The most important trait necessary for a successful job search

And 6 reasons why it’s the most important.

I recently received an email from a former job seeker who said she landed a job after three years. I’ve also heard from other job seekers who landed jobs after more than a year after beginning their search. What was the secret to their success? In one word, persistence.

Biking

One definition of persistence is a, “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.” A simple definition would be, “not giving up.”

What we know about the job search is that there are new obstacles that make it difficult. I say this based on my experience in the job search when certain requirements were not expected of job seekers.

Having witnessed many job seekers struggle with their job search, I can say the job search is harder now than when I was unemployed. Here are six reasons why:

1. The applicant tracking system (ATS) is more prevalent. One source says 127 people apply for entry-level positions and 89 apply for professional level positions. What this means is employers would have to read many résumés without the aid of an ATS. Instead, they rely on a “robot” that reads resumes and chooses the ones that are, theoretically, the best ones.

The ATS relieves employers from reading more than 75% of résumés for a position. That’s the good news. The bad news is that job candidates must write keyword-rich résumés that get them past the ATS. And many qualified job seekers are unaware of this requirement.

Writing tailored résumés for each job requires persistence. It’s easy to put together a generic résumé and send it to every position for which you apply. To modify your Summary, or re-write it entirely, and prioritize relevant accomplishments is entirely different. Only by doing this will you get past the ATS.

Read 10 tips for writing a professional resume.

2. Employers rely heavily on social media. Two years after I had to look for work LinkedIn came on the scene, and a year later Facebook arrived. I didn’t have to contend with either. LinkedIn, originally developed for business but largely used by job seekers for their search, takes diligence, knowledge of the platform, and realizing its significance.

Jobvite.com recently revealed that 87 percent of hiring authorities use LinkedIn to cull talent, so it makes common sense to be on LinkedIn. Job seekers are using LI to find people at companies they’re targeting, networking with people who might provide opportunities, and using the Jobs feature. To be effective, job seekers must use LinkedIn daily. This takes persistence.

Read If you join LinkedIn be prepared to work hard.

Although not used as much as LinkedIn, Facebook has a job-search purpose. Recruiters are on Facebook, and they’re reaching out to job seekers. Jobvite.com also revealed that more job seekers are using Facebook (67 percent) in their search than they’re using LinkedIn.

A serious consideration is keeping your Facebook account professional, because hiring authorities are looking on Facebook to see if you’re behaving. I was asked by one of my managers to look at job candidates on Facebook. One particular candidate didn’t come across as a girl scout. Enough said.

3. Employers are pickier. The average time to find employment is approximately 26 weeks, based on a position paying $60,000. In addition, many employers have extended the number of interviews from two to four, or even five. And given that they’re busy, the time between interviews can be as long as two weeks.

Why are employers pickier than they were when I was looking for work? The simple answer is to reduce mistakes. Besides getting egg on their face, hiring the wrong person can be extremely expensive. (A Forbes.com article states a “bad” hire can cost more than 30 percent of a person’s first year salary.)

You must be persistent when the job search is taking so long. Don’t give up on employers who are taking their time. Understand that they want to avoid mistakes. Stay in contact with your recruiters to see how the process is going (believe me, they’re just as anxious).

Read 7 thoughts on the mind of a recruiter.

4. Ageism is a reality. Unfortunately, employers discriminate against age. I tell my workshop attendees that a few employers, not all, will practice ageism. Nonetheless, it’s wrong and can’t be defeated easily.

Older workers must be especially persistent and think about ways to get to the interview, one of which is writing résumés that don’t reveal their age. Then during the interview sell themselves as a benefit to the employer, not a disadvantage.

Smart employers will see that older workers want to work as much, or more, than people younger than them. Employers will realize that older workers are more mature and dependable, have extensive job experience, as well as life experience.

Your job is to dispell the stereotypes that exist for older workers, such as they expect too much money, are not as quick to learn, are set in their ways, will be sick more often, and will leave sooner than younger workers. These are all untrue.

Read 5 strength of the older worker.

5. Networking is necessarily more than ever. Regardless of age, networking will be the key to your success. The old saying, “It’s not what you know or who you know, it’s who knows you”; is truer than ever.

One of my favorite job seekers wrote to me about another job seeker’s Happy Landing. She wrote: “[Landing her job] was completely through networking; she has not even met her hiring manager yet. One person’s word and recommendation was enough!

Of course networking involves more than relying on your reputation to land a job. You need to be more persistent than I was during my unemployment. To say networking is the name of the game is an understatement.

It’s believed that your chances of landing a job are 60%-80% by employing networking. Of course other methods of job seeking must be used to supplement your networking. And networking doesn’t have to be confined to networking events; you must persistently network on a daily basis, throughout the community.

