Author Archives: Things Career Related

About Things Career Related

Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 17 job search workshops at an urban career center, as well as critiques LinkedIn profiles and conducts mock interviews. Job seekers and staff look to him for advice on the job search. In addition, Bob has gained a reputation as a LinkedIn authority in the community. He started the first LinkedIn program at the Career Center of Lowell and created workshops to support the program. People from across the state attend his LinkedIn workshops. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. For enjoyment, he blogs at Things Career Related and Recruiter.com. Connect with Bob on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.

8 areas on your LinkedIn profile where you can make your voice heard

One of the things I like about the LinkedIn profile is the ability to express your written voice. In addition, you can express your voice with images. This is particularly important for job seekers, as it gives hiring authorities an idea of their personality. The résumé, on the other hand doesn’t do this as well as the profile.

VoiceAs a job seeker, the goal of your résumé is to make you stand out among hundreds of others submitted for a job with value statements throughout. Your LinkedIn profile also needs to show the value you will bring to employers, only in a more personal way. This is why I tell my clients that their profile is a “personal résumé.”

Background image

The background image is the first area that gives your LinkedIn profile voice. The back ground picture of one my clients shows her standing in front of a snowy mountain side. She told me it accurately reflects her love for hiking. Her image also is relevant; at the moment she was working for Appalachian Mountain Club.

On the flip side, if you don’t sport a background image, it expresses a lack of voice. To some people who visit your profile, it may indicate that you don’t care about your LinkedIn profile. This seems unfair, right? After all, LinkedIn no longer offers stock photos from its site.

If you’re profile doesn’t have a background image and you’re looking for a quick fix, go to https://linkedinbackground.com/ to download a background image.

Photo

Your voice definitely comes through loud and clear with your head shot. The most important rules for your photo are it 1) includes only you, 2) is of high quality, 3) matches your occupation, and finally 4) expresses your personality.

When I talk to my workshop attendees about their profile photo, I stress they should project a professional image. This doesn’t mean they have to wear a suit and tie or a suit and blouse. However, it should reflect their personality in a positive light.

Headline

Your headline is what people see on their timeline, along with your photo. So it has to entice LinkedIn members to open it. A headline like, “Project Manager at IBM” Doesn’t do a great job of selling your value, and it certainly doesn’t express your voice.

This is where you can opt for a key-word based Headline, such as:

Project Manager ~ Business Development | Operations | Team Building | Lean Six Sigma

Or you might want to use a branding headline that gives your Headline more voice:

“Ask me how I can meet aggressive deadlines in delivering quality products on time and under budget”

The branding statement is meant to pique interest and is more conversational; however, if you’re goal is to optimize your profile, the key-word based Headline is the way to go.

About

If there’s any section where you’ll share your voice, this is it. This is a section that differs greatly from your résumé in voice. The idea with your résumé is to make it brief, while still demonstrating value. Brief is not the word to describe your LinkedIn profile Summary.

Note: LinkedIn now allows you 2,600 characters up from 2,000. Should you use all 2,600? It’s entirely up to you. I use 2,000 characters, not expecting people to read every word of my About section.

LinkedIn pundits will suggest different ways to write your About section. What’s most important is that your unique voice comes through. I suggest to my clients a variation of structures, such as:

  1. What you do—perhaps what problems you address;
  2. why and for whom you do what you do—you do work for company growth or to help people;
  3. how well you do it—include accomplishments to back it up; and
  4. where you can be reached.

Of course there are other ways to structure your profile’s About, but what’s important is using words and phrases that express your voice, giving readers a sense of your personality. This is as simple as using first, or third, person point of view. An About that lacks a point of view resembles that of a résumé; bland.

Activities

This section of your profile is often overlooked. Not by me. I always check to see if people have published posts on LinkedIn. Speaking of a way to make your voice heard, publishing on LinkedIn is a great way to do this.

You don’t have to be a author in order to create an article and publish it on LinkedIn. However, you should share information that is relevant and of value to your audience.

I also don’t overlook a LinkedIn member’s activity on LinkedIn. You can learn a great deal about a person’s voice by reading their shared updates. Your voice should be natural but, at the same time, professional. There will always be people who share updates better suited for Facebook. Don’t be that person.

Experience Section

Believe it or not, your Experience section can have a voice. Many people will simply copy what they have on their résumé and paste it to their profile. This is a good start. But it’s simply a start. From there you’ll want to personalize it with a point of view.

The most obvious area of a job description is the job summary. This is where you describe your overall responsibilities for that position. Here’s how I personalized my job summary to give it a voice:

I’m more than a workshop facilitator & designer; I’m a career and LinkedIn strategist who constantly thinks of ways to better market my customers in their job search. Through disseminating trending job-search strategies, I increase our customers’ chances of finding jobs.

Here is part of a valued connection of mine, Adrienne Tom’s, Experience section, which not only shows accomplishments, but voice as well:

▶️ If you want to move FORWARD in your career, generate increased recognition, and escalate your earning power with value-driven career tools = let’s talk.

▶️ My RESUMES differentiate executive candidates from the competition. For 14+ years, I’ve supported the careers of global C-Suite executives, VP’s, Directors, Managers, and top professionals through captivating executive resume writing.

Education

You’re sadly mistaken if you think you can’t show your voice in the Education section. Your experience in university or high school wasn’t all about studying, was it? For your résumé it’s the basic information, such as educational institution and location, degree, area of study, maybe GPA or designation.

On the other hand, LinkedIn encourages you to describe what was going on during the time you were in school. One great example is someone who was earning their Bachelor’s while working full-time. Perhaps you were a scholar athlete. This is another opportunity to express your voice by describing the experience.

Volunteer Experience

We often don’t consider including volunteer experience on our résumé, particularly if there is a space issue. There is no space issue with your LinkedIn profile, so don’t miss the opportunity to express your voice in this area.

You volunteer at a homeless shelter. Describe your experience, in first-person point of view, and how it has had an effect on your life. Or you utilize your coding skills to develop a website for a nonprofit organization. Use your voice to describe the experience. In my case I describe how I help my alma mater with its Career Expo Night.


You have the opportunity to express your voice with your LinkedIn profile. Don’t squander this opportunity. Yes, you must show the value you’ll present to the employer, but hiring authorities want to know the whole person. What better way to do this than by using your voice?

Everyone can use advice on their LinkedIn campaign in these 3 areas

I recently completed teaching an online LinkedIn seminar. As the role of the instructor, it’s assumed that I know more than the students. This is probably true but there’s always something you can learn from your charges. If not, what’s the sense of being an instructor?

I had this great idea to ask my students to be the teacher and teach me how to write a better profile, create a more effective network, and how to engage with my network. Some of them wrote that as the instructor, how can my LinkedIn campaign be improved.

The answer to this question is revealed in a poll I started on LinkedIn yesterday, 79% of the 1,859 voters say to “Bring it on” when it comes to feedback. So, feedback for even some of the best LinkedIn users is considered a good thing to receive.

I was looking for honest critique from my students. This is what one of the students wrote about my profile:

This is a matter of preference, but for the headline, the way that it is written sounds like a commercial to me.

Ouch was my first reaction. But then I thought about it, she might have a point. I’ll have to revisit.

About creating and maintaining my network, the same person wrote:

Are there specific goals you have, such as connecting with more potential clients or identifying organizations that you want to provide training for? The exercises we did in this class are great for any stage, including identifying organizations.

She makes an excellent point. I should connect with people at companies where I’d like to provide LinkedIn training.

Another student wrote about my engagement:

One question I have that keeps niggling in the back of my mind is you actually have a tab titled Introverts on your thingscareerrelated.com blog. This seems like an area of interest, yet I don’t feel like I see a regular smattering of posts related to this topic

I thought this was incredibly insightful. She had taken the time to read through my blog and notice that one of the tabs is Introverts. Perhaps she is one herself and wanted to read my musings on preferring Introversion, and perhaps she was disappointed to find a limited number of articles.

These were just some of the observations a talented group of people offered up. There were many more. (In retrospect, I should have made this two- to three-page essay all about how they would teach their students/clients how to create a successful LinkedIn campaign.)

But I’m glad I gave them the opportunity to critique my LinkedIn campaign, and I think you should have others do the same for you. It could be incredibly helpful, providing you have thick skin (joking…no, not joking) and are willing to accept some of their advice.

