3 Ways to improve your job search with LinkedIn Updates

One of the things LinkedIn users might take for granted is the Updates feature which can be found on your home page and profile. In short, this is where jobseekers and business people can use LinkedIn to network and heighten their brand awareness.

Updates answers, among other questions: What have you been up to? What skills do you have to highlight?  How can you tell potential employers about your expertise and professional activities? How can you stay on recruiters’ and employers’ radars?

Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CIC, and executive director of An Expert Résumé, writes about three uses for updates in an article published by Examiner.com. I particularly like reason number 2:  Updates offer a glimpse of your professional interests and expertise. Here is a snippet from it:

Just like any other flow of information, your Update strategy is an integral part of your brand message—and it’s one that can strengthen your reputation as an expert in your field (and promote your credentials as a candidate).

Think about it: if you’re reading someone’s Profile (and admit it, you do), consider the impact of that Update at the top (the one that mentions how they’re finding a renowned industry book to be relevant in their work). You’ll easily be able to perceive this connection as staying on top of his or her field.

Read the rest of Laura’s article. It explains why using the Updates feature is so important to your networking endeavors. I’m in the habit of telling my LinkedIn workshop attendees to update at least once a day, and if I’m feeling boisterous I tell them to up the ante to four times a day. Think of updating as having mini conversations with your network and, of course, a way to better brand yourself. Read my article on updating on LinkedIn.

Career Development: How to Create Your Career Development Plan in 3 Steps

Guest post from Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – Your Career Change Agent

If you are pondering your career direction and how to get where you want to be, there are some simple steps you can take that will help you come up with a plan.  Let’s not be confused by the word “simple”.  Sometimes the simplest of concepts or steps can be tough to do, because they require some thinking and some effort.  Yet, your think time and effort are an investment in your future and happiness, which make it all very worthwhile.

Step 1:  Figure out your destination.  As with all efforts, you must be clear about your direction.  You don’t take a road trip without knowing where you want to end up.  You also don’t need to overly complicate this task.  I think the following questions are helpful in thinking out your destination.

Where do you want your career to be in 2 years?

  • I like this question because this window is close enough to your current reality that it is easy to visualize.

Where do you want your career to be in 5 years?

  • If you see that your 2-year goal is merely a step in an overall direction, then this question helps you define a longer term goal.  Sometimes it’s difficult to see that far out in time, as life and opportunities present themselves and can cause you to reset your plans.  That’s ok, but it’s good to be looking “2 steps ahead”.

What makes these targets resonant for you?

  • Don’t make a goal just for the sake of making one.  You need a goal that really rings your chimes and helps to motivate you into action.  If you’re making a goal based on what someone else wants, it also isn’t going to be that compelling for you.  Being clear on your direction means being clear that this direction is inspiring and motivational and knowing what is driving you to it.

Step 2:  Do a Gap Analysis.  A gap analysis is where you figure out the differences in the qualifications between where you are right now and your 2-year goal or next step.

Using a job posting or job description for the position you are aiming at is a good way to get specific information about the skills and experience that are expected.  I think it is good to get more than one job description (perhaps one with your company and one with a competitor) in order to ensure you aren’t missing any key items during your analysis.

Go through the job description line item by line item and rate your current state of skills, education or experience to what is listed.  Your rating system can be as simple as 1-10 with 10 a perfect match and 1 being completely missing.  As you rate, make notes about your thinking for future reference.

Once you have completed this exercise, identify all of the items where there is anywhere from a fair amount to a substantial amount of development that is needed.  Look for commonalities and clump those together as a category.  You will discover that there will be themes to your gaps.  Also, don’t get too compulsive about where you don’t think you’re a perfect match, but think you have fairly developed skills.  If they are mostly present, they will make you a competitive candidate and shouldn’t require too much development attention.

You now have a list of development items.

Step 3:  Create your development plan.  You are now fully armed with a clear 2-year goal and all the details of where and what you need to develop to get you where you want to go.  Your plan will be best if you can consult with your boss and/or a mentor to help you with ideas of how to get the skills you need to add.

There may need to be some logical order to a few of the items on your list.  Sometimes you need to do x before you can do y.  Make these among the highest priority items so you can accomplish these things and move on to others.

Usually there are multiple ways of accumulating the needed skills.  You may also want to have multiple ways of beefing up your skill set to add depth to it.  An example is if you want to move to a project management position, you may want to get certification and also to ask for project responsibilities.  Initially, these may be small, which are fine; they will give you an opportunity to grow and learn.

