16 LinkedIn pros talk about creating a powerful LinkedIn About section

What happens when you get 16 LinkedIn pros together to talk about creating a powerful LinkedIn profile About section? You get an variety of incredible answers. You might think all of the answers would be similar. Not so.

One of our pros advises not to write a boring About section. Blunt as this might sound, it makes sense; don’t use your 2,600 characters to write a whole lot of fluff.

Don’t write a “wall of words,” another pro emphasizes; meaning keep your paragraphs short.

Your resume is 2D but your LinkedIn profile is 3D, suggests a third pro. It contains your inner world and outer world. Read what he means by this.

Yet another pro writes, “Think of your About section as a sandwich, the top slice of bread makes a personal connection, the middle is the meat, and the bottom slice ends with a personal morsel.” Yum.

A recruiter among the group stresses the importance of keywords. If you want to be found, know where to place them.

These are only six of our pros weighing in. There are 10 more who have different, yet valuable, advice to impart.

What makes the About section hard to create for some people? One person who’s been active on LinkedIn told me he didn’t know what to write, so he doesn’t have one. Apparently, this sentiment applies to many people. I’ve seen many profiles without About sections.

If you are one of those people who don’t have an About section, or if you want more ideas on how to make it better; read this article. It’s long, but you’ll get plenty of great ideas. The authorities who contributed to this article are the best in their trade. You won’t go wrong.

Hook the reader and demonstrate value

Virginia Franco, VirginiaFrancoResumes.com

Taking a page from journalism, I liken your LinkedIn About section to a lead (lede) paragraph in a news story that gives the reader a sense of what the story will be about. Can you imagine a news article that skips this critical section? You’d probably skip reading it altogether. Same goes with your LinkedIn About section.

Contrary to popular belief, powerful and descriptive adjectives aren’t what make your LinkedIn’s About section powerful. While adjectives may be effective in telling the reader something, they don’t really show them anything of value.

Instead, a powerful About section tells the reader about the types of problems you solve while also sharing some detail about what makes you tick and be successful. It also hooks the reader within the first two lines and compels you to want to keep reading.  Here’s an example of an About section intro designed to inform and propel further reading.

When pharma companies need sales strategy and leadership to drive transformation, turnaround, launch new products or markets, or catapult teams from good to great – I am brought in.

The results? Plans that convert customers, bring new products to market and unseat the competition.

In addition to including details about your story, I often recommend including an email in your LinkedIn About section – which provides an interested party with an easy way to reach out without having to do extra clicking to find your contact info on your profile.


Avoid these three mistakes

Susan Joyce, Netability.com

I see three very common errors in the LinkedIn About section.

The first error is an empty or very short About section. Why is this a mistake? Wasted opportunity!

The solution? Summarize your qualifications for the job you want in your profile’s About section. Highlight your relevant accomplishments, and demonstrate your ability to communicate clearly.

The second error is what I call the “wall of words” mistake. The wall-of-words mistake is an About section with one or two very large paragraphs of content. Why is this a mistake? Because it looks like a wall of words and is not easily scannable! We are all in a hurry now.

So, recruiters and anyone else looking quickly to learn more about you, especially if they are looking at your profile on a smart phone (which more than 50% of them are), are not going to take the time to carefully read each dense paragraph.

The wall-of-words solution? Bulleted lists of short sentences, preferably highlighting your relevant professional accomplishments, quantified if possible to demonstrate your positive impact. Copy and paste LinkedIn “eye candy” (a.k.a. imoji) into About as bullets in your bulleted list to draw attention to them.

The third error is omitting contact information. Anyone not currently connected to you (like a recruiter) will not be able to read what you have posted in your “Contact info” section at the top of your profile. Even if you are the perfect candidate for a job, opportunities lost!

The solution? Add a sentence at the bottom of your profile which includes your permanent, professional contact information (NOT your current work or home contact information). My recommendation is to use Gmail and Google Voice, both of which can be re-directed to your current email and phone numbers.


Don’t write a boring About section

Shelley Piedmont, ShelleyPiedmont.com

Too many About sections have nothing in them or are boring. I read the first few sentences, and my eyes glaze over. It is such a wasted opportunity. When I ask why the person hasn’t focused on this section, they tell me they don’t know what to say.

So here is my advice. First, who is your audience? What do they need to know about you? Write it for them, not yourself. If you are a job seeker, what would an employer find of value about you? Focus on that. Likely, they will want to know about your knowledge, abilities, experiences, and accomplishments.

The About section is not your resume, though. You want to tell a story about what you have done but also who you are. What motivates you? What makes you stand apart from your peers? This is an opportunity to give a glimpse of the person behind the results.

It would be best to have SEO in mind as you are writing, so the search engine selects your profile as relevant. Ensure you sprinkle this section with keywords used to search for someone in your field or industry.

Make sure your about section is concise. Every word you choose is important. Does it bring value and tell your story in the best way? Likely you will need to edit your About section a few times to get it right. I have. And if it makes it easier to read, feel free to use emojis if your audience appreciates them.

Lastly, do not think that the About section is written once and never touched again. You should once a quarter review your LinkedIn profile and make updates as needed. That may mean adding or deleting information from your About section, depending on the changing needs of your audience.


A.C.E. your About section: Be authentic, captivating, and effective

Shea Ki, UpGradeMyInterview.com

The LinkedIn Profile About section can be our career momentum’s greatest friend or foe. So much can work against us including writer’s block, keyword or industry jargon overload, and too much copycatting someone else’s format. If you notice any of these issues about yours, I encourage that you inner-view yourself first to turn things around.

Reflect on: Why are you attracted to the work you are doing or want to do?
What stories might other coworkers, bosses, or colleagues share if asked about your contributions? Which accomplishments professionally, personally, and academically are you most proud of?

Depending on your career goals, several parts of your answers can be included in the LinkedIn profile About section.

Be sure to evaluate this section every 3-6 months to confirm it is serving you well. Here is a communication strategy to help you ACE your About section on LinkedIn or upgrade any message about your professional value:

A = Authenticity     

Does it sound like YOU? Do what you can to provide a sense of what matters to you or activates your values when you are at work. That makes you stand out in a positive way from everyone else. 

C = Captivating     

Are you targeting your ideal audience (those you want to read your About section the most)? Address a problem or need they have and describe what you offer to improve their situation. That is how you hold their attention to read more and take action to connect with you further. 

E = Effective     

Is it getting the results and impact you want?  Gain clarity of what outcomes you are aiming to achieve so you can measure how it is going. That will make it clear what changes to make or if it is time to get more support with it. 


Throw out the “Old-School” About section

Sarah Johnston, BriefcaseCoach.com

Old School” LinkedIn profiles were told in the 3rd person and were more biographical. (Example:  Mark is an executive leader who works globally with senior management.  He has demonstrated strengths in helping companies make sense of their numbers; passionate about educating and sharing the story with the rest of the organization….). “Old School” profiles are known for feeling less personal and more jargon-y. 

 The “New School” or modern profile is engaging and tells a first person story and draws the reader in with a hook. With “new school” profiles, readers are more likely to read and remember the summary. Which is one of the main goals of personal branding: to differentiate yourself and be known.


The About section speaks to your “inner” and “outer” worlds

Nii Ato Bentsi-Enchill, AvenirCareers.com

If your resume is a 2-D representation of your candidacy, consider your LinkedIn profile to be your 3-D representative. The About section of your profile is really where your professional persona can truly come to life by sharing your bigger story. 

The best stories make readers feel something. Your About section has the ability to accomplish this by weaving together a tapestry of your inner and outer worlds. Your inner world comprises your deep seated beliefs, values, & passions, which represent the steady, animating forces of your career path.

Your outer world are the achievements you’ve consistently made throughout your career that are the manifestation of your internal drivers. By weaving these two core elements together you’re able to not only show what you stand for but also how you uniquely impact the world around you.

In addition to these two core components, it’s crucial to articulate what’s unique about you and/or how you do things. You’re not the only person with your job title or level of experience, so it’s critical to ensure that you stand out by honing in on an aspect of your career journey, background, or way of using your skills that will help you stand apart from the crowd.

If you’re in leadership, take the opportunity to define the type of leader you are and how you help create the conditions for success, and bring out the best in those on your team.

Finally, don’t forget to invite people to connect with you who are similarly aligned with your values and career interests. A powerful About section will serve as a rich conversation starter by giving your audience ample opportunity to connect to an aspect of who you are that sparks curiosity or emotion in them, and compels them to reach out to learn more.


Your About section is like a professional/personal sandwich

Loren Greiff, PortfolioRocket.com

The P&P (Personal & Professional) Sandwich. 

First,  imagine the start and end of your About Section as two slices of bread. The middle is the filling.

  • The top slice or up-front portion is where your story begins and your personal connection is established.  
  • Allow some of your personality to come out, writing how you speak in the first person, using. 
  • Create a “hook” to grab your readers’ attention,  with what makes you tick. 
  • Include keywords without overstuffing and steer clear of too much jargon. 
  • Remember you want them to be engaged and read until the end.

For the filling, it’s about quality meat (skip the cheese) to capitalize on your professional impact. 

Sprinkle in some metrics, without reporting data. 

Share quick examples of your career wins, a cool client you worked with and/or a memorable nugget not captured on your resume. 

Keep them captive.

The bottom slice and end should offer some parting personal morsels.

  • A few little known facts. 
  • Call to action. 
  • Contact information, making it easy for them to reach out, pronto. 

