Tag Archives: accomplishments

You’ll receive many opinions of your résumé; rely on 10 sure things

Whose advice should you follow when you’re writing your résumés? Knowing the answer to this dilemma may require a crystal ball, for without it you won’t be 100% sure of who will provide the right answers.


Do you heed the advice of professional résumé writers, recruiters, HR, or hiring managers? They all offer good advice, but their advice will be different. In fact, you can ask 20 résumé experts their opinions on how you should write your résumés, and you’ll get 20 different answers. So who is correct?

The answer is the person who invites you in for an interview is correct. Résumé reviewers are somewhat subjective when they read résumés, and sometimes there’s no rhyme nor reason.

While one person may like accomplishments listed upfront, another may prefer them listed in your employment section. While one person prefers two-page résumés, another might favor one-pagers. While one person may not be concerned with flowery prose in your professional profile, another may hate it, as I do.

The point being, you’re the one who needs to decide if your résumé is ready to go. Do you want to drive yourself nuts by having a slew of people give you their “expert” advice, revising your résumé twenty times over?

Now, there are certain rules on writing effective résumés that you should heed in no particular order. These are ten sure things that need to be in place to offer you the best chance of success.

  1. Quantified results are a must*. Employers are not interested in a grocery list of duties; they’re drawn to significant accomplishments that are quantified with numbers, dollars, and percentages. Did you simply increase productivity? Or did you increase productivity by 55% percent?
  2. Please no clichés or unsubstantiated adaptive skills. The new rule is to show rather than tell. Yes, you may be innovative; but what makes you innovative? Did you develop a program for inner-city youth that promoted a cooperative environment, reducing violent crime by 50%? If so, state it in your profile as such.
  3. Tailor your résumé to each job, when possible. Employers don’t want a one-fits-all résumé that doesn’t address their needs or follow the job description. It’s insulting. By the way, for all you job board junkies, a résumé using the Target Job Deconstruction method is an adequate alternative to tailoring hundreds of résumés.
  4. Your résumé needs to show relevance. Employers are interested in the past 10 or 15 years of your work history; in some cases less. Anything you did beyond 20 years isn’t relevant; the technology is obsolete. Age discrimination may also be a concern, so don’t show all 25-30 years of your work life.**
  5. Keywords are essential for certain occupations that are technical in nature. They’re the difference between being found by the applicant tracking system (ATS) at the top of the list or not at all. (ATS are said to eliminate 75% of applicants.) Again, job board faithfuls must have their keywords peppered throughout their résumé.
  6. Size matters. Some employers are reading hundreds of résumés for one job, so do them a favor and don’t submit a résumé that doesn’t warrant its length. The general rule is two pages are appropriate providing you have the experience and accomplishments to back it up. More than two pages requires many relevant accomplishments. In some cases a one-page résumé will do the job.
  7. No employer cares what you need. That’s right; employers care about what they need. If you happen to care what they need and can solve their problems and make them look good, they’ll love you. So drop the meaningless objective statement that speaks only about you and not how you can meet the employer’s needs.
  8. Start your résumé with a punch. Below your name and contact information lies your branding headline. Within approximately 90 characters you can capture the employer’s attention with stating what you do and in what capacity. Project Manager doesn’t do it like: Project Manager | Lean Six Sigma | Team Building | Enhanced Product Line.
  9. Make it easy to read. Your résumé should  not only be visually appealing, it should be visually readable. Employers who read hundreds of résumé s will glance at them for as few as 10 seconds before deciding to read them at length. Make your résumé scannable by writing shorter paragraphs, three to four lines at most.
  10. WOW them. Use accomplishments in your Performance Profile. That’s right, grab their attention with quantified accomplishments early on. “Volunteered to assume the duties of website development and design, while also excelling at public relations, resulting in $50,000 savings for the company” will entice the reviewer to continue reading.

At some point you need to go with what works—a résumé that will land you interviews. I don’t care if it’s written on a napkin and delivered in a Starbucks’ cup (it’s been done). If it’s getting you interviews, go with it. If it isn’t getting you interviews, there’s something lacking on your résumé, but carefully chose one or two people who can offer you sound advice. And remember the 10 must have’s on your résumé.

* It is agreed that not every positive result can be quantified with numbers, dollars, or percentages, particularly if you don’t have access to these figures. To simply say you increased…or decreased…can be enough.

** In some cases, executive-level jobseekers, more years of experience may be more helpful. A superintendent of schools with 30 years of experience will probably have more luck than one with only five years of experience.

Photo from Andrea, Flickr

5 ways (each) to brand yourself with your résumé and LinkedIn profile


Now what? You have a personal brand that is great; it clearly shows your value to employers, so now you have to show it to the world. You’ve heard it over and over that you’re a product to be sold to employers, the buyers.

However, if your brand isn’t consistent, you’re not an established product. Consider how you’ll brand yourself with your résumé and LinkedIn profile.


Your résumé is most likely the first document the employers will see, so your personal brand must have an immediate impact. If not, your chances of getting an interview are very slim.

Purpose of your résumé. You will