4 reasons why you need a strong LinkedIn Summary

I still remain perplexed that some LinkedIn members put little effort into their Summary section, or don’t have one at all.

Would you go to an interview or business meeting without shoes? Of course not. So I wonder why people feel that a Summary statement on their LinkedIn profile is unnecessary. Having viewed hundreds profiles, I’ve seen many  that simply begin with the Experience section and have no Summary.

The absence of this section of your profile can greatly hurt your potential of capturing the attention of visitors, e.g., potential employers, networkers, and business associates.

I have three theories why people don’t include a Summary: 1) they don’t have the time or energy to write one; 2) they don’t know what to write; and 3) they follow advice of those who say, “Recruiters don’t read a Summary statement. You don’t need one.”

I can understand the first two reasons, although I don’t condone them, but the third one escapes me. Many pundits, recruiters included, say a Summary is necessary, as long as it adds value to the profile. So if you don’t have a Summary because you lack the energy or don’t know what to include, consider 4 reasons why the Summary is important:

It gives you a voice. You’re given more freedom of expression on LinkedIn than you have with your résumé; so use it! Be creative and make the employer want to read on. Your voice contributes to effective branding. It should be some of your best writing and can be written in first person voice or even third person.

Most pundits lean toward first person, as it expresses a more personal side of you. A Summary written in first person invites others into your life. Not many people pull off the third-person voice well; it can sound stilted. But if done right, it can also make a powerful branding impact. People who are established as leaders in their industry warrant a third-person Summary.

It tells a story. Perhaps you want people who would consider connecting with to know you on a more personal level. You have aspirations or philosophies to share; and it’s not about impressing people with your accomplishments in marketing in the nonprofit sector, for example, as much as the positive impact your work has had on the population you serve. You want people to connect because of a share common bond.

The Summary is also a clear example of how LinkedIn separates itself from the résumé. It’s a known fact that the majority of hiring authorities don’t enjoy reading a résumé, which is due, in part, because of its Summary. The Linked profile is more creative because it tells your story, your aspirations, and philosophies.

You can make an immediate impact. Stating accomplishment statements with quantified results are a real attention grabber. If a visitor is going to scan one section of your profile to determine if he’ll read on, make it be your Summary, and leave him with a positive image of you.

Here’s part of a Summary from Doug Caldwell, who calls himself a Facilitator Extraordinaire. (I told you I read a lot of profiles.)

MANUFACTURING COMPANY

✯ Improving unit output by 2,200% over a five-year period.
✯ Reduced manufacturing cycle time by 30%.
✯ Achieved cost saving in excess of $25,000 annually.

Read the rest of his Summary to feel it’s power and excitement.

It’s another place to include keywords. Keywords are the skills employers are looking for, and the more you have the closer you’ll be to the top of the first page. So don’t think “less is better.”  In this case, the more of the 2,000 characters you’re allotted, the more you should use. Please don’t use your Summary as a dumping ground for your keywords, though.

I tell my Advanced LinkedIn workshop attendees that excluding their profile Summary is like neglecting favorite pet. You shouldn’t do it. Find the energy to write one, figure out your story or unique selling proposition, and get to work writing an attention-grabbing Summary. By all means, don’t listen to naysayers who don’t believe in this very important part of your LinkedIn profile.

Coming up 3 reasons why you need a strong LinkedIn Experience section.

12 egregious mistakes you don’t want to make with your LinkedIn profile

linkedin-sumary1

I’ve reviewed many profiles as a workshop facilitator and LinkedIn trainer. Many profiles are well constructed, while others are not indicative of future success.

Is it easy to create a compelling profile that gets noticed in a positive way? Not for all LinkedIn users. It takes hard work  and commitment.

The mistakes I’ve seen on LinkedIn profiles range from a poorly done photo to typos and spelling mistakes. However, when I think about 12 egregious mistakes you don’t want to make, the following ones for jobseekers come to mind.