Read 5 steps to uncovering career opportunities.

6. Don’t forget to following up. Perhaps the biggest failure in the job search is not following up with potential valuable contacts. I hear it all the time; someone meets a potential contact at a networking event, or in the community, and doesn’t follow-up; thereby loosing out on a huge opportunity.

You must be persistent in following up. I say to my workshop attendees, “Why put all the hard work you do while networking, submitting your written communications, and networking by not following up?” It doesn’t make sense.

Remember that your job isn’t done after the first or even second contact. It’s done when you get a yes. Yes, the person you met at a networking event will meet you for coffee. Yes, after coffee they will agree to deliver your résumé to the hiring manager. Yes, it leads to an interview. And yes, you’ve been accepted for the position after five interviews.

If this isn’t persistence, what is?


The saying that anything worth having takes hard work is about being persistent. It’s about not giving up. It’s about getting to yes. I can think of other words which begin with “P” that are important to the job search, but persistence always comes to mind.

5 ways LinkedIn Lite’s anchored sections are hurting its members

The inability to move LinkedIn profile sections around may cause consternation for some members. Although the new LinkedIn profile is condensed, slim, and uncluttered; members are prohibited from strategically rearranging sections to highlight what’s most important.

Read How to brand yourself with the new LinkedIn profile: part 1.

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Did LinkedIn have its members’ best interest in mind when they made this decision? Will the profile revert to the former version when one could move sections about the better brand them? Below are reasons why LinkedIn members are hurt by the sections being anchored.

1. Education first comes to mind 

One night I volunteered to critique current students’ and recent grads’ LinkedIn profiles for my alumni association. One thing that’s become clear from critiquing their profiles is how the inability to rearrange the profile’s section is a disadvantage to them.

One recent grad, with whom I spoke, had virtually no work experience or internships to tout. She had focused on completing her double major in business management and mathematics. She did extremely well, earning above a 3.5/4.0. However, her dual major put a toll on her, making it virtually impossible for her to secure internships.

Because LinkedIn has arranged the profile in the following order: Summary, Experience, Education, and less significant sections; this woman could not highlight her greatest accomplishment, her education.

What about teachers? The anchored sections isn’t a problem for only the recent grad; it affects most notably teachers, who benefit from placing their Education section below the Summary, rather than below the Experience section of their profile.

Generally speaking, teachers must immediately show their teaching license, school transcript, and GPA. School system would like to see this early on.

Even IT job candidates might want their Educations section near the top. Not only teachers place their education at the top of their profile. Information technology candidates have been known to do this.

When I asked one of my workshop attendees why he placed his education at the top of his profile, he said it was a major requirement for a job he last applied for. He was going to keep it near the top for future jobs.

Other sections could be highlighted to strengthen a profile

2. Volunteer Experience. LinkedIn members who want to display their Volunteerism near the top of their profile will be frustrated. I had a private client who wanted to highlight his volunteer experience over his employment. With the old LinkedIn, this was an easy fix.

3. Featured Skills & Endorsements. I had this section placed under my Summary (which was expanded in the old LinkedIn), because I was more interested in showing my outstanding skills than my experience.

As an added insult, this section has been truncated to show only the top three skills. If visitors want to see additional skills, they must click “View more.” I fear people will only endorse their connections’ top three skills, because they will not think to…view more.

4. The Recommendations section was anchored at the bottom of the old LinkedIn profile, which caused consternation for some business owners, I’m sure. Recommendations are testimonials for members who rely on them to grow their business. To me this was a lack of respect for this section.

Now Recommendations are given the same amount of respect as Skills & Endorsements…well, almost. Let’s say they’re given more respect now, prompting me to request and write them more than before.

5. Accomplishments. LinkedIn has done such a great job of truncating the profile that sections some would like to relocated are hidden from the common observer. Within the Accomplishments section are subsections that used to be separate and rearrange-able:

  1. Certifications
  2. Projects
  3. Organizations
  4. Patents
  5. Publications
  6. Courses
  7. Honors
  8. Awards
  9. Test Scores

I know a LinkedIn member who uses Projects for highlighting a mini documentary filmed by Aljazeera America. In the video he is depicted as a New York City photographer who films models and the homeless. He used to have this section at the top of his profile; now it’s buried in Accomplishments.

Patents might be another section members would like to rearrange. Maybe not closest to the top, but within the first three-quarters. Engineers, scientists, and inventors could see these as some of their greatest accomplishment, and therefore place them below their Summary.

Courses, Honors, Test Scores all might benefit college students or recent grads. Yet, like all the sections contained withing Accomplishments, they must be discovered and chosen in order to view.