Choose what you want critiqued

This isn’t a seminar. Ask the person who will critique your your LinkedIn campaign (I’ll call them “your mate”) to critique part of your LinkedIn campaign, not all of it. Ask them to be honest, keeping in mind that you can implement their suggestions or ignore them.

Profile

It’s all about value through branding and optimization. Ask your mate to read it in its entirety to get a sense of the message you’re trying to deliver. Is it making a strong overall branding statement? Does it come across as a profile that shows the value you deliver to employers or business partners?

Ask them to examine every section of your profile, especially:

  • Background image: is it industry related and of high quality?
  • Photo: this is what people will see in their stream and other pages on your LinkedIn account, so make it recent and of high quality.
  • Headline: some say this is the most important part of your profile. Make sure it contains the keywords for which employers are searching. You might also include a branding statement.
  • Activity section: more on this later; but suffice to say this is a tell-tale sign of your engagement on LinkedIn. One of my student delved into my Activity secion.
  • About: story, story, story. What’s your passion? Who do you do what you do for? Do you show immediate value with accomplishments? Why, who, what.
  • Experience: the person critiquing your profile should look for an accomplishment-rich section. Write this in first person point of view like your About section.
  • Education: There’s a story to tell her, believe it or not. What were your personal experiences while at University? Were you captain of a D-1 team? Did you work full-time while earning your degree.

These are some of the details your mate should look for. Provide some guidance as to what to look for. A detailed critique—like the one one of my student provided—will include comments on the other sections.

Network

This is a tough one for your mate to critique. The most obvious indicator is how many people show under your headline. LinkedIn only reveals 500+ which means the user can have 501, 1,000, 5,000 or 30,000 connections (the limit). If you have 250 connections, this might one of your mate’s concern.

Your mate will have to ask how many connections you have. They can find this under your My Connections tab, providing you give them access to your profile (requires your password). But it’s against LinkedIn’s rules to give access to your LinkedIn account.

The most important aspect of network is the modus operandi of your connections. In other words, which occupations and industries are they in? I suggest that a strong network would consist of 80% of like-minded occupations/industries.

For example, the like-minded people in my network would be career developers, recruiters, HR, and those in the industry Professional Training and Coaching. I also like to connect with people in academia and companies of interest. Remember what one of my students wrote:

Are there specific goals you have, such as connecting with more potential clients or identifying organizations that you want to provide training for? The exercises we did in this class are great for any stage, including identifying organizations.

The person critiquing your profile should recognize some tell-tale signs that show whom you’re connected with. They are your Skills and Endorsements section, Recommendations, and way down at the bottom in your Interests section the groups you’re in and even the companies you follow.

Lastly, ask your mate how you’re sending invites to potential connections. Are you personalizing the invites or are you simply hitting send without a note? The former is the correct answer. Many people who I’ve queried didn’t realize you could send a personalized invite. The person critiquing your network will be wise to ask this question.

Engagement

Another poll I conducted revealed that the majority of people feel that engagement is the most important aspect of your LinkedIn campaign. For some it’s also the most difficult to master, especially for job seekers who haven’t been using LinkedIn since losing their job. If you’ve been using LinkedIn regularly, this is a different matter.

There’s one sure way for your mate to determine how engaged you are on LinkedIn, it’s by visiting your Activity section and clicking on All Activity and Posts. Articles and Documents are a nonentity at this point. Very few people are writing articles; if anything they’re pumping out long posts.

You should demonstrate a consistent amount of engagement. Some say four times a week is sufficient, others claim every day is appropriate. How often you engage depends on the type of engagement:

  • Sharing long posts: this is the rave these days. Your post should show thoughtfulness and be relevant to your audience. It’s also wise to tag LinkedIn members if you want them to see your posts.
  • Commenting on other’s long posts: just as important is commenting on what other’s share. LinkedIn’s algorithm looks at both sides of the coin, sharing long posts and commenting on them. Your mate should take not of this. If you are only sharing, this comes across as narcissistic.
  • Sharing articles and commenting on them: I tell my clients that this is the best way to start engaging. Your mate should check to see if you’re comments are sincere, that you’ve actually read the articles.
  • Writing articles using LinkedIn’s Publisher feature: as mentioned before, this is not being done as much as it was in the past. There are many reasons for this, one of which is LinkedIn doesn’t promote one’s articles; it’s up to you to do that.
  • Asking a simple question: this is something I like to do on occasion. Your mate should see if you’re doing this as well and that your questions have a purpose.

Follow these people to learn how to engage. This is what your mate should be telling you. You can learn a lot from the information people in your network (remember, like-minded) share. Here is a partial list of the people I follow: Sarah Johnston; Hannah Morgan; Austin Belcak; Kevin Turner; Mark Anthony Dyson; Laura Smith-Proulx; Susan Joyce, and Adrienne Tom. There are many more.

Numbers do matter. Who you’re following and/or connected with does help you gain more visibility. For example, if you mention any of the aforementioned people in a long post, you’re more likely to get more people seeing your post. The same applies to commenting on their posts. Unfortunately, it is a numbers game.


Return the favor

If you’re looking for help with your LinkedIn campaign, be willing to reciprocate by critiquing the other person’s campaign. If the person feels they don’t want the favor returned, do it for someone else. Pay it forward. (For the seminar, I critiqued three of the students’ profiles for which they were very grateful.)

Here’s a guideline to follow in terms of your full-blown critique:

6 soft skills of most importance to hiring managers and how you can demonstrate in an interview that you have them

There are plenty of articles floating out there declaring questions for which job seekers should be prepared. “What is your greatest weakness?” is a popular one. “What would your former boss say about you?” is also common. “Why were you let go from your last job?” scares the bejesus out of job seekers.

businessman man person bar

But the questions above are ones that job candidates can predict will be asked. That’s why I tell my clients that they should have an answer in mind before even getting to the interview. The same goes for every other traditional question.

LinkedIn published in LinkedIn Talent Solutions a guide that it calls Guide to Screening Candidates: 30 Essential Interview Questions. This guide tells readers the questions hiring managers (HMs) should be asking job candidates.

To create this guide, LinkedIn polled 1,297 HMs to determine which “soft skills” the HMs feel are important for a candidate to demonstrate. LinkedIn then came up with five questions for each skill, totaling 30, that the HMs should ask. The majority of the questions are behavioral-based ones.

So, what are the skills of most interest to the HMs who were polled? Here they are in order of importance:

  1. Adaptability
  2. Cultural Fit
  3. Collaboration
  4. Leadership
  5. Growth Mindset
  6. Prioritization.

What’s so special about behavioral-based questions?

If you think behavioral-based questions are not important, think again. Behavioral-based questions are being asked in interviews because employers see value in them. Behavioral-based questions are an accurate predictor of job candidates’ behavior in the future.

“The good news is that behavioral interview questions are a proven way to reveal a person’s ability to collaborate, adapt, and more. By looking at their past behavior, you can more easily determine what someone will be like to work with,” says LinkedIn

Most job seekers have difficulty answering behavioral-based questions. Why? These questions demand a great deal of preparation and the ability to answer them with a compelling story. But with preparation comes success. Go into an interview without preparing your stories can lead to disaster.

Some things to consider when answering behavioral-based questions. First, know that they’re used to discover strengths and weaknesses in a candidate. Second, answering them requires telling a brief story. Third, they reveal requirements for the job.


How to answer behavioral-based questions

The best way to answer behavioral-based questions is by telling a story using the S.T.A.R formula, where:

S stands for the situation you faced at work;

T is your task in that situation;

A the actions you took to solve the situation; and

R the positive result/s.

You’ll want to keep the situation and tasks brief, perhaps 20% of your story. The actions should be the main part of your story, let’s say 60%. And the result/s is also brief, the other 20%. Does it always work out this way? No. Can you start with the result first? Sure.


The soft skills employers feels are important

Adaptability

Says LinkedIn: 69% of hiring managers say adaptability is the most important skill.

The most popular question: “Tell me about a time when you were asked to do something you had never done before. How did you react? What did you learn?”

This question makes me think of a colleague in the next cube saying loudly, “I wasn’t hired to do this work.” A person with this mindset won’t answer this question well–they’ll crash and burn. Companies don’t operate on still mode; there’s constant flow. A successful answer would sound something like:

The webmaster of our company left abruptly. At the time I was the public relations manager. The CFO asked me to take over maintaining the website.

