Category Archives: Career Search

The Summary is the loser out of 3 resume sections. More than 2,000 people have voted

Would you have guessed that out of three resume sections—Skills, Summary, and Education—the Summary is the least necessary? I wouldn’t have. So much has been written on how to write the Summary, how to brand yourself, keep it brief, and show your value to employers.

More than 2,000 people responded to a poll conducted on 6/29—2,236 to be exact—and 46% feel the Summary would be the one to go if given the choice between the three sections. The runner up is Education at 35% and the last chosen to be eliminated, the Skills/Core Competencies at 19%.

People of various occupations commented on their choice. They ranged from recruiters, HR, hiring managers, resume writers, career coaches, and job seekers. The people who voted ran the gamut and many of them left comments, some of which are listed below.

Why the Experience sections wasn’t included in the poll

It seems obvious why Experience wasn’t included as a choice of sections to excluded from a resume. After all, isn’t that where you tout what you’ve accomplished or at least outstanding duties you’ve performed, what employers are most interested in? Pretty much.

If there’s one argument for choosing Experience as least necessary, it would be if the job seeker is a recent grad and their most important section is Education. Even so, most college grads have some work experience during the summer or through internships. This was not a poll option.

Skills/Core Competencies win

I was surprised that Skills/Core Competencies was, in the minds of the voters, the more important of the three sections. Only 19% of voters chose to hack it from the resume if they had to.

Austin Belcak, founder of Cultivated Culture, agrees: “To me it’s the Core Competencies section, Bob. Simply dropping in a skill with no other context provides zero value to the reader.” He uses Data Analysis as an example of how the skill can be misconstrued between two candidates’ resumes.

Biron Clarke, founder at CareerSideKick.com, makes a good point about using skills within the Experience section: “I think you could work around having no Skills section, like Austin said. It’s more convincing to demonstrate your skills in your work experience section, anyway. (Via bullet points showing how you used each skill, etc.)”

Adrienne Tom, founder of Career Impressions, is another one who would eliminate the Skills section, albeit reluctantly: “As always, for me it depends. It depends on both the person and their application avenue. Some job seekers can share some really impactful details in a Summary to hook-and-grab a human reader. Others may need the Skills section or Education section to help with online applications. If I had to pick, I’d be okay with removing a dedicated Skills section and then weaving the skills into actual resume content.

Education comes in second

Education was a tough one for people to cut from the resume. For some, their education means a great deal to them. They attended a top-notch university and want to tout their achievement of completing their degree.

But how relevant is your education unless it is absolutely required for you to secure a position? A teacher at any level comes to mind. But many feel that it’s your experience that really matters, not the fact that you have a Bachelor’s.

Cynthia Pong, JD (she/her) puts it well: “Education would be on the chopping block for me. Where someone went to school can be a factor of many considerations – financial aid, geography, life circumstances – that have nothing to do with whether or not someone can do a particular job well.”

All too often I come across job seekers who are at the top of their game but can’t check off the education box and, therefore, aren’t offered an interview. Is this a way for HR to disqualify candidates from consideration? Perhaps. However, ask most hiring managers if they’d consider someone with experience but sans degree, they’ll take the former.

Summary would be the section to go

And the winner…or the loser is the Summary. This would be the first section to go. There are some well-respected executive resume writers who have said the Summary is no longer necessary. Some believe they add no value to the document, mainly because they’re poorly written.

Ed Han is a recruiter, and he agrees: “All things being equal: I consider the Summary least useful. There I said it. Most job seekers write their own resumes, and the ugly truth is that there’s a really good reason there are professionals who do make a living writing resumes. Many resumes are just not written particularly well, with the worst cases being little more than an excuse for keyword stuffing.”

Another career development pundit, Ed Lawrence, speaks of second-hand information: “I chose ‘Summary’ for this reason—a recruiter once told me he skipped the Summary section because it basically says we are all the best thing since sliced bread. If not for that, I would still be agonizing over Education versus Summary.”

But in defense of the Summary, this is a section of your resume that can clearly display your value statement and what you can deliver to the employer. As long as it’s brief and contains no cliches, I see the Summary as a necessary component of the resume. If done well it can capture the attention of the reader.

The problem with the Summary is that candidates treat it as a place to stick the sparkling words that ring hollow. We’re talking about words like “results-oriented,” “dynamic,” “outstanding,” etc. When someone leads with words like these, I lose all desire to read the rest of the resume.

Have we arrived again at the debate, “Is the Summary dead”? I hope not. I think a well-written Summary can be a great section in which to state your proposed value to the employer, as long as it’s brief, tailored to the position, and contains an accomplishment or two.


The people have spoken

When more than 2,000 people vote, we have a poll. As I said earlier, some of the most knowledgeable resume writers and reviewers have weighed in. Many of them gave excellent reasons for deleting one of the three sections. Some couldn’t choose, or didn’t want to. The fact is that all the three sections are required given most situations, if not all.

It’s 50-50 between Zoom and LinkedIn when it comes to communication, according to 1,177 voters

Well, not exactly. In a poll taken on LinkedIn—in which 1,177 people voted—35% chose video platforms like Zoom to communicate, whereas 34% chose social media sites like LinkedIn. Where did the other 31% go? The two other options were telephone, 16%, and email, 15%*.

The poll ultimately speaks to how people prefer to communicate, whether they’re searching for a job, helping people find jobs, or working in business of one sort or another.

The winner goes to Zoom

Video conferencing has seen enormous growth. According to SkillScout.com, “The video conferencing platform Zoom has seen 200 million daily meeting participants on average at the beginning of 2020 compared an average of 10 million participants in December 2019.”

This comes as no surprise considering it became a regularity to many people since mid-March. Zoom dominated many video conferencing platforms like Skype and Webex if not literally but in our daily vocabulary. I find myself saying to colleagues and friends, “Hey, let’s Zoom.” It’s bad when a product becomes a verb.

A safe assumption as to why people chose Zoom and the like is because they prefer not only speaking to people, they also like seeing with whom they’re speaking. This is good news for Zoom because, according to the same source mentioned above, it has 41% market share.

LinkedIn rules…on LinkedIn

The poll question was not LinkedIn specifically; it was social media in general. I figure that because I conducted this poll on LinkedIn, people naturally assumed I was referring to LI. I’m sure if I conducted the same poll on Facebook or Twitter, all would assume I was speaking of those platforms.

One of my connections, Ana Lokotkotova, chose LinkedIn for practical reasons. She’s a career coach and it’s her first point of contact. She wrote:

I chose LinkedIn because that’s where most of those professional conversations start for me. Then I take them to email or Zoom, but the initial interaction happens mostly on social media.

The definition of “communication” can have different meanings. When we think of communicating with others, we think of direct messaging. But what about writing posts and commenting on posts written about others? Isn’t this considered communicating? I think it is.