No matter what, avoid treating this section as regurgitation of  the same information on your resume. 

This is a rare opportunity for those who don’t know you, yet to get a peek inside and find out more about you outside of the required hiring documents. You can still be buttoned up and deliver outstanding value without being boring or cliche. 

Lastly, know that this takes time to construct, revisions and some finesse to strike the right tone. 

Have others read it. If it doesn’t sound like YOU, have another go until it does. 

Decision makers read the About Section and this is a piece of the hiring process you can control so 

deliver excellence, to attract excellence. 


Consider these 4 tips when writing your About section

Lezlie Garr, ResumeLezlie.com

Start with a hook

With your About section, you want to catch the reader’s attention right away. You have a limited number of visible characters before the See More, so make them engaging.

You can start by telling an interesting (relevant) story about you, showcasing an impressive achievement, or outlining the most important pieces of your professional brand.

Present a concise, consistent brand

Speaking of your professional brand, your About section should present your brand in a cohesive, concise way that is consistent with your resume and other job search documents.

You’re not looking to make an exact replica; just make sure the message you present about yourself and the major highlights, achievements, and skills you showcase are consistent from your resume to your LinkedIn profile.

Include targeted keywords

The About section is (like most other profile sections) keyword searchable by the algorithm, so incorporate the most relevant and important keywords for your target roles. This will help increase your ranking in search results for those keywords.  

Set your content apart

While the platform doesn’t offer many native options for formatting your content, there are two options to add a unique look that will make you stand apart from your competition.

Emojis – While it’s important not to over-use these, a few well-placed emojis can make a big difference in the engagement-factor of your content.

Yaytext – Yaytext.com (not an affiliate link) is a web-based tool that converts plain text into styled text (bold, italic, etc.) which you can then copy/paste into your LinkedIn profile.


The About section is like the back cover of a book: 10 best practices

Kevin Turner, TNTBrandStrategist.com

Imagine your LinkedIn [Profile] like one Book in a massive Bookstore of 760M+ Professional Stories. The [Top card] is like the spine of the Book; [Profile photo], [Headline], graphic [Background photo], and small details may be what gets someone to pull your story from the shelf. Once that interest is initiated, we all know the back cover turns the browser into a buyer; this is your [About] [Summary].

The Most Successful [About] [Summary]s contain the following:

Captures interest in the first couple of lines to get that browser to dig in deeper

Stands out, in a sea of competition, a little different can make all the difference

Recognizes People buy from People, so make it Personal

Knows the Buyer and speaks to solve their needs

Avoids too many adjectives, complicated word salads, and unfounded statements

Goes for impact by bringing in the proof metrics

Implements Internet best practices by presenting in short paragraphs

Stimulates the reader visually between paragraphs with 3 to 5 concise, hard-hitting bullets backed with business-appropriate emojis: 🔘, ►, ✓, 📱, ✉ , 🌏, 6σ

Closes the deal with a ‘Call to Action’ and provides a way to buy in; list your contact, so it’s recognizable but not scrapable by Bots. Example: ✉ Kevin @ TNTBrandStrategist .com: 📱 +1.214.724.9111

Presented in a Mobile Friendly way, so we maximize all our customers

If you build that [About] [Summary] correctly, you will drive your [Profile] browser to devour the chapters within your work & volunteer [Experience], dive into your proof of knowledge leadership [Activity], understand the categories you serve in your [Skills & endorsements] and be further sold by your written [Recommendations]. Hope these thoughts help you, Market, & Book Your Own Success!


Your about section answers, “Tell me about yourself”

Hannah Morgan, CareerSherpa.net

LinkedIn provides every user with the opportunity to write a summary about themselves. What is it you want someone to know about you?

You have up to 2,600 characters to answer the question “tell me about yourself?” This is time when less is not more! This is your chance to explain who you are and how you work.

You want to highlight your professional skills as well as your motivation and personality. There isn’t a one-size fits all formula or answer. Pick and choose what you want to include from the options below:

  • What got you started in your field or career
  • Why you love what you do
  • Your top achievement and why it’s significant
  • Work processes or procedures you enjoy
  • Certifications, degrees, memberships that are important to you and the industry
  • Problems you solve and who benefits
  • Breadth or depth of industries you’ve worked in
  • Why people like working for you or with you
  • A hobby or interest outside of work that’s important to you

How you string all this information together and structure your About section is equally important. Make your content skimmable by writing in shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs.

Writing your About section will test your writing skills as well as you creative thinking. Enjoy the process of detailing what you want to be known for!


Write in 1st person and explain what you can do for employers

Erin Kennedy, Exclusive-Executive-Resumes.com

Want to know a secret about how to get readers stop in their tracks when they read your LI profile?

Write your About section like your story, not like a biography!

Gone are the days when we would write our About sections like a formal, third person, boring biography.

Hiring managers and companies want to learn more about you by the way you write about yourself. Think of your About section as your story intertwined with your brand, specialties, and accomplishments. Write it in first person as if you are talking to your reader. Consider these ideas when writing it:

What problems do I fix?
What do I bring to the table?
How do I make a difference?
How do I contribute to team goals?
What are my leadership strengths?
What are my top contributions?
What is my value statement?
What is my communication style?
What am I known for?
What am I passionate about?

You can also break up and organize different sections of your About section with emoji’s like arrows, dashes, stars, etc. This is a great way to showcase your different skill sets into mini stories with headlines like:

BUSINESS & TECHOLOGY PROCESSES
ACADEMIC ORGANIZATION
LEADERSHIP STYLE
TEAM LEADERSHIP & SUCCESS STORIES

One thing to remember is to keep your reader in mind when writing your About section. They are thinking, “How can this person help us? How can they fix our pain points? What makes them different from everyone else in this role?”

Once you’ve completed the content, don’t forget your call to action! Offer an invitation to connect or follow, remind them to check out your portfolio of projects, work, or events in your Featured section, suggest a virtual coffee with people in your industry, or put a link to your website for more information.

There is so much you can do with your About section that will help it jump out and draw the reader in.


Make sure to list your skills; recruiters are looking for them

Ed Han, Job-Hunt.org

Despite its popularity with recruiters and omnipresence in hiring, LinkedIn is first and foremost a networking platform.That’s why Reid Hoffman created it in his living room in 2002. When viewing your profile, people want to know whether you are someone with whom they would like to network. 

But you’re not here reading this installment of Things Career Related because you just want to network. You’re reading this article because you’re in the job search and want to be found be people like me.

As a recruiter, when I am finding talent via LinkedIn profiles, I conduct a search based on keywords. Keywords can appear anywhere in a LinkedIn profile, but it’s easiest and most natural for them to appear in either the member’s 220 character headline or the 3000 character About section.

The specific keywords I might search are those based upon my understanding of the need that will unearth the most relevant candidates. 

For example: if I am seeking a senior information security professional, I might search CISSP, a well-regarded certification for such professionals. I might also search for specific experiences or skills (e.g., threat or vulnerability management or pentesting). CISSP, threat management, vulnerability management, pentesting…all of these are keywords.

Personally, I avoid focusing on job titles. This is because I learned long ago that titles issued by employers can be non-intuitive. I’ve seen marketers with the job title of technical writer, VPs who are individual contributors (looking at your financial services industry)…heck, I’ve been an editor who didn’t actually edit anything.

For a powerful About section: talk about specific skills you have, the experiences you have had, the things that set you apart. That’s how you will be found by recruiters.


Show your greatness with your About section

Bob McIntosh, ThingsCareerRelated

When I talk with my clients about their LinkedIn profile About section, I tell them it should tell their story. But that’s too vague. There’s more to your About section than this simple statement. Another way to explain this section is that it should encompass your overall value.

“Encompass your overall value?” you may wonder. People who understand what it means to encompass their overall value take the time to write compelling prose that clearly states their greatness. Yes, they don’t save all of their accomplishments for the Experience section; they present some of them upfront.

There’s more than showing your greatness to consider when you’re writing this important section for the first time or revising it. To read further about 8 general tips and some ways you can write your About section, click here.


Your About section should sell you to the reader

Austin Belcak, CultivateCulture.com

The About section of your profile is your chance to really sell your reader. There are many ways to optimize it, but the two most important things any job seeker can do are:

  1. Lead with a highly relevant introduction

Your entire LinkedIn profile should be geared towards your target audience.

If you’re a job seeker, that means you’re writing it for the recruiter or hiring manager at your dream company who might read it. What do those people care about? They care about finding someone who matches the criteria for their roles. A winning About section opens with that.

I like to include a line that covers my background, how many years of experience I have, and a pitch of the value I bring to the table. For example:

“Award-winning sales executive with 8+ years experience driving $10M in new business for early stage cloud-based SaaS companies.”

If a recruiter or hiring manger needs a competent sales person in the SaaS / cloud space, you just checked a lot of their boxes! Relevance is key.

  1. Provide supporting evidence of their experience with results-based “Case Study” bullet

Now that you’ve introduced yourself, you want to back up your intro with some specific case studies of your best experience.

I like to include ~ 5 of these bullets that cover the full range of experience and results that my target audience is looking for. Continuing on the example above, I want to include some bullets that speak to my ability to drive $10M in new biz:

• Generated 5 deals worth $12M at [Company] in my first 16 months as an Account Executive
• Won “OneTeam” award for largest deal of the year ($8.7M) in 2021 at [Company]

These bullets should speak to specific wins and include measurable / tangible outcomes that make your value clear.

