Headlines matter. They’re one of the first things that recruiters and hiring managers see on your LinkedIn profile, but they’re also one of the few things that they see before clicking on your profile. It’s an opportunity to convince job gatekeepers to view your profile instead of someone else’s. That’s what makes it such an important but underrated part of developing an all-star LinkedIn profile.
That’s why it’s worth your time to examine the best LinkedIn headlines for students. Whether borrowing one or writing something original, it’s going to pay off in your long-term job search. Oh, and by the way: 87% of recruiters check candidates’ LinkedIn profiles. It’s important.
Note: You can also find effective LinkedIn headlines for the unemployed here if you aren’t a recent graduate!
How students shouldn’t write LinkedIn headlines
“Looking for work” can sound desperate, depending on the hiring manager’s mindset. It’s an unfair standard, but some hiring managers have a mentality that you won’t be successful in the role tomorrow if you aren’t successful in your job search today.
That’s not logical, of course, or else they’d rarely get to hire anybody. It’s a subconscious reaction—not so different from when people start evaluating a resume instead of the professional behind it.
“Recent graduate” doesn’t say anything except “I have no experience.” Not a great first impression, right?
That’s why writing an effective headline is such an underrated best practice on LinkedIn. Instead you can use your headline to talk about the things you’ve accomplished so far or something that you’re working on. It shows initiative and work ethic.
Don’t try to compensate or apologize for being a student or a recent graduate. It comes off as desperate and fearful (because it is). In fact, don’t even mention being a student in your headline. Headlines are valuable real estate that can be used to convey far better things about yourself.
Examples of student LinkedIn headlines that need work
It’s tough to know exactly what to write immediately after graduating, especially when you don’t have much or any experience. How do you strike the right balance when you don’t even know what’s too much or too little?
We’ll start with “too little.” Don’t write headlines like these:
- Student at _____ University.
- English graduate seeking new opportunities.
- Hard-working history graduate.
- Honors student open to work.
These are far from the best LinkedIn headlines for students because they speak to things that are perceived as shortcomings in the job market—chiefly a lack of experience. Hiring managers want confident and effective employees. Highlighting negative aspects about yourself only works against you, so leave it out of your headline altogether.
If you notice a lot of negative or apologetic aspects to your profile, then it might be time for a LinkedIn profile makeover from top to bottom.
The key takeaway: Don’t draw attention to what you don’t have. Focus on what you do have and how you’re growing into a full-fledged professional.
The best sample LinkedIn headlines for students
Now for the good stuff. You don’t need to stress over writing something perfect. Checking 2-3 of those boxes can still get you a very good student headline, which will help to attract the positive attention that you want.
Take this one, for example. This recent graduate has used her campus work experience to show that she’s serious about what she does, she’s invested in her community, and she’s working in a clearly identifiable industry.
This example is missing the flair for character or internal drive, but it’s a pretty good headline for a recent graduate because it identifies a few important details:
- Relevant work experience
- The desired industry
- The kind of community this person fosters
Now take a look at this other headline. It’s one of the best LinkedIn headlines for students that I’ve seen.
- This person shows how she made experience for herself.
- It shows she’s working on a degree and takes it seriously.
- She made her own freelance consulting brand.
Taken together, this person’s headline sends signals that she’s driven toward excellence, improvement, and can work independently—many factors for success in business.
Now that is the kind of headline you want—and you can do it without paying a LinkedIn consultant a dime. Give it a try!
Creating your own LinkedIn headline as a student
You’ll notice that none of the examples above were perfect. You probably won’t ever have a flawless headline, but you can create an effective one. That’s all you really need to get the attention of recruiters. It helps the LinkedIn algorithm identify you for the role you want as well, if you include that role in your headline.
So how do you go about that? Pick out 2-3 items from this list that you’d like to use:
- Your experience or an achievement you’re proud of
- 1-2 hard skills under your belt
- Your desired industry
- The kind of role you want
- What drives you to pursue excellence
- The kind of community you want to cultivate
It’s not an exhaustive list but it will get you started on the right foot.
From there, decide how to present those points. You have a few options:
- Simply list them as bullet points (without the bullets), separated by vertical bars.
- Example: “SEO Consultant | Top-Tier Content Writer | Website Owner”
- Weave your points into a sentence or tagline that conveys everything.
- Example: “Creates organic traffic out of nothing with SEO, content, and editorial partnerships.”
- Combine approaches #1 and #2, leading with a punchy headline and adding your third point on the end (in case it just doesn’t fit with the rest of the headline).
- Example: “Creates website traffic engines for small and medium businesses | Website owner”
Think about the style you want to follow and how that will serve you. If you’re only looking for a job, then the second style would work best out of the 3 examples above. Following this formula will increase your LinkedIn impressions over time as well.
If you’re open to taking on freelance work to grow your skill set and build your portfolio (which you should absolutely be doing), then the first or third styles would be preferable. That’s because they expand the scope of your headline from only covering who you are and what you do to include the value that you bring.
That’s the secret to writing the best LinkedIn headlines for students! Plan out the elements you want to use and experiment with two or three different headlines to settle on the one that fits you best.
Happy job hunting!