  1. Posting a poor photo. The advice to not post a poor photo hasn’t reached enough ears, as there are still those who have inappropriate photos. Think about what a photo of you skiing on the slopes of Killington says about your value as an employee? It says you’re a helluva skier but not much about your brand.
  2. Writing, “Unemployed” in the headline. Even, “Looking for next great opportunity” doesn’t say much about your talent and potential to help future employers. This is prime real estate for branding yourself and including some keywords. (As far as I know, not many employers consider seeking unemployment as a key selling point.)
  3. Bragging in your Summary statement that you’re the solution to every problem will get you nowhere, save for an immediate click on the back arrow. Though you may think bragging is acceptable because you’re suppose to “sell” yourself, it comes across as dishonest. Proof, such as quantified results, goes a lot further than words like, “outstanding,” “excellent,” “awesome”….
  4. Being dishonest. Forbes advises against lying and 9 other mistakes. Don’t be dishonest in your Employment section. Employers can smell a liar like a bloodhound can smell a man on the run. Don’t write that you achieved 100% customer satisfaction because it sounds good. A “near perfect” rating is more acceptable and easier to defend at an interview.
  5. Not elaborating on your experience and accomplishments. Some people will write a stunning Summary but only provide the bare minimum in their Experience section. This is a crime. Visitors, especially employers, want to know about your most relevant duties and accomplishments—the more quantified accomplishments the better. A poll was taken on LinkedIn awhile ago (but it’s still relevant) asking which section people thought was most important. Can you guess what the majority chose?
  6. Copying and pasting your résumé to your profile and leaving it at that. I advise those starting out to make this first step, but then you have to modify it to fit its purpose, which is a vehicle for networking. A professional photo and personal Summary that tells your story are a must for networking. A good thought to keep in mind is that your profile  is an extension of your résumé; employers aren’t expecting to see an exact copy of it.
  7. Neglecting LinkedIn’s tools which are meant to enhance your networking. Use the tools LinkedIn gives you, such as the Skills and Endorsements section, Additional Information, Publish a Post, Media capabilities, Certifications, and Awards are just a few of the tools that can give employers and networkers a sense of your accomplishments.
  8. Not letting people in your network know about significant changes. You should update your connections when you’ve made major changes, e.g., a career change, a new photo, etc. Of course your network doesn’t want to know when you added a comma to your Summary.
  9. Love it and leave it. Although your profile is fairly static—you don’t change it often—revisit it from time to time to make sure all the information is current. The other day I sat with a customer who told me he hadn’t touched his profile in over a year—didn’t even know his password.
  10. Failing to ask for and write Recommendations. Even though I think this feature is growing out of favor—due to the increase in the popularity of Endorsements—Recommendations are a great way to increase your branding by describing you as a great worker (receiving them) and as an authority (writing them).
  11. Not customizing your LinkedIn profile’s URL. This advice comes from Joseph Catrino, who wouldn’t appreciate me plagiarizing him, so I give him credit. Yes, often we see business cards, résumés, and other marketing documents with the default URL listed on them. This shows a lack of savvy; whereas the contrary shows awareness of LinkedIn.
  12. Neglecting to include keywords. To be found on LinkedIn, your profile must include the skills and areas of expertise employers are looking for. If you’re not sure which keywords to include, take a sample of six or so job descriptions and identify the common keywords for your occupation. Hint: use http://www.wordle.net to accumulate them into a word cloud.

Your profile is your online presence. Potential employers might judge you based on what you say and show on your profile. If they like what they see, your chances of success will be greater. If they don’t like what they see, it’s on to the next profile. So be sure not to make the six mistakes listed above.

5 sections of a résumé and LinkedIn profile that show your value


valueIt’s often said that the employer is the buyer and you’re selling a product, you. As impersonal as it seems, it’s true. Your product is excellent. You’ve achieved great success in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

However, the buyer won’t know of your potential for greatness if you don’t present both a powerful résumé and LinkedIn profile. Because it is no longer enough to simply submit a résumé. No, you need both.

So which sections of your résumé and LinkedIn profile will most effectively show your value to employers?

Résumé

In response to a job ad your résumé will be the first document the employers will see, so your value must show immediate impact. If your résumé doesn’t deliver, your chances of getting an interview are very slim. The following sections of your résumé will contribute to demonstrating your value:

  1. A Value Headline tells potential employers your occupation, as well as your areas of expertise. It quickly tells employers why you are the person who should be brought in for an interview. But it’s not enough.
  2. A Performance Profile section that contains more illustration of your skills and experience and less fluff will show you as someone who does rather than says. No more than three to four lines are necessary if your content is sound and relevant for the jobs you’re pursuing. Wow statements, accomplishments, always help to show your value.
  3. Key skills in your Core Competency section for the positions you’re pursuing. Highlight skills that are required for a particular position—perhaps 6-8—but also include tie-breaker skills. You must fully understand the requirements of the position in order to know which skills to list in your Core Competency section.
  4. Job-specific accomplishments in your Work Experience will effectively show your value to the employer. The more relevant accomplishments you have in this section indicate your ability to perform well in the future. While a grocery list of your former/current responsibilities might seem impressive, accomplishments speak volumes.
  5. Keywords and phrases common to each position will give your résumé a better chance to be selected by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Don’t be so concerned about the ATS that you produce a résumé that is poorly written; strive for a document that is optimized for the search engine, as well as one that shows your written communication skills.