If you leverage both of these strategies in your LinkedIn About, you’re going to be off to a great start!


Think of your About section as a sales pitch

Ana Lokotkova, CVLabs.ca

Before diving into what a powerful LinkedIn profile About section is, let’s start with what it isn’t: it is NOT a word-for-word copy of the summary paragraph from your resume.

Imagine you’re browsing for a book on Amazon. A few books happen to match your search criteria. You click on them, and your eye immediately goes to the book description on the sales page (aka the short blurb you’ll likely find on the back cover) where you can skim through a short summary.

Just like the ‘About’ section of your LinkedIn profile, this short book description usually plays a key role in the book’s marketing by enticing you to buy the book. Same principle applies here: think of your About section as a powerful self-pitch.

What makes a compelling pitch for the About section? First of all, your pitch should reflect who you are and what makes you unique without giving away too much. Take an objective look: if your About section makes you want to read more, its core mission is accomplished. If, however, it reads as boring, overwhelming, and cluttered, then it’s definitely time for a revamp.

Writing the About section is my favorite part of crafting LinkedIn profiles for my clients. This is the perfect place for the core parts of your value proposition, i.e.:

  1. Summarizing who you are and what you do (what would you say during a handshake introduction?)
  2. Showcasing what sets you apart from your competition (what is your secret sauce?)
  3. Telling your target audience what’s in it for them (why should they keep reading?)
  4. Letting people know the easiest ways to get in touch with you (you might want to include a couple of options, such as your email and Twitter)

Think about S.H.A.R.P. acronym when writing your About section

Adrienne Tom, CareerImpressions.ca

When creating a LinkedIn About section, think S.H.A.R.P:

Searchable: Build your profile around your value offering and strategically integrate select words and language that support your offering and relate to your industry/role. What keywords and language are common for what you want to be found or known for (as a job seeker or professional)? Do some research to find out.

Hook ‘em in: Make the opening count. If a person lands on your profile, will the first few lines of your About section pull them in and entice them to read more? Ensure the first ~250 characters of your About section are interesting and relatable to the types of individuals you want to attract. Be unique.

Action-oriented: Write your profile with an active voice and share a few career wins or measurable achievements that support your brand and offering. Be specific about who you are and the outcomes you have generated. Metrics can really pop off the page.

Robust: The About section allows up to 2,600 characters – put these characters to good use to fully maximize all the above and more. A few paltry sentences won’t cut it. Just remember to focus on the quality of content versus quantity. 

Personalized: Write the About section in the first person to create more connection with readers. Be authentic and consider using the space to tell a story. Outline who you are as a professional, what makes you unique, and the value you have to offer. 


Well, here you have it. If you read to this point, skimming or reading every work, thank you for taking the time to do it. Every point to make about the About section has been covered. Or are there other points that haven’t been made? If you can think of any, let me know.

Photo by George Milton on Pexels.com

Eye Candy Adds ❃ Interest ❃ to Your LinkedIn Profile, Posts, and Comments

Guest writer Susan Joyce.

Well, now I have a name for what I referred to as simply “color” that peppers my LinkedIn profile. Online job search and SEO expert, Susan Joyce, calls it, “Eye Candy.” This makes sense, as color is sweet to the eye. It draws visitors’ attention, makes the profile more attractive, and emphasizes points you want to make.

Read her awesome article here.

When I show eye candy on my profile in the form of colorful images of a trophy 🏆, fist 👊, and arrows ➡️; I wonder if the LinkedIn community likes them or are annoyed by them. It’s of no consequence to me because I like them.

I also have black and white eye candy on my profile like stars (★) for my accomplishments in the About section and hollowed out dots (❍) for accomplishments in my Experience section. I decided against color in these sections because…I thought it would be a little too much.

(These black and white eye candy are not as stunning as the colorful eye candy, but they beat the hell out of the hyphens (-) and asterisks (*) and small dots (ŸŸ•) which are transferred when you paste your Word doc to LinkedIn.)

The majority of people on LinkedIn don’t know about eye candy and are content with the basic symbols that replace the laborious formatting in their Word file.

Today I’m presenting an article from Susan Joyce, one of a few people I host on my humble blog, who explains why and where to use eye candy and provides more than 100 examples of eye candy.

Click here to read her article.

PS. Susan provides examples of LinkedIn members who utilize eye candy on their profile. I’m included! 👍

Photo by Karley Saagi on Pexels.com

👍

5 areas on your LinkedIn profile you absolutely must nail

No matter how you slice it, there are five areas you must nail on your LinkedIn profile. People’s opinions vary on the order of importance, so the best I can do is give you my take on this and why I list them in my order of preference.

In a poll I conducted a year ago, of 1,189 people who voted, 46% chose the Headline over the About and Experience sections. I was in the minority and chose About (24%). The runner up was Experience (30%).

I’m not going to rehash this poll other than to say I’ve changed my mind in terms of how I rank the sections. (Hey, if politicians can change their minds, why can’t I?) Were I to vote again, I would place the Experience above the other two.

Experience

I’m not trying to be contrary here. The reason why I think Experience is so important is that this is where you hit recruiters over the head with the accomplishments. Stick with only the accomplishments and chuck the mundane duties. This is how you nail the Experience section.

Many recruiters will skip the LinkedIn profile About section and leap to Experience. This is similar to how they treat your resume; they go directly to Experience because—quite honestly—the resume Summary is often filled with fluff, whereas you can’t fake the content in Experience.

I want to bring up one of my pet peeves. I see too many C-level job seekers make the assumption that their visitors know what they did/do at their positions. They simply list the company name, their title, and months/years of experience. By doing this, they’re robbing readers, namely recruiters, of valuable information. It also comes across as arrogant.

Here’s how it should be done from one of my former client’s job summary:

“As the Director, Marketing Communications at ABC Compnay, I planned, developed and executed multi-channel marketing programs and performance-driven campaigns, using digital marketing principles and techniques to meet project and organization goals.”

Notice how he used first-person point of view? Use first person point of view for your accomplishments as well. Take, for example, an accomplishment statement from a resume: “Volunteered to training  5 office staff on new database software. All team members were more productive, increasing the team’s output by 75%.”

The same statement on the LinkedIn profile sounds more personal: “I extended my training expertise by volunteering to train 5 office staff on our new database software. All members of the team were more productive as a result of my patient training style, increasing the team’s output by 75%.”

To read a more in depth article on the LinkedIn profile Experience section go to 5 reasons why you shouldn’t ignore your LinkedIn profile Experience section.

Headline

The Headline is my second choice of areas where you must nail one of the five sections. I’ve read thousands of LinkedIn profiles—this is a fact I had to double check—so I’ve seen the good, bad, and the heinous.

A Headline that meets the heinous criterium would be “Seeking Next Opportunity,” and that’s it. This adds absolutely no value to a potential employer; rather it simply tell them the job seeker’s situation.

Meg Guiseppi, Personal Branding Strategist says this about the Headline:

“I always want people to reinforce their personal brand by getting some personality in their headline. But I feel packing it with keywords is more important. For the most part, save the descriptive adjectives for your About and Experience sections, and elsewhere.”

Here’s an example she gives:

CFO, Senior Finance & Operations Executive – Alternative & Mobile Payments Pioneer, Global Monetization, E-commerce, M&A

Keywords are important, especially if you’re in the job search, but I also like to see a short, impactful tagline. Take Lezlie Garr’s Headline that includes a tagline following her keywords:

Career Change Advocate | Certified Career Transition Coach & Resume Writer | LinkedIn, Interview & Job Search Strategist | I help ambitious professionals shift out of soul-sucking work and into meaningful careers

About

Not to dwell on that notorious poll, but this section was my first choice a year ago. As I said earlier, people are allowed to change their mind. This said, About can be impactful if done correctly. But many people don’t put in the effort to make this section great.

To nail About you have to tell your story. Story, you may wonder? What does Bob mean by this. This is where you can describe what drives you to succeed or problems you face in your industry and how you solve them.

Here’s a brief example of a client of mine who’s baiting readers by asking them in the first paragraph if they need his services.

Are you looking for someone who can increase your ROI? With my product development, sales management, and channel management experience, I am a triple threat and will add great value to your company. I am a sales/product leader and global channel manager with a demonstrated history of working from startup to large… see more

Another LinkedIn member uses the body of his About section to explain his experience in product management/marketing with a brief caption below. He lists five areas of expertise in all to tell his story.

►DEEP PRODUCT/TECHNOLOGY CAPABILITIES: My roots are in product management/marketing. This strength has enabled me to understand and market complex technologies. I have had success with a wide variety of innovative B2B and healthcare products, including data analytics, data prep, data integration, cybersecurity/compliance, telecommunications, and IoT platforms.

There are various ways you can conclude your About section, one of which is to list a call to action where you list your contact information. You can also reiterate your value to employers or, in my case, tell readers that you see the bigger picture.

𝗜 𝗚𝗘𝗧 𝗜𝗧

If you’re unemployed, you don’t need to be told that being out of work can be challenging, both emotionally and financially. I know because I’ve been there. So I’ll be the last person to tell you to not feel bad. However, I will tell you that it’s temporary. I’ll also tell you not to go it alone.