The problem with communicating on LinkedIn is that people don’t often check their LinkedIn messaging as much as someone like me and many others I know. We also have LinkedIn set to send any messages to our email, so we never miss a beat. Nonetheless, email is a safer bet if you want to get your correspondences.

Telephone is preferred by a few

If you’re wondering why someone would choose the telephone option, one of my dear LinkedIn connections, Erin Kennedy explains:

If I am talking to clients (initial consultation) it’s over the phone. It would take too long with email. However, I like email for basic/quick communications, “What time would you like to speak? How can I help” etc. I sit in front of this computer all day so it’s pretty easy for me to answer emails quickly.

This makes sense if you’re an executive career coach and resume writer like Erin. Another executive career coach, Sarah Johnston, finds the phone more practical in her line of work and she enjoys the intimacy of using the phone.

I love the phone. I put on my Bose sound proof headphones (a must when you are working from home with “coworkers”) and can have a hands-free conversation. I’m often taking notes (job search strategy or interview coaching sessions) on a pad or typing away if I am doing a resume intake call.

The other thing about a phone is that you can say, “so how are you doing?” And get a real response AND give a real response. People want to work with multi-dimensional people. When writing an email, it feels so insincere these days to say “I trust this email finds you well” because well is pretty relative during a pandemic.

I wonder if people considered texting as a way to communicate before they chose Zoom, LinkedIn, or the phone. If they had, I’m sure more votes would have gone to the phone.

Email is consistent

Email came in last as a means of communication, barely beat out by the telephone. These means of written communication (email) and oral communication (telephone) were the cellar dwellers. Whereas the other means of written and oral communications (Zoom and LinkedIn) were the clear winners.

The final conclusion is that oral communication wins over written communication by one percentage point in all four cases. What does this tell us about humanity? Is it true that the disparity between extraverts and introverts is closer than many believe? Does it have anything to do with these two dichotomies?

Another close LinkedIn connection, Edythe Richards, chose email as her favorite means of communication. She’s an ENFP. The theory that extraverts prefer oral communications is thrown out the window in Edythe’s case. She commented:

E-mail here- and I’m very fortunate that although my day job uses Zoom, we rarely use video. So my wardrobe these days can’t be beat!

*In full disclosure, I chose email for a very clear reason: I prefer to communicate via writing. I wrote about this in a post after I had experienced an excruciating telephone conversation from which I couldn’t escape. I also prefer to return phone messages with email. In this way I have control.


I wonder if the results would have been the same if we were not going through a pandemic. Would people still be using Zoom as often? Or has COVID-19 caused social awareness in a technical manner. Has it replaced human interaction for the time being or forever? That would truly be a shame.

Answering, “Why do you want this job?” 3 times when it’s a tough sell

This is one question you must be prepared to answer in an interview. You might think it’s airtime filler for interviewers—a question to check off their list. Not so fast, there are times when interviewers are concerned. Very concerned. Here are three major concerns interviewers might have.

One of them might be if you’re changing careers. Another might be if your commute will be like 60 miles each way. The third, you’re willing to step down in title and salary. In all three cases, you’ll need to make a great argument for why you want the job.

You’re pivoting to a new career

In the minds of the interviewers they might wonder if your decision was thought out, or if this is the only option you have. You’ve exhausted your unemployment benefits and need a job quick could be another thought that crosses their minds.

I made a career pivot from marketing to career development. The thing was I sincerely wanted to get into career development. I didn’t hate marketing; I just wanted to help people land employment. So in my mind it was an easy sell.

In your mind, it needs to be an easy sell as well. If you’re tired of teaching high school physics and want to get into technical training, your answer to why you want the technical training position has to take the interviewers through your thought process. Here’s a possible answer:

While I enjoyed many aspects of teaching, I feel that training various departments and outside stakeholders will be extremely exciting. I know there will be travel involved, but I’ve always enjoyed traveling to other states in the U.S. as well as internationally.

And your product line is exciting. I can see learning more about video conferencing quickly. I’ve already used your top-line product in my physics classes. In fact, I had to teach other faculty how to use the product, in some cases in group settings.

If you have any questions about my transitioning from academia to the corporate world, I will embrace the excitement I enjoyed before teaching fifteen years ago. That’s one thing I really missed when I was teaching. Some of my colleagues (chuckles) would tease me about being so “corporate.”

It’s always been hard for me to make up stories. I believe this is true for most people. Point being is that you have to want to change your career. And, you need to know to which career you want to pivot. Don’t enter the interview like it just dawned on you yesterday that you want a new venture.

You’ll be driving to hell and back

The reality is that hiring authorities take a serious pause when they see you live, say, 50 or more miles from the company. I recall showing a recruiter one of my client’s resumes. He took two seconds to look at it before saying, “No good, she lives 50 miles from our company.”

Didn’t he want to see her qualifications? She was an engineer who knew the language the company was using, C++, and had experience with JAVA. In addition, she had security clearance, something his company required. Still, there was no chance she was getting an interview.

This won’t always be the case, but you will be asked the question of why you would want to work so far from home. Interviewers might wonder if you’re desperate for a job. Or they might think, “Yeah, Bob likes traveling 100 miles each workday. Put millage on his 2009 Honda Civic.” Not likely.

You have to have an answer for the recruiter whose first question will be, “So, I see you live in Lowell. Um, that’s 45 miles to Worcester. Why are you willing to travel this distance?” You’ll want to make this short and sweet, and be truthful.

I understand your concern. It’s a valid one. However, I’m used to traveling long distances haven grown up in the mid-west. A two-hour drive there and back was nothing. So a 50-minute drive really won’t be a problem.

In addition, the second job you see on my resume was a 100-mile round commute. I was never late for work, nor did I call in for a snow day during the three years I worked there. What it comes down to is I see this job as a great opportunity, which I’d like to talk about.

In this answer, the candidate negates the recruiter’s concern talking about having made a similar commute and assuring the recruiter that they were never late for work. This is a valid concern for hiring authorities. Make sure your answer is compelling.

You’re taking a step back and willing to accept less money

This scenario has been a common theme with my clients, as a majority of them are mid-management and above. In fact, one of my former customers took a position that pays him $20,000 less that what he made. He claims to be happy for a number of reasons.

First, he’s finally working. As someone who was out of work for more than a year, he was more than ready to be “on the job” again. This is what interviewers need to know; people who’ve been out of work want nothing more than to work.

Of course there are limits to which they will go. For example, they won’t take 50% of what they were previously making. This doesn’t make economic sense.

Second, his life style actually improved. The bills he had are no longer there. Car payments, mortgage, children’s tuition, all gone. Previously he drove 30 miles to work, which took him an hour and a half because of traffic. This equals work-life balance. Big time.