LinkedIn profile

A consistent message of your value demonstrated through your résumé also applies to your LinkedIn profile. While your profile and résumé are different, they are similar in how you deliver your value.

Erik Deckers and Kyle Lacy, Branding Yourself Blog, wrote about the power of LinkedIn, 20 LinkedIn Case Studies for Branding Yourself. So take it from them; LinkedIn can be a a great way to show your value.

  1. Like on your résumé, a Value Headline will tell potential employers exactly who you are, as well as what your areas of expertise. Your headline and photo are what visitors to your profile will see first. Together they must make a great first impression.
  2. Your profile Summary will be different than your résumé’s Professional Profile; it is written in first- or third-person, but it must brand you as someone who demonstrates direction and value to employers. To some this is considered the most important section of your profile. You’re allowed 2,000 characters, whereas your résumé typically contains 150 characters. Tell your story.
  3. List your outstanding technical and transferable skill in the Skills section. This section on your profile is similar to the Core Competency section on your résumé. The skills you list must show your proficiency, as opposed to your familiarity.You will be endorsed for your skills.
  4. Your Employment section may be briefer than your résumé’s, highlighting just the outstanding accomplishments from each job. Accomplishments speak louder than simple duty statements and are the most effective way to show your value. Or you can duplicate your résumé’s Work Experience section. The choice is yours.
  5. Keywords are just as important to have on your profile as they are on your résumé. Employers will only find you if your profile contains the keywords they enter into Advanced People Search. Your goal is to be on the first four pages—10 profiles per page—to be found by recruiters and hiring managers.

Some additional components of your LinkedIn profile which will show your value are ones not found on your résumé. The most obvious is a highly professional or business casual photo. Another useful area of your profile is Media which allows you to share PowerPoint or Prezi presentations, copies of your résumés, videos, and various other files.

Push and Pull Technology. Combining both documents, will show your value more than if you use a résumé alone. The résumé to respond to job ads and your LinkedIn profile to pull employers to you will be the powerful punch you need in your job search. (Read about the differences between the resume and LinkedIn profile.)

10 Lame excuses for neglecting LinkedIn

No excusesAre you on LinkedIn? That’s my favorite question of the day. Some of my customers say no, and we leave it at that. But others turn their nose up at the greatest online networking application out there and give me excuses as to why they’re not on LinkedIn.

Of the many excuses I’ve heard for not being on LinkedIn, here are three of my favorites.

  • A self-assured jobseeker told me that he doesn’t need to be on LinkedIn, that he’s found jobs before without social networking. That was before LinkedIn existed.
  • One person told me she was going to get her job back in a few weeks, so why waste her time with LinkedIn. Nothing for certain, especially a verbal promise that you’ll have a job.
  • Another jobseeker once told me he wouldn’t lose his current job. He looked so smug as he said this that I wanted to tell him I wouldn’t bet on it.

Here’s the thing: life happens. The guy who told me he’d always have a job is now serving coffee. Well technically that is a job, but I’m sure not the job he imagined. I remember vividly the day I asked him if he was on LinkedIn, to which he answered, “I’ll never be without a job.”


These are people who’ve made a conscious decision to avoid LinkedIn, and I suppose I have respect their choice. So I wonder what’s worse, not being on LinkedIn or being on LinkedIn and putting in very little effort? These are but a few excuses I’ve heard from people for not conducting a strong LinkedIn strategy.

My LinkedIn profile is great. One day I received a phone call from a gentleman who wanted to skip my LinkedIn Profile and Using LinkedIn workshops so he could attend the third and last one. While he was explaining over the phone his expertise in LinkedIn, I was looking at his profile which was sparse and only showed 94 connections.

I don’t want to connect with people I don’t know. Here’s the thing, networking–whether it’s in person or online–is about meeting people and developing relationships. Not everyone will turn out to be a valued connection, but if you don’t extend yourself, you’ll never know the potential networking offers.

I don’t have the time to use LinkedIn. I hear this often in my LinkedIn workshops. This is a huge excuse. I only ask them to spend 20 minutes, four days a week on LinkedIn. Just because I am on LinkedIn approximately 30 minutes a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year doesn’t mean my workshop attendees have to do the same. That would be crazy.