A recent article I wrote goes into greater detail on how to write a killer About section: 8 tips on how to write your LinkedIn profile About section, plus sample text

Activity

Why do I list Activity as one of the sections you need to nail on your profile? It’s simple; you demonstrate one of the most important components of a LinkedIn campaign, engagement. If I see no pulse in someone’s Activity section, I assume they posted their profile and just let it sit there.

This article is about the LinkedIn profile, but you have to look at the big picture. It’s not worth writing a stellar profile if people don’t know you exist. There are four simple ways to engage with your network:

1. Start by following LinkedIn members

You might want to start following people before connecting with them. You will still see their content in your feed, but you won’t be able to communicate with them directly unless you have a premium account and use Inmail to send them a message.

2. Actively search for content from LinkedIn members

Hopefully your first- and second-degree connections, and the people you’re following are like-minded and produce content that gels with you. For example, if you are in Supply Chain and want to read, view videos, or hear podcasts on this topic simply type “Supply Chain” in the Search field at the top left-hand corner of any page. Then select Posts.

3. Search for content companies produce

LinkedIn allows you to select hastags (#) which categorizes content. Instead of spending time on your feed searching for your desired topics, type in the Search engine #(topic). For example, if you want to read articles on digital marketing, type #digitalmarketing and select Posts.

4. React and comment on what others write

Once you’ve chosen who to follow or connect with, their content will be displayed in your feed. However, LinkedIn doesn’t show all of the content that LinkedIn members you follow produce. You’ll have to actively search for it. This might seem like a needle in a haystack.

3 reasons why your Articles & Activity section is important

Education

If you’re wondering why I list Education last, it’s simple. This section is the last one before Licenses and Certifications, and it can’t be moved like in days past. This is one reason why Education comes in last place.

More so, LinkedIn members dismiss this section by treating it like their resume. What I mean by this is that most of them simply list their school, location, and degree. But there’s so much more a person can write about their experience in school. Madeline Mann is a great example. Here’s what she writes:

University of Southern California
Master of Science (M.S.) Field Of Study Organizational Development – Applied Psychology Activities and Societies: Phi Kappa Phi

• Part of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society – only top 10% of the program selected for this honor
• Served as the sole student representative on the program’s admissions board

Relevant coursework:

Managing and Developing People, Strategy and Organization Consulting, Statistics, Organizational Psychology, Facilitation Design, Research Methods, Group Dynamics and Leadership.

The program turns psychology insight into business impact with a rigorously applied curriculum that combines research focused material in Dornsife College with MBA courses in the Marshall School of Business.

Do you see how well she uses the description area, rather than leaving it blank. This goes to further nail her profile.


You are probably wondering why Skills & Endorsements and even Recommendations weren’t included as areas you need to nail on your LinkedIn profile. And this is a fair question. Here’s the thing, these two sections have taken a serious nosedive in recent years.

Think about the last time you were endorsed for a skill. Are you being endorsed on a regular basis? Are you endorsing others? Now think about the last time you wrote someone a recommendation or received one. I think this makes my point.

Further, these sections are buried so low on the profile that people rarely look at them. I only visit these two areas on someone’s profile when I’m doing a LinkedIn webinar or training. And this is simply to say that one of my connections has 99+ endorsements for many skills, and that he hasn’t received any endorsements since.

6 tips for a successful video interview

While some employers are conducting in-person interviews, many of them are still using video interviews—Zoom, Skype, WebEx, MS Teams, Facetime, etc.—to fill positions. Video interviews have become more of the norm because they’re more convenient for employers and job candidates.

Job candidates might prefer in-person interviews over video because they’re more personal—they can see where they’ll be working, might be introduced to their potential colleagues, and they can gauge the commute. There are many benefits to in-person interviews, but video is here to stay, at least for awhile.

Loren Greiff (rhymes with “Life”) and I had a conversation about six tips we’d give job candidates about video interviews. Loren is more than qualified to talk on this topic; she’s been in the position of hiring candidates as a director of marketing and a recruiter, among other roles, and now runs a coaching business focusing primarily on marketing executives.

We talked about three phases of the interview: before, in-the-moment, and after the event.

1. Research for the interview (Loren)

If ever there was a time to turn into a stalker it would be when researching prior to your interview. Like a bloodhound, you want to stay on scent, following the clues that lead to information that goes beyond the surface. Set up Google Alerts to open up the flow of real time data.

Nothing says you’re on top of it more than when you offer congratulations for a recent win, recognition for a new product launch, or acknowledge a corporate announcement during your interview.

Scour online resources like LinkedIn, the company’s blog, press releases, and corporate About Section. But also dig further. Owler.com is great for grabbing the size & revenue of the organization & it’s competitors. Check out Crunchbase.com for more entrepreneurial companies. Theorg.com, depending on the company, gives you org charts. Don’t forget YouTube to find out if the CEO or other leaders have videos or have been a past podcast guest.

Keeping track and using verbiage relevant to your role and experience are great winning strategies. If it’s a public company review their filings at sec.gov. And absolutely work your magic to get on some calls with your connections so you’re not wholly reliant on Glassdoor or Fishbowl.

2. Get mentally prepared (Loren)

When it comes to being mentally prepared, there are 5 key things to keep in mind during your interview.

1. Remember you’ve already done the heavy lifting (practicing and researching). Show up strong and end strong. That’s what people remember—the beginning and at the end and it’s called the recency effect, easy to visualize as the upwards arc of a smile.

2. Clean Space = Clear Mind. Setting up a clean and clutter free space and background helps eases the noise within. If you want to go for a virtual background, opt for something professional vs. a beach setting or outer space. You want the focus to be on you and what you’re sharing.

3. Pace your pace. You don’t want to put anyone to sleep or rattle on, so getting it just right matters. The ideal speed is about 115 words per min. (to find out what your pace is you can use a speech-to-text converter like IBM’s Watson). A steady pace allows you to connect with your interviewer and oozes confidence despite the butterflies inside.

4. Eye contact & body language. No matter what comes out of your mouth your eye contact and body language will be doing most of the talking. Look at the camera not yourself on your screen.

Eye contact builds trust and nearly 80% of all candidates don’t do this. You can turn off the video mirroring feature too and remove temptations. When you want to bring something big to life, don’t shy away from hand gestures especially those that draw closer to the heart when speaking about yourself more personally.

5. Review the job description, have it handy with your notes & PAR’s (problem, action, results) well rehearsed.

3. Mind your first impressions (Bob)

In a webinar I lead, I talk about the importance of enthusiasm, confidence, and preparedness. These are three characteristics interviewers are looking for in your answers and body language.

We normally think of the content of our answers as the most important component of the interview, and it is. But we can’t disregard body language because it plays such a huge role in communicating with others.

Consider enthusiasm, for example. Your facial expressions and body language tell the interviewer that you’re excited about the role at hand and working for the company. Loren makes an excellent point about hand gestures; don’t be afraid to emphasize your points.

Lack of enthusiasm gives the opposite message; you’re a little bit excited about the opportunity but not ecstatic. This is akin to asking someone over for dinner and the person saying, “Yeah, I guess so.” You wouldn’t take this as a good sign, would you.

Expressing confidence is also important, as it tells the interviewer that you’ll be confident in the role. The employer want assurance that you’ll do a standup job for their customers and employees.

Regardless of your mental state, you’ll feel more confident during the interview because you’ve prepared by researching the role, company, and the interviewer/s (familiarity breeds confidence).

4. Answer the tough interview questions with the PAR formula (Bob)

The questions I see people struggle with the most are behavioral-based ones. They’re more like directives that begin with, “Tell me about a time….” or “Give me an example of when….” Even the higher-level job seekers struggle with these type of questions because they’re not prepared for them.

The clients who are unprepared for these questions when I mock interview them tend to avoid the specifics of the problem they faced at work, their actions to solve the problem, and the result or results from their actions.

Instead, they start by saying, “This is what I’d do,” answering the question in a theatrical manner. I put on the brakes and say, “Stop! I want a specific example.” Let’s say the questions is “Tell me about a time when you trained your colleagues.” I expect to hear something like:

Problem: The company wanted to move from our antiquated CRM system to Salesforce.

Actions: I volunteered to train my colleagues in sales on how to use Salesforce.

After the software was implemented, I researched how to use it. I spent many hours watching training programs like Udemy for new users.

The company also sent me to hands on training.

I began to conduct group training sessions which were helpful, but I also found that some of my colleagues needed more individual training.

Result: With group and individual training my colleagues learned Salesforce to the point where they occasionally asked me questions. I estimate that I saved the company thousands of dollars.

5. Ask the interviewers questions at the end of the interview (Loren)

We both agree that the questions job candidates ask can be as important as the ones they give during the interview. Loren sees the questions candidates ask in three categories, Impact, Relevancy, and Culture.

For Impact the candidates can ask, “A year from now we’re celebrating. What will that be for and how will this impact you, the team and the company?” Or “How will you know you’ve made the right hiring decision 60 days from now?”

For relevancy, “With social distancing and remote work, what tools or practices has the company implemented to continue communication, collaboration, and support employees?”

For culture, “What do you like most about working at XYZ, and if you had one thing that had to change you wish it was?”

There are other questions candidates can ask, but these are some of my favorites, and you only have so much time at the end of the interview. Come prepared with other questions written down just in case the interviewers want to hear more (a good sign).

6. It’s not over until you follow up (Loren)

No matter what, don’t approach your thank-you note as if it’s an afterthought or another to-do item to check off the list. Thank-you notes (and yes it’s perfectly fine to send an email) are one of the best times to rack up extra points.