Third, he’s no longer at the director level. He’s an individual contributor responsible only to his manager whom he claims to like. In other words, he took a step back. What interviewers also don’t realize is that there are job seekers who don’t want the stress they once had to endure.

If you find yourself being questioned about why you’re willing to accept less salary and take a step down, consider your financial situation and career goal. The above scenario might fall in line with your life.


Of the many questions you should be prepared to answer, this is one that often gets overlooked. It takes job candidates off guard. But interviewers are concerned. They might think you’re a risk if you fall under one of these three categories. Be ready to put them at ease and hopefully mean it.

This post was inspired by a thought-provoking long post.

The LinkedIn profile Headline is the MOST important section, according to 46% of people polled

Wouldn’t you know it, the LinkedIn profile Headline is deemed more important than the About and Experience sections. In a recent poll conducted on LinkedIn, in which 1,189 people voted, 46% of the voters chose the Headline over Experience, 30%, and About, 24%.

I get why the Headline is considered to be important. It and the photo are the first things you see when LinkedIn members show up in places like your homepage stream, invitations, and People you may know on LinkedIn. And you don’t even see LinkedIn members’ whole headline.

There’s another point to consider, your Headline is weighed heavier than other sections of your profile including About and Experience verbiage; although it’s said that titles in your Experience section are weighed heavily as well. So build them up.

This is not an old debate. Many years ago, the importance of the Headline was discussed. I remember back then it was argued by many people that the Headline was the most important section of the profile. Now it’s official.

I assumed that given the fact that the About section is now its own section, it would be considered more important. I was wrong.

What is important is that you make your Headline worth reading. Simply leaving it at the default setting when you enter a position is not going to do it. It reads like: Purchasing Manager at ABC Company. There’s so much more you can add to the headline:

Purchasing Manager at ABC Company. Saving Costs, Boosting Productivity, Sustaining Supplier Relationships

You need to show the value you’ll deliver to employers. What sets you apart? You could go with keywords like: Career Coaching ✦ Interview Training ✦ CPCC/CEIP ✦ Resume and Profile Development

Or you could create some intrigue which is my intent with: FACT: being unemployed is no fun❗️FACT: it’s temporary❗️ FACT: I’m in your corner❗️ LinkedIn Trainer | Career Coach | Blogger | LinkedIn Top Voices 🏆 #LinkedInUnleashed

Maybe a tagline is your thing: Emotional Intelligence is the difference maker to bring humanity, humility, and heart into the workplace

However you choose to grab potential visitors’/connections’ attention is up to you, but one thing is for sure, the bland default Headline LinkedIn gives you when you start a new position isn’t going to cut it. I don’t think the people who voted for Headline were thinking this is the way to go.

Lastly, most agree that writing, Seeking Next Opportunity or any deviation of this is a no no. Simply stating your situation doesn’t show your value and it can be a sign of desperation. My solution to this is to write about your unemployment situation in the About section.


What about the About section?

This is where you tell your story. It’s a place to talk about the Why you do what you do, What you do, How you do it, and list some of your accomplishments. People have various ideas of how to write their About section.

One simple way to do it is to structure it after your Headline. For example, I highlight my LinkedIn Training, Career Coaching, and Blogging expertise for each one. Of course I open with two brief paragraphs. In this case the What followed by the How. That’s the wonder of the About section; it’s about you.

The About section is also a platform for being personal by using first-person point of view. It’s vastly different from you resume Summary. I see the resume Summary as stiff and lacking personality, whereas the profile Summary gives you voice.

The low score totally surprised me. I thought About was making a real dash to the finish line as of late. There was a time fairly recently when it was embedded in the Snapshot area as an introduction. It didn’t even have its own name. In the past it was called Summary, then nothing, then Summary again, and now About.

Here’s an article I wrote on creating a Kick-Ass Summary.


It’s about time Experience gets some respect

Many recruiters who took the poll wrote in the comments that the Experience section is the bomb. It’s where they go first. Sure, the Headline matters, but what’s most important is the meat, e.g., accomplishments that show a candidate’s value.

One recruiter writes: “I’ll be honest, as an executive recruiter, I rarely pay much attention to someone’s Headline – I look to the experience section and then to the About section….”

Another writes: “As a hiring manager, I want to see a detailed Experience section. I’ll only read the About section if the experience is interesting.”

Finally: “As a recruiter, I care most about their experience. Everything else is ‘additional reading.’ (Although the About section is important for locale/type of work.)”

I would have chosen Experience over the Headline precisely for the reasons stated above; it’s where you get a sense of what a person has accomplished if written well. Unfortunately many people neglect their Experience sections, thinking that their title tells it all.

This is a huge mistake. Think about how you can wow readers with outstanding accomplishments—what recruiters want to see. You can even write your Experience section in first-person point of view, which makes your profile more of a networking document…a personal resume.

Back to what I said about how the title is weighed heavily in terms of keywords. Simply listing your official title at your company doesn’t do you justice. Take this CEO for a small company who gives his title more description:

Chairman, CEO & President ~ New Business Development | Marketing | Sales | Capital Raises

Here’s a post I wrote on how the Experience sections shouldn’t be ignored.


I wanted to sum up this article by again talking about the strength of the headline but thought someone else could say it better.

Laura Smith-Prolx wrote in the comments: “The Headline sets the tone for nearly everything else in your Profile… helping attract the right audience, convey your brand value, and show the strength of your industry expertise.

“When you intentionally craft your Headline (refusing to use the default value of your current job title), you quickly realize it has the power to turn casual observers into visitors of your LinkedIn page.

“While I also believe the About section is too-often ignored, it has little prominence vs. the Headline, which is always present on every action you take (posting, commenting, showing up in a list of other users, etc.).”

Finally, LinkedIn is rolling out a longer Headline ( approximately 250 characters) and dumping the 120 character two-liner. Now we’re going to have that debate akin to should Twitter increased its 140 character count to 280? I always said that was a mistake. Maybe this new character count will be a mistake as well.

10 Resume articles that will help you in the job search

This compilation of resume writing articles is based on my and others’ knowledge of writing resumes that will get you to an interview. Read one or many of these articles. As I publish articles, I’ll add them to this compilation. Enjoy, and I hope the resume articles help you get to your next interview.

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.

The Summary is the loser out of 3 resume sections. More than 2,000 people have voted

Would you have guessed that out of three resume sections—Skills, Summary, and Education—the Summary is the least necessary? I wouldn’t have. So much has been written on how to write the Summary, how to brand yourself, keep it brief, and show your value to employers

Does resume length matter? A poll and 13 career authorities say it does

Just when you thought the debate was over, a poll and 13 career authorities prove differently. Should a resume be one page, two pages, or three pages long? Or does it depend?

Why your LinkedIn profile resembles a combination resume

What is a combination resume? Simply put it’s a functional resume and chronological resume combined. Your LinkedIn profile About section satisfies the first component and, well, we know how LinkedIn’s Experience section is a chronological format.

