In a recent coaching session with several MLIS students, we worked on their LinkedIn profiles with the goal of positioning each of the students as someone intent on joining the ranks of LIS practitioners. In other words, a serious, engaged, almost-professional-level contributor.
Realistically, and quoting well-known LIS leader Jan Chindlund, you become a professional the day you take you very first class. Sometimes, however, it can be so easy to get wrapped up in assignments, group projects, exams, and student activities that you miss the reason you’re in grad school, which is to launch a rewarding LIS career.
Your LinkedIn profile will help you start launching that career while you’re still in grad school, so it’s a free, highly valuable tool you want to take advantage of. The challenge: as a student, how do you create a headline (with only 120 characters, including spaces) that starts letting people how terrific you are right now and how even more terrific you’re going to be at graduation?
What should your LinkedIn headline include?
Optimally, your headline should cover 3 essentials, which admittedly can be a bit of a challenge in such a small number of characters, so you may need to go for 2 out of 3:
- What are you passionate about in terms of your studies or coursework (assuming this is where you’d like to find job openings)
- What strengths will you be able to bring to an employer in your area of interest? (If you don’t have an LIS work history to draw from, it’s just fine to pull strengths from other jobs you’ve had or volunteer work)
- Any special or distinguishing characteristics that make you fit for a certain type of work especially relevant
In addition, you want to use the specific keywords or phrases that are commonly used in the field you aspire to (for example, “bibliographic instruction” or “information literacy” among academic libraries).
A good way to make sure you’re using the correct phrasing is to run several terms or phrases you’re thinking of using through LinkedIn’s Jobs search box. When you start to type in a phrase such as “user experience,” a dropdown list will show you the most commonly used phrases. You can then check those phrases to see which one your field uses.
In addition, you want to indicate that you are a student. The statements below will provide some ideas for how to do that.
What about style?
You want to use first-person style in your headline, and it’s just fine to show a bit of personality if you have the room within the 120-character constraints.
Keep your audience in mind, however; your headline is one of the ways you signal to potential hiring managers how appropriate you are for their workplace.
Examples of possible headlines
The following headline statements are simply idea-generators to help you come up with your own best headline. See what works best for you!
- MLIS candidate developing digital asset management expertise and application via real-life DAM projects, internships
- MLIS, training for public library outreach role among underserved/recent immigrant populations; fluent in Spanish
- MLIS student who’s supported myself via 2 years of part-time public library reference work, and loved every minute!
- MLIS student honing data science skills; eager to contribute in higher education, community organizations, or nonprofits
- MLIS; strengths in digital preservation | taxonomies | team collaboration | Spanish/Russian fluency |Aug ‘18 grad
- MSIS (May ’18) with exceptional STEM research skills, including advanced expertise in key STEM databases, resources
- Customer-centric extrovert/MLIS student eager to contribute my energy, skills to your public library upon graduation
- MMLIS student; I combine my healthcare management background and health informatics studies to provide strategic data
- Research assistant working on MSIS (Jun ’18), honing expertise in data management for research/grant-funded projects
- Archivist-in-training (Mar ’18) with several professional-level projects completed, including 2 private collections
- Aspiring academic librarian with focus on and internship experience in digital humanities, bibliographic instruction
- Data librarian with passion for turning numbers into knowledge, seeking alternative-energy industry entry level job
The most important takeaway is to make the very most of your LinkedIn headline statement, because you never know what doors it may open for you while you’re off working on that class assignment.