You may need to research various ways to get the skills you need.  Once done, it will give you ideas on how you can approach these items.

You need dates.  You need to keep yourself accountable to your plan; and the best way to do that is to give yourself a “start by” date.  You can’t predict how long or how much work you will have to do in order to develop the skill at the level you need, but you do have control over the action you take to get started.

Keep track.  You need to pay attention to your plan a minimum of twice per year.  This will allow you to stay focused on your progress and remind you of next steps.

Career development is the sort of thing that you can easily forget about until you wake up one day to realize you have gone nowhere and aren’t having fun.  You are responsible for where you go in your career.  With a little bit of planning you can accomplish great things.

For more career tips and advice claim your Free Instant Access to the Career Makeover Newsletter AND eWorkbook “Should I Stay or Should I Go” – both dedicated to Your career success, when you visit

http://CareerMakeoverToolKitShouldIstayorShouldIGo.com/  From Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – Your Career Change Agent from www.nextchapternewlife.com and www.mbahighway.com

The #1 way to stand out on your resume

By Laura Smith-Proulx

Worried that your resume won’t stand out for that perfect job when compared to hundreds of eager job hunters?

One of the BEST ways to distinguish yourself is to measure and document your performance against that of peers (or previous incumbents).

Competitive intelligence isn’t new. Anyone who sells solutions is constantly positioning their product for a win against similar offerings. And guess what? In a job search, YOU are the product.

Therefore, your resume must explain the reasons you’ll continue to outperform others in your next job.

Here are 3 tips to help gauge your work against others, and then add the results to your resume:

1 – Assess your predecessor.

Most employers find it necessary to reorganize teams from time to time, so you’ve probably found yourself taking over a role from a former colleague.

You may have even been hired to replace an underperforming manager, which gives you a great foundation on which to base achievements. If so, you’ll want to quantify the results you gained over that of the previous incumbent.

Turnaround performance is a great differentiator, and was used as part of the strategy on this resume for a Denver-based COO in the real estate investment industry – showing how he walked into specific challenges and removed obstacles to revenue success.

2 – Compare yourself against colleagues.

Believe it or not, a side-by-side correlation between your results and that of your peers will help your resume writing skills.

Think carefully about efforts you’ve handled at work such as special projects or collaboration with leaders at your company. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Was there a reason your boss selected you to lead a particular initiative?
  • Were you promoted faster than your colleagues?
  • Are you frequently pulled into leadership meetings to provide strategic input?

If any of these situations apply to you, document the ways you’re differentiating yourself, and then leverage them!

This example of a Sales Resume for a B2B sales executive in Minnesota shows how we compared his revenue achievement to peers – demonstrating better (and faster results) that intrigued employers.

3 – Evaluate your performance against the entire industry.

Here’s where economic conditions come into play. If you’re in a sales role, you might find that you’ve earned Top Producer ranking in a down year… when others in your industry struggled to even make quota.

Take stock of your performance against that of peers in other companies. Did your company stay in business – even when others shut their doors?

Were you able to produce revenue-generating or market-capturing strategies in an industry known for slow growth?

If these scenarios apply to you, note both the achievement and the conditions on your resume. Employers are keen to hire candidates that are able to address and resolve obstacles, especially in a recession!

In summary, even if it seems that you’ve just “done your job” throughout your career, chances are good that you can think of ways your performance differs from that of other team members or executives.

Adding comparative analyses to your resume – with a full description of your results against others –will help you make a stronger, standout impression.

Laura Smith-Proulx, Executive Director, National Columnist, Author, LinkedIn expert, and former recruiter.

As a social-media savvy leader in the resume industry, Laura combines a lifelong passion for writing with recruiting expertise, global recognition, awards, and master-level credentials held by less than 30 resume experts worldwide.

Response to the Frustrated Recruiter Lady

While reading an article titled, “You are the Laziest Jobseeker Ever,” I felt sympathy for a recruiter who writes in near stream of consciousness describing lazy, apathetic jobseekers. From the sounds of it, she had certainly had enough of jobseekers who don’t give a damn. She is a frustrated recruiter lady.

I once wrote an article on jobseekers who actually care about their hunt and make great efforts, despite being rejected many times over. They are the people I meet on a regular basis in my workshops and coach them through the process, the ones who go about the search the proper way—networking, sending targeted résumés, using LinkedIn, etc. They are not the ones portrayed in this article from the Frustrated Recruiter Lady.