Hot resume trends for 2020: What the experts say

A decade has ended and now a new one is upon us, so what will 2020 bring in terms of résumé trends? One thing is for sure; if you plan to submit the same tired résumé for all positions, your chances of success will hover around zero percent. Some résumé trends will stay the same as they did in 2019; whereas others will change, or at least be reinforced.

Is it time to declutter your resume? 10 items to consider

I’m not a proponent of limiting the number of résumé pages to one, or even two. But seven-pages is definitely overdoing it. Now, I’m asking you what has to go when you declutter your résumé. Here are 10 items you should remove from your document before submitting it for a position.

Store your resume and 6 other documents on your phone

Consider this situation: you’re hundreds of miles away from your computer, where your résumé is stored. A hiring manager from a desired company sends you a text that reads, “Saw your LinkedIn profile and am impressed. Trying to fill an operations manager position. Like to see your resume today.” The only device you have is your phone.

3 reasons why your resume alone will not land you a job

One of my close LinkedIn connections told me that a client of hers would only pay her for writing his résumé if she would guarantee he’d land a job. Needless to say, she didn’t take him on as a client. I think most rational individuals would agree that she made the correct decision. There are NO guarantees that a resume will land you a job.

Is the resume Summary dead?

In this article, we take a look at the resume Summary and if it’s even useful. Experts weigh in. Result, most find the Summary a useful section to sell yourself early on. Others say to leave it off the resume, as they go directly to the Experience section.

45 resume words that need to be made extinct

There are a lot of words that should be left off your resume. Check out the list. Does your resume have some of the words on the list?

Does résumé length matter? A poll and 13 career authorities who say it does

As I was reviewing a client’s résumé, the first thing that stuck me was its length. It was four pages long. It’s not that I’m opposed to a four-page résumé. As I’ve said in the past, “If you have the goods, length doesn’t matter.” And I’m sure many resume writers would agree.

Page length was not my only focus. I also harped on the “so what?” factor. For each action I asked him, “What was the impact of your actions on the organization?” Did he save time, increase participation, improve processes, et cetera? Sure enough, there were some significant impacts.

By the time we were done, his résumé was a healthy three-pager. Are you thinking that three pages is too long? I don’t blame you for thinking that. Based on a poll I created on LinkedIn, the majority of people think a three-page résumé is too long. Who said the debate of resume length is dead?

The 1,007 people who took the poll certainly have an opinion.

The poll question was, “How many pages should a résumé be for someone with more than 5 years of stellar employment experience?” The possible answers were: “one page,” “two pages,” or “two or more pages.”

The clear winner was two pages, garnering 62% of the vote. One page came in a distant second place with 27%, and two or more pages came in last with 11%. I guess I lost big time; I voted for two pages or more. But as I’ve said, “If you have the goods, length doesn’t matter.” To a point.

Note: I also clarify by saying the work history must be within 15-years. You don’t want to go back 30- or 40-years in your work history and, thereby, produce a seven-page résumé or, more to the point, information that isn’t relevant and might reveal your age.


Here are some of the comments people posted with the poll. I hope no one takes umbrage with me for posting their thoughts. Of the 65 comments, I’ve chosen some of the ones that stood out.

Aiming for one page is a good exercise in writing in a targeted way and concisely. However, for many professionals who need a straightforward résumé to convey their qualifications for an area of expertise, 2 pages is sufficient and helpful. And, every once in a while, a 3-page résumé is warranted. (I feel the “boo” coming at me from some people in typing that statement.)

Rachel Akers

Bob McIntosh, CPRW, I completely ditto Rachel Akers. I rarely write a one-page résumé for someone with significant experience. As a recruiter, I always felt like I didn’t have enough info on a candidate for my hiring manager when there was only a one-page résumé. It left way too many questions.

Ashley Watkins

I completely agree with you, Rachel Akers and Bob. Résumé length is different for different people. For many, 2 pages are sufficient, but for some, the content may extend to 3 pages. My executive-level clients often need more, but the content is always strategically selected with the audience top of mind. Ask and answer: “does this detail matter to THIS audience?” If not, remove it.

Adrienne Tom

Agreed. I hate rules when it comes to page length, Bob McIntosh. Each person is different and has different types of experiences. We can’t box someone in with one page just because they have five-years experience. Some of the college/new grads I work with gained so much work experience in and immediately after college that it really breaks the one-page “rule”.

Erin Kennedy

It’s funny, one of the most frequently asked questions of Recruiters is about resume length. I think the answer is: It depends on how much experience you have. For a new grad, one page might be sufficient. For someone who has been in the workforce for years, 2+ pages is fine. Contrary to popular belief, Recruiters and hiring managers want to see details. Also, if we see a candidate that we like, we won’t be counting resume pages!

Cynthia Wright

I concur on page length in terms of capturing the right information, with the caveat to look at who is hiring you. A VP of Operations is likely to be hired by a COO, who is typically focused on details and may prefer multiple pages. Investors, on the other hand, want to see your ROI front and center. A CTO résumé need not take 4+ pages, as that individual will be hired by a non-technical executive. Ensuring the audience gets what they need is critical – and I always look at audience first.

Laura Smith-Proulx

I think it depends. No hiring manager dives into a stack of résumés thinking “Okay let’s find a good one-page résumé person to hire” or “Let’s find someone with the best 2-page résumé to hire”. It just doesn’t work like that. Some people are better off with a 1-page résumé. Some people will sell themselves better with a 2-page résumé. I think it shouldn’t be any longer than necessary, though If you can fit everything that’s relevant/important on one page, then do it.

Biron Clark

This one is a sort of depends answer. I can see a really good résumé for someone with five years’ experience be one page if all the information is very focused on a specifically targeted role. Generally, I would say two pages are okay if the content justifies it.

Shelley Piedmont

In my opinion the length of relevant experience, skills, education, etc are all factors. Generally 1-2 pages is good. I do not believe we should eliminate relevant content on a résumé for the sake of brevity, nor should we ‘fluff’ a résumé to reach two pages. Let the experience and goal drive the résumé.

Scott Gardner

I have operated in this field for many years. I believe you need 2 or 3 pages if you want a 60K Plus job. If you are working in retail. You only need 1 page. If you are Business Professional looking to Market yourself, you need a résumé that is detailed, has main keywords,and is attractive to the reader. I think that 2 Pages is sufficient. Three pages may be overdoing it.

David Dueh Chied III

Biron Clark, depending on the company, and the bandwidth of the recruiter, there just isn’t enough time to really review a complete résumé as it is — let alone make time to read multiple pages. In the end, the goal shouldn’t be to rely on your résumé being your ticket to hire, so don’t obsess over adding in everything.

Robert Liedtka, PHR

“Forcing the situation” to make all the information fit in only 1 page won’t really help the candidate in most of the cases.