My first step in the process was to learn how to use Dreamweaver quickly, plus brush up on some HTML I’d learned in college.

I also had to gather information that the company wanted posted on the site. This required interfacing with Engineering, Marketing, Finance, Sales, and the VP. Often times I would have to write original content and get it approved by each department.

One department that was especially difficult from which to gather information was Engineering. I had to explain to them that their information was vital to the success of the website. In addition, their names would be mentioned. That did the trick.

There were moments of frustration but I grew to like this task, and the VP commented that I was doing a great job. I would say I saved the company close to $50,000 over a six-month period.

Cultural fit

Says LinkedIn: 89% of hiring managers say adaptability is the most important skill.

The most popular question: “What are the three things that are most important to you in a job?”

Although not a behavioral-based question, this requires knowledge of the company’s work environment, including the position and culture, before going to the interview. If the three aspects of the position and culture align well with your values, this will not be a difficult question to answer. With this knowledge your answer would be:

The most important aspects of a job would be in this order: a variety of tasks, leading in a team environment, and achieving the results to get the job done. I am excited to work oversee a team in the inventory room, purchase the exact amount of products for distribution.

There’s nothing like leading a team that practices lean methods to get the job done. I’ll be clear in my expectations like I have been in the past, leaving no room for doubt. I’ve been told by my boss that I’m a natural leader.

The third aspect of this job I’m looking forward to is the autonomy that it will offer. My team and I will be held accountable for the meeting company goals which is something I’ve always achieved in the past.

Collaboration

Says LinkedIn: 97% of employees and executives believe a lack of team alignment directly impacts the outcome of a task or project.

The most popular question: “Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. How did you handle interactions with that person?”

Answering this question will take diplomacy and tact. You don’t want to come across as difficult to get along with while at the same time you don’t want to cast aspersions on the colleague with whom you had a conflict. You might answer this question like this:

I’m generally a very organized person. I was working with another software engineer who was very talented but didn’t always get the assignments he was given completed on time. This was frustrating, as it effected the team and landed us in trouble with some of our clients.

After some heated discussions, held privately, I offered to help him with his organizational skills and he accepted my help, knowing his performance was hurting not only him, but the team only. Reluctantly he accepted my help, but in the end he became more organized.

Leadership

Says LinkedIn: High-quality leadership 13X more likely to outperform the competition.

The most popular question: “Tell me about the last time something significant didn’t go according to plan at work. What was your role? What was the outcome?”

This is a tough question because it calls for an instance when you didn’t come through with a positive result. You have to be prepared to answer questions that ask for negative results. Keep your answer brief and don’t bash any of your colleagues. Interviewers want to hear self-awareness.

Our company was launching a social media campaign. As the marketing manager, my role was to over see this project. I was given two months to complete the project. One piece was to develop a LinkedIn company page and LinkedIn group. I didn’t stay on top of this. As a result, we were two weeks late in completing the project. The outcome was a brief reprimand from my boss.

Growth potential

Says LinkedIn: When an employee leaves, it costs your company 1.5X the employee’s salary to replace them.

The most popular question: “Recall a time when your manager was unavailable when a problem arose. How did you handle the situation? With whom did you consult?”

To answer this question you need to demonstrate your problem-solving and leadership abilities. State the problem briefly and then describe the actions you took. Finally explain the positive result.

One of our clients was upset because our CRM software wasn’t as user friendly as they had expected. As the systems engineer who was responsible for the integration of our software, I felt I was also responsible for servicing our customer.

Since my boss was on vacation, I had to make a decision as to how to proceed with the issue. I decide that bothering him wasn’t the best route to go. Normally he would prefer that I have his approval to go onsite to our clients, especially if I was working on another project.

I made an appointment to see our client the day after I heard about their disapproval. When I arrived, the CEO met me, and I could tell she wasn’t happy. She took me to the sales department, where I spent an hour going over all the features of our software.

In the end, they were ecstatic with our product. They didn’t realize the capability of it. Furthermore, the CEO sent a glowing email to my boss describing her pleasure of having me making a special visit to her company.

Prioritization

Says LinkedIn: Being unable to prioritize means that key assignments fall through the cracks.

The most popular question: “Tell me about a time when you had to juggle several projects at the same time. How did you organize your time? What was the result?”

This question gives you the structure needed to answer it successfully. It provides the situation and task, the skill the interviewer wants to hear about (organization), and the result. With this guidance, your answer might go like this:

Two years ago I had three projects that landed on my plate. I was asked to present at our company’s largest trade show, we had a new build that had to be released around the same time, and I had to prepare performance reviews of my staff. I definitely had to organize my time for all three to go as planned.

I discussed this with the VP and told him that doing all three were near impossible. He agreed. If I had help with one of the projects, I could complete the other two. I decided that the release of our new build was most important, considering three of our clients were dying to purchase it.

The presentation was the second priority. I had to prepare speaking notes and have my marketing specialist create a PowerPoint presentation. She was fully capable and took the ball and ran with it.

For the performance reviews, my VP and I decided that we would have a working lunch or two, if needed, and I would provide him with all the reports on my staff. The reports were mostly positive, save for one of my staff who needed to pick up his game.

By the time of the deadline, we shipped the build two weeks ahead of projection, I was confident the speaking engagement would go very well, and my VP had all the information he needed to conduct the performance reviews.


LinkedIn also provides questions for you to ask HMs

Your job is not only to answer the questions HMs throw at you; it’s also to have questions to ask them. If anyone tells you it’s alright to say you don’t have questions to ask, they’re out of their mind. I tell my clients to have 10-15 questions to ask at the end. In case you’re at a lost, here are seven to start you off.

  • Why did you join this company, and what keeps you here?
  • What does success look like in this position?
  • What was the biggest challenge affecting the last person in this job?
  • Why do people say __________ about your company?
  • How does the company measure success?
  • What would you expect from me when I start, after three months, and after a year?
  • Can you describe what my career path could look like?

7 Steps to take when using LinkedIn to network for a job

You’ve heard it before: LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional, online networking application with approximately 700 million worldwide members. And according to many sources, at least 87 percent of recruiters are sourcing for talent on LinkedIn.

Woman using computer

Here’s another fact that I can personally attest to: most recruiters with whom I’ve spoken tell me that LinkedIn is their site of choice when it comes to looking for talent. Not Indeed.com, Monstor.com, SimplyHired.com, or any of the other job boards.

Shouldn’t these facts be enough to use LinkedIn for you job search? Now, here’s the question: how can you most effectively use LinkedIn to network for a job?

1. LinkedIn is more than your online résumé

Networking on LinkedIn begins with your profile and the understanding that it’s not your résumé. Here’s where I contradict myself: I suggest to my client that their first move is to copy and paste their résumé to their new LinkedIn profile. But wait.

From there, however, you need to add to it to make it more of a networking document that expresses your value, while also showing your personality. For example, your About section must tell a story describing your passion for what you do, how you do what you do, and throw in some accomplishments to immediately sell yourself.

Your Experience section must include accomplishment statements with quantified results that include numbers, dollars, and percentages. I prefer that each position comprise only of accomplishments and not mundane duties you performed for each position.

Also important is that your LinkedIn profile is optimized for keyword searches by recruiters and hiring managers. They’re looking for a specific title, vital areas of expertise, and location. For example: “sales operations” AND crm “lead generation” AND pharmaceutical AND “greater boston”. 

To learn more about how the résumé and LinkedIn profile differ, read The ultimate comparison of the résumé and LinkedIn profile: 12 areas

2. Use LinkedIn to find people at your desired companies

Perhaps one of LinkedIn’s greatest strengths is the ability to locate the key players at the companies for which you’d like to work. My suggestion is that first you create a list of your target companies and from there connect with people in those companies, ideally a level above you.

All Filters will be your best friend when it comes to locating people at your desired companies. You can use it to narrow down to the exact titles of the people for whom you’re looking. Important criteria would be Current Company, Industry, and Title. Choose 2nd degree as they’re more likely to connect with you.

When you’re using All Filters to locate people in your desired companies, make note of your mutual connections and the schools they attended. This can come into play when you write your personal invite.

Read 7 steps to take to find the right person using LinkedIn’s All Filters.

