Category Archives: Career Search

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. 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.

Voice

As 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.

Summary

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.

LinkedIn pundits will suggest different ways to write your Summary. 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 Summary, 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. A Summary that lacks a point of view resembles that of a résumé; bland.

Articles and 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 professional 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?

 

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3 more reasons why job seekers should blog

Part two of a two-part series.

I wrote, in an earlier blog, three reason why job seekers should blog. They are: it demonstrates their ability to write, it helps brand them, and it’s a great way to network.

blogging3

My idea for writing part one of this series came from my recollection of my two daughters’ penchant for writing; the older one preferred academic essays and the youngest preferred fiction.

Here are three more reasons why you as a job seeker should blog.

1. You’ll feel more productive and learn from writing

Writing about what you know requires processing your knowledge to put it to paper—or in most cases your computer screen. When I write about the job search, it makes me think about what is important to my audience, as well as how to express it.

You will learn more about your industry by blogging, as you’ll have to conduct research in order for your posts to be accurate. One benefit of blogging for me is that I often use what I write as fodder for my career-search workshops. Essentially, I leverage my writing.

It’s believed that one must blog on a consistent basis. You may want to start by blogging once a month, then twice a month, and maybe weekly. Hitting these goals will further give you a sense of productivity. I generally try to blog once a week.

2. More people will witness your expertise

Whether you’re blogging about your industry or job search, you can publish it on your own blog or a third-party blog. LinkedIn is a common third-party platform for blogging. The expertise you share with your audience will be there for as long as the blog sites exist. Personally, I use WordPress, Recruiter.Com, and LinkedIn. I don’t foresee either of them disappearing soon.

There are many platforms on which you can publish your posts. The top three are LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Others include Tumblr, Google+, Reddit, and many more. Your audience can then share what you’ve written with their connections, followers, friends, etc. The information you share can go viral, as they say.

Hopefully you’ll continue to blog after you land your next job. I know people who begin writing great content but then suddenly stop. Documenting your expertise is great, but doing it on a regular basis keeps it topical.

3. It educates your readers

Related to number one, you can help other job seekers learn more about your and their industry. I educate my readers on the job search and LinkedIn. I’ve been contacted by people who are in the job search, as well as job-search educators, who tell me that they’ve learned a great deal from me. This is a good feeling.

One of the goals of networking is sharing what you know with other job seekers. Your shared knowledge can be a gift; it might be the reason why job seekers land their next gig.

One reason I gave for blogging in the previous post is branding yourself. If you blog consistently and for a long period of time, you could become known as an authority on your industry, whether it’s High Tech, Social Media, Finance, Medical, etc.


This post, along with the first one I wrote, marks six reasons why job seekers should blog while searching for a job. It’s not only important to keep the momentum going while you’re hunting for work; it’s also important to continue sharing your knowledge while you’re working.

4 tools employers use to make the hiring search easier for them

But harder for you.

You’re probably aware of the order in which employers attempt to fill a position. First, they consider their own employees; second, ask for referrals from their employees; third, seek referrals from trusted people outside the company; fourth, hire recruiters; and lastly, advertising the position. Or they use a combination of all of these.

pre-employment test

There are many reasons why employers prefer not advertising an open position, including the cost to advertise, having to deal with a deluge of résumés, and interviewing people they don’t know.

In many cases advertising their position/s is unavoidable because all other methods of filling them have failed. Thus, they resort to tools to make sure they get the most qualified people entering their doors. You need to be aware of these tools.

Applicant tracking systems (ATS)

This is the beginning of the hiring process from the candidates’ experience. The ATS eliminates approximately 75 percent of the applicants for a single job. It is a godsend for recruiters and HR, who are overburdened with résumés to read.

To be among the 25 percent of the résumés that are read, you’ll have to write ones that are keyword rich. Unfortunately many candidates don’t know about the ATS and don’t optimize their résumés. I’m astounded by the number of people who come through our career center unaware of the ATS.