2 pages is “normally” a good length to balance the most relevant information and its distribution in a nice way.

I normally think twice about going to the 3rd page – and try only to do it if all the information presented is really relevant and directly related to the next career goals, avoiding really old work experience in different areas, courses done +10 years ago, etc.

Juliana Rabbi

As a recruiter, I think it is short-sighted to hold by old rules. Rather than be constrained by page length, I like to see candidates use space effectively. If you are a seasoned professional – and have a ton of accomplishments that can’t be well articulated in less than 2 pages – then feel free to add that extra page. However, the real lesson is to use the space wisely and ensure you are listing accomplishments (as opposed to just job duties) in a succinct and impactful way.

Heather Spiegel

There you have it; opinions vary on how long a résumé should be. The majority of our experts feel that a two-page résumé is warranted, maybe even a three-pager, but there are some who prefer the one-page résumé due to time constraints. The résumé-length debate hasn’t died.

If you’re curious what some recruiters have to say about the topic, visit this conversations on Recruiters Online Facebook group. Many of them say 10 years is sufficient.

It’s all important when it comes to your LinkedIn campaign

An optimized profile is important, but it’s not the end all be all. A strong LinkedIn campaign also includes a focused network and engagement. This is clear based on a poll I conducted on LinkedIn. At the end of the poll, 787 people weighed in. I would say this is a legitimate case study.

poll results

As you can see from the poll, 49% of the voters gave the nod to “They’re Equally Important,” but that answer was too easy in retrospect. So “Engagement with One’s Network” earns the champion’s cup with nine more percentage points than the profile and network options combined.

Hold on a second, you’re probably thinking, “How can one even engage without a profile or a focused network?” This is a good point. My question is, “Would you show up to a dinner with a pie that is short by one-third? The point is that you need all of it to be successful.

An optimized profile is not enough

Linkedin declared this a while back when their members were loading their profiles with keywords, namely in the headline and position titles. I once came upon a profile that had—no lie—approximately 900 instances of “web designer” on it. Things were getting crazy.

It’s widely agreed that one needs at least to have a quality photo and a strong headline to start their LinkedIn campaign. But surely that’s not enough.

There’s also an industry-related background photo to consider. You can go with the light-blue, dot-line, thingy LinkedIn provides as the default image, but that’s a sign of, “I didn’t know I can change it,” “I don’t have time to change it,” or “I don’t give a damn.”

Your About section has become the talk of the town. Tell your story, show your value, have a Call to Action, are familiar pieces of advice you’ve heard. I wrote on this subject when it was still called a Summary. Rather than repeat what I’ve written, I ask you to read the article.

I constantly complain that people don’t explain what they’ve done at their positions. It’s as if the Experience section is an afterthought. And yes, you can write it in the first-person point of view so it doesn’t resemble your resume. Also, just deliver the juicy stuff; don’t include your mundane duties.

Very briefly I’ve explained why you need a profile in order to show your value. You’re probably saying, “But you left out a lot of information.” I have.

Read more about the profile here.

The oft-forgotten network

According to the poll, this ranks last at 10% which seems kind of ridiculous. With whom would you communicate without your network? It’s like having no family members, friends, and work associates in your life. You have to have people with whom to share information.

That’s why you need to be selective in terms of who you invite to your network and accept invitations from. You want to have conversations—i.e., long-form posts, shared articles, comments on posts, articles you’ve written—with people who actually care.

Read more about the LinkedIn network here.

I go by the cliche 80-20 rule; 80% of your network should be like-minded, 20% of it people you find interesting. Am I successful in this effort? Do as I say, not what I do.

Of course what you do makes a difference. If you’re looking for work, for example, you want to focus on people who will get you closer to your final destination such as your former colleagues, people at your target companies, recruiters, and like-minded people who are in your industry.

If you’re currently working, your range of connections will be slightly different. You might consider connecting with people in various occupations and industries. Salespeople would connect with people in vertical industries, as would marketers and accountants, etc.

Many of my connections are career coaches who have a client base of a variety of occupations and industries, so they connect with executive level and mid-management job seekers. Nonetheless, they also have in their networks other career developer types.

Engagement is tough but necessary

Returning to job seekers; here’s where many of them drop the ball, and I speculate that if they voted in the poll, they chose either the profile or network options. My reason for saying this is because I rarely see them engaging on LinkedIn.

I see two reasons for this. First, engaging might not be their thing. They might not enjoy writing articles, sharing and commenting on articles, scripting long posts, or even short posts. Furthermore, they probably don’t see the value in becoming visible on LinkedIn. Huge mistake, in my mind.

The second reason they don’t engage is that they don’t feel they have a “right” to. I recall one client who when I asked him why he didn’t engage on LinkedIn, told me this exact reason. And he was a former director of communications. I repeat, a former director of communications.

Another client of mine wrote a wonderful piece on working in chaos and as an executive, he encourages it. He ran the piece by me for my approval but never did anything with it. I bet dollar to a donut now that he’s working he’ll probably turn it into an article. Or maybe not.

The sad fact of the matter is that the majority of LinkedIn members who engage on LinkedIn are the same people over, over, and over. I often think, “Where are the new folks?” When I see new contributors, they engage maybe once or twice.

Here’s the major rule for job seekers: if you’re going to communicate with your network, don’t go at it half-assed. Take the plunge. Job seekers especially need to get their faces and headlines on hiring authorities’ radars.

Read about engaging on LinkedIn here.

And lastly, don’t let low views, reactions, or just a few comments deter you. The people who are getting a lot of love have been at this for a while, but this isn’t their playground. Be the new kid on the block who asks to be part of the pick-up game. The next Michael Jordan.


So yeah, answer number four might have been the easy pick, but this is what it essentially boils down to; you have to focus on all three of the components. Focusing on only your profile won’t garner results. Boasting you have thousands of connections won’t do any good unless you communicate with them. Complete the job by performing all three.

12 LinkedIn experts weigh in on where to start your LinkedIn campaign

Working for a One-Stop career center, I’m often confronted by job seekers who haven’t used LinkedIn but know they must in order to shorten their job search. Some of them believe they should begin by writing a compelling profile which makes good sense. But is a profile alone enough?

woman in white dress shirt using laptop computer

Put yourself in my clients’ shoes; you’re starting with nothing. Of course you need to have a profile, and the best you might accomplish is copying and pasting your resume to your profile for the time being. First and foremost Sarah Johnston advises to create a strong headline:

The first thing a job seeker should do is to consider their headline to make sure that it delivers the most value. LinkedIn only gives you 120 characters for the headline. Make sure that you are maximizing those characters to the fullest with search terms.  No recruiter is searching for #ONO or people open to new opportunities UNLESS they need a temp or contract worker for an immediate fill role. Use words that a recruiter would actually search for to find someone like you.