3. Solidifying relationships

Building relationships on LinkedIn can be a longer, more methodical process or a shorter one, where you and your connections hit it off immediately. To find a job using LinkedIn, building and solidifying relationships is an important aspect of the journey.

There are ways to go about getting noticed by the people with whom you’d like to connect:

  1. First follow said people.
  2. When you visit their profile, show your profile (don’t choose Anonymous LinkedIn Member).
  3. Thoughtfully comment on their posts.
  4. Wait to see if they reach out to you first—I’ve reached out to numerous people because of the comments they’ve left on my posts.
  5. Finally, ask to connect with them using a personalized message, not the default LinkedIn one.

Note: Your connections who work in your desired companies will be more likely to except your invite if they know one of your connections very well. Make sure to include your mutual connection in your invite letter.

Just recently one of my clients asked if I would introduce her to a person who works at one of her target companies. I was glad to do it. So now they have to develop a relationship that will be of benefit to her and him.

Read 3 proper ways for job seekers to send invites on LinkedIn.

4. Make use of your new connections

Once you’ve built your foundation at your target companies, you can ask for introductions to the individuals who would be making the hiring decisions. You don’t want to do this immediately, because hiring managers will be less likely to connect with you without an introduction.

When jobs become available at your target companies, you’re in a better place than if you were applying cold. You can reach out to the people you’ve connected with to have your résumé  delivered to the proper decision makers (in addition to applying on line).

Ideally you will build strong relationships with the connections at your target companies, so when companies are trying to fill positions internally, your connections will give you a heads-up. You’ll have an inside track, essentially penetrating the Hidden Job Market.

According to a 2017 Jobvite article: “Referred applicants are 5 times more likely than average to be hired, and 15 times more likely to be hired than applicants from a job board.” We can assume these stats are still true, if not higher.

5. Use the Jobs feature to network

Using LinkedIn’s Jobs feature to apply for jobs exclusively is not your best way to land a job because, after all, it’s a job board. (A very low percentage of job seekers are successful using job boards.) But I wouldn’t discount LinkedIn Jobs. Use it in conjunction with your networking efforts.

In many cases the person who posted the position is revealed, providing you with the option of contacting said person. You can also “meet the team,” whom you might want to reach out to. Perhaps my favorite feature of Jobs is the ability to see which of your alumni work at the companies of interest.

Finally, use Jobs to research other jobs of interest. On the right-hand side of the job description there are similar jobs at various companies. You might want to add some of these companies to your target company list.

6. Alumni feature

Alumni might be the most underutilized feature on LinkedIn. In fact, many of my clients are unaware of this great feature and are amazed when I demonstrate how to use it. To find Alumni, simply type your alma mater in the Search area and select it from the drop-down.

I show my clients how they can find alumni who studied certain majors, where they live, and where they work. I also explain that their alumni are more likely to connect with them than other people they don’t know.

If you see that some of your alumni work at a desired company, take the bold move of connecting with them. Your personal invite will start with , “Hi William, I see we attended Amherst College together….” This alone will give you something in common.

Read more about the Alumni feature.

7. Making the “Ask”

A LinkedIn connection is not bona fide unless you reach out in a personal manner, such as a phone call or, at the moment, having a Zoom session. A phone call should be the very least you do in your effort to make a personal connection.

You’ve spoken with your connections and have gained their trust. Now you’re ready to ask them to go to bat for you. You will message them to ask for an introduction to important people with whom you want to connect. The introduction invite is described in 3 proper ways for job seekers to send invites on LinkedIn.

With an ally on your side, your target connection is more likely to connect with you. But from there you’ll need to initiate a conversation that is not too forward. The process might be slow, but an opportunity can be wasted if you make the ask too soon.

You’ll know when the time is right based on the tone of the conversation. The ask can be an informational meeting where you’ll gather information and advice from your new connection. The ask will never be asking your connection if their company is hiring; it is assumed you’re interested in their company.

If you want to learn more about LinkedIn, visit this compilation of LinkedIn posts.

Photo: Flickr, JobMax

5 major components of the LinkedIn profile on the mobile app

And how they differ from the computer platform.

I don’t think LinkedIn’s computer (laptop/desktop) platform will disappear anytime soon, but I’m convinced that within five or so years the majority of us will be using our smart phone app more. At present, the app is used by more than 50% of LinkedIn members.

Further, a poll conducted on LinkedIn reveals that 65% of the voters (1,697) use the LinkedIn mobile app more than the computer platform. This is an overwhelming amount of people who choose the app over the computer.

With this in mind, I wonder how different LinkedIn appears on the two devices. Is the smart phone app all that different from the computer platform? There are some obvious differences, but are they too large to prevent the computer platform from becoming obsolete?

Let’s look at five major areas of the mobile app and how they compare to the computer.

1. Snapshot

The Snapshot area of your mobile app (that which sits at the top of your profile) is almost identical to your computer’s platform. There are some aesthetic differences between the two.

Brenda's background image

The first obvious difference is the background picture is smaller on the mobile app. You must take this into consideration if you have words on your picture, as they might be covered by your head-shot.

The example above is an excellent example of how Brenda Meller’s head-shot doesn’t cover any of her words.

The user’s head-shot on the mobile app is actually in good shape; in some cases better than the computer. I notice more clarity when comparing my headshot on the app and the computer.

Another small difference is that the computer provides live links for your current/past employer as well as your most recent education, allowing you to click on either to bring you to them.

A more significant difference is that LinkedIn has increased the headline character count to 200+ characters, but you can’t make edits on the mobile app; you are still limited to the former 120 characters.


2. About

LinkedIn increased the number of words one can initially see in the apps About section to approximately 23. Previously approximately 10 words were visible. Nonetheless, you need to demonstrate your value within the the few number of words you’re granted.

Laura's About App

The example of the first three lines on the mobile app About section starts strong, but the second sentence is cut off, failing to show the LinkedIn member’s further value.

It is prudent to write briefer sentences (three or four lines at most) so they don’t appear so dense on the mobile app.

Your computer’s About section displays approximately 50 words. Which isn’t a great improvement over the mobile app, but it allows you to be less stingy with your words.

Laura's About computer

You are now able to utilize 2,600 characters with the mobile app and desktop. So your kick-ass Summary can be expanded. It will just take some scrolling for visitors to see it in its entirety.

I suggest you include some compelling accomplishments within the About section to immediately show the value you’ll deliver to employers. Notice how dense the mobile app accomplishments appear vs. the computer view. Again, try to keep your paragraphs as brief as possible.

Mobile app view

Laura's About accomplishment

Computer platform view

Laura's About accomplishment computer

3. Experience

Bob's Education App

On the mobile app all your positions under Experience must be expanded. This requires a two-click process in order to access all jobs.

If visitors are unaware of this, they may miss your job descriptions; thinking you only listed your title, place of employment, and years of employment.

Therefore, it’s advisable to list as many areas of expertise next to your title as possible. This will give visitors a better understanding of not only your official title, but also additional value you provide/d your company or organization.

In contrast, the computer shows a partial view of a person’s position. All one needs to do is click …see more to get the expanded view. (Previously LinkedIn showed the fully expanded view of a person’s position.)

Bob's Experience computer

Again, it is important to write brief paragraphs so your Experience verbiage is easy to read on the mobile app…and the computer platform for that matter.

It’s essential to include compelling accomplishments for each position once again to show the value you’ll deliver to employers. Notice how dense the mobile app accomplishments appear vs. the computer view. Again, try to keep your paragraphs as brief as possible.

Mobile app

Highlight on app

Computer platform

Highlight on computer

4. The Rest

Madeline's eduatoin

Education on the mobile app provides the same information as the computer, but like the Experience section you must click multiple times to open the full view of an education and volunteer description. Given the limited size of the mobile app, this is understandable.

Provide as much information about your time at university as possible. Madeline Mann takes advantage of the ability to include more information in the Education section than most LinkedIn users do.

Featured Skills & Endorsements on the mobile app is relatively the same as the computer. You have the ability to arrange yours skills however you’d like. Only the top three are visible, as with the computer.

Recommendations reveal only one person, whereas the computer application reveals two. No huge difference here.