Your best bet is to write keyword-rich résumés that are tailored to each job. Instead of using the spray-and-pray approach, be more focused on positions that are a fit and dissect job descriptions to identify the most important skills and experience required.

Jon Shields of www.jobscan.co explains the ATS in great detail in this post.

Pre-employment aptitude and personality tests

Employers have come to rely on aptitude and personality tests that can determine the candidates who’ll advance in the hiring process. Some employers will swear by them, believing that the software can do a better job of screening individuals than their own HR and recruiter.

Employers use pre-employment tests because they are objective and fair across the board—each candidate answers the same questions—and they’re a good indicator of job-related skills. These tests also measure character traits like integrity, cognitive abilities, emotional intelligence, etc.

Where these tests fail is measuring candidates’ motivation to learn job-related skills. This means if you aren’t completely proficient in a certain CRM software, for example, your ability to learn quickly isn’t factored in.

These tests can also encourage dishonesty. For example, you might get the sense that the test encourages outgoing, extraverted types; but you’re preference is for an individualistic work setting. Ergo, your answers won’t truly reflect your personality.

This article talks about the most common types of pre-employment tests.

Skype interviews

Skype interviews are common these days. Employers use them to save time and, ultimately, money. As well, interviewers get to see your facial expressions and body language. They are akin to face-to-face interviews, save for the fact that candidates aren’t invited to the company. This means candidates must nail the following areas:

  1. Stellar content and demonstrated enthusiasm through your answers and body language.
  2. Professional attire. Dress as though you’re going to a face-to-face interview.
  3. All the mechanics are in check, such as lighting, sound, and background.
  4. Look at the webcam, not at the interviewer/s. Looking at them will make it seem like you’re not making eye contact.

Skype interviews may, in fact, be the final interview, which makes it even more dire for job candidates to be prepared for them. This is particularly true if interviewers are situated all over the world.

Don’t be surprised if an employer wants to conduct a Skype interview with you. One of the areas I didn’t mention is learning how to set up a Skype account. My efforts in setting up mine was frustrating, as I had a hard time figuring out how to access the free version.

Video interviews

Skype interviews can not only be challenging for candidates, they can also be time consuming for the employer, as it requires them to participate. Video interviews, on the other hand, don’t require employer participation, until the interviews are watched and graded.

Job candidates are given a number of questions to answer and are timed during the session. At no point do they see the interviewer/s, unlike a Skype interview. My clients who have participated in video interviews say it’s like talking to a wall.

This might be a bit unnerving, but don’t let it rattle you. Have you ever answered interview questions while looking in the mirror? Think of it this way and you’ll be fine. One more thing, look at your computer’s webcam while answering the questions, just as you would for a Skype interview.

Matthew Kosinski from www.recruiter.com. rates the top five video interview platforms in this post.


There you have it: four tools employers use to determine who to invite for a face-to-face interview. No method of hiring the right person is flawless, but employers feel like they’re making strives to accomplish landing the best candidate. It is up to you to do well in every aspect of the process.

7 posts that can help you interview better

Interviewing for a job is not easy, especially if you take them too lightly. But if you put all the pieces in place, you’ll be successful. In this compilation there are seven posts that provide advice to follow before interviewing for positions.

Group Interview 2

Part 1: be mentally prepared

Sometimes the most difficult part of the interview process is being mentally prepared. Often easier said than done, this post offers some suggestions on how to achieve this.

Part 2: know thyself 

It’s  important that you know yourself before you prepare for interviews. This posts suggest ways to do this. One key to knowing yourself is doing a SWOT analysis. This exercise is well worth doing.

Part 3: research, research, research

Many people fail to research a position, the company, and other important components. This post talks about what to research and how to go about doing it.

Part 4: practice, practice, practice

Would you play a sport, participate in an orchestra, or take a test without practicing? It only makes sense to practice answering questions before the big show.