So where do you go from there? Perhaps just as important is inviting people to the party. In other words, building a targeted network of the most important tier of connections and expanding from there.

And equally important would be communicating with your network. After all, if you don’t engage, your out of sight out of mind. I know it sounds like a cliché but any LinkedIn expert will agree that engagement is key to your campaign.

I wanted to know what great LinkedIn minds think about how one should start and maintain their LinkedIn campaign. Here’s what they wrote:

A strong profile is necessary to start

Mark Anthony Dyson reminds us to make sure you have the basics in place, which are often overlooked. He says you headline drives visibility.

The focus of getting your LinkedIn profile to 100% accomplishes the purpose of a presence:

1) The completed profile gets favored over non-completed profiles in the LinkedIn algorithm. As soon as you complete it, the benefits will come quicker.

2) People will feel comfortable interacting and building a relationship with you.

3) Although it doesn’t have to be perfect, you do want to make sure the grammar is as accurate as possible. Typos and grammar errors de-appreciate the real estate your profile uses.

4) A customized URL for your profile ranks 1st in Google results. It will be the first thing people will see when your name is Googled. Your first impression is essential to reaping the benefits.

Your headline and summary drive your visibility. The headline catches the eye of the referrer and makes me want to read your summary. Optimize the character count of your headline on the mobile devices of 220 characters while the desktop limit to 120 characters. Focus on value rather than position because you can’t take your job with you. If your summary is the story you want employers and recruiters to know outside of your resume, the LinkedIn algorithm will embrace you.

Andy Foote says be deliberate when writing your profile. Do your research by looking at what others write.

Before you do anything with your own LinkedIn page, look around. Peruse a few career blogs, search on “LinkedIn” within them. Then spend half a day browsing LinkedIn, search on relevant hashtags like #linkedin and #linkedintips and #andydoeslinkedin (that last one is mine).

Look at as many profiles as you can and take notes, what do you think makes a “strong profile” and why? What elements do you need? What impresses you? What should you avoid doing? After you’ve thoroughly researched and made notes, roll your sleeves up and get to work on creating your new and refreshed LinkedIn presence.

Once you’ve finished, pick 5 people you trust and ask them for their honest opinion of your new profile page, take before and after screenshots if you really want to show them the transformation that has taken place. If they suggest changes, implement those if it makes sense to you to do so. Thank them for their feedback.

Understand that the LinkedIn profile is a living and breathing document, it needs to change as you change, so get into the habit of updating and tweaking it regularly. It is also a powerful networking device. Thousands of people will look at it over the course of your life!

Susan Joyce encourages new LinkedIn users to be cognizant of using keywords and making sure your profile is consistent with your resume.

Starting or Restarting LinkedIn

If you are new to LinkedIn or haven’t been active on LinkedIn while employed, start by building or updating your profile. A robust and focused LinkedIn profile is the foundation for a successful job search today. Know what you want to do next, and focus your LinkedIn profile to show you are qualified (very important keywords!).  Then, add contact information and make your profile “public” in the privacy settings.

Recruiters rely on LinkedIn because your colleagues, family, and friends see your LinkedIn profile, so misrepresentations are less likely.

Your LinkedIn profile should support the claims made on your resume and demonstrate your understanding of the importance of online visibility.  When your profile contains examples of related accomplishments demonstrating those qualifications, your claims of skills or expertise are more effective. Recommendations from former bosses, co-workers, and clients plus endorsements for those skills, increase your credibility (and keywords!).

The profile plus professional visibility in posts and comments are the foundation of your professional credibility. If you are employed, your LinkedIn profile and activities show management and colleagues your knowledge and expertise while, at the same time, attracting the attention of potential clients and, possibly, new employers (more keywords!).

Shelly Elsliger emphasizes using this time to have fun on LinkedIn and write your story to attract recruiters.

In the face of Covid-19, LinkedIn has become an even cooler space to hang out for both job seekers and recruiters. To continue a level of normalcy, in the face of uncertain times, LinkedIn has gained popularity because it does an amazing job at helping job seekers tell their career stories, showcase their brands, build their professional relationships, and find countless opportunities.

For recruiters, it is an ideal space to potentially find who they are actively searching for. However, there is a caveat; for employers to find the “best sellers,” they need to be able to successfully search and then decide which stories need to be explored further.

Therefore, it is necessary for job seekers to write their stories first because the story is what highlights relevant skills, experience, education, unique attributes, and personality characteristics of potential candidates. It also indicates to recruiters just how confident and invested job seekers are in relation to their professional brand. The LinkedIn story acts as the foundation to help build credibility, support activity, and deepen connection on LinkedIn

Take it further with targeted network and engagement

Kevin Turner writes that creating a targeted audience and engaging with them is also important. 

As much has been written about LinkedIn profile best practices, I’m not going to spend our time on that.

To really accelerate your momentum on LinkedIn focus on Targeting your Audience & Engaging with Knowledge to build your Brand and Demand.

Targeting Your Audience on LinkedIn:

  • Research, Find, and [Follow] at least 25 to 100 Target Companies
  • Research, Find, and [Follow] all Leadership of your Target Companies
  • Set up Job Search Alerts for those Companies and Select [Notify recruiters]
  • Visit each company [Page] and [Follow] their #HashTags, so they appear in your Feed
  • Set up Google Alerts for each Target Company and their Leadership

Engaging Your Audience:

  • Know each company’s and leader’s pain points and how you may be able to solve them
  • Watch your Feed for Post Opportunities from your Targets that you can intelligently contribute too by [Like], [Comment], & [Reshare]
  • If a conversation sparks, be ready to nurture the process, and if this becomes a repeatable pattern send a personalized invite to [Connect]
  • At the right time, reach out to your new Connection with a request for their advice in the form of an informational interview

Follow these steps, and your LinkedIn experience can be transformed into a powerful campaign focused on creating your dream opportunity.nce can be transformed into a powerful campaign focused on creating your dream opportunity.

Ana Lokotkova offers that once your profile is completed you need to get on the radar of the people who work in the companies for which you want to work

Once you have a compelling LinkedIn profile, you want to find ways to get more eyes on it. No matter how many keywords you pack into it, your LinkedIn profile will not pop up at the tops of recruiters’ and employers’ searches unless you are active on the platform. That’s just how the algorithm works.

What’s the best way to get started, you ask? Create a list of companies you’d like to work for. This list can include not only your target companies, but also their competitors.

Next step is to identify people who work in those companies and check them out on LinkedIn. Go to their profiles and head straight to their “Activity” tab. That’s how you’ll know what content they engage with and which communities they are part of.

You need to show up there as well! Start engaging and commenting. This is a very effective way to break the ice and warm up those contacts before you reach out to them directly. It’s much easier to start a conversation once they see how much you have in common.

Virginia Franco states that engagement, not simply liking, as well as finding decision-makers at target companies are key to success.