Accomplishments was the worst decision LinkedIn made, other than anchoring all the sections on the mobile app and computer. Within Accomplishments are some features that could (and were) be sections in themselves. Such as:

  • Certifications
  • Projects
  • Organizations
  • Publication
  • Courses
  • Honors and Awards
  • Patents
  • Test Scores
  • Languages

5. Editing Capabilities

Editing your profile on the mobile app is limited, of course. Unless you’re a master of copying and pasting text from a Word app to your LinkedIn app, making major changes to existing text on your profile would be better done on your computer.


This post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention some strengths of the mobile app, such as being able to share your profile with someone at a live event. I found this useful at one event where instead of exchanging business cards, I scanned a networker’s QR code.

For the most part, the mobile app provides the same functionality as the computer, but in a smaller version. It’s mobility makes it easy for visitors to see your profile when away from their computer. Which is what they may prefer doing.

If you want to learn more about LinkedIn, visit this compilation of LinkedIn posts.

It’s the LinkedIn profile over the resume by a landslide: 3,338 voters decide

Like a lopsided political race, this one is a landslide. I’m talking about a LinkedIn poll asking 3,338 voters to chose between keeping either their resume or LinkedIn profile. Which one wins by 72%? Why, the LinkedIn profile, of course. I’m not at all surprised by the result.

What I find interesting is that the voters opting for the profile seem to have forgotten that the resume is where it all starts; it’s the foundation of your LinkedIn profile. No one writes their LinkedIn profile and then their resume. No one has their profile written for them and then the resume.

It comes as no surprise

So why is the profile the favorite of the two? In three words: “It’s all that.” Let’s face it, the profile is more exciting. It’s, dare I say it, sexier. Your heart flutters a bit when you see a great background image and professional photo respectively.

There’s also the Featured feature, where you can see one’s video, audio, documents, and links to a blog. LinkedIn has improved this feature in both look and functionality. With just one click, you’re brought to a LinkedIn member’s website, audio, SlideShare, or document.

You’ll find none of this on your resume. The photo is the exception but only for certain occupations and foreign country.

Another attribute that barely makes it on your resume is personality. The point I make about your resume being the foundation of your profile is true. However, once you’ve laid down the foundation, you need to personalize it with first-person point of view. Call it your personal resume.

In an article I wrote that is still streaming out there, I point out the differences between the LinkedIn profile and the resume. Here are some sections/features the resume lacks:

Photos and background image, already mentioned, are major differences that are being utilized by increasingly more LinkedIn users. Rarely will we see the light blue (whatever it’s called) default background image.

Same goes for the ugly light-grey avatar. Increasingly more LinkedIn users have professional photos or, at least, selfies (a no no) to be more recognizable, trusted, and liked. There still are some LinkedIn users who don’t get it, but LinkedIn isn’t for everyone.

Activity brings you to other peoples’ contributions on LinkedIn. They deliver you from a LinkedIn users’ profile to all their activity, articles (a dying breed), posts, and documents (what?). To me, this is where one shows their mettle; are they engaging with their network?

Skills & Endorsements and Recommendations I lump together because LinkedIn does—they’re located at the bottom of a profile. Endorsements are bling in most peoples’ minds, but the skills are what recruiters use to search for you.

Recommendations have lost the respect it had in the last decade. Which is a shame. If truthfully written, they can add a great deal to a job seeker’s candidacy. Recommendations used to be considered one of LinkedIn most valued features. Now it’s buried at the bottom.

In defense of your resume

In addition to your resume being the foundation of your profile—your profile shouldn’t be your resume—it serves a very special purpose, which is it’s required for a job search. I’m hearing the groans from the peanut gallery. “Networking will get you further in the search then your resume.”

This might be true, but the majority of the time you’ll have to submit a well-written resume even if you land the opportunity for an interview via networking.

Another key factor—and most resume writers will tell you—is your resume has to be tailored to each job for which you apply. There are two reasons for this. First, it has to get past the applicant tracking system (ATS). Second, it has to prove to the reader that you’re qualified f

A professionally written resume is a work of art. Having read thousands and written hundreds of resumes, I know the feeling of reading one that makes your head hurt. Many job seekers throw their resume together without thinking about five major considerations:

  • Length: too long, too short. There’s no solid rule on length but, generally speaking, it should not exceed the number of warranted pages. What warrants a resume longer than one or two pages? This is mentioned next.
  • Value add: means relevant accomplishments rule over mundane duties. The more accomplishments, the better chance you have of getting to an interview. Have you increased revenue, save cost, improved productivity, etc.?
  • Readability: three- to four-line paragraphs are the limit. A resume with ten-line paragraphs will be thrown in the proverbial circular file cabinet. Who wants to read a dense resume after reading 25 of them?
  • Fluff: “dynamic,” “results-oriented,” “team player,” are but a few of hundreds of cliches making the rounds out there. Stay with action verbs and do away with adjectives.
  • Branding: means your resume is congruent with your overall message of the value you’ll deliver to employers. This message needs to be delivered throughout your document.

The final point

I’m not foolish enough to believe that all things were equal in this poll. Those who voted for the LinkedIn profile are probably gainfully employed and have no use for their resume at this point. I voted for the profile because I benefit from it far more than my resume.

The question I ask myself if I were unemployed, could I rely on my LinkedIn profile alone to land me an interview? My course of action would be to take a more proactive approach and network before and during applying online.

Another consideration is how consistent is my profile with my resume. I believe that other than it being more personal and telling a better story, my profile is consistent with my resume. No surprises there. Final decision: I choose my profile over my resume.

The ultimate comparison of the résumé and LinkedIn profile: a look at 12 areas

Occasionally I’m asked which I prefer writing or reviewing, a résumé or LinkedIn profile. To use a tired cliché, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. The first fact we have to realize is that each has its own purpose.

Reading a Resume

The second fact is that, although the résumé and LinkedIn profile are trying to accomplish the same goal, show your value; they are different in many ways. One of my pet peeves is looking at a copy and paste of the résumé to the profile. It’s just plain wrong, and you’ll see why as you read this article.

LinkedIn Logo longPurpose of each document

Résumé

Your résumé is most likely the first document hiring authorities will see, so your value-add must make an immediate impact. If not, your chances of getting interviews are very slim.

You will send your résumé in response to a specific job. As such, it must be tailored to each job and contain keywords. Failing to do this will adversely impact your résumé’s chance of getting past the applicant tracking system (ATS).

Lastly, you use push technology with your résumé; therefore far fewer hiring authorities will see it.

LinkedIn profile

Your consistent message of value-add demonstrated through your résumé carries over to your LinkedIn profile. Your profile is NOT focused on a specific job; it is static and more general.

Most likely you’ll have a résumé constructed before you build your profile. Therefore, the stronger your résumé, the easier to build your LinkedIn profile.

You rely on pull technology with your profile, as hiring authorities find you by entering your title, areas of expertise, and location if relevant.

Comparing the two

I’ve broken down the sections of the résumé and LinkedIn profile to compare them side-by-side.  It’s easier to see the differences this way. As mentioned earlier, it’s similar to comparing apples and oranges.

Note: Sections 1 through 6 are those which both documents possess. Further down this article are sections the LinkedIn profile has and most likely the résumé doesn’t.


1. Headline

Résumé: A headline tells potential hiring authorities your title and a line below it your areas of expertise and perhaps a two-word accomplishment (Cost Savings) in approximately 10 words.

It is tailored to the job at hand, like most sections on your résumé. Most executive-level résumés have a headline.

LinkedIn profile: Similar to your résumé, a headline will tell hiring authorities your title as well as your major strengths. It is more general and includes more areas of expertise.

One benefit I see with the profile headline is it allows more characters to work with than the résumé. You have a little over 200 characters or slightly more than 35 words. If you want to include a short branding statement, this could be a nice touch.


2. Summary/About

Résumé: The résumé’s Summary sometimes gets overlooked in a hiring authority’s rush to get to the Employment section. The key to grabbing their attention is creating  accomplishment-rich verbiage, such as:

Operations manager who consistently reduces companies’ costs through implementing lean practices.

There are two other points I emphasize with my clients. The first is that the Summary should not exceed 110 words or three lines; the shorter the better. The second is there should be no fluff or clichés included in it. Instead of using adjectives, employ action verbs that do a better job of showing rather than telling.

LinkedIn profile: Your profile’s About section will differ from your résumé’s Summary for a number of reasons.

