In Three Secrets to Writing Better, Erik Deckers, shares three bits of advice on how to become a better writer. They are: write everyday, read the newspaper, and my favorite steal from other writers’ styles. (I think what he really means is to learn from the best.)
If I could steal from a contemporary writer, it would be Joel Stein from Time magazine. Joel writes with impunity (sometimes bashes Time), employs sarcasm and self-deprecation, and often mentions his family. He also wrote a book (Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity) on how he attempted to become more manly and, as you might guess, failed at his attempt.
While I wish to steal from Joel, Erik suggests writers like Earnest Hemmingway, Hunter S. Thompson, and Mike Royko, Chicago Daily News columnist from the 1980s. If I were to get all literary, I’d go with JD Salinger and Harper Lee.
What does stealing from great writers have to do with writing a LinkedIn profile? For those of you who are having a hard time writing your LinkedIn profile, allow me to suggest following Erik’s advice. Of course I don’t mean to literally steal from others’ profiles. I mean take a little journey on LinkedIn, targeting people who do what you do, and find profiles you admire.
Then emulate the styles of various profiles without plagiarizing–one of my connections was a victim of this. This will take a little work, but it’s well worth it.
Summary section. When I started my LinkedIn profile, I used a connection’s Summary as an example. She is a professional résumé and LinkedIn profile writer and one of my valued connections. I liked the way she began her Summary with a general statement, followed by five areas of expertise, and concluding with her prediction of online résumés.
I have since changed my Summary to show more accomplishments in bullet format but still use paragraphs here and there. But I am grateful to my connection who started me on my way to writing a profile that speaks to my personality and accomplishments.
Employment section. This part of the profile can be a challenge for some. Again, look at what others in your occupation and industry have written in this section. Do they have a job summary followed by duties and accomplishments? Do they include only accomplishments? You might be in the dark about what content to include in your Employment section.
If you have no idea which duties to include for each job, I to begin by totally plagiarizing by doing the following: type http://www.onetcenter.org/, enter your occupation, copy and paste it to your profile, and edit from there using your own words.
Education section. And when it comes to Education? Do others list numerous Activities and Societies or Descriptions of what they did at their school/s? You might find this appealing, or if you want to keep it simple by stating the name of your school/s, that’s fine as well. (For activities, don’t write your were the beer bong champion of your fraternity.)
Branding Headline. I couldn’t neglect talking about stealing a Branding Headline. Again, pay attention to Headlines as you scroll down your Home Page, including content and nifty symbols (I’m fond of the vertical bar |, while others might prefer ►, ★, ✔, or other symbols ). Emulate the nature of the content you see, without blatantly stealing.
I know I’ll never reach the type of fame Joel Stein has gained–if not in my mind only–but I’ll continue to read his columns, laugh at his wit, and attempt a little farcical writing of my own. I think Erik is onto something here. Having read his book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself , coauthored by Kyle Lacy, I know he’s a funny and talented writer.
- 9 traits of a professional résumé…and thoughts on Italian food (thingscareerrelated.com)
Hey Bob, thank you so much for the shout-out! I really appreciate it, and I’m glad that you were able to get some good advice out of my post.
What’s interesting is that when we copy other writers’ styles and turn them into our own voice, that’s the exact same thing they did years ago. They borrowed from a few other writers to synthesize into their own voice, which we found interesting enough to borrow ourselves.
I wish I could go back and see who were the influencing voices to my writers, Hemingway, Royko, and Thompson, to learn more about my “writing grandfathers and grandmothers.”
My pleasure, Erik. You’re a great writer, clear and humorous and, of course, knowledgeable. I wish I had the luxury of using my voice more freely, but this isn’t the forum for it. In the job search, jobseekers and advisors need to be professional. We cannot slip.