I recommend starting by working to complete as many portions of the profile as possible, but in a pinch at a minimum have a headshot, customized headline, About, Experience, Education and Skills/Endorsement section complete.

From there, I recommend posting something at least once a week (once a day/3X per week is preferable), and/or engaging in the post of a handful of others that appear to be leaders and engaged on the platform. While liking someone’s article is good, adding a comment of your own is best to capitalize on LinkedIn’s algorithms.

Lastly, I recommend they use LinkedIn to identify decision-makers at companies they are targeting and strive for at least 5 email/Inmail outreaches daily. These outreaches should express their desire to learn, not to ask for a job.

Madeline Mann suggests starting with the profile basics and then reaching out to hiring managers at your target companies.

A great LinkedIn strategy is holistic, but the 3 factors that will dramatically outweigh the rest are your: photo, headline, and outreach strategy. Your headline should convey the value you add to the world by containing the same keywords that repeatedly appear in the job descriptions you are pursuing. If you are unsure how to uncover which keywords to include, follow these steps.

Next, your photo. It is important that you appear competent and likeable in your image. The biggest mistakes I see are selfies, poor lighting, and strange crops (cropping others out, making the crop to be your full body). Take the time to take a nice photo of yourself outside with your phone while dressed professionally, and then get feedback on Photo Feeler.

Finally, the outreach strategy. Contact people at your target companies. Focus on getting a referral or getting in contact with the hiring manager. It’s a common mistake to reach out to the recruiter because they have a flooded inbox and ultimately are not a decision-maker when it comes to choosing a candidate. For a deeper explanation of how to do this, including templates of what to say, you can go here.

Biron Clark advises to go the extra mile and impress hiring authorities with articles and long posts you’ve written on your subject matter.

If you want to stand out from other job seekers on LinkedIn, you have to do something they’re not doing! I’m talking about going the extra mile.

This doesn’t mean you should skip the basics, though. I recommend setting up a great profile first and focusing on the “quick wins”– areas that don’t take much time but get seen often and can have a big impact,  namely your headshot, headline, most recent jobs, etc.

Here’s one idea that I strongly recommend: Write articles on LinkedIn about a topic related to your industry. They don’t have to be extremely long; 500-750 words are fine. Then pin your selected articles to LinkedIn’s Featured section.

When hiring managers see your profile, your selected articles that you’ve pinned to your profile might be the only one they’ve seen all day!

Anyone can do what I suggest, even a recent graduate or someone with just a couple of years of experience. Here’s an example:

Imagine you’ve worked in customer service for 9 months. That’s not much experience at all, right? Yet you could still write a 500-word piece on: “10 customer service phrases that calm angry customers and boost customer satisfaction ratings.”

Now, this would really show your expertise and impress hiring authorities.

Have an overall plan

Maureen McCann gives us a 5-step plan including a profile with strong SEO, being referred to people with whom you want to connect, and following a plan of attack.

𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐟𝐢𝐥𝐞. Think of this as your home page. This is where people go to learn more about you. It teaches others what you’re all about and whether they want to connect with you.

𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐩𝐡𝐨𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐠𝐨 𝐨𝐧 𝐋𝐢𝐧𝐤𝐞𝐝𝐈𝐧. Invest time in getting these two things right because people will see these things before they ever read your profile.

𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐩 𝐰𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝. SEO is important if you want employers to find you, but why wait? Go out and find the people you want to meet. Use connections you already have to introduce you to connections you want to make. Don’t be shy. Ask for what you want. “Hey Bob, I see you know Oprah, I’d love it if you could introduce me?”

𝐄𝐧𝐠𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬. Comment, discuss and ask questions. Follow the topics that most interest you. Employers are watching so be sure to be professional and refrain from complaining.

𝐇𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐚 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧.. Be consistent with what you share with your audience. Yes, you can have multiple interests and hobbies, but dedicate your LinkedIn profile to sharing content that both attracts employers and demonstrates the value of hiring you!

Adrienne Tom says to focus on building a robust profile, connecting with people of interest, and spending meaningful time on LinkedIn engaging with your connections.

If you are new to LinkedIn, use a 3-pronged approach. Start by building a robust and tailored LinkedIn profile. To support profile success, ensure you know what types of people and opportunities you want to attract to your page, and align LinkedIn content with the needs of the target audience. Using the right keywords in your content can help you get found.

Next, connect with people of interest. Research and engage with potential decision-makers, recruiters, or people who could potentially support your job search. LinkedIn is a giant database just waiting to be leveraged in search activities. Use it thoroughly to get connected with the right people.

Finally, get active on the site. This third step – which is often forgotten or overlooked – is critical for site success! If getting active seems overwhelming, break down actions into smaller steps like: spend 10-minutes each day reading the feed; make one meaningful comment on a post of interest; and connect with one person of interest with a customized connection request.

It is important to keep your profile fresh by engaging consistently. Recent activity shows right on your profile. If you haven’t been active for some time, your profile will look stale. Also, aim to be personable yet professional in all communications. Your comments and shares have the potential to be seen by many people, including prospective employers. Strive to make a good impression, always.


You’ve heard it from some great LinkedIn minds giving their advice on how to start and continue on LinkedIn. Yes a profile is important, but so is building a network and engaging with your network. Don’t be like some of my clients; build your profile and wait for them (recruiters and other hiring authorities) to come.

In a poll I created recently, close to 750 people have weighed in on what they feel is most important to a LinkedIn campaign (the profile, building a network, engaging with your network, or all). Hustle over to the poll and cast your vote.

 

College grads, any honest work is a good work

A very short story.

My father once told me that honest work is good work. This was when I was working at a hardware store and hating life because I wasn’t putting my education to use. I graduated with a major in English and wanted to be a teacher and coach soccer. (I think I wanted to coach soccer more.)

agriculture close up environment farm

Skip 34 years later and now I’m telling my daughter the same thing. She has just graduated and her future is uncertain; one summer camp counselor job she planned to have won’t be running during the summer.

Following the summer job she plans to teach for City Year in Sacramento, CA, but this gig might not happen due to COVID-19. She was in the midst of interviews and things looked good, but a week ago she received a letter from the school.

The letter she received from the recruiter was kind. It led with, “THIS IS NOT A REJECTION.” I explained to her that the school for which she would teach needs to figure if they will open in the fall. Still she thinks of it as a rejection.

Recently she applied to work at a farm doing who knows what. She could be picking vegetables, bagging groceries (this is a large farm), running a cash register, driving the apple-picking tractor (run for your lives, people), directing traffic, or a number of things.

To say I’m proud of her doesn’t come close to the way I feel. Given a different time, I might be thinking–even out loud–that she’s not utilizing her four-year education. But these are different times we’re facing.

Internships have fallen through, seasonal jobs have disappeared, and long-term positions are put on hold or eliminated. And, of course, unemployment is as high as more than 15%.