The goal of your LinkedIn profile is to highlight the most important aspects of your career. If you can’t rearrange your sections to do this, what’s the solution?

Two solutions to solve the anchored section’s conundrum 

The fist solution would be making better use of your Branding Headline. Let’s return to Education. Begin by showing your value in the Branding Headline by stating that you’re a student from your university, include your major, and what you’ll offer employers.

Wrong: many college students will simply write in their Branding Headline, Student at the University of Connecticut. This uses 40 of the 120 characters you’re allowed in your Branding Headline.

Better, show your accomplishments and goals: High Honors Student at UConn | Major: Business Management | Minor: Mathematics | Aspiring Business Analyst

Despite the Summary section being condensed and showing only the first two lines, it’s more important than ever to tell your story. Moreover, it’s essential that you use those two lines to highlight your greatest accomplishment.

You might indicate within the two opening lines that you worked extremely hard completing a Chemistry major while also completing four internships.

While at Tufts, I majored in Biology and completed internships in all four semesters. As a testament to my time management skills and ability to stay focused, I maintained a 3.8/4.0 GPA.

This falls well within the characters allotted for the opening two lines of your Summary statement. You will continue to tell your outstanding story about your college years, including participating in extra curriculum activities.


While the anchored sections might be a deterrent to showing the skills and accomplishments you want to closest to the top of your profile, LinkedIn has done a fine job of streamlining the profile.

No longer do we have people abusing the ability to overload their profiles with pages upon pages of extraneous information. Touche for that, LinkedIn.

What fun is that? 5 reason why you should contribute on LinkedIn

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Recently I spoke to a person who uses LinkedIn on a fairly regular basis, at least four times a week he said.

When I asked him how often he updates, contributes to discussions in groups, or shares his thoughts in general; he told me never.

So naturally I asked him what he does on LinkedIn, to which he said he reads what others have to say.

So I’m trying to figure out why someone would just read what others write or would share articles written by others. What fun is that?

I’ll be the first to admit that I over contribute. I joke with my workshop attendees that I am probably the most hidden person on LinkedIn. In fact, I probably am.

Which isn’t to say I don’t read other’s updates and share articles written by others. A great deal of what I know comes from reading articles about the job search, LinkedIn, and introversion.

I am constantly trying to increase my knowledge so I can share it with my customers and colleagues. Call me an equal opportunity contributor.

Back to the person who told me he doesn’t update, contribute to groups, or share his thoughts in general. Here’s the thing: LinkedIn is a platform that encourages its members to share information.

Thus its creation of the publishing feature—yes, I’ve contributed posts on LinkedIn—which gives anyone the ability to share their words of wisdom and thoughts.

For those of you who are on the verge of contributing to LinkedIn but can’t take the plunge, here are five reasons I hope will urge you to make that leap.

It gives us a voice. Whereas some people are verbal communicators, others prefer to communicate via writing. They find comfort in being able to express their thoughts without interruption.

Updating and contributing to discussions in groups follows Parliamentary Procedure which allows one to speak, receive feedback, respond to feedback, and so forth.

LinkedIn is educational. When you write an update, contribute to a discussion, or post an article; you challenge yourself to present viable information, which means it’s best if you do a little research to back up your assertions.

Similarly you can be assured that what others write is well thought out and educational. Challenge yourself to produce updates, contribute to group discussions, and post on LinkedIn information that others will find interesting.

What you contribute isn’t done with impunity, though. On occasion I’ve been told my blog posts are utter shite, so I have to brace myself for this possibility.

When this happens my first instinct is to feel hurt, but then I think, “Hey, people are paying attention.” And that’s a good feeling.

You may want to be fairly conservative if you don’t want to be criticized harshly for your thoughts.

Contributing to LinkedIn can brand you as a thought leader. Not everything one writes is worthy of a Pulitzer. But when you contribute to a group discussion with well thought out content, or write a post that adds value; you’re positioning yourself as a thought leader.

I encourage job seekers to write articles on their area of expertise, even if they feel deflated from being out of work. They are, after all, professionals in their field.

Even asking an interesting question can demonstrate your expertise. Some of my most viewed writing are questions I pose to my connections. Make it simple, yet relative.

It’s fun. This is a matter of opinion. I find writing on LinkedIn extremely fun. For the four reasons listed above, plus an escape from the demands of daily life, as well as not having to watch mindless television.

My family doesn’t understand it until I ask my girls why they spend endless hours taking photos for Instagram. Enough said.


These are my five reasons for contributing to LinkedIn. To simply read what others write and not write stuff of my own is not my idea of fun.

I guess if I were a more understanding of people who feel shy about writing, I’d come up with five reasons why it’s cool not to update and contribute to discussions. Hey, there’s a topic for my next post.