I remind clients that just because the interview is over, it doesn’t mean the decision has been made. I am a huge fan of including an embedded video (using either Loom or Dubb) as a way to set yourself apart to personalize your appreciation, express your interest, and reiterate why you’re the one.

But whether it’s an email, with or without video, keep it impactful and short. If they had let you know in the interview when they would get back to you—let them know you’ll reach out to them around that time. You want to be proactive but never a pest. Your best bet is to wait 5 days in between follow ups.

And, when you do follow up, don’t just make it about you and what you want. Add in a PS. something that’s about them. This is a surprisingly effective—in fact 90% of readers read the PS before the letter


Video interviews will most likely be around for a while. They’ve proven to be convenient and, in some employers minds, safer than in-person interviews. However, they present a challenge for many job candidates in the way they present themselves, as well as the way they answers the interviewers’ questions.

If you follow the tips Loren and I provide, you will do fine. Remember: research before the interview; get mentally prepared; research the position, company, and interviewers; answer the tough questions; ask intelligent questions when asked; and follow up in a timely and impactful manner.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

8 tips on how to use the LinkedIn mobile app

It’s estimated that at least 60% of LinkedIn members use the mobile app. Further, a poll I conducted on LinkedIn showed that 65% of the participants use the the app more than their computer (desktop or laptop).

Those who chose the app claimed convenience as their reason; where as those who chose the computer platform enjoy the ease of use. Put it this way: if I’m waiting for my daughter to get out of work, I’ll be on my LinkedIn app. If I’m writing a long post, I’ll be at my computer.

I’m going to dive into eight major LinkedIn features on both platforms. I’ll discuss how some of features differ between the mobile app and computer platform, so you can understand the advantages and disadvantages of using both.

1. Homepage

There’s no better place to start than the home page. It isn’t very sexy on the app, but what do you expect from a device that’s approximately 6″x3″?

This is where you’ll usually land if you’re opening the app for the first time in the day. Otherwise you’ll land on whichever page was open last. This is also where your (ideally) relevant conversation is streaming.

There are many features located on the home page that aren’t obvious to the average user. The features that are easy to find are: Home, My Network, Start a Post, Notifications, and Jobs; although they’re in a different order than the computer.

Rest assured that the mobile app contains many of the features the computer provides. It’s just a matter of finding said features.

The computer platform lays out the features like a landscape canvas. The icons (Home, My Network, Jobs, Messaging, and Notifications) are listed at the top of every page. Groups is conveniently hidden in the Work drop-down.

Nice information at your fingertips on the computer platform are Your photo, complete Headline, Who Viewed Your Profile (within the past 90 days) Views of your posts, and Your Groups, Recent Hashtags, and others.

2. Search

This feature is extremely powerful. With it you can search for—in this order—People, Courses Jobs, Groups, and Schools. You’ll have to swipe left to find Posts, Events, and Companies. I find it interesting —actually counterintuitive—that Companies is placed at the end.

If you’re searching for people, simply type in an occupation like “program manager” and you’ll have the option to continue your search for the occupation in Jobs, in People, in Groups.

Tip: if you want more options, click the magnifying tool to get the other options listed above but just in a different order: People, Courses, Jobs, Groups, Schools, Posts, Events, and Companies. Again, why is Companies placed at the end?

Using Search is not as easy to navigate this feature is not as easy as using the desk top/lap top, but you can find almost all you need with Search.

Filter people by or All filters

LinkedIn can’t seem to make its mind up on what to call this awesome feature. On the left of the toolbar (image below) there’s the funky icon mentioned above and on the right are the words All filters. They both lead you to the same destination. Go figure.

This is a powerful feature within Search. If you select People as your search preference, you’ll see a symbol you’ve probably never seen before. It resembles three nob and tubing wires (boxed out on top left of the screenshot above).

Not as powerful as the desktop version, it still allows you to narrow your search by: Connections degree, Connections of, Locations, Current company, Past company, School, Industry, Profile language, and Open to.

The computer version provides more features than the app, and Filter people by is way more friendly on your computer than your phone. There are a couple of more options to find people with the computer platform, which include Service categories, and Keywords.

3. Share a post

To start a post, you might have to look hard to find it. In the top image, the icon resembles a white cross in a grey box. Clicking on the icon gives you the option to Write a long post of about 1,200 characters but as I said above, writing it with the app can be difficult.

Other features that come with starting a post are: Add a photo, Take a video, Celebrate an occasion, Add a document, Share that you’re hiring, Find an expert, and Create a poll. The app separates itself from the computer with the Take a video feature. It’s not possible to do on the computer while easily done with the app.

Somewhat related to Start a post is a new feature that hasn’t rolled out for everyone. It’s called Cover Story and allows you to record a 30-second elevator pitch. At this writing I haven’t recorded my elevator pitch, but I’ve seen some very good ones.

The computer platform doesn’t allow you to take a video, rather you have to upload it to your hard drive. With your app, you can create a video straight from it.

4. Messaging

The most noticeable difference between the mobile app and the desktop for messaging is that the app’s version is truncated (see below). Only by clicking on your connection’s message can you read the stream of conversation. On the desktop you can see multiple connections. But this is expected, as the desktop has a larger surface.

Both the mobile app and the desktop allow you to search by Unread, My Connections, InMail, Archived, and Blocked, albeit in a different order. (Are you getting the sense that the desktop platform is becoming more like the mobile app?)

With both mobile app and the desktop, you can respond to Inmails by choosing some buttons, such as Interested, Maybe later, No thanks and other intuitive short responses. Obviously LinkedIn considers this lazy way of responding to be intuitive and clever. I will admit that that I’ve taken the shortcut.

One noteworthy difference is that the mobile app has a feature that suggests an opening verbiage for messages, such as, “Hi (name), I notice you’re also connected with (name).” This feature  is akin to LinkedIn’s default invite message. No thanks.

5. My Network

If you’re looking for the My Network icon, it’s migrated from the top to the bottom of the screen. Clicking on the icon brings you to a the ability to Manage my network, which shows your number of connections. It’s interesting that my number of connections is different from my computer (4,705) and the app (4,046). I wonder which is correct?

Other tidbits of information are: People you follow, #Hashtags you follow, Companies you follow, and other minor details. You can also check out how many Invitations and Sent invites that are pending.

Note: If you want to locate someone by occupation and other demographics, you can use All filters.

Also important to keep in mind is that LinkedIn will suggest people you know (to right). Don’t simply hit Connect, as the invite will be sent without giving you the opportunity to personalize it. Contrary to what many people believe, you can send a personal invite from a LinkedIn users full profile.

6. Notifications

This feature allows you to see what your connections have been doing:

  1. Who’s mentioned you in a post
  2. Liked your post, liked a post that mentions you
  3. Is starting a new position; and
  4. Commented on (someone’s ) post

The differences between this feature on the app and desktop are negligible and hardly worth mentioning. However, there is one major difference: the desktop seems to lag behind the mobile app. In other words, the streaming is slower on the desktop than the app.

7. Companies

Like the desktop, you have to use the Search to access your desired companies. The most important reason to use Companies is to locate people who work for your target companies, which is a bit more cumbersome with the mobile app than the desktop.

To do this you must type the company name into Search and choose People, and then use the Filter tool (boxed out on the image to the right). You can filter by:

  1. Connections (degree)
  2. Connections of
  3. Locations
  4. Current companies
  5. Past companies (not shown)
  6. Industries (not shown)
  7. Schools (not shown)

The only benefit the desktop version offers is the ability to search by Keyword. The other filters are superfluous. Such as Profile language and Nonprofit interests.

In my opinion, this is the most important feature LinkedIn provides, whether on the desktop or mobile app. This is where real online networking happens. In fact, I written an article on the Companies feature.

8. Jobs

You can search for jobs using Search just as easy as clicking on the icon. You avoid a step by using Search.

The Search feature allows you to find jobs, say in Accounting, and then narrowing them down to Location (allow your device to identify your location, if you like), and if you want to take it further, filter by:

  1. Most relevant
  2. Most recent
  3. Determine how many miles you are willing to travel
  4. Only show jobs with which you can apply Easy Apply
  5. Date posted
  6. Company
  7. Experience level
  8. Job type
  9. Industry
  10. Job function

When you’ve chosen a job to investigate, you’ll notice—because of the limited surface—the mobile app is not as robust as the desktop version. Some similarities are:

  1. Number of first degree connections
  2. Number of alumni
  3. Job description
  4. The person who posted the job
  5. Jobs people also viewed
  6. Easy Apply

When you open the LinkedIn app on your smart phone, you’ll see the power, albeit limited, it has to offer. You’ll also see that the desktop version closely resembles the mobile app. If I were to choose between the two, it would be a difficult choice. However, the prospect of opening up the laptop 10 times a day isn’t very appealing.

Photo by Ono Kosuki on Pexels.com

5 keys to a successful mock interview

One of my clients told me recently that the mock interview I conducted with her was the best experience she’s had preparing for interviews to date. This was after a session where I reviewed her performance with constructive criticism, at times brutal honesty.

mock interview2

I understood my client’s sentiment, because I also think a mock interview is extremely effective, if done correctly. I’ve conducted hundreds of mock interviews over the course of my tenure at the urban career center for which I work.

You don’t have to be a career advisor in order to conduct a mock interview. You can be a friend or relative. But to successfully conduct a mock interview, you must cover the following four components.