Part 5: making a good first impression

Oh yes the first impression you make matters. Some interviewers will base their hiring decision on your first impression. Eye contact and a firm handshake are only part of the first impression you make in the interview.

Part 6: answer the difficult questions

Which questions will be asked and how do you successfully answer them. This post talks about the proper way to answer the types of questions you’ll be asked.

Part 7: following up

After all the hard work you’ve done, now you have to seal the deal. Come across as professional and grateful for the opportunity to be interviewed for positions. But there’s more to it.

 

8 stereotypes interviewers have of older workers

I have the privilege of working at an urban career center where the average age of our clients is 53. Given that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects workers 40 years of age or older from discrimination based on their age, you could say our clients are primarily “older workers.”
talk

For older workers, the job search can come with many additional challenges. Sadly, many interviewers hold misconceptions about older workers, their abilities, and their demands. This is unfortunate, as it leads to many perfectly qualified older workers being passed over simply due to their age.

Here are eight common misconceptions that many older workers face when searching for work:

1. Older workers are overqualified

Sometimes, this may be true – often, however, it isn’t. Furthermore, when interviewers assume an older worker is overqualified, they may be ignoring the worker’s desire for their own career.

Some of my clients tell me they’d be bored if they took a job for which they were overqualified. I tell them not to apply for such jobs.

On the other hand, there are some older workers who simply want to move into lower-stress roles. One of my clients told me he no longer wanted to deal with the day-to-day tension he faced during his 20 years as an executive program manager. Now, he works happily as a business developer for a local plumbing business.

2. Older workers expect higher salaries

Many older workers have reached the pinnacles of their careers and, thus, they tend to earn high salaries. However, many older workers also face different financial situations at this stage in their lives. They no longer have mortgage payments, college tuition is paid off, and their children have flown the coop.

As a result, many older workers have little problem adapting to lower salaries. Perhaps they’ll have to downgrade from a Lexus to a Honda Accord, or forego their third vacation in the Alps. For many older workers, this isn’t a big deal.

3. Older workers won’t work as quickly as younger workers

Sure, older workers might not be able to finish an assignment as quickly as their younger colleagues. They probably won’t spend weeks putting in 12-hour days, nor will they gather around the ping pong table to boast with coworkers about staying later than the “old fogeys.”

But do you know what they will do? They’ll work meticulously to complete a project right the first time. Older workers will work smarter, not harder. They won’t make as many mistakes, because they won’t rush.

4. Older workers are trying to steal the interviewer’s job

A common complaint of my older clients is the lack of knowledge many hiring managers demonstrate. These older workers might have 20 or 30 more years of work experience than their younger hiring managers, so it makes sense that they would know more than the person interviewing them does.

However, my older clients also say they simply want to be hired for the job for which they’re applying. They’re not interested in taking the hiring manager’s position. Some of them simply want to step back and rid themselves of management responsibilities altogether, or they want to mentor younger workers.

5. Older workers aren’t dependable

You’re mistaken if you think older workers will miss work more often due to illness, child care, and any other reason. Older workers have strong work ethics and senses of professional dedication, both ingrained in them throughout the courses of their careers.

My father worked six days a week, and I try to emulate his work ethic. I arrive early, even though I don’t have to, and am willing to stay late if necessary. Enough said.

6. Older workers can’t solve problems

Many older workers have experienced loss. In some cases, they’ve lost loved ones or jobs. They’ve had to adapt to adverse situations in real time. They know how to put out fires.

The ability to adapt to adverse situations makes older workers natural problem solvers. They think calmly under pressure because they’ve seen these problems before. They have learned from their mistakes and are less likely to make mistakes at work.

7. Older workers are lazy

A common misconception younger interviewers hold is that older workers are just biding their time until retirement comes. The fact is that if the work is stimulating, older workers will work for years beyond retirement age.

One of my colleagues is beyond retirement age, yet she says she’ll work as long as she can because she enjoys the responsibilities and the people with whom she works. Trust the older candidate when they say they have no plans to retire soon.