6 ways to brand yourself on LinkedIn by being active: part 3

Now that you have a profile that brands you and you’ve started connecting with the right people, you’re two-thirds of the way to your LinkedIn goal. To wrap up your LinkedIn campaign and solidify your powerful brand, all you need to do is engage with your connections.

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In this three-part series we have been looking at the components of a LinkedIn campaign that will brand you, which include:

  1. Creating a powerful profile
  2. Connecting with the right people
  3. Engaging with your connections

I’m often asked by my clients how regularly they should use LinkedIn. My inclination is to tell them, like me, use it at least two hours every day—but I know that is unreasonable for them. In fact, it borders on insanity.

So I suggest at least half an hour, four days a week. Still, their eyes glaze over and I hear some groans of protests. But I stay firm on this requirement.

Why is it important to be on LinkedIn often? Because if you want to be top of mind, you need to be present. In other words, you must consistently communicate with your connections to brand yourself successfully.

Here are six very simple ways to communicate with your connections.

1. Share Updates

Sharing Updates

This is the easiest way to communicate with your connections and brand yourself as a thought leader in the LinkedIn community. However, what you write must be carefully thought out and must add value to people’s lives.

I’m not talking about tweet-like updates (although you can share updates to Twitter) every day stating you’re looking for work. I’m talking about illuminating updates that prompt participation.

I recently shared an update about how nine out of 10 people prefer extraversion over introversion. The response was tremendous, and I continued to brand myself as an authority on introverts.

Your updates might be about what’s going on in your industry. You can provide important tips (remember, you’re still an expert in your occupation). Maybe inspirational quotes are your thing.

My valued colleague, Hannah Morgan wrote this excellent article for theundercoverrecuiter.com on the 15 LinkedIn status updates to get you noticed.

The new LinkedIn profile combines articles, photos, and updates into one field (see below). This is in line with LinkedIn efforts to stremline its user interface (UI) as much as possible.

2. Publish Posts (Write an article)

Writing an article

By using LinkedIn’s “Write an article” feature to share your writing with the appropriate audience, you are gaining visibility and, therefore, enhancing your brand.

Again, it’s important that your writing adds value to your connections. If it doesn’t, you’re wasting your connections’ time.

Another great way to educate your connections is by acting as a curator. A curator is a selfless LinkedIn member who shares the writing of other LinkedIn members. In addition to educating others, you are building strong relationships with your fellow writers by sharing their work.

Don’t forget to “like,” “comment,” or “share” your connections’ updates. This shows you appreciate the efforts they’ve made to contribute on LinkedIn. In my mind, it is far better to provide an intelligent comment; rather than only “liking” an article.

Even if you’re unemployed, you should take advantage of this feature. You can demonstrate your expertise of your occupation/industry, thus strengthening your brand.

3. Participate in Groups

Groups went through an overhaul more than a year ago. Some believe that this feature may have suffered from LinkedIn’s attempts to enhance it. (Not sure what I’m talking about? Read this article for an explanation of the enhancements.)

Nonetheless, it’s important to participate in conversations that are going on in your particular groups. When you participate in a group discussion, your connections will see your input streaming on their home pages.

To brand yourself effectively, be certain that the conversations you start or contribute to add value. Don’t indulge in the silly arguments that can pop up in groups.

Many recruiters are members of groups that you may also be in. They may read your contributions to the group, so make certain you write intelligent, non-negative comments. Remember, it’s about branding yourself as a capable, positive job candidate.

4. Send Direct Messages to Your Connections

LinkedIn recently made another change in the way you communicate with your connections. Now, instead of sending individual InMails, all your correspondences are grouped together in an endless stream. It takes some getting used to, but it has proven to be an effective change.

Every once in a while, you should ping your connections, letting them know how you’re doing in your job search. This is another way to stay top of mind.

Keep in mind that your messages don’t have to always be about the job search. Sometimes, it’s nice to send an informal message, commenting on something like your connection’s daughter’s soccer game, or sending a link to an article you think your connection might appreciate.

Doing the aforementioned  will brand you as a concerned connection, not one who thinks only of themselves.

5. Endorse Your Connections for Their Skills

endorsements (1)

You’ve probably read many opinions from people on the topic of endorsements – here we go again! Add me to the list of people who prefer receiving or writing thoughtful recommendations to simply clicking a button. And I’m not alone.

But in all fairness, endorsements have a purpose greater than simply showing appreciation for someone’s skills; they act as a way to touch base. In other words, they’re another way to communicate with your connections.

Don’t get click-happy when endorsing your connections. This will make you appear disingenuous and damage your brand.

