How to connect with and recruit your ideal students on LinkedIn

How to recruit ideal students on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is clearly not a popular social media choice when it comes to students and student engagement. But look at it this way – the holy grail of LinkedIn is professional advancement, and today’s generation of students is almost obsessively career-conscious. As one U.S. survey found, “80% of students cite the prospect of a job as a critical factor in their decision to enroll in college”.

Given that career insights play such an important role in the student decision-making process, universities can leverage the one platform that offers information about employment outcomes and employment opportunities: LinkedIn. Its Alumni showcase and capabilities to find top talent can easily translate into successful ways to engage and recruit a certain type of international students who are particularly career-driven.

LinkedIn could be an excellent addition to your institution’s marketing and recruitment strategy as it can bring a balanced mix between awareness, engagement and quality lead generation.

LinkedIn isn’t for every higher education institution

According to the platform itself, LinkedIn represents the greatest group of influential, prosperous and educated people in the world. The social network cites 610 million active members, who are typically people with a strong professional mindset, always on the lookout for career opportunities and skill advancement.

LinkedIn also boasts an audience of 39 million students and recent grads who are, reportedly, twice as active as regular members. This is great news for Business Schools promoting Management degrees, and an especially interesting opportunity for institutions offering postgraduate and online programmes.

If your ideal candidate profile is akin to the self-reliant, proactive, determined and highly-motivated student, then targeting prospective applicants on LinkedIn might result in the high-quality leads you are aiming for.

Engage prospective students with relevant content

Yes, flashy marketing messages don’t stick, even with the more professional kinds among us. To cut through the noise, educating prospective students about their options at each stage of their journey is a better approach to engage them.

It is natural to start off engagement by communicating information about your study offer. At the beginning of their journey, students like to understand whether a university is a good fit for their profile and aspirations. During the later stages of their decision-making, however, for example when students are comparing shortlisted programmes, other factors start weighing up.

To add real value to a student’s choice, you can put things into perspective: talk about career options. Students are genuinely interested in exploring what kind of jobs they could land with their degree, and LinkedIn is a particularly suitable and effective platform to present the many applications of education to the working world through alumni stories. Your alumni embody success, personal growth and professional accomplishment and their narratives can help future students make better choices about their education.

Authentic stories have the power to connect and inspire students. You can engage prospective students with alumni testimonials, student success stories, and faculty achievements.

Lastly, I probably don’t even have to say this, but I will – the Linkedin Alumni Showcase is a supreme masterclass in assembling success stories; a hall of fame for your university’s most successful alumni. Use it to its full potential!

Target the exact student profile you are looking for

A great thing about social media is that it allows you to not only build strong engagement, but also reach the right people outside of your following. Just as Facebook, your institution can use Linkedin for student recruitment thanks to its precise audience targeting and promotion tools.

LinkedIn allows you to target on demographic data such as location and age, experience, and education. Within education, you can target members on either their degree, field of study or school membership. Using the job experience criteria, you can set your audience to match current titles, or narrow it down by seniority or years of experience. Here are a few examples:

Say you are promoting an executive MBA programmes and you’d like to reach experienced professionals – you could target management members through seniority level.

Or say you are recruiting for a Master’s degree in Sociology: you could target candidates with a Bachelor’s degree with interests in a relevant field. The platform gives the opportunity for interest-based targeting which includes group membership, skills and companies followed.

Towards the end of the enrolment cycle, you can remind candidates about approaching deadlines, extended deadlines, or for UK universities – clearing opportunities. You can retarget website visitors or reengage an existing segment of your audience, like leads who haven’t yet submitted the application papers, with the LinkedIn Insight Tag or Linkedin’s matched audiences, respectively.

Put your university front and centre 

LinkedIn can equip a university with an array of tools to deliver customised content to a well-curated audience.

LinkedIn Sponsored content

Sponsored content is possibly the most versatile ad format you could use on LinedIn. It will place successful or unique content right in front of your target audience. You can drive qualified leads by customising the message to match your prospective students’ demographics and needs throughout all stages of their decision-making journey.

Sponsored Content is a great way to repurpose and capitalise on your most popular LinkedIn posts. You can sponsor successful updates that have proven to drive high engagement rates among your following to attract a larger student audience.

LinkedIn InMail

An absolute favourite of mine is LinkedIn InMail. It delivers a highly-personalised, long-form message directly to a member’s inbox. It’s the one tool that gets as close to an email as possible, and we all know email is the best-converting marketing channel.

InMail also features a call to action button linked to a LinkedIn lead generation form, which is a great solution for universities who don’t have dedicated programme landing pages or other lead generation tools.

Pairing Sponsored content and InMail tactics for your campaign could drive even more impressive results. LinkedIn published case studies with Florida International University and  ESCP Europe to illustrate how they increased engagement by sponsoring updates and converted it into high-quality applications through LinkedIn’s InMail and profile targeting.

LinkedIn Case Study on Student Recruitment


If you are looking for highly motivated, determined and professionally-oriented prospective students, LinkedIn is a platform worth investing some time in. Its unique value? – it allows you to create a campaign that fits your objectives. Integrating LinkedIn in your student recruitment strategy can help you increase awareness, engagement, lead generation or website visits.

Give it a try, if you haven’t done so yet, and keep it agile – you never know which channel will turn out to be of most value for your next recruitment round.

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