I posted my résumé on LinkedIn, so I’m done. Whoever told you this has his or her head in the sand. Start your profile by copying and pasting the contents of your résumé to your profile. But that’s just a start–from there you’ll turn it into a networking document. Your résumé is a document you send out when applying for a job, while your profile is a place people come to learn about you as a person and professional. Keep in mind that your résumé and profile can’t display contradictory information.

I don’t want to brag. Related to the previous excuse, what you’re really saying is you don’t want to promote your value to employers and potential business partners. You’re not bragging if you state facts and provide proof of your accomplishments and you stay away from superlatives, like “excellent,” “expert,” “outstanding”…you get the idea. Too many people have given me this excuse for not promoting themselves both on their résumé and LinkedIn profile.

I don’t know how to post a status update. I get this. You’re not sure how you can provide your connections with relevant information. You’ve just been laid off and lack the confidence to write words of wisdom. Don’t sweat it. Let others educate your connections. Read blog posts from your connections or from Pulse and share those. But please make sure you read them before hitting “Share.” Read how to share valuable content.

I don’t want to endorse anyone; it’s a disingenuous. The argument against endorsing others and being endorsed is that people endorse others without witnessing them demonstrating their skills, whereas recommendations are from the heart. This is valid. However, endorsements are here to stay whether we like it or not. But there is a solution: if you want to endorse someone, contact them and ask them which skills they feel are their strongest. Read my hints on endorsing others.

The fact of the matter is that people will find jobs without LinkedIn or not using it to its fullest potential, but by employing this platform you will only enhance your chances of landing a job. There are some instances where a person is just not ready, nor ever will, to use LinkedIn. With these folks I tell them not to get stressed out. You have to be committed to using it.

4 reasons why your LinkedIn profile needs a strong Media section

recruiters (1)This article marks the third of making your LinkedIn profile stronger. The previous two talked about your Summary and Experience sections.

Before you read any further, I’d like you to take a moment to read one of the most comprehensive articles on LinkedIn’s Media feature. It’s an article written by my colleague and valued LinkedIn connection, Sabrina Woods, in which she describes 18 different ways to use this feature. Eighteen different ways! Boy, did she do her homework.

With at least 18 ways to use LinkedIn’s Media section, this gives you plenty of options to show off your goods. So why not take advantage of it? You can use it in your Summary, each in your Employment section, and in your Education. Here are four major reasons why you should utilize Media on your LinkedIn profile.

It’s your online portfolio. This is what I tell my LinkedIn workshop attendees when I describe Media. Similar to when you bring examples of your work to an interview, you have the opportunity to show the world your best work. As Sabrina writes, there are at least 18 ways to use this feature.

Everyone can find a reason to use it. And they should. For example, I lead workshops where I use PowerPoint presentations—please no heckling from the true presentation purists out there. I use Media to show off three of my PowerPoint presentations.

An engineer may use this feature to illustrate his work on wind turbines by using YouTube. One of my customers who’s a graphic artist highlights her graphics in Media. Neal Schaffer, an expert on social media for business and author of Maximize Your Social, uses YouTube to share with the world his interview by Kooger in London. Check it out.

It fits your communication style. Some people are visual communicators as opposed to written communicators. They have the knack for making people see the value in their graphic design or photos or architecture…but can’t express it as eloquently in words. One of my customers expressed it nicely when she said some people express their thoughts with words, while she expresses her thoughts through images.

The options are numerous. While you’re given the option of adding a link or downloading a file, the number of providers is mind boggling.

  • Image providers: 12, including Twitter and ow.ly
  • Video providers: Approximately 70, including ABC News, CBS News, YouTube
  • Audio providers: 13, including Mixcloud, Spotify
  • Presentation and document providers: 3, including PowerPoint and Prezi
  • Other: 4, including Behance and Kickstarter

Two of the more common documents displayed in Media are Word and PDF documents, which would be ideal for posting your résumé for employers to see, or a whitepaper you’re particularly proud of.

To see some of the media used by LinkedIn members go to Sabrina’s article where there are samples of various types of media. I think you’ll be impressed. I was.

 

2 important hints about LinkedIn endorsements

endorsemments2When you endorse your connections’ skills and expertise, do you simply click Endorse next to the skills with the highest number of endorsements? You may not be doing your connections a favor by doing this; but it’s not entirely your fault.

Your valued connections should be guiding you through the process, and you should follow their wishes.

Hint 1: guide your connections

Endorsees, you may be unaware that you can move specific skills and expertise toward the top of your list as a way to highlight their importance. Without doing this, your skills will be listed in highest to lowest number of endorsements. Which works out fine if your highest number of endorsements properly brand you.