6. Use the ‘Companies’ Feature

Search Groups

I saved one of the best features for last. The “companies” feature epitomizes networking on LinkedIn. It allows you to find people who are in a position to help you. It encourages you to be proactive.

In my LinkedIn, workshop I explain that the attendees should have a list of companies for which they’d like to work. It’s important to set foundations before applying for jobs at these companies. This means building a network of valuable people.

Once you’ve located the person with whom you’d like to connect, you manually connect with said person by going to their profile, clicking “connect,” and writing a personalized invite. Failing to send a personalized invite will hurt your brand; you’ll be seen as lazy.


Engaging with your connections is the only way to stay top of mind on LinkedIn. You may have the best profile ever and 5,000 connections, but if you are not active on LinkedIn, your results will not be rewarding.

How to brand yourself by connecting with others on LinkedIn: part 2

So you have a great LinkedIn profile that supports your personal brand. You have a great photo, a keyword-packed descriptive Headline, and Summary and Experience sections that really sell your talents. You’re golden.

In this three-part series we will look at the components of a LinkedIn campaign that will brand you, which include:

  1. Creating a powerful profile
  2. Connecting with the right people
  3. Engaging with your connections

linkedin-alone

Unfortunately, you only have 70 connections. This is not good because first, a paltry number of connections limits your reach and second, your small network is telling hiring authorities that you’re not embracing the purpose of LinkedIn.

In short, your low number of connections is harmful to your personal brand. You come across to others as a nonparticipant on LinkedIn. Equally important, your reach to other LinkedIn members is extremely limited. You’re essentially a nonentity.

In my workshops and during individual counseling sessions, many people ask me with whom they should connect, how they should connect with people they don’t know, and with how many people they should connect.

With Whom to Connect

When people ask this, I explain that they should look at their potential connections as a pyramid. The goal is to connect with as many second- and third-degree connections as you see fit—although third-degree connections should be the last ones with whom you connect.

 

On the bottom level—the most important tier of the pyramid—are people with whom you worked, e.g., former colleagues and supervisors. I say most important because they know you and are entrenched in the industry in which you’ve worked.

The second level contains people who share the same occupation and same industry. These people are like-minded and have similar aspirations to yours.

The third level is people who share the same occupation but in different industries. So, if you’re a marketing specialist, you want to look for other marketing specialists in industries outside of your own.

The fourth level is people in other occupations but the same industry. Connecting with these people will provide you with possible entries into your target companies. Connecting with an accountant, for instance, may give you access to the hiring manager of marketing at a desired company.

The fifth level includes people in other occupations and other industries. This may seem counter-intuitive to some, but consider that the V.P. of a manufacturing company that is on your target employers list may need an accountant. You’re not a V.P., and you don’t work in manufacturing, but you are an accountant.

The last level consists of your alumni, people who are likely to connect with you because you attended the same schools at some point.

How to Connect With LinkedIn Members

There are three ways to connect with LinkedIn members. The first, and simplest way, is to use the search field. Second, you can search companies with the Companies feature. And third, search by your alumni by typing in your alma mater as a company and selecting “See Alumni.”

Search by title. In my LinkedIn workshop, I tell my attendees that typing an occupation title in the search field is one step toward finding people. (For example, if you’re looking for software engineers, you type: “software engineer.”) From there, you select second- or third-degree connections and read through their profiles. See if they might be people you’d like to have in your network.

connecting-new-linkedin

Major change: LinkedIn Lite no longer has the Advanced Search feature (this is only available with Sales Navigator), so the categories are limited. The image above shows the ability to choose: degree of connection, location, current companies, past companies, industries, etc.

LinkedIn supports Boolean searches, which can give you a more focused search. For example, you type in: “software engineer” AND manufacturing AND “greater boston area” to get software engineers in manufacturing who reside in the Greater Boston area.

Another way to look for valuable connections is by using the “find alumni‘ feature, which is a great way to connect with LinkedIn members who are more likely to accept your requests than mere strangers. After all, you attended the same university or high school.

find-alumni-new-linkedin

Probably the best way to connect with someone is by selecting a company that you’re targeting and finding an employee at said company. This is a great way to get your foot in the door for an open position – or, better yet, to start building your networks at target companies before jobs are even advertised. (Search for people at Kronos below.)

search-at-kronos

Note: When asking someone to connect with you, make sure your note is personal – not the default message that LinkedIn provides. That said, I’m not a fan of connecting with people by using your smartphone or trolling your email contacts and sending mass invites. I see this as lazy.

How Many People to Connect With 

The answer to the age-old question – quality or quantity? – comes down to personal preference.