For recent grads and those who have been laid off long ago or more recently, keep in mind that honest work is good work, as my father used to say.

Whether my daughter gets the farm job or not, I’m immensely proud of her.

Please watch this very impactful video, from Sarah Johnston, which delivers an encouraging message to the class of 2020.


Conclusion of this story: almost 2 months later

My daughter is working on the farm doing a variety of duties. She didn’t get the job at City Year in Sacramento; however, we recently heard good news—her duties are required in Boston, MA. The future is still uncertain, given COVID-19. Will she be teaching in a classroom or working remotely? Who knows?

Updating your LinkedIn Profile during COVID-19: 5 major areas

We’re in the midst of COVID-19 which has forced many of us to stay at home. To make matters worse, unemployment has risen to unprecedented levels. On the surface, things aren’t looking good. But I don’t need to tell you this if you’re out of work.

serious adult bearded worker using tablet near window in workshop

I also don’t need to tell you that being stuck inside probably leaves you sitting in front of your computer searching for jobs online; checking your LinkedIn and Facebook streams; or worst-case scenario, watching Netflix and the good ole tele. You have some time on your hands.

Now is the time to work on your LinkedIn profile, especially if it needs a lot of work. Not for nothing, I’ve reviewed and written hundreds of LinkedIn profiles, so I know there are some great ones, average ones, and downright poor ones.

Writing a profile is hard work and time-consuming; but if you want to separate yourself from the poor to average, you’ll have to dedicate some effort. Take advantage of the time all of us have on our hands due to COVID-19. Let’s take this step by step.

First, think about your accomplishments

Now is the time to think hard about your accomplishments. Easier said than done, you think. You think everything you did while working was just part of your job. Nothing special. I get it. But you have accomplished more than you think.

I tell my clients, who claim they can’t think of any accomplishments, to reach out to people with whom they worked for help thinking about their accomplishments. Like my clients, you might be too close to your accomplishments to recognize them as such.

For example, you led a team of five people that always delivered assignments on time despite tight deadlines. You don’t think of it as a major accomplishment. But if you were to reach out to members of your former crew, they’d tell you how your leadership made all of it possible.

The question is how do you reach out to your former colleagues? Put your computer to better use; set up a time to meet with video streaming platforms like Zoom, Skype, and Facetime. In some ways it’s easier to communicate with people than getting together for coffee.

After you’ve accumulated accomplishments you didn’t realize you achieved, you’re ready to go to work on your LinkedIn profile.

Your profile

Countless articles have been written on how to create an optimized profile that brands you. Take a look at yours and if it doesn’t accomplish this, now’s the time to make it right. I’m going to point out the most important sections on which to focus. Once you’ve nailed these, work on the others.

Snapshot area: background image, photo, headline

This is the area is at the top of your profile. It should include a background image first and foremost. Make sure your background image brands you by illustrating your industry and/or occupation. An image of a mountainscape or seashore is acceptable, as it describes your personality.

You might consider this statement to be too strong: you must include a photo because without it you won’t come across as memorable, trusted, and liked. What’s most important about your photo is that it’s high quality. This might be a tough order, as many photographers aren’t open for business.

Fix: have someone with a smartphone take your photo. I’ve seen some really great photos taken with an iPhone and Android.

A strong headline is essential. If your Headline is about your situation—you’re unemployed—it adds no value to your profile. This is where you want to tout your areas of expertise. Make it keyword rich like this:

Marketing Manager ~ Collaborative Planning | Customer Business Management | Brand and Product Marketing | MBA

A branding statement will also work but it won’t draw as many searchers, e.g., recruiters, as a headline that includes industry-related keywords will.

About section: the why, how, and what

The most important lines in your About section are the first three, where you need to entice the reader to continue reading. This is approximately 50 words, so make them count. Look at your opening paragraph as the Why. In other words, why should they click “see more.”

The “What” you do (to solve the “Why”) can be the next paragraph. Finally, “How” you do what you do rounds out your About section. Throw in some accomplishments here. As mentioned above, if you’re having trouble thinking of your accomplishments, ask people you worked with or your spouse.

Note: Don’t forget your call to action: your email address and telephone number (if you want to include it.

woman working at home using her laptop

Experience section: be more descriptive

The Experience section has been much neglected, in my opinion. Again, take some time to think about what you’ve accomplished at your previous jobs. Many people simply list their company name, title, and years of tenure. This is a shame. Even if you are/were the CEO of a company, at least describe what the company does.

Another thing people don’t realize is that you can add more to your title. For example, you are a Financial Analyst at Biogen with areas of expertise in Data Analysis, Project Management, Contract Negotiations, and Renewable Energy. Your title should read:

Financial Analyst ~ Data Analysis | Project Management | Contract Negotiations | Renewable Energy

You’ve been told not to simply copy and paste your résumé’s Experience information to your profile. I agree…to a point. While you won’t want to include everything from your résumé everything, including the kitchen sink, you will list only the highlights from your résumé.

And don’t be hesitant to show some personality in your Experience section. This is another place where you can tell your story. Here’s the job summary of my profile:

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.

Read: 5 reasons why you shouldn’t ignore your LinkedIn profile Experience section

Education section: continue to tell your story

This is another section that can be expanded to tell your story. Sure you earned a Mechanical Engineer degree at MIT. Impressive, but that wasn’t all that you did while there. You were also an editor of the engineering newspaper. You also rowed Varsity crew.

I always ask my clients if they earned a degree while working full-time. Hands go up. “Do you have this fact listed on your profile,” I ask them. Hands go down. I reprimand them saying this factoid shows diligence, time management, among other skills. It’s not easy. Ask my wife who’s earning a Masters in Project Management.

Skills and endorsements/recommendations: help others

I want you to take some time to endorse your connections for their skills in the Skills and Endorsements section. A close connection of mine, Shelly Elsliger, prompted people to do this for a day. I thought it was a great way to get people active. Now that you have time, endorse your connections.

The same goes for writing recommendations for people you managed. Take this time to make their day and send them a recommendation out of the blue. Don’t wait for them to ask, because they probably won’t. This is a great way to show your authority and the values you hold in employees.

If you need recommendations, ASK! I find this is one of the hardest parts for people who are developing their profile. Fear of rejection. Afraid of putting people out. There are a number of excuses. Take this time to write your own recommendations and have someone approve it.


The rest

The easy part is done. What, you’re thinking? That’s right; you have reacted to what I’ve suggested. Now it’s time to activate your profile by reaching out to like-minded people to create a focused network. Once your network is established, you need to engage with them.

I won’t tell you that what we’re going through is a blessing, but I’ll tell you that you need to make the best of this unfortunate situation. Begin with your profile and work from there. One more thing, your profile doesn’t need to be perfect in order for your LinkedIn campaign to be put to use.