  1. It allows you to tell a story that can include the, Why and What, Who, and How. In other words, why are you passionate about what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it.
  2. Similar to your résumé’s Summary, you should list accomplishments that immediately speak to your greatness.
  3. Your About section is written in first- or third-person point of view, giving it more of a personal feel than your résumé’s Summary.
  4. It is significantly longer. You’re allowed approximately 2,600 characters to work with, which I suggest you use, providing it adds value to your profile.
  5. Finally, you can highlight rich media such as video, audio, documents, and PowerPoint presentations in the Featured area.

Read this article that describes how to craft a kick-ass About section.


3. Core Competencies/Key Skills

Résumé: Here’s where you list the core competencies or key skills for the position you’re pursuing. These skills are specific to the position for which you’re applying. You can also include skills that might be tiebreakers. Nine to 12 skills are appropriate for this section.

LinkedIn profile: This section is located further down your profile; whereas it’s typically placed under the Summary on your résumé. However, I wanted to discuss this out of order, as this is the closest section to Core Competencies.

List your outstanding technical and transferable skills in the Skills and Endorsements section, which is similar to the Core Competency section on your résumé, with a few major differences:

  1. You can be endorsed for your skills. There is debate as to the validity of endorsements, but they can be legit if the endorser has evidence of the endorsee’s skills.
  2. You are given up to 50 skills to list. I suggest listing skills that are related to your occupation.
  3. When applying through Easy Apply in LinkedIn Jobs, they are one criterion by which your candidacy is measured.

4. Experience

Résumé: Job-specific accomplishments effectively send a consistent message of your value. While a show of your former/current responsibilities might seem impressive, accomplishments speak volumes. Provide quantified results in the form of numbers, dollars, and percentages.

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

Better: Increased productivity 58% by initiating and implementing – 2 weeks before the deadline – a customer relations management (CRM) system. 

LinkedIn profile: Your Employment section will be briefer than your résumé’s, highlighting just the outstanding accomplishments from each job. Another approach is to copy what’s on your résumé to your profile, but that lacks creativity.

I also point out to my clients that they can personalize their LinkedIn profile’s Experience section, which is not commonly done with their résumé. One approach is to write your job summary or mission in first-person point of view. Following is an example from Austin Belcak:

I teach people how to use unconventional strategies to land jobs they love in today’s market (without connections, without traditional “experience,” and without applying online).

My strategies have been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Inc., Fast Company, and more. My students have landed interviews and offers at Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Deloitte, Accenture, ESPN and more.

Read this article on 5 reasons why you shouldn’t ignore your LinkedIn profile Experience section.


5. Licenses & Certifications

Résumé: This section is usually named Training and if there are any certifications or licenses earned, they are mentioned here. I suggest that my clients list them above Education, as hiring authorities’ eyes typically go to the bottom of the last page to find Education. In some cases, especially with teachers, Certifications are listed at the top of the résumé.

LinkedIn profile: LinkedIn doesn’t see the placement of Licenses & Certifications as I do. On your profile they are placed below Education. This is not the point, though. One might wonder why this section even exists, as it is buried in the bowels of your profile.

6. Volunteerism

Résumé: I include this section because it’s a good idea to list your volunteerism, as it shows your willingness to help the community and demonstrates that you’re developing new skills. If you’re volunteering in your area of expertise extensively—20 hours—include it in your Experience section.

LinkedIn profile: This is a place for you to shine, in my humble opinion. The experience you list on your profile can be as serious and strategic as what you have on your résumé; however, you can also be playful. For example, two of my volunteer experiences are about coaching soccer and basketball.


7. Education

Résumé: Typically the résumé’s Education section consists of the institution, location, years of attendance (optional), degree, and area of study or major. You can include a designation such as Magna Cum Laude. Here is an example of how your education should be written.

University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA
Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, Magna Cum Laude

LinkedIn profile: Many people neglect this section, choosing to simply list the information they would on their résumé. This is a shame, as LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to further support your brand by telling the story of your educational experience.

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, MA
Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, Magna Cum Laude

While working full time at Company A, I attended accelerated classes at night for four 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.

=======================================================================

Sections more likely on your profile than your résumé

The following areas are most likely not going to be on your résumé; although, they’re not entirely out of the question. For instance, you might have a Volunteer Experience on your résumé, especially if your volunteerism is pertinent to your career objective.

8. Photo and background images

These two images are the first to brand you on your LinkedIn profile. They are what truly separate the profile from the résumé.

Résumé: A photo is not likely unless you are in acting, modeling, or perhaps real estate. I have never seen anything close to a background image on a résumé. However, graphics are common for graphic artists and other creative occupations.

LinkedIn Profile: The photo and the background image are a must for the profile. Discussing the profile photo with my clients is somewhat touchy, as the average age is 55. You know where I’m going with this.

Here’s the thing: without a photo, you will come across as unmemorable, untrusted, and unliked. What’s most important is that your photo is topical, current, and high quality. I’ve seen photos of older workers that make their profile pop.

The background image, if done well, can demonstrate your industry or personal interest. LinkedIn allows you 1,584 x 396 pixels in size.


9. Articles and Activity

Résumé: Nonexistent. Your Hobbies and Activities section would be the closest match, but there’s very little information included in this area compared to the LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn profile: Because LinkedIn is an interactive platform, your articles and activity will be shown on your profile. This is something I pay a great deal of attention to when critiquing a client’s profile. I like to see that they’ve at least been active four times a week.


10. Featured

Résumé: Nonexistent, primarily because this section requires access to links and downloads. Some job seekers will list a URL to their website, which is appropriate for people in the creative fields.

LinkedIn profile: This…feature…is not new; it’s just been enhanced. It previously had no name, but with the update, LinkedIn probably felt it needed to be named, as it wasn’t getting a great deal of play. As such, Featured no longer requires multiple clicks to get to the media you’re showing off.

What can you show off? You can provide links to video through YouTube and other sources; audio through podcasts and other recordings; PowerPoint presentations; documents; links to documents and your books. It’s a pretty cool feature, but is it being used to its capacity?

11. Recommendations

Résumé: Nonexistent, nor should they be included with your résumé. You might bring them to an interview as part of your portfolio, but to send them with your résumé just gives hiring authorities more verbiage to read.

LinkedIn profile: Where to begin? In short, one of the most important sections to be designated to the…you guessed it, bowels of the profile. What a gem these are in terms of branding you. Not only can you show hiring authorities how highly you’re regarded by people with whom you worked; you can write recommendations for your employees.

Read 5 reasons why LinkedIn recommendations should get more respect to get a clearer picture of how I feel about their treatment.

12. Accomplishments

Lastly we arrive at accomplishments, where so many great nuggets are hidden on your profile which could be included on your Résumé.

Résumé: Do you have a section on your résumé designated to outstanding projects? If you do, most likely it’s at the top just below your Summary section. It makes good sense if you want to highlight some of your greatest career accomplishments. Perhaps you have patents and publications listed on your résumé.

LinkedIn profile: Well, you can include the aforementioned and more; but in order for hiring authorities to see them, they’d have to be curious or you’d have to direct them to your Accomplishment section. I tell my clients to provide such instructions in the About section.

Write something in your About section to this effect: “If you would like to see how I raised 2MM in revenue for one company, scroll to the bottom of my profile where the project is listed in my Accomplishment section.”

Read How to direct visitors to LinkedIn Accomplishment section.

To further make my case, one of my dear connections was interviewed by Aljazeera America for his photography of homeless people and models in NYC. Naturally he has it listed as a project in this section. I had to write to him and advise that he include it as rich media in his About section. Here is the link to his awesome video.


Lastly…for real.

If you’ve read this far, I salute you. I would love to hear your feedback on this article, as well as know which you favor, the résumé or LinkedIn profile. By the tone of this article, I guess you know which one I fancy.

Job-search from home with children: 6 tips on how to do it

Articles on working from home abound. There’s even a hashtag for working from home, #WFH. But there aren’t as many articles on job searching from home, #JSFH. Throwing dependent children in the mix adds a new dimension. Now we have a new hashtag, #JSFHWC.

Photo by Yan on Pexels.com

For those of you who fall under this hashtag know the complication of trying to find a job while also tending to children who are preschool age and demand your undivided attention, or are of school age and were home taking online classes. With school out, a whole set of issues present themselves.