I personally aim for a combination of both – that is, 300 or so quality connects with people who share your interests and or goals. If you look back at the “pyramid” above, you’ll see that focusing on connections in the first three levels is a good way to achieve the quality + quantity goal.

When you build connections in this way, you solidify your brand as someone who is focused on a specific audience. You have the chance to build a tight-knit network of individuals.

On the other hand, focusing too much on quality does limit your number of connections, which means you’re limiting your access to other LinkedIn users who could be of assistance.

If you focus on quantity, you’re less selective. You may come across as having little direction and less focus on an audience. In my mind, this is not the best way to brand oneself.

Quantity does have its benefits, though – particularly if you are a business owner and want to advertise your products or services.

Finally there is the extreme strategy: the LinkedIn Open Networker (L.I.O.N.) strategy. L.I.O.N.s are LinkedIn members who are interested in collecting as many connections as possible. They believe that more people create opportunities. They are also more likely to be victims spam.


Recruiters and hiring managers will take notice of your number of connections on LinkedIn, and they’ll look to see what kinds of people you connect with.

They may even go to your connections’ profiles and by chance notice some not-so-savory things. In other words, you could be found guilty by association. Let’s say, for example, one of your connections is affiliated with someone in a controversial group. This could look bad for you.

Because you are responsible for choosing connections that support your image, you must also consider how each and every connection may affect your personal brand.

Next in this three-part series is branding yourself by engaging with your connections. Stay tuned.

How to brand yourself with the new LinkedIn profile: part 1

LinkedIn has gone through some recent changes, some of which are welcome, other that are not. Regardless of how you feel about these changes, you will have to adapt in order to be successful in your LinkedIn campaign.

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In this three-part series I will talk about the components of a LinkedIn campaign that will brand you, which include:

  1. Creating a powerful profile
  2. Connecting with the right people
  3. Engaging with your connections

I will also point out the changes to the former LinkedIn that have led to the new LinkedIn Lite.

In an Entrepreneur article, author Thomas Smale stresses the importance of having an online presence: “Do you have social media profiles? If so, are they fully fleshed out with all of your information? Do they present you in the best light possible, and make you look professional? Are you using high-quality professional photography? Are you interacting with others and sharing their content?”

Change: By now most of you have the new LinkedIn user interface (UI) and have noticed that you cannot move your sections about as you were able to do with the older version. This change is disconcerting because LinkedIn has unilaterally decided how your profile is structured.

Read 5 ways LinkedIn Lite’s anchored sections are hurting its members.

As a professional, your LinkedIn profile is a critical component of your online personal brand. Let’s look at the major sections of your LinkedIn profile and how they can contribute to your brand:

Snapshot Area

new-snapshot

I call this section the Snapshot because that’s exactly what it is: a snapshot of who you are. The Snapshot section of your LinkedIn profile includes your photo and your Headline. Failure to impress viewers in these areas will hurt your brand.

A photo that is unprofessional is an immediate turnoff. Perhaps more damaging is a non-photo. It’s believed that a profile with a photo is 14 times more likely to be read than one without a photo. Your photo is the first area of your profile that brands you.

Headlines that say things like “Seeking Employment” or “Finance Manager at Company X” are ineffective, as they fail to show value.

Rather, your Headline should be something like this: “Finance Manager at Company X | Financial Planning and Analysis | Auditing | Saving Organizations Millions.” This headline shows your value and brands you. It also adds to your keyword count.

Changes: The photo is no longer square and situated to the right; it is in the center and smaller. Therefore you need to make sure your face and shoulders are captured in your photo.

We only see a person’s current place of employment, instead of current and previous. The relationship section has been taken away; there is no longer the ability to tag your connections, among other features. 

Most notably is that the Summary section is located at the bottom of the Snapshot. More on that below.

What About Those Three Dots and Contact and Personal Information?

The location of actions like removing connections, unfollowing, requesting, and writing recommendations will take some time for to get used to, but the information is nicely placed.

The same applies to the contact and personal info section, which drops down to reveal the information visitors would see if they choose the “Info” tab on the older version.

Change: Unfortunately, a user’s public URL is located in this area, instead of in plain view just below one’s photo.

Summary

Support your brand with a kick-ass Summary. This is where you tell your story, which can include the passion you have for your occupation, a statement about your expertise, or some talk about how you’re changing your career.

You’ll want to use close to the 2,000 characters allowed in the Summary in order to include the keywords your profile needs to boost your visibility. But your Summary must also be compelling. It should mention accomplishments that will capture the reader’s attention.

You should write your Summary in either first or third person point of view. Don’t simply copy the Summary from your resume for this section. For a little guidance on what your summary should be like, read “Put a Human Voice in Your Summary” by Liz Ryan of Human Workplace.