1. Keep the interview itself short

The length of the mock interview should be no longer than 45 minutes; you’ll want to give yourself time to play back the recorded interview. The playback gives the client and you the opportunity to address the strengths and weaknesses of her performance.

The goal of a mock interview is not to make it the length of a real interview. Where the real interview might be a marathon, the mock interview is akin to a sprint. It is intense and just long enough for the client to get the idea of how she performed. Additionally, the interview part itself can be exhausting if it is 90 minutes long.

2. The mock interview should be filmed and played back

If possible, you should should film the mock interview with a digital camera. The old saying the camera never lies is true. Not only is it important for your client to hear the content of her answers and the tone and inflection of her voice; she also needs to see her body language and other nuances.

Your client, and you, may forget the answers she gives. Filming the interview allows both of you to hear her answers again. You can comment on her answers intelligently and accurately. For example, “Your answer to this question asking why you left your most recent position is a bit too long,” you may comment. “And refrain from blaming your supervisor if possible.”

Seeing her body language can be even more important to your client than hearing her answers, particularly if her body language is extremely poor. One of my clients came across so stiff that he didn’t move his hands the whole time. His eye contact was extremely poor, as well. He recognized this because of seeing the recording and vowed to correct his body language and eye contact.

Usually I don’t have the time to get through the entire playback, but this is fine. I ask participants to bring a thumb drive with them so they can review their mock interview at a later date.

3. Clients must take the mock interview seriously

Be sure to make this clear before a few days of the mock interview. Tell your client that it will be treated as a legitimate interview. Setting this expectation will ensure that the atmosphere will be professional.

This begins with something as simple as dressing the part. I can tell when a client is serious about his mock interview by the way he dresses. If he comes dressed to the nines, this is a good sign. On the other hand, if he comes dressed in a tee-shirt and shorts, this is a turnoff.

The participant must also have done his research. For example, if you ask, “What can you tell me about this company, and why do you want to work here?” it is unacceptable for him to tell you he will know the answers in the “real interview.” No, he must see the mock interview as a “real interview.”

Your client must be an active participant. I will ask for my client’s input during the playback of the mock interview. This is his opportunity to comment on the content of his answers, as well as his body language. As the interviewer, you don’t want to give all the feedback. It’s important that the participant does some self-critique.

4. You must also take the mock interview seriously

This means being prepared. If I show up for a mock interview unprepared, it doesn’t go as well; and I sense that my client knows this. I might ask canned questions.

Before conducting a mock interview, ask your client to provide two documents, her résumé and a recent job description. From these you’ll write the questions for the interview. You don’t necessary have to stay on script; you might fall into a more conversational mode if the spirit drives you.

The questions must be challenging, without embarrassing your client. It’s also important to come across as friendly in order to put her at ease. On the other hand, if you know your client will encounter stress interviews, make the mock interview stressful. Generally speaking, the mock interview must build confidence, not demean your client.

At times you might experience resistance from your client. Hold your ground. She doesn’t need to agree with everything you say; and you might want to preface this at the beginning of the critique. Keep in mind that she will know more about her occupation, but you know more about the interview process. However, if you are unprepared, your authority goes out the window.

5. Ask challenging question

As mentioned above, when conducting a mock interview, make the questions challenging. Ask questions that 1) determine the interviewee’s self-awareness, 2) her understanding of the position, 3) her knowledge of the company, 4) and even her take on the competition.

My preference is to ask more behavioral-based questions than the typical no-brainers. The “What is your greatest weakness,” “Why should we hire you,” and even “Why did you leave your last company” questions are ones the interviewee’s can rehearse.

Focus on the job description she’s provided and ask questions like, “Tell me about a time when you managed a team of more than 5 people. How did that work out.” This will require her to come up with a thoughtful story using the Situation-Task-Actions-Result formula.

Even though behavioral-based questions take longer to answer, they reveal many more skills than you ask about. To determine if the interviewee demonstrates self-awareness, ask questions that require a negative result, such as, “Tell me about a time when you led a project that didn’t go well.” Will she blame others or take ownership of her faults?


Mock interviews can be the most valuable job-search tool for a candidate. I encourage my clients to participate in them as much as possible. Many express discomfort at the idea of being asked questions, let alone being filmed. When you have the opportunity to conduct a mock interview with a client, don’t hesitate. You’ll be doing your client a great favor.

4 things to consider when answering personality interview questions

The majority of people I interview aren’t transparent when I asked the questions that require them to reveal something about their personality. The question could be what they enjoy doing outside of work or even something as simple as the genre of literature they prefer.

This is natural; who wants to talk about their personality with a complete stranger? In an interview their focus is on answering questions that are relevant to the job at hand. This is what they’ve prepared for.

However, avoiding answering personality interview questions is an irritant with interviewers and can hurt your chances of landing a job. Interviewers want—even need—to know who they’ll be hiring as a person.

Sure, your engineering, marketing, finance, operations, or management experience is necessary for the role to which you’re applying. But there’s more to you as a person than just this requirement.

Do you recall when you were a child and your parents told you they wanted you to be honest? Do you have a relationship with someone that’s based on trust? Interviewing is the same; the person or people interviewing you want to hear and see self-awareness.

I find myself getting irritated when job candidates danced around questions asking for them to reveal something about themselves because I honestly wanted to know their answers to my appropriate questions. But for those who obliged me, I am impressed and their answer prompted me to ask follow-up questions.

There are four reasons why job candidates are hesitant to answer this question.

  1. They don’t understand why it’s being asked.
  2. They overthink how to answer it.
  3. They don’t want to answer wrong.
  4. They think it’s irrelevant

Why interviewers ask the questions they do

Here’s the thing, you’re more than your title and responsibilities; you’re someone your colleagues and superiors will be working with at least eight hours a day. They’ll want to know you as a person and have conversations with you that doesn’t have to revolve around work.

When I go on a walk with a colleague or am eating lunch with them (pre-pandemic), the last thing I want to do is talk about work. It’s a time, albeit short because I don’t take a long lunch, when I don’t have to think about work. Talking about work during these times makes me irritable.

Instead, I like to talk about what they did over the weekend or what they plan to do for the upcoming weekend. I’ll give you an example. One of my colleagues is an avid cyclist. I admire this, as he sometimes goes on 30-mile journeys or more. He’ll talk about how he cycled the back roads of Massachusetts.

As an interviewer, I want to know what makes a person tick outside of work. I want to know that they have interests. They don’t have to reveal their whole life, but if there’s a commonality, that’s even better. If there isn’t, that’s cool. I don’t cycle, nor do I want to; but to hear my colleague talk about it with such excitement is enjoyable.

Don’t overthink it

As I interview some candidates’ via Zoom, I can see some of them thinking way too hard about how to answer the question, “What do you like to do outside of work?” It’s like their minds are doing somersaults trying to come up with the perfect answer. I want them to chill; just answer the question.

In some ways I blame people like myself and other job coaches for teaching our clients to carefully weigh answering questions in a manner that won’t hurt their chances of landing the job. Maybe too carefully. But this innocent question isn’t one of them.

During a Job Club meeting, I asked the participants an ice-breaker question that was simple in nature. Because it was only a Job Club meeting, most participants were animated in answering, “What do you do outside of work?” But a few of them asked, “What does this have to do with work?”

Admittedly this irritated me. It was a simple exercise and something to get the hour-and-a-half kicked off. Regardless, the few participants immediately went into interview mode. They were overthinking the simple question. They didn’t want to get the answer wrong.

There’s no wrong answer…usually

Well, usually you can’t answer this question wrong, unless what you like doing outside of work is pulling wings off of flies. This image is too morose, but you get the idea. When I ask about candidate’s outside interests, I don’t care if they’re similar to mine or if they’re totally different.

For example, if someone loves the theater, that’s perfectly fine. If they enjoy yoga or meditation, great. I even like to hear about activities they enjoy doing with their family. And, no, I don’t hold this against them.

We’ve told our clients to stay away from talking about their children. Why? I have children, albeit older in age, so I love family people. I also assume they’ll dedicate the required time to the job and not spend an unnecessary amount of time with their family.

By the point I ask this question in an interview, I should have a good sense that a candidate is a good fit for the job—able to excel in the technical aspect of it, are motivated to take on the challenges, and will be a good fit for the role.

The caveat of answering this question is to steer clear of political or religious activities. This is something I will stick by as a career coach. There are just some things that are out of bounds. I used to say anything to do with hunting was taboo, but I’ve since changed my mind on that.

Good interviewers ask relevant questions

I like to think that if I ask a question about what a candidate likes to do outside of work there is a good reason for doing so. Throughout this article I’ve talked about reasons for asking this question. I like to know the person as a person. I want to see how they answer; do they show self-awareness or are they guarded. Another reason would simply to put the candidate at ease.

Prior questions or ones to follow the personality questions are about the position and, to some extent, the company. These are all legit with no malice intended. This can’t be said about poor interviewers, of whom try to trap candidates into saying the wrong things.

Here’s the thing, every question an interviewer asks should be relevant. I for one am not a big fan of the generic questions, such as “What is your greatest weakness,” “Why should we hire you,” and “What do you plan to do in five years.” To me, they’re throw away questions.

What’s telling is a poll that I’m conducting at the moment where I ask, “Why do some candidates have a difficult answering questions about their private life?” Of close to 10,000 respondents, only 18 percent of have answered that they think questions like the one I write about today are irrelevant.