Frustrated Recruiter Lady describes in her article jobseekers I optimistically like to think don’t exist, ones I conveniently store in the back of my mind. They are the people over whom my colleagues and I pull our hair out. “Does this person want this job?! He won’t even return a phone call on a sure thing. The employer says she wants him,” we say with exasperation. But these jobseekers are far and few between.

Frustrated Recruiter Lady exasperatingly writes that when a jobseeker responds to her with a fragmented e-mail instead of a well thought-out cover letter, it is inexcusable and deserves her wrath. She writes, “THEY did not sign their names or include their phone numbers which means that I had to go back to CareerBuilder to look them up… well guess what YOU MOVE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE LIST THAT WAY!”

Chill out, lady, I want to say when she overuses those all-cap words. Doesn’t she know writing in all caps is like shouting? But I can also  understand why she is misusing capitalization; she is frustrated, as I would be.

“So I am not going to dig back through Careerbuilder to find you again?” she continues. “Yes I most likely saved you in a folder or put you on my work list, but still, your lack of investment in the process makes me think you are flighty.”

This is how she reacts when she gets a response like, “I’ll get back to you.” I’ll get back to you? No, I think, you should answer Frustrated Recruiter Lady’s message IMMEDIATELY. (Yes, I’m shouting.)

I have to admit that my desire to help this type of apathetic jobseeker is minimal at best. The way it works with recruiters is that they are not working for the jobseekers; they’re working for the companies that pay them money to satisfy a very important need—filling a vacant or soon to be vacant position. They are not the jobseeker’s best friend, but by helping their customer, they are ultimately helping the jobseeker. They’re simply the middleman…woman. The jobseeker holds only one card, the card that tells them to put it on the line.

The recruiter is the person who won’t or can’t penetrate the walls of companies who prefer to engage in the Hidden Job Market.

I understand Frustrated Recruiter Lady’s annoyance, and it’s not because of the way she capitalizes the eleven words above. It’s the same way I feel when I’m leading a workshop and an attendee forgets to turn off her cell phone. And when it rings she doesn’t turn it off. She lets it ring until I mockingly say, “I like that ringtone. Where did you get it?” Many in the room laugh at my sarcasm.

Yes, Frustrated Recruiter Lady, it should be the way you want it to be, as long as you’re fair and honest and care one little bit about your next-body-to-fill-a-position person. When you think about it, the job of a recruiter can be difficult. So give her the respect she’s owed and pick up the phone or send a cover letter. That’s the way the game is played.

One of my jobseekers approached me the other day and asked if she should send a quick text to a recruiter’s inquiry or reply with a well-thought-out cover letter and résumé. I smiled and, of course, told her to play her card the right way.

Don’t neglect this component of your LinkedIn profile, Skills section

Have you seen the Skills section on LinkedIn? No. It’s really cool and something you should take advantage of. I’ve listed 25 skills that are associated with my job as a career trainer. And it’s a feature of LinkedIn that I show my workshop attendees as part of their online branding. They are usually taken with the Skills section.

Key words are essential to being found on LinkedIn. They should be included in your branding title, Summary, Specialties section, Experience—essentially everywhere on your profile. This is yet another place on your profile where you can highlight your valuable skills. From Edit Profile, you simply click Add Skill and go crazy.

Here is what you’ll see when you create your list and click on one of the skills. I chose MBTI as an example of one of my skills.

  1. Related skills, including other self-assessments and skill areas—such as SDS, mock interviews, Strong Interest Inventory—allowing me to click on these additional skills to build my list, thus enhancing my search-ability. More key words.
  2. Description of the skill. LinkedIn starts off with a short description of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is linked to a full-blown Wikipedia description.
  3. People with whom you my like to connect—In my case, people who have MBTI on their profile, e.g., title, summary, work experience, groups, etc. MBTI experts who can provide you with information.
  4. Groups you might like to join. I’m a member of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® Assessment and there are three other groups I could join if I were so inclined.
  5. Relative growth relative to other self-assessment tools. Strong Inventory shows 12%, whereas MBTI shows only 5%. Bummer.
  6. Related companies—I am shown a list of companies that produce materials for the MBTI.
  7. MBTI jobs—jobs at those companies.
  8. Related countries—People who have worked in certain companies—London, for instance.

If you haven’t added your skills to the Skills section, take some time to do it now. Formulating your skills list will give you a better sense of what you’ve accomplished by using your skills. It will also increase your likelihood of being found by employers and potential networkers.