Change: As mentioned above, the Summary is now located in the Snapshot area; it no longer has its own section. Also, only the first two lines (approximately 220 characters are revealed); visitors must click See more to see the full-blown Summary. Therefore, these lines must immediately sell you. I suggest a branding statement.

Your Articles and Activities

Don’t blink when your looking at these sections, because there’s a lot of information packed in. In “Highlights,” visitors can see mutual connections, as shown above. However, in order to see all my connections, one must click on this area and choose “All.”

A great deal of information is located under the “Posts & Activity” heading, including my articles, posts, and all activities. Articles are the ones I’ve written on LinkedIn; this is straightforward. What is not straightforward is the difference between posts and activities. As far as I can tell, they’re one and the same.

Change: Unlike in the older version, only one article is displayed. In the older version, three were displayed, which meant you had to have written at least three articles if you didn’t want to be embarrassed, but I’m sure LinkedIn’s motive here wasn’t to save you from being embarrassed.

Experience

truncated-experience

I’m often asked by job seekers how they should address the experience section of their profile. I tell them they have two options: They can either write a section that resembles the work history found on their resume, or they can use their experience section to highlight only their most important accomplishments.

I favor the latter approach, but some think their profile might be the only document an employer sees, so they believe showing all is the way to go. What’s most important in building your brand is listing accomplishments with quantified results.

Good: Increased productivity by implementing a customer relations management (CRM) system.

Better: Initiated and implemented – before deadline – a customer relations management (CRM) system that increased productivity by 58%.

It’s a good idea to use bullets to highlight your accomplishments. One of my LinkedIn connections, Donna Serdula, has created a handy list of bullets and symbols you can copy and paste for use on your own profile.

Change: In its effort to truncate the profile, LinkedIn expands only the first job listed. For the others, visitors must click See description. This may become tedious for hiring authorities, as they’ll have to open many job descriptions. See below.

Education

Many people neglect this section, choosing to simply list the institution they attended, the degree they received, and their date of graduation. This might be the norm for resumes, but LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to further support your brand by telling the story of your education.

Take Mary who completed her bachelor’s degree while working full-time – a major accomplishment in itself. If she wants to show off her work ethic and time management skills, she might write a description like this:

University of Massachusetts, Lowell
Mechanical Engineering, Magna Cum Laude

While working full time at Company A, I attended accelerated classes at night for six years (two years less than typically expected). I also participated as an instructor in an online tutoring program, helping first-year students with their engineering classes. I found this to be extremely rewarding.

Volunteer

Build your brand by showing visitors that you are utilizing your skills and developing new ones. It’s fine to volunteer for what I call “a good cause,” but to show people you’re serious about your occupation, you’ll volunteer at a host agency that requires your expertise.

(If you volunteer for a significant amount of time, I feel it’s fine to list this experience in your Experience section, as long as you write “Volunteer Experience” beside your job title.)

What surprises me is that this section comes before Skills and Endorsements. This section hasn’t changed much, save for the fact that visitors must expand each volunteer experience. I wonder what LinkedIn was thinking when they made this decision for me.

Featured Skills and Endorsements

A healthy Skills section consisting of 30-50 skills is another way to strengthen your brand. The skills you decide to list should demonstrate your expertise. Do not list skills you are simply familiar with.

To further enhance your brand, the skills may be endorsed by your first-degree LinkedIn connections. If you’re unsure as to which skills to endorse, here is a previous article of mine that can help you.

Change: Now the Skills section shows only your three top skills and one person who’s endorsed you. Previously it showed your 10 top skills and more than 10 people who endorsed you. Visitors need to click View (the number) more in order to see all yours skills.

endorsements

Recommendations

This is a section I talk about in my LinkedIn workshops, and I always stress how valuable it is to receive recommendations from and write them for others. By receiving recommendations, you show the value you bring to employers. Meanwhile, writing recommendations shows your authority and what you value in workers.

Change: This has to do more with your Experience section, where previously visitors could see two people who endorsed you for a particular job. Now there are no nice miniature photos of the people who endorsed you. There is also no link that brings you directly to your Recommendations section. Oh, this also applies to Education. Bummer.

Accomplishments

Certifications, Organizations, and Projects are listed under Accomplishments. Prior, they had their own real estate, but now they’re buried under this header. And yes, they must be expanded like most sections.

Change: Do you remember painstakingly listing your professional and personal interests under Interests? Well forget it; that section has been retired, as far as I can see. Shame.

Following

This section includes your Influencers, Companies, Groups, and Schools you’re following. These used to be their own sections but have been truncated to save space.

Change: In order to see the above sections, you must click (you guessed it) See more. Unless visitors are aware of where these sections are, they will go missed. 