I’ve been fortunate to keep my job (fingers crossed) thus far throughout the pandemic. I’m also fortunate to have two independent children living at home with my wife and I. My daughter goes to work at a farm and my son goes to work (at 12:00 pm) as a lifeguard.

When I’m on a Zoom call or delivering a webinar, they know well enough to be scarce. But this article isn’t about me. It’s about the millions of people who have to look for work while also caring for their children.

I conducted a poll on LinkedIn asking people who are looking for work at home with children if they have a more structured schedule. Not surprisingly more then half of them said they don’t, only 33% said they do, and 14% said sort of.

I also asked the voters to comment on their situation. A valued LinkedIn connection who just went through a job search with her husband offers this sage advice:

My husband just spent the past 2 months job searching – with our kids at home. He had a very structured schedule which included time for job search, time for kids (as I remained working full time), time for himself, and time for other/home activities. It worked well as it ensured we all knew what/when was going on and could respect his focus – and he landed a new role 2 weeks ago. Was it always easy? No.

Adrienne

Fortunately for my valued connection, all worked out well for her husband and their family. He was one of the 33% who was able to structure his job search with some help from her, I’m sure.

One voter writes that structure can go out the window with children in tow. There are brush fires that always need distinguishing when JSFHWC.

I’d say one of the biggest things is permitting yourself to let go sometimes. If the kid’s laptop crashes, then you are IT support. Now! You have to let go of the idea that you can control your day like you can when you’re cocooned in an office with various types of support. Pair that with focusing on a limited list of “Gotta Dos” and you have a shot at meeting your goals for the day, week, whatever. (I use the hierarchy of “Gotta Do”, “Needta Do” and “Nice ta Do” for determining which tasks get done and in which order.)

Adam

These are but two examples of how #JSFHWC? has gone with two job seekers—one positive, the other not so positive. If you are struggling with this situation, here are some tips that might be of assistance.

1. Prioritize: set aside time for yourself

As my connection said, her husband prioritized his job search. This is essential if you want to stay sane and land a job. The first point she makes is that her husband made time for his job search.

It’s important to plan time for your job search and more important to stick to it. This might not come easy to you, but it’s a make or break situation.

A client of mine told me he gets up before the sun rises, gets on the stationary bike, and then dives into the job search almost before his children are screaming for breakfast.

Biron Clark, a career coach and former recruiter, reiterates the importance of setting some time aside for yourself:

Develop a plan and schedule that works for your life. You’re going to get better results in your job search if you’re able to put in consistent effort for at least a couple of hours per day without distractions. This can be difficult when you’re at home with your family, though. If you have children at home, think about whether you can wake up before them to get a few uninterrupted hours each morning. If that’s not an option, then think about another time of day. Either way, set a schedule and try to stick to it as much as possible.

2. Reach out to your support system

It’s also important to develop a network of people who can support you in your efforts. Another voter who commented said that he has support for the times when he has interviews:

I treat my job search as a part time job right now. Both our children are very young and not in school. My job search starts at 5:00 am to 7:00 am then picks up again at 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm 6 days a week. When I have an interview I have help from my neighbors to watch the kids. It takes a lot more planning and time management but we have found this structured schedule has worked best for our family.

Darrick

You might not be fortunate enough to reach out to your neighbors. Call on your family to see if they can entertain your children via Zoom or Facetime. What about your former colleagues, ask if they’d like to do some Kid Share; they entertain your children online or in person and you return the favor. Make sure to physical distance.

3. Rely on your network

Marie Zimenoff, who trains career coaches and resume writers, says when you’re networking to leverage them; don’t do all the work. You have to be explicit in what you’re looking for, including the companies with which you’d like to work.

If you are job searching at home with kids, start with the people that already know, like, and trust you (your Champions). Share your target list with them and ask them if they know anyone there (or who used to work there), if they have other organizations they’d add to the list, or if they have any other insights on the companies on the list. Don’t discount people before you give them the opportunity to help! You can use systems like Facebook or LinkedIn to help connect the dots between those Champions (who won’t mind if your kids are wild in the background) and the “weak ties” who are key to landing your next role.

Don’t let the fact that it’s difficult to reach out to your network in person deter you from contacting them. This pandemic has taught us that using modes of communication like the phone, video platforms, email and LinkedIn are essential. Those who don’t grasp it will have a hard time networking.

4. Use LinkedIn for more than its job board

What many people don’t realize is that LinkedIn is a powerful research tool that can help you locate people in your target companies. Your goal is to connect and develop relationships with as many people as you can in your target companies.

Sarah Johnston, an executive career coach, produced two LinkedIn Learning videos—one that explain the importance of making an extensive list of your target companies and the key players you need to connect with—and a second one that explains how to use LinkedIn’s search capabilities to find said people.

Also use the little time to make changes to your LinkedIn profile. You might be new to LinkedIn and haven’t polished your profile. This article gives you some ideas of how to update your profile during the pandemic.

5. Use the job boards sparingly

Too many people consider applying online as their primary/only method of searching for jobs. This is a huge mistake, as it’s been proven that the success rate is extremely low—5% is a conservative estimate.

This said, I tell my clients to use the job boards, e.g., Indeed, Monster, Dice, etc. sparingly. Set aside time to get on your computer and access your favorite sites. Or if you’re with your children outside, use the apps while keeping one eye on them and the other on the apps.

Couple your job-board use with LinkedIn. Like Sarah says in her video, LinkedIn can be a great way to find people on LinkedIn before or after you’ve applied for a position at a company.

6. Get outside

More than ever people are walking and running in my neighborhood. Fresh air and exercise do wonders, not only for your body but for your health as well. This is an acceptable part of your job search. When I was out of work, I increased my walking from 45 minutes to an hour. It was a great way to clear my head.

Take care of yourself. One of my LinkedIn connection, Vincent Phamvan, says it well:

Spend some of your time on activities outside of your job search. Spend time with family, take walks, try to eat healthy meals. This will keep you mentally fit and ready to rock your upcoming interviews.

Use this alone time to strategize about how you will tailor your resume to that position for which you’re perfect. Listen to books on tape regarding the job search or podcasts from my valued connections, Mark Anthony Dyson and Virginia Franco.


I have heard from job seekers that the pandemic has made it impossible to job search from home with children. Some have abandoned the job search entirely, relying on unemployment plus the $600 provided through the CARES act, which at this writing has stopped.

Career coaches can’t change the mind frame of people like this. Job seekers need to realize that unemployment benefits will eventually run dry, so they need to adamantly dive into their JSFHWC.

LinkedIn’s “Open to Work” is the winner of 3 new features for 2020

I am particularly fond of LinkedIn’s poll feature which has been brought back from the early years. With Create a Poll, you can ask LinkedIn members to vote on certain topics like which three new features They appreciate most–Open to Work, Create a Poll, or Add Name Pronunciation? This is the poll I conducted on LinkedIn.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

The winner (drum roll) was Open to Work, which baffles my mind. I thought for sure Create a Poll would run away with the crown. Not so. It only took 24%; Open to Work grabbed 43%; Add Name Pronunciation only 14%; and None of These Turn Me On, 19%.

My valued connection, Kevin Turner, has been keeping up with the changes LinkedIn makes for 16 years. His most recent release can be found here. This post was the inspiration for the poll I conducted.

Note: One change that’s not on Kevin’s list of 2020 features is the expanded headline character count. When I called him on this, he said he’d commented on it earlier. Bam, I stand corrected.

What’s so special about Open to Work?

That’s what I’m wondering. First of all, the banner is…ugly. I know this speaks more to aesthetics, but I can’t help but notice that it’s bold and reminds me of a green horseshoe.

Secondly, I don’t know what purpose it serves. According to LinkedIn:

If you specify the types of job opportunities that you’re interested in and your preferred location, we’ll help your profile show up in search results when recruiters look for suitable job candidates.

But will it work? LinkedIn tells us it will make recruiters aware of job seekers or freelancers who are looking for work. This makes me wonder if it only works for recruiters who use the Recruiter feature, or if it also works for hiring authorities who type in the Search feature “open to work.”

I typed this phrase into Search and found 14,000 people who had it in their headline, but not all of them have the border. So, apparently the banner is not necessary when you’re looked for by hiring authorities who type the phrase in Search.

Kevin further confirmed that only recruiters “who pay to play” have the ability to find job seekers who choose to turn on this feature.