But in some cases your skills are not being endorsed in a manner that tells others how you want to build your brand. One of my connections aptly illustrates which skills he wants endorsed to better brand him. He lists Social Selling ( a mere 13 endorsements) listed above LinkedIn (98), LinkedIn Training (74), and so forth. He’s obviously sending a message to his connections.

How do you rearrange your skills in the order you desire? In Edit Profile select Edit Skills and Endorsements. You’ll see a field like this:

skills

Now simply move the skills in the order you’d like them to appear. I’ve moved LinkedIn (33 endorsements) ahead of Workshop Facilitation (98+) and Blogging (41) ahead of Interviews (82), as I want these two skills highlighted.

Hint 2: those of you endorsing your connections, take the hint

So if you’re endorsing your connections, take the hint. The skills your savvy connections want endorsed first are the top five to 10, not the bottom 10. Endorse them for those skills first and then endorse them for the others.

People often ask me if I see value in endorsements. I tell them only if the endorsers are aware or have witnessed the endorsees perform the skills for which they’re being endorsed. However, if LinkedIn wants us to endorse our connections–even those we haven’t seen perform–we can only trust their word on their proficient skills.

That said, I feel it’s perfectly fine to ask a connection which skills she wants endorsed–in other words, respect your connections’ order of skills. (Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think eliciting endorsements from others is ethical.)

I asked one of my connections which of his skills he wanted endorsed. His simple response was the top five because those are the skills he is strongest at. I wouldn’t know without asking him because he lives in California, and I’ve never seen him in action. Nonetheless, like Lin Sanity, I was caught up in endorsing people.

Take the hint if you’d like to endorse me by clicking Endorse next to my top five skills, because I’ve arranged them in order of preference. I’m pretty sure I perform those skills very well. I’d do the same for you.

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Dear College Students, here are 3 steps to take when connecting with your alumni on LinkedIn

college student2Dear College Students,

Now that your profile is in tip top shape, it’s time to think about how, as a new college student, to connect with other LinkedIn members. It’s time to develop your online network.

To help you do this, LinkedIn has a neat feature called Find Alumni, which is located in the Connections drop-down menu

Why is it important that you’ve created a profile and must now develop your network? Because the sooner you start your network, the more useful it will be when you graduate and have to look for a job. An old adage is: in the working world, the best time to network is when you’re working. So it stands to reason the best time to network is while you’re in school.

Finding alumni with whom to connect

Assuming you haven’t made any connections with your alumni, which also include those who attended your alma mater before you arrived, you’ll want to connect with them because they’re probably currently working and may know of opportunities or, at least, people with whom you can connect.

First go to How You’re Connected to the far right of the second screen. Most likely you have very few, if any, 1st degree connections. That’s alright. Focus on your second degrees. Select your 2nd degrees by clicking on that bar. You’ll see the other categories shift, the numbers decrease. This narrows your search for potential alumni contacts.

If you’re a communications major, you’ll focus on people who are connected with you under What They Do, e.g., Media and Communication. Look at where they work, what they studied, what they’re skilled at. This will give you a sense of your commonalities, as well as some talking points when you connect with them.

Connecting with your alumni

The largest advantage you have is your common bond with people who are going to school with you or who have attended years before. When you attempt to connect with them through their profile, the option Classmate has already been chosen for you.

This is where, as an aspiring LinkedIn professional, you need to carefully craft your invite messages. Under no circumstances will you send the default LinkedIn invite; that’s plain laziness. Instead, you’ll write a personalized note, which will show the professionalism LinkedIn members expect from each other.

Note: Even though you can hit Connect under the person’s photo, it’s still best to open their profile and choose to connect after reading it thoroughly.

Here’s what you might write after reading your potential connection’s profile:

Dear Mr. Schmidt,

As you’re an alumnus at the University of Virginia and are in the field of Marketing Communications, I’d like to take this time to reach out and invite you to my network. I will contact you to see if we can be of assistance to each other.

Completing the process

Your new invite accepts your personalized invitation because both of you share an interest in Communications and, most importantly are alumni. In your invitation you mentioned being of assistance to Mr. Schmidt. Where many people fall down in the process is not following through.

Be true to your word by contacting him via e-mail when he accepts your invite. Also write down some questions you’d like to ask Mr. Schmidt regarding the line of work he does. Make them intelligent questions; don’t waste his time. Ask him if he might know of anyone who you could also speak with. Finally, tell him you’re at his disposal should he need assistance.

The process of building relationships can be  a long one, but because you’ve just begun your education, you have plenty of time developing long-lasting relationships. These are connections that can be of great help to you once you’ve graduated college.