn profile should be, too.

Make sure your location, current position, education and photos are current and relevant.

2. Pick the right pic

Braxton Family Values Love GIF by WE tv - Find & Share on GIPHY

LinkedIn isn’t Instagram. Your golden hour selfies are top tier, but they might not be the best fit for a professional profile.

Luckily, you don’t have to hire a professional photographer to get a quality profile picture. LinkedIn continuously tracks what makes a profile successful and created a list of guidelines for capturing the strongest photo possible. The three most important things to ask yourself when selecting an image are:

  • Is the photo recent and/or true to what you look like?
  • Is your face well-lit and the focal point of the image?
  • Does the photo show off your personality?
Fun Times GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

You can really get creative with your profile by uploading a relevant background image. Use this space to showcase your work, demonstrate an achievement or magnify your personality.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the right LinkedIn pictures could be worth a thousand opportunities.

3. Better your header

Oh My God Omg GIF by Kyle Sauer - Find & Share on GIPHY

Besides your profile picture, your headline is the most visible part of your LinkedIn profile. New LinkedIn profiles are automatically given a headline that states your job title. Don’t settle for the default, though – customizing this section is key for a standout page.

Add your program, expected graduation date, special skills and the type of job you’re looking for after grad to your headline. This will give your profile two major advantages:

  • Your skills and aspirations will be simply summarized at the top of your page
  • You’ll appear in more searches by employers

Keeping it short and sweet is key, though – you only have 120 characters to make your headline shine (that’s less than half a tweet!)

4. Sum it up

Speaking Season 8 GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

A summary is basically a LinkedIn bio. It’s your chance to explain your background, flex your accomplishments and – most importantly – show off your personality.

Like in your headline, you should include your area of study, graduation date and information about the industry you’d like to work in after grad. The difference is you have way more space, so you can really dive in and make yourself stand out.  

Sharon Needles GIF by RuPaul's Drag Race - Find & Share on GIPHY

Use this space to create a narrative that explains who you are and how you got to where you are today. Choose words that highlight your character (are you a bubbly, extroverted film buff with a passion for graphic design? Maybe a goal-oriented software engineer with a keen eye for detail?)

Your summary is all about you – tell your story in the way only you can and leave your future connections fascinated.

5. Show, don’t tell

Secret Smell GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

You know you’re skilled, passionate and focused. But, saying you are can come across as superficial – these are some of the most overused words on LinkedIn profiles.

Instead of relying on buzzwords, bulk up your profile with experiences that prove your skills. For example, if you want to describe yourself as a leader, show off your leadership skills by listing your experience as a camp counselor.

Want to know how you can use all these tips to leverage your LinkedIn and score your dream job? Join us at LinkedIn for Students: How to Build an Authentic Presence and Grow Your Business on November 26!

Dress Better Disney Princess GIF by Disney - Find & Share on GIPHY

Join us and LinkedIn Learning Instructor Michaela Alexis to get insider tips for crafting your account, reaching out to employers, and attracting opportunities!

Oh, and did we mention it’s free?

That’s right – Humber and Guelph-Humber students can join this workshop absolutely free. Just register here and you’re already a step closer to getting your dream job.

Excited The Hobbit GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Get thinkin’, and improve your LinkedIn.

It’s as easy as that.

Connected with an employer? Here’s how to ace your online interview.

Follow IGNITE on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for all things student life.