These are just some sections on your LinkedIn profile that contribute to supporting your strong personal brand. In the next post, I will talk about maintaining strong personal brand via connecting with others on LinkedIn. Stay tuned!

7 job-search sins and what to do about them

job-search-sins

During one of my morning walks, I listened to a great podcast from NPR about the 7 deadly sins, and like many times when I hear a story, read an article, or see an event; I think about the job search. There are actions, or lack of, that can affect your job search in negative ways. I wouldn’t call them deadly, but they are sins to avoid in the job search.

Apathy

This is the first sin of the job search. Too often job seekers tell me they are just starting their job search after exhausting their six-month severance. At this point they’re living off their unemployment insurance and have a gap on their résumé that puts them in the long-term unemployed, or LTU, category.

Instead. Studies show that people who are out of work longer than six months have a much harder time landing a job than those out of work for three months or less. For various reasons, employers are reluctant to hire people out of work this long. Don’t wait until your severance has run out; begin your job search as soon as possible.

Pride

Ironically, this is one of the seven deadly sins. By this I mean job seekers who have been out of work for many months and still haven’t told their friends, neighbors, relatives, former employers, etc., that they are in transitions. It’s pride that’s hindering their job search because people, who could possibly help, are unaware of their situation.

Instead. I understand you may be embarrassed or shameful because you’re unemployed (been there). But most intelligent people know that the economy is still volatile and that layoffs, terminations, and voluntary separations, are a fact of the employment landscape. Give your potential networkers an opportunity to help you.

Selfishness

It is a sin to expect help from others but be unwilling or oblivious to helping others. In fact, helping others first should be your mindset, as help will be returned to you. Maybe not from the person whom you helped, but from someone else. Pay It Forward is the mantra.

Instead. Kevin Willett, a local business connector in my area, makes it a point of helping people and organizations without expecting something in return. Upon my requests he’s been a guest speaker at our career center more than anyone else. Because of his desire to help as many people as possible, he receives help in various forms from local businesses and individuals.

Stubbornness

This sin is particularly evident in job seekers who are given advice on their résumés, LinkedIn profiles, networking, interview techniques, and other job-search strategies. Whether feel they’ve done as much work on their documents they’re willing to, or they don’t respect the opinions of others; they lose out on valuable advice.

Instead. Listen to what others suggest.  I’m thinking of a woman who asked me to critique her LinkedIn profile. As I was addressing her small number of connections, she adamantly argued that in her industry (education) people don’t connect with other industries. She also disputed my recommendations for her Summary. As our hour critique came to an end, I got the feeling she hadn’t heard a word I said. Don’t be like this woman.

Indifference

This sin is characterized as staying within your comfort zone. What do I mean by this? When attending an organized networking event, you stand alone and make no effort to talk with unfamiliar people. You expect people to come to you. You think an opportunity will eventually come to you, and it may; but not as quickly as if you make the effort.

Instead. Here’s the secret to going beyond your comfort zone. Act natural and make others feel comfortable. Set the tone for a natural conversation. Don’t feel that the conversation must be about obtaining leads or giving leads. Show interest in others’ personal lives, or talk about current events, your favorite movies, etc.

Humility

To brag is sinful, to not promote yourself is also sinful. In my business—career advising—I encourage the appropriate amount of self-promotion. Someone who is too humble or degrade themselves is perhaps worse than bragging. It implies to employers a lack of confidence which results in a poor performance during an interview and, inevitably, no job offer.

Instead. Many times I’ll sit with our career center customers to talk about their accomplishments. Without failure they tell me they have no accomplishments. But when I ask probing questions, the accomplishments come pouring out. They don’t like to brag, they tell me. I don’t want them to brag, but I also don’t like them not taking credit for the great work they do.

Ingratitude

This sin is unforgivable. People who take from others without expressing their gratitude have used their Receive Help card for the last time. Have you helped someone get a job and not received even a verbal thanks for your efforts? Doesn’t feel good, does it?

Instead. On the other hand, when I helped someone land a job, I was reward with a simple thanks. Some years after he landed his job. I went to his house to collect some mulch we agreed to buy together. After loading up my wheelbarrow, I knocked on his door and asked him what I owed him. He gave me a big bear hug and, in tears, said, “Bob, you don’t owe me a thing. You helped me get a job.” That’s all the thanks I needed.

Read about my favorite thanks from a job seeker.


Although the sins I’ve described are not deadly (Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed, Sloth), they are detrimental to your job search. Don’t commit the following sins. Act immediately upon losing your job. Let go of your pride. Don’t be selfish. Listen to others. Leave your comfort zone. Promote yourself. And, finally, be grateful.

Photo: Flickr, Khürt Williams