There are more than 875 million LinkedIn users, and the online networking platform grows by roughly two users every second.
“People don’t realize how big LinkedIn is,” Deborah Rooney, BS’89, MS’91, says. “When used correctly, [your profile] is going to attract new opportunities. It’s your most powerful personal marketing tool.”
In 2011, Rooney founded Power Links 2 Success—a global coaching business that teaches clients how to master LinkedIn. The IU alum is also a skilled resume writer, even though she compares the single-page work summary to the rotary phone.
“It’s ugly, it’s outdated — but it’s still required for the job search,” she says. “Resumes only focus on what people do, [while] LinkedIn is a great place to demonstrate your character, competencies, and charisma. It’s not a dry reporting tool, it’s a warm introduction to hiring leaders, so that they feel like they’ve met you.”
A subscription to LinkedIn Premium isn’t necessary to fully leverage the platform. In fact, Rooney only recommends upgrading if you plan to utilize LinkedIn Learning, which offers more than 16,000 on-demand courses.
“I’m the daughter of an auditor and an accountant, and I think free is beautiful,” she says.
Here are five of Rooney’s favorite LinkedIn profile tips.
Post a Good Headshot
No need to hire a professional photographer: A well-lit image taken within the past year is a perfectly acceptable LinkedIn profile picture. It’s best to avoid photos that were taken in a non-business setting, and Rooney suggests wearing an outfit that you might wear to an interview.
Write a Compelling “About” Section
This summary, which Rooney says should be written in first person, is intended to welcome people into your LinkedIn profile and put forward your most valuable, transferable skills. Think of it as a 300-word elevator pitch that includes your career achievements, relevant certifications, and professional aspirations.
Rooney calls recommendations “LinkedIn currency.” Similar to a letter of recommendation, testimonials from past or present coworkers, managers, and vendors help verify your skills and credentials for employers. Aim to have at least five recommendations on your profile.
Declutter the URL
Did you know you can customize the URL of your LinkedIn profile? Rooney explains that it’s a small detail that makes a big difference to hiring managers. A clean URL—one without miscellaneous letters, numbers, or dashes—looks much more appealing on a resume or business card.
Limit Your Connections
LinkedIn isn’t like other social networking sites where you rack up countless friends—old, new, and in between. Instead, your goal is to build mutually beneficial relationships with folks who might be able to assist you in your job search or professional development. Over the years, Rooney has found that those who have a database of strangers struggle to find jobs using the platform.
Want more LinkedIn tips? Watch the webcast, hosted by Rooney and fellow career expert LaTonya Wilkins, MBA’04, titled “Leverage LinkedIn to Attract Leadership Opportunities.”