8. Older workers aren’t team players

Older workers have more job experience than younger workers, which tends to mean they also have more developed emotional intelligence (EQ). They understand their own limitations and the limitations of their teammates. They know when to pitch in, when to take direction, and even when to act as a mentor.


Younger interviewers, when you’re interviewing an older worker, don’t judge them before getting to know them. Keep in mind the misconceptions I’ve explained above. Prove to be the better person.

Am I saying you should hire an older worker simply because of their age? Of course not. Just give them a chance, as you would for any other worker of any other age.

This post originally appeared in Recruiter.com

5 connections that will optimize your LinkedIn network in 2018

I can’t tell you how many times I hear from job seekers, “Bob, I don’t want to invite people I don’t know into my network. That’s weird.” My response: The whole idea behind online networking is to get to know new people!

linkedin-alone

That said, if you’re on the job hunt, your networking efforts must amount to more than sending and accepting invitations. You need to optimize your LinkedIn network.

What does it mean to have an optimized LinkedIn network? Simply put, it means the people in your network should be able to help you in your job search – and of course, you should be of assistance to them. You’re only as good as your network.

It also means connecting with as many quality LinkedIn members as you can, as the more connections you have, the better chance you have of being ranked higher and showing up closer to the top of a search by hiring authorities. This said, shared connections between you and the searcher plays an important role.

Now, who should you connect with?

Look at your network in terms of tiers, understanding that LinkedIn users from any tier can lead to new opportunities. This diagram shows the most important tiers starting from the bottom and ending at the top:

Connection

Tier 1: Coworkers

Your most important tier of connections comprises people with whom you have worked – e.g., former colleagues and supervisors. I say these people are your most important connections because they know you well and are involved in the industry in which you work.

Many of my clients who land their jobs quickly do so by utilizing their most important tier of connections as references in order to network with their targeted companies. This is why it is essential that you keep up with your former colleagues. You never know when you’ll need them.

Tier 2: People who share your occupation and industry

The second tier contains people who share with you the same occupation and industry. These people are like-minded and have similar aspirations to yours. They should be the core of your network, your largest audience.

Get to know them well, as they will hear of openings at other companies, as well as their own. You should also communicate with your second-level connections frequently by posting updates, sharing articles, sending direct messages, etc.

Tier 3: People who share your occupation but a different industry

The third tier contains people who share the same occupation with you but are in different industries. If you’re a financial analyst, your third tier would be other financial analysts in industries outside of your own.

These LinkedIn members can also be helpful in your job search, especially if you’re considering a career change. They can provide useful information and sage advice.

Tier 4: People at your target companies

The fourth tier comprises people who work at your target companies. They are usually in other occupations and industries. For example, a third-tier connection might be the vice president of a manufacturing company that is one of your target companies. Perhaps the vice president needs an accountant. You’re not a vice president, nor do you work in manufacturing, but you are an accountant.

Job seekers also question whether they should connect with recruiters. My answer is a resounding “Yes,” as you’ll show up on recruiters searches more often and higher in the rankings, based on your relationship.

Tier 5: Fellow Alumni

The fifth tier consists of your fellow alumni, people who attended the same schools as you did at some point. For this reason, they are more likely to connect with you than complete strangers.

One LinkedIn feature I stress to my workshop attendees is the “See Alumni” option, which allows you to narrow your search of targeted alumni according to a few different filters, such as what they studied, the type of work they do, the companies for which they work, and their location.


While some LinkedIn members may be more likely to make for effective connections than others, you can’t discount anyone. You may be surprised at who leads to your next job.

Interested in optimizing your LinkedIn profile further? Check out “10 Ways to Optimize Your LinkedIn Engagement in 2018.”