Following are some responses to the poll I conducted.


Tara Orchard: Some people prefer to keep their personal life private and focus on their skills and experience. Perception of the question is important. For some personal means too personal, including relationships, family, religion, personal beliefs, obstacles in their past and other private factors.

I remind clients it is useful to have some personal information to talk about but it need not be very personal. They can talk about why they selected the school they attended, an interesting adventure they had, sports, arts, hobbies and so on that are relatable, general or interesting.

The employer is likely either trying to build rapport or see if the person is well rounded, not digging for private information. As usual, perception and preparation are key.

MARY FAIN BRANDT: I think job candidates are simply afraid to “answer it wrong”, which is silly! Perhaps they are worried how they will be viewed if they say are a huge STAR WARS fan or if they love Comic Con, or if they spend all their personal time shuffling their kids around to soccer games and cheer practice. Or the big one – I am active in my Church.

I think people are afraid to say the wrong thing.

I say share something light, but don’t hide who you are. After all, if you do get the job, conversations will come up about what you did over the weekend.

Austin Belcak (He/Him): As I’m writing this “Don’t want to answer wrong” is leading the pack. It’s a bummer that companies have made candidates feel that a simple question could be a trap. Says a lot about the interview and hiring practices right now.

Anastasia Magnitskaia: That is a great question Bob! Part of it, sometimes we are so prepared to answer questions that we have researched and practiced that this question can come as a surprise. Think about answering the question with substance- we all have things we do outside of work that will inspire others. Don’t sell yourself short and answer “I watch tv”. I also want to add that if a company is asking that question, it shows that they actually do care about work life balance!

Erin Kennedy: Oooh, that is a great reminder, Bob McIntosh. It IS a question they may get asked. It’s good to be prepared with those types of questions as well. Keep your answers prepared and skim them lightly (no need to delve into your personal life).

Erica Reckamp: You can usually navigate this by picking out a couple of benign hobbies. Avoid anything dangerous (insurance liability) or elitist (yachting anyone?)

Most often, it’s an opportunity to open a broader conversation with the interviewer. If you’ve done your research in advance, this is a great opportunity to mention shared interests!

LAURA SMITH-PROULX: This is a great point, Bob McIntosh. I really think people are caught off guard and hesitant to get too personal in the interview. It’s good to prepare for some version of this question and give a brief description that doesn’t stray too far from the subject. “I’m a voracious reader” or “I enjoy the local outdoors” might help combat nervousness.

Lotte Struwing: I think many may want to keep their personal lives to themselves. Without understanding the question, they may think it’s not a legal question and are uncomfortable responding to it.

Paul Upton: Hiring manager perspective:
I love this question as well as “tell me about yourself”. As a hiring manager I’d love to hear when candidates tell me about who they are personally and professionally… we tend to spend more time with people that we work with than many other folks in our lives, so it’s so important to be personable and show your human side.

I’d always get a bit discouraged when candidates just jump into stuff they think I wanted to hear and focus strictly about the job.

These types of questions are such a great opportunity to really stand out and show who you really are and why you’d be someone folks would love to work with!

Paula Christensen: loved your poll Bob McIntosh and this follow up. I’ll continue to be optimistic and view this question as a chance to build a connection and create engagement. I do agree that keeping polarizing subjects out of the response makes sense. Don’t over think it.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

62% of LinkedIn members say “LinkedIn Fatigue” is real

This article is based on a poll I conducted on LinkedIn in which 2,885 people voted.

This past Sunday was a lazy day. It rained in the morning after my daily walk, so there was no yard work to do. I powered up my laptop to check out what was happening on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Not much.

It’s not every Sunday that I have the opportunity to just sit and use LinkedIn. Like many people, I rarely (this word is relative) use social media on the weekends. These two days are dedicated to family, light travel, and getting things done around the house.

The day in question, I read some posts on LinkedIn and really had no desire to comment on any of them. I definitely had no urge to write a post. You could say I wasn’t feeling it.

𝗜 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗟𝗶𝗻𝗸𝗲𝗱𝗜𝗻 𝗳𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗴𝘂𝗲.

This is a real thing, folks. We develop a routine for using LinkedIn and when we veer from it, it seems strange. We strive for consistency without overdoing it; three or four days a week of engagement at the minimum.

And maybe this is the proper amount of time to be on LinkedIn. I don’t prescribe to this limit; there have been numerous times when I’ve said and written that I’m on LinkedIn everyday. This means 365 days a year. I’ve also seen some common faces using LinkedIn as frequently as me.

In another poll I conducted on LinkedIn, I asked how often members use LinkedIn. The options were approximately once a month, once a week, four times a week, or every day. Of the 5,040 people who voted 65% said they use LinkedIn every day. Four times a week came in second at 22% and the remainder of the voters were negligible.

One voter wrote, “Maybe not 365, Bob, but definitely high 300s. I typically spend multiple hours every week day, and less time on the weekends….”

For me, contributing to being on LinkedIn everyday is probably due to the mobile app. Using LinkedIn on the mobile app can definitely contribute to LinkedIn fatigue. We don’t see the app as a real device on which we use LinkedIn, but it is.

I think about the times I used the app while waiting for my kids to be released from their activities—soccer, dance, other school events—as well as checking it at work, outside waiting for the grill to heat up—basically anywhere. LinkedIn doesn’t escape from us, just like any social media platform come to think about it.

Some of my LinkedIn connections say the last thing they do before retiring for bed is check out their LinkedIn feed or Notifications. So, it seems there is no way to escape the beloved LinkedIn. Here is what some of people who suffer from LinkedIn wrote in the comments:


Kevin D. Turner: Absolutely Bob McIntosh, CPRW, I learned many years ago to schedule at least one bi-weekly #DigitalReprieve (a Day without Digital) and it’s helps.

Celeste Berke Knisely, MTA: The fatigue is real. It often strikes me when I see content from people who seem to be posting on top of one another – posting to post or get likes. I usually give it a good eye role, walk away and come back when I feel like it. No one can be on all the time with witty and thoughtful commentary.

Sometimes, we just need to stare out the window.

Hannah Morgan: Glad you’re sharing this and opening up a discussion. I used to post once a day on LinkedIn. Now I post twice a week. It’s a lot of work. And harder today to create good stuff!

Jeff Sheehan: I get overall social media fatigue. It’s not just limited to LinkedIn. The last year has been challenging with very little IRL interaction. Social media simply is not comparable to meeting face-to-face with people.

Maureen McCann, Executive Career Strategist 💎 (She/Her): I definitely had it last year. We had moved across the country and I just couldn’t get myself to sit in front of the LinkedIn screen trying to uplift others when I was mentally and emotionally drained. So I didn’t. I took a huge break. I don’t think anyone noticed.

Erin Kennedy: I hit Yes but am pretty good about boundaries. I definitely stay off of it on weekends.

Austin Belcak (He/Him): Absolutely! I’ve learned to listen to my body and trust that. If posting that day feels like a real chore, I won’t do it. If it feel that two days in a row, I just give myself permission to take a few days off. Being here should be fun, if you push past that it’s not leading to anything good.

Paula Christensen CPRW, CEIC, CJSS: I answered yes and I blame COVID. Over year+ I have had a lot more time for social media. I am getting tired of staring at glowing rectangles.

🍊 Madeline Mann 🍊: Content creation can be absolute blissful, but it also can really take it out of me sometimes. If you have a commitment to post a certain number of days, I use the tip from atomic habits. Allow yourself to break your habits, but never two days in a row.

Shelley Piedmont, SPHR, SHRM-SCP: I don’t think this is only with LinkedIn. Sometimes you just aren’t feeling it. Better to acknowledge it and move on to something else. Maybe on Sunday your time was better spent reading or taking a walk?

Ashley Watkins, NCRW, NCOPE: It’s cool to step away and return when you’re refreshed and energized. I don’t believe in posting just because. You need to be intentional and thoughtful in your messaging at all times.

Adrienne Tom: I get social media fatigue a lot. Whenever I do, I break from it. Usually just for short stretches. It can be a bit up and down…back and forth for me, but I’ve learned to embrace how I’m feeling and do what works best for me.

Virginia Franco: I get fatigue in general twice a year that absolutely extends to this platform. I also refer to it as “seasonal dementia,” as I tend to grow increasingly scattered! It happens as the end of the school year draws to a close (5 weeks for us) and from Thanksgiving until New Years!

Wes Pearce, Professional Resume Writer: Absolutely. Social media fatigue in general. When I feel this way, I just try to step away for awhile and come back tomorrow.

Honestly staying on screens and social media isn’t even natural for us to do, so it makes sense we get fatigued easily.

Ana Lokotkova: I definitely had it a few times not only in regards to LinkedIn, but all social media for that matter. As always, balance is key.

Matt Warzel, CPRW, CIR: Any and all social media can be fatigue-worthy. If I am annoyed, hungry, tired, or upset, the last thing I want to do is put that feeling in the form of a post or message out there. I love me some breathers and no-screen time when it’s needed. Solid poll question bud!

Laurence F. Smith:, In my opinion, there is too much content on LinkedIn to be of any value. Because of FOMO, there is an inclination to want to ingest everything on the platform. LinkedIn used to be a professional networking platform with relevant content communicating career and related educational opportunities, company/business news and business strategic planning. Now it is a platform with “Facebook-like” content (family videos, college or high-school graduation pictures, constant sales pitches, etcetera).

