A poll I conducted on LinkedIn revealed that 95% of the voters (1,073) have changed or considered changing careers. This article speaks to how you can enhance your chances of making a successful career change.
A client told me she had been furloughed and would like to change her career from business development back to sales, an occupation she had 10 years ago. She really enjoyed the sales aspect of business development and would like to make that her focus.
She wants to make her LinkedIn profile stronger in preparing for her career change. To use my client’s current profile as is will be a tough sell. Therefore, I tell her she’ll have to develop a revised message, a story explaining the direction her career is taking.
My client laments that she worked hard to develop her current message. So, how will she craft a totally new one? I tell her it’s not going to be new; it’s going to be revised. It just needs to be tweaked to focus on her areas of expertise.
Where will she start revising the message on her LinkedIn profile, she wonders out loud?
If you’re thinking the About section, you’re partly correct. You need to think of the whole profile, though; not just the narrative.
The background image will be the first place to start revising her message. I suggest she uses a background image that represents her as customer-centric, because business development and sales both require focus on the customers’ needs. She returns to me with the photo below that I think is adequate but not compelling.
I encourage her to find an image that ideally is related to her new occupation. If she can’t find one that serves this purpose, perhaps she can use one that expresses her interests. I also tell her the dimensions should be as close to 1,584 by 396 pixels as possible.
The next part of my client’s profile that she needs to change is her headshot. Currently she has a photo that is a bit informal; she’s standing outside with greenery in the background which is an attractive photo but, as I tell her, not one fitting for someone in sales.
I suggest she have someone—a professional or friend—take photos of her wearing a nice light-blue blouse. Jacket is optional. She balks at first, saying she likes her young-self photo; but I persist saying it’s the quality of the image, not the age that matters.
Here’s where my client’s going to write about what she wants to do by listing areas of expertise that match someone in sales. Her background image implies that she’s customer centric, so that’s one area of expertise she’ll use for her headline.
The headline will begin with a branding statement though. It will follow with areas of expertise that are common with business development and sales.
I listen, analyze, and deliver products to your valued customers 🔸 Customer Centric | Communication | Negotiation & Persuasion | Relationship Building | Collaboration
Note: the headline is weighed heavily in terms of keywords, so choose ones that will help you be found.
Now we get to the section you probably thought of as the starting point. And it is important; perhaps the most important section. This is where my client will tell her story. She’ll write in first-person point of view to come across as more personable and relatable. She’ll keep her paragraphs to three lines at most.
I have her start with a strong paragraph that talks about what’s important in sales, namely listening to the customers, analyzing their needs, and delivering the product. She likes my suggestion because these were skills she used in her previous job.
The second paragraph will talk about what drives her in sales. Note she hasn’t brought up her experience in business development. This is irrelevant. What’s relevant is what she wants to do, not what she did. I suggest she reinforces in this paragraph the importance of building relationships and focus on the customers.
Next comes completing the roadmap she established in her Headline, namely taking the reader through the areas of expertise; explaining how she excels in each of them using no more than three lines for each one. She’ll write the headings in all caps to stand out. They are:
- CUSTOMER CENTRIC
- NEGOTIATION & PERSUASION
- RELATIONSHIP BUILDING
We agree that using all five areas of expertise is overkill, so she will combine relationship building with collaboration, as the two are closely related.
My client needs a closing paragraph that will explain how she’s making the easy transition from business development, reinforcing her success in selling to distributors through all her areas of expertise. (The message here is, “This is what I will deliver to my next employer.)
When optimizing your profile, titles are said to be weighted heavily. This is where my client will mention her official title followed by the strong areas of expertise mentioned in her Headline and About section.
She will also prioritize her statements. In other words, she will bring the highlights that are most related to sales to the top of each job. She will also write a Job Summary that focuses on the sales aspect of her previous position, as well as how important it was to understand the company and products.
Following the Job Summary are the Highlights that focus only on the accomplishments she’s achieved directly or indirectly in sales. Luckily my client has five accomplishments related to selling products to customers, so she can brand herself as a strong salesperson.
She has a couple of accomplishments that are business-development related. They are fine to list as long as they’re at the bottom of her position description. She resists doing this because one of her accomplishments shows her increasing productivity by 80% from 2018 to 2019.
Skills and Endorsements
My client’s skills have to be brought to the forefront by listing the most sales-related ones in the top three. Although every skill is scrutinized by recruiters, most LinkedIn users will focus on the top three. I have my client add Customer Centric Solutions, as she hadn’t when she first started on LinkedIn.
I also tell her she’ll need to build up her sales-related skills by endorsing other LinkedIn members’ skills like crazy. She asks me if she can ask others for endorsements as well. I’m not too crazy about asking others for endorsements, but tell her it’s up to her just as long as she offers to endorse them.
My client’s LinkedIn profile is taking shape nicely. I’m waiting to see what she comes up for as a background image. I remind her that most sections of the profile are a place to deliver your message.
Photo by Ono Kosuki on Pexels.com