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

6 Areas on your LinkedIn profile you should optimize in 2018

If you’re wondering how an optimized LinkedIn profile will help you in your job search, the answer is simple: Your profile needs to be found by hiring authorities (recruiters, hiring managers, and human resources reps). These people can’t find your profile unless you utilize search engine optimization.

linkedin-alone

Hiring authorities approach LinkedIn similarly to the way they approach their applicant tracking systems (ATSs). They search the site for certain keywords denoting titles and areas of expertise. To be found, you must show up in the first 4-6 pages of search results, lest you be overlooked.

Let’s consider the following scenario: A hiring authority is searching for a finance manager with expertise in data analysis; advising senior managers on how to maximize profits; business analysis; forecasting; supervising employees responsible for financial reporting; and legal compliance. A Masters of Business Administration (MBA) is preferred, although not required.

If a given finance manager wants to be found by the hiring authority in this scenario, their LinkedIn profile must contain their title and area of expertise. Furthermore, this information must be listed in all areas of the finance manager’s profile in order to maximize their chance of being found. This information can be worked into the finance manager’s profile through the use of keywords.

Areas on Your Profile Where Keywords Count

1. Your Name

This area is valuable real estate, as it is weighed heavily in searches. Any certifications or degrees you hold should be included alongside your name, as they will indicate your experience and expertise. So, our finance manager would list their education, “MBA,” after their name.

2. The Headline

This area should be rich with keywords, and it should brand you for your occupation and industry.

Using our financial manager as an example, their headline would read as:

Finance Manager ~ Data Analysis | Business Analysis | Forecasting | Legal Compliance | Maximizing Profits | MBA

Note that you only have 120 characters – including spaces – to work with in your headline. The above example uses 113 characters.

3. The Summary

Your summary should not be brief. Writing a brief summary prevents you from including all the important keywords we’ve identified. In the case of our finance manager, they would want to repeat “finance manager” and the areas of expertise mentioned in the headline above as often as possible.

Note that you have 2,000 characters with which to work in your summary. Something to keep in mind is that visitors only see the first two lines of your summary, unless they select “See more. Read: The 39 most important in your LinkedIn profile summary

4. Experience

The experience section is often overlooked, which is a huge mistake. Each entry in the experience section contains two factors that need to be considered: the job title and the position description.

Our finance manager’s official title is “finance manager” at ABC Company. While this is an accurate title, it doesn’t show their full value. The finance manager should instead list a title similar to their headline. However, you only have 100 characters here, so you have to be more selective. Our finance manager’s title might read:

Finance Manager ~ Data Analysis | Business Analysis | Forecasting | Legal Compliance | MBA

Here, the phrase, “maximizing profits” was removed. “MBA” could be removed instead, but the designation is more important for our finance manager’s purposes.

While the position description must above all else show the candidate’s value by listing accomplishment statements with quantified results, it is also an area on your LinkedIn profile where you can utilize a great deal of space. You have 2,000 characters here to repeat your title and areas of expertise. Don’t squander them.

5. Education / other sections

The education and other sections are also in play. What many people fail to realize is that they can add narratives to their education section. Yes, you’ll list your institution of learning and location (no dates of graduation), but you can also provide some background information.

Our finance manager might tell a story like this: “I fell in love with accounting and other areas of finance on my way to earning my MBA. Of particular interest to me were data and business analysis. I was given the opportunity to learn these skills during an internship at ABC company, which is where I am now employed.” Notice how this narrative employs the right keywords!

You can also benefit from keywords in the featured skills and endorsements sections. Your skills are counted, and some say the number of times you’re endorsed for them increases your ability to be found.

Other considerations when optimizing your LinkedIn profile

Loading your profile with keywords isn’t going to be enough on its own. Being found by hiring authorities also depends on how many people you’re connected with, as well as who your connections are. In addition, engaging with your connections will increase your chances of being found.

Outside your LinkedIn profile

Highlighting your LinkedIn profile on business cards, resumes, links from other social media can further optimize your profile.


Next week, we’ll explore LinkedIn profile optimization further by looking at how to properly connect with other LinkedIn members.

This post originally appeared on recruiter.com.

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