Previously I wrote about the LinkedIn Summary section and how it should contribute to your branding. Today we’ll look at the experience section of the LinkedIn profile.
When asked which section of your résumé is most important, most people will say the work history. This section should clearly describe your duties in a brief job summary (paragraph format), followed by bullets that highlight your quantified accomplishments—how much you were able to increase profits, reduce costs, save time, enhance procedures, etc.
Your work history is the meat of your résumé. Some attest that the same holds true for your LinkedIn profile. I recently saw a poll that asked what people thought was the most important part of the LinkedIn profile, the title, summary, work history, or applications feature. A resounding number of people considered the work history section to be one of the most important sections. (The title was also favored highly.)
Let’s step back and consider the major differences between the résumé and the LinkedIn profile. The résumé must be tailored for a particular position. The LinkedIn profile is not. (It is, however, inaccurate to call your LinkedIn profile a stagnant document because you will update it regularly with the update feature; however, the work history will generally remain the same.)
You have two options when creating your LinkedIn work history.
The first option is to keep it brief and list three or four accomplishments. Choose what you consider to be your top accomplishments at each position, and describe them with quantifiable results. Remember, numbers, dollars, and percentages speak loud and clear. This approach is similar to an accomplishment-based résumé.
Benefit: Your résumé will describe the duties you performed and, most importantly, the accomplishments you had at each company. You will not be repeating the same information that’s on your résumé. Think of the facts, just the facts. It will make the employers ask for more if they haven’t seen your résumé.
The second option is to pour your soul into your LinkedIn work history and present it as a complete profile of your work history. This means you will describe as many duties and accomplishments as possible.
Benefit: If employers are searching through LinkedIn for talent and not calling for résumés yet, they will get a good sense of what you’re capable of doing. This being the case, you will rely on employers to sift through the content and glean what is most important to them.
The question you must ask yourself, “Will I better brand myself by only mentioning my most outstanding accomplishments in my LinkedIn work history, or should I dump the whole unadulterated story into it?” Further, at this point in your short career, can you substantiate a long work history that reveals all, or would a more poignant story draw an employer’s attention?
From an expert: Chris Perry, founder of CareerRocketeer.com and MBAHighway.com, summarizes the work history in his book, Linked up: The Ultimate LinkedIn Job Search Guide: “Include as much of your current and past work history as appropriate for your desired career path. Highlight your key accomplishments from each position and quantify as many as possible to enhance your value proposition. Also, optimize your descriptions with keywords and phrases.”
Note Chris’ mention of keywords and phrases. No matter which way you decide to present your work history, make certain there occupational-related words. The expert says you can use Indeed.com or other job boards to identify the keywords.
My opinion is to keep the work history brief and tell your story in the summary section. Does this mean the summary holds more weight, or is more important than the work history? Certainly not. It simply means that you are presenting a fine three-course meal, rather than an endless buffet.
I’m thinking of résumés I see which are comprised only of accomplishments—I call them accomplishment-based résumés. They effectively bait the employer to invite the jobseeker in for an interview, where questions about their duties can be asked. It’s up to you as to which way to go with your work history. No matter what you decide, make sure you have strong accomplishments to brand yourself.
I have been registered (or linked?) into LinkedIn for a while but have been at a loss as to what to do with it. Now that I have found you, I have a guide to work with using this and the older posts. I will let you know how it goes!
You’re entirely welcome. Invite me to your network and we’ll be able to communicate more freely. Just go to people search and type: Bob McIntosh
I enjoyed your article, especially since I’ve only been linked in for a few weeks. I think I probably put way too much information on my profile. I find it so intriguing, though, and look forward to learning more! Thanks for your advice.
I’m glad you enjoyed the article. My opinion is that employers want to see the best parts of your work history and can get all the duties from your resume or at the interview. Others feel otherwise, which may work as well. You need to decide what’s best for you.
I am just beginning to update my linked in account since I have completed two years experience toward a new career and will complete my MA in Gerontology in July, 2012. Thanks for these posts, I am anticipating good things.
Best of luck, Angela. LinkedIn has proven invaluable to many people in the job search. You’re welcome.