So it is easy to become fatigued from LinkedIn content. I do not use LinkedIn as much anymore and I suspect other professionals and job creators we all want to connect with may feel the same way.

Nilofar Shamim Haja: Interesting observation! I believe more than fatigue, many of us feel uninspired while using LinkedIn. It’s now cluttered with too many polls, news re-shares, and personal updates (or rants) that have impacted the platform’s value proposition. Sure, we live in a markedly different time today than when LinkedIn was launched, however, the core needs of professionals remain the same: networking, connecting with mentors and peers, job opportunities, and learning about industry updates. It’s just become that much more difficult to find the value in the midst of all the fluff.

Shelley Piedmont, SPHR, SHRM-SCP: Over this past weekend, I really tried to limit my social media intake on all platforms. It is good to do something else, anything else at times. In my daily journal, one of my prompts is how could you have made the day better. Often, I write about partaking in less social media.

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

7 reasons why employers should hire active job seekers

A disturbing conversation with statewide colleagues revealed that some hiring authorities are still overlooking “active” job candidates and only considering “passive” candidates. I thought employers were getting past this malarkey and letting go of the idea that only passive candidates are best. Apparently not.

unemployed

Do you remember way back in 2011 when some employers shamefully admitted to not hiring active job seekers? I performed a search on this topic and found the infamous article from the  Business Insider,  72 companies that might not hire you unless you already have a job, supporting this fact.

There is something inherently wrong with employers refusing to hire people who are out of work for one year, six months, and even three months. It is especially heinous if employers are still carrying out this practice during COVID-19.

Here are seven reasons why employers should hire active job seekers.

1. It is often beyond a person’s control when they’re laid off. CNBC announced in 2015 that Kraft Food was going to lay off 2,600 people. All very capable and diligent employees, they were not terminated due to poor performance. They were terminated because the employer failed.

Other large employers in my part of the state, such as Philips Lighting and EMC, and Keurig Dr. Pepper have laid off many skilled people. Again, employees losing their jobs had nothing to do with their performance. Yet somehow employers overlook the fact that victims of major layoffs are unworthy of consideration.

2. The unemployed cannot be accused of not wanting to work. In fact, getting back to work is their motivating factor in life. Employers should see this as an opportunity to hire hungry qualified active job seekers.

According to a poll taken for a 2015 Indeed.com article, still applies: “VPs say active candidates have better motivational drive than passive candidates. When a candidate shows interest and applies in a job, they’re more likely to be invested in the role and have a higher chance at succeeding.”

I was encouraged to hear from Amy Miller, a recruiter at Amazon, that she searches for people who have the “Open to Work” displayed on their LinkedIn profile photo. More employers should take this approach in hiring.

3. Good job candidates shouldn’t be blamed for inadequate job-searching. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listen to job seekers say they’ve sent out hundreds of resumes, using Indeed.com, Monster.com, Dice.com—and other job boards—without getting any love.

The sad fact is that they know the best ways to conduct their job search, but they can’t bring themselves to network, use LinkedIn properly, contact their alumni association, enlist the help of recruiters, and basically get out of their house. They do what’s easy, not what’s right.

Furthermore, when they land an interview with employers, they freeze and all the intelligence they possess seems to vanish like fog. They go to interview after interview where they become increasingly nervous. Employers need to recognize this as nerves, not that candidates are incapable of doing the job.

4. To improve the economic landscape, people have to work in order to contribute. Doesn’t it make sense to hire a capable active job seeker as opposed to someone who is already employed? My feelings are particularly strong about this given the pandemic has all but killed many businesses.

One might reason that the person who leaves an employer for the next one will be replaced by a new employee. Not necessarily. Employers aren’t quick to fill vacant positions. Reviving the weak economy must be a priority of employers.

5. Employers’ complaints they can’t find enough talented workers is an excuse they use for not being able to pull the trigger. What they’re saying is that they can’t find someone who can assume the duties immediately, and aren’t willing to take a chance on active job seekers who (related to # 2) want to work.

In a conversation I had years ago with a recruiter, he told me his list of positions that needed to be filled was a mile long. He said it wasn’t for lack of trying, his hiring managers wanted the perfect candidates.

Perhaps an active job seeker doesn’t have the latest experience in Java or Salesforce or HR procedures, but they have the motivation and ability to update their skills. These candidates will probably make the best employees in the long term, if given the opportunity to learn.

6. Let’s not forget about emotional intelligence (EQ) which is perhaps more important than expertise in the latest technology. Reports claim that people with high EQ are 58% more likely to be successful than those who lack EQ.

Employers must look beyond an active job seeker’s resume and give them a chance to demonstrate themselves in an interview. Yet, too many active job seekers don’t get past the resume scan if they have an employment gap of more than three months.

7. It’s just plain wrong to default to passive candidates. As a webinar/career coach at an urban career center, I see the hopes of my clients crushed by being interviewed a number of times only to find out that an employer hired people who were already working.

Hiring employers must show compassion and try their best to hire qualified candidates who need the work. They have a moral obligation to hire qualified job seekers, regardless of their age, disability, race, gender, or employment status.

As well, a gap of up to a year doesn’t necessarily mean the active job seeker is unable to do the work required and do it well. Related to number 3, some job seekers struggle emotionally with their job search. This can be a huge barrier in finding work.


One more: active job seekers aren’t broken. To recruiters, “passive” job seekers seem like a sure bet. But there’s one thing they need to consider: just because someone is unemployed, it doesn’t mean they’re broken. Additionally, not all passive seekers are quality workers. Let’s keep this in mind. Please.

Photo: Flickr, Troy Granger 

3 Reasons to Take Your Current Job Out of Your LinkedIn Headline

In this guest article by Laura Smith-Proulx, one of my favorite resume and LinkedIn profile writers, she talks about adding value to your Headline and not simply listing your title and the company’s name. After all, your profile isn’t about your company; it’s about you. Laura also provides great examples of strong Headlines.

Did you let LinkedIn put your current job in your Headline?

If so, you’re among the millions of LinkedIn users who fail to market their own personal brand.

Look around on LinkedIn and you’ll see the same scenario: too many people fail to uncheck that box in their current job that says “Update My Headline.”

As a result, you’re left with Sales Manager at XYZ Company or VP of Production at AB Manufacturing.

This could be one of the biggest obstacles in your job search! You’re MUCH more than a job title. With so many opportunities on LinkedIn to promote your value to employers, your Headline should be tuned more carefully.

Here are the 3 reasons why you should take your current job out of your Headline (and what to use instead):

Your Headline should market your personal brand, not your employer.

personal branding for LinkedIn

Your current job title probably does a poor job of representing your potential!

Not only was it designed by your employer, it also picks up your company name… and now you have a banner that clearly describes a position you may want to leave.

But if you design your OWN Headline, you’ll have a valuable opportunity to add a success story, keywords, and job titles that help others find you.

These Headlines show how you can “advertise” your skills for a future job search:

VP Sales & Marketing | 13 Winning Sales Teams Developed to Create #1 Market Performance | Global & US Revenue & Growth Strategies | Fortune-Ranked Technology, Government, OEM, Engineering, & Defense Markets

COO & VP Operations. Fast Turnarounds & Market Share Growth in EMEA, Americas, & APAC Regions. 299% Growth From New Revenue Streams, Corporate Contracts, & Transformation. Board Member, Mentor, Executive Sponsor

Your current job might not match your career goals.

Let’s say you’re aiming for the next level up in your career. By tuning your Headline for a promotion, you’ll come up in searches for the target job, not just the one you already hold.

This example shows how an Operations leader can show readiness for the COO position, referencing the skills they are already using and focusing on high-value keywords:

Healthcare Executive. COO-Level Authority for Clinical Operations, Patient Care Quality, Safety, & CMS Ratings. Relentless Drive for Excellence & Patient Satisfaction. Champion for Team Growth & Service Line Development

You can see that this Headline continues to mention Operations, making it possible to be spotted as a senior leader while leaving the possibility open to be found in searches for a COO.

No matter your career level, mentioning your desired role (which you can also add to the About section) helps show your intentions and position you more strategically as a rising leader in your field.

Your current job title is far too SHORT to describe your skills.

As described in The Surprising Problem With Your LinkedIn Headline, most Headlines that use current job titles don’t fill even HALF the 220 allowable characters.

LinkedIn SEO

This means you’re missing critical opportunities to further describe keywords and strengths. Remember, your LinkedIn Headline is a critical piece of LinkedIn Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

With a longer Headline, you’ll also gain the opportunity to switch out a few phrases or keywords to “test” which version produces more interest from employers.

These examples show Headlines that exceed 200 characters by adding insightful  details and leadership strengths:

Chief Strategy Officer. 45% New Growth From Corporate Direction, M&A, Product Strategy, & Operations Improvements. Customer-Centric Product Lines, Outreach, & Technologies Taking Regional Operation to US Powerhouse

Senior Director, Product Engineering – Driving Software Quality & Product Performance With Scalable Solutions. High-Productivity Engineering Team Leader Creating 13 Straight Quarters of Profit in Mobility Startup

Here’s how to remove the current-job default: go to your Experience section, select the pencil icon next to your name, and look for Update My Headline. Uncheck this box and hit Save.

There’s NO BETTER WAY to broadcast your personal brand than to craft a UNIQUE LinkedIn Headline!

By removing emphasis on your current job, you’ll free up space for a compelling, keyword-specific description of your skills and top career wins.