To boot, there is some controversy surrounding this new feature. Some believe it doesn’t add value to your candidacy if you use it. It hurts your brand and recruiters are more interested in the value you’ll deliver, rather than the fact that you’re looking for work.

Sarah Johnston wrote a post that shares the above sentiment; she says when recruiters are looking for a qualified candidate and candidates sport the green banner, they aren’t impressed. She advises, “Instead of opening with ‘I’m unemployed looking for my next role,’ consider other ways that you can stand out or connect with decision makers.”

Polls are back

As I said earlier, LinkedIn had Create a Poll (they weren’t called this) years ago but discontinued the feature. Are they here to stay? I hope so; I enjoy posting a weekly poll as well as participating in voting when other LinkedIn members share them.

Along with casting a vote for your favorite answer, you can write a comment explaining why you chose the answer. Even though more than 100 votes separated the Create a Poll choice and Open to Work, I expected to see at least a few reasons why Create a Poll was their choice.

One thing people who’ve come across Create a Poll know is that they either work or they don’t. There are two reasons why they work: the question has to create interest and second, the people posting them have to have a large following. These are the only ways Create a Poll will work.

One correction LinkedIn should make to the feature is not letting voters see the results as they unwind. I think this sways people to vote a particular way if they’re undecided. What I found intriguing is not that Open to Work came in first and Create a Poll came in second, but that there were more comments (see below) for Add Name Pronunciation which came in third.

Speaking of the loser, Add Name Pronunciation

It’s no surprise to me that this new feature came in last. It’s nice to have your name pronounced correctly: I hate my last name pronounced, “Mick-in-tosh” when it should be pronounced, “Mack-in-tosh,” but I can live with it.

How it works is that a LinkedIn member can record a message of how to pronounce their name so when a visitor happens upon their profile, the visitor can click on the microphone and hear the message of how their name is pronounced. When you make the recording of how to pronounce your name, you can make it as personal as you’d like.

As I mentioned above, there were more proponents of this feature who took the time to write comments.

Seeing that I only recently got the poll feature myself, this is still novel. However, I really like the name pronunciation feature. I never want to mispronounce a name so I have often looked up correct pronunciations online. This feature will come in handy.

Adrienne Tom

One voter prefers Polls but selflessly voted for Add Name Pronunciation for her clients’ sake.

I enjoy the polling feature but of the three you mentioned, from a job seekers point of view, a few of my clients mentioned that name pronunciation had value to them.

Tara Orchard

I think one person voted for this feature because her last name has been mispronounced…by me.

I find “Add Name Pronunciation” interesting. A persons’ name is so important to them. Pronouncing it incorrectly can be such a turn-off. That’s why I like this one. It can be helpful when networking to confidently call people by name, knowing you’re saying it correctly 🙂

Maureen McCann

The people have spoken. Open to Work is the winner. I don’t agree with the decision. The feature might draw more attention from recruiters, but will it be positive attention? Will they click “next” upon seeing the green banner?

Create a Poll is by far my favorite feature, but some people haven’t even gotten it at this writing. The same goes for Add Name Pronunciation. When they get the two features, will the result be the same as the poll I conducted on LinkedIn?

7 easy ways to be proactive in your job search

Some job seekers tell me they turn on their computer every day to log on to Monster, Dice, CareerBuilder, Indeed, and other job boards. They spend hours a day applying for posted jobs, sending as many as 20 cookie-cutter résumés out a week, anticipating a call from a recruiter or Human Resources.

looking

To these job seekers I point out the futility of a job search like this, explaining that if they want faster results, they have to be more proactive. What they’re doing is being reactive and it ain’t working.

First I talk about the Hidden Job Market (HJM) which is a concept they understand, but I’m not sure they accept. When I tell them connecting with others is the best approach to penetrating the HJM, I can hear them thinking how difficult it will be to get outside their comfort zone, to get away from their computer.

The message I deliver is that they have to be proactive, not reactive. They have to take control of their job search, not let it control them. Here are five ways you can be proactive in your job search:

1. Get to know yourself

As odd as this sounds, many people don’t truly know themselves. I ask my clients to name their top 10 skills, and they have trouble coming up with five. You should make a list of your top 10 and provide a small blurb for each describing why they are.

Likewise, list some of your weaknesses. It’s important that you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses, better known as self-awareness. Keep in mind that good interviewers will not only ask about positive outcomes; they’ll ask about negative ones.

2. Put together your company target list

This is a task that job seekers often overlook, or they don’t see the value in it. Here’s where you put your job search into your own hands. You are choosing where you want to work based on your companies’ values.

Are you looking for companies that offer work/life balance, family-friendly policies, growth within the company, products or services that are environmentally friendly, a lively culture, a more professional culture? These are values you need to consider.

Now you can research these companies, keeping an eye on their growth. Identify the top players in the companies. Connect on LinkedIn with people who work for the companies. Build your foundation.

3. Send approach letters

These documents are sent to companies on your company target list. Here’s the kicker: no job has been advertised. (Advertised jobs represent only 20%-30% of the labor market.) You’re not reacting to an advertisement; rather you’re sending them unannounced.

Approach Letters are ideal if you prefer writing more than using the phone. Introverts may favor this way of contacting an employer. Whereas, extraverts may prefer simply picking up the phone.

The goal is to get networking meeting or better yet, chance upon a possible opening that hasn’t been advertised. You must describe your job-related skills and experience and show the employer that you’ve done research on the company to boost the employer’s ego.

4. Do some good ole’ fashion networking

Preface: with the advent of COVID-19, in person networking is not possible at the moment. Read this article on how job-search clubs are using Zoom at great success for networking.

Normally we think of networking as strictly attending organized meetings where other job seekers go, doing their best not to seem desperate. (I’ll admit that this type of networking is unsettling, although necessary.)

The kind of networking I’m referring to is the kind that involves reaching out to anyone who knows a hiring manager. Most of the people who contact me after they’ve secured a job tell me that their success was due to knowing someone at the company or organization.

You must network wherever you go. Network at your kid’s or grandchildren’s basketball games, at the salon, while taking workshops, at family gatherings—basically everywhere.

5. Consider volunteering as a way to find work

This method of being proactive works. Granted it is tough to work for free, volunteering offers great benefits. The first of which is it’s a great way to network. Think about it; you’re in a great environment to discover opportunities from the people with whom you’re volunteering.

Another benefit of volunteering is enhancing the skills you have, or learning new ones, to be more marketable. If you lack certain software, such as PeopleSoft, seek organizations that use this software or would like to implement it. Who knows; you may prove to be so valuable that you develop a role in their finance department.

Finally, volunteering is a great source of fodder for you résumé. I tell my clients that if their volunteer experience is extensive, they should include it on this document. Just write “Volunteer Experience” in parenthesis. 

6. Use LinkedIn and other social media outlets

I recently received an In-mail from someone who is currently working but is not enjoying her experience. I’ll keep my ears open for the type of position she’s looking for because she asked me to.

LinkedIn members who know the potential of this professional online networking tool reach out to other LI members for information and contact leads. Practice proper etiquette when reaching out to your connections. In other words, don’t request an introduction to someone the very first time you communicate with a new connection.

Another one of my job seekers is doing everything possible to conduct a proper proactive job search. He updates me on his job search and sends me job leads for me to post on our career center’s LinkedIn group. I’ve got a good feeling about this guy. He’s being very proactive by using LinkedIn and his vast personal network of professionals.

7. Follow Up, follow up, follow up

Allow me to suggest a must-read book called Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. I think this guy gets more publicity from me than any author I’ve read. The reason I recommend this book is because none of these three proactive approaches are useful unless you follow up on your efforts.

Never Eat Alone teaches you how to network in every situation and then how to keep your network alive by following up with everyone. I mean everyone. Send an approach letter, then follow up with the people to whom you’ve sent it. Network face-to-face, then follow up. Connect with someone on LinkedIn…you guessed it, then follow up.

Of course you need to follow up after an interview. Many employers complain that candidates don’t send a follow-up note, and some candidates are eliminated because of this. So take the time to write a brief follow-up note. It’s well worth the time.


Being proactive sure beats the hell out of only reacting to jobs that have been advertised and are visible to hundreds, if not thousands of other job seekers. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and yields more results than exclusively participating in the visible job market. Being proactive makes you believe that the job search will finally come to a halt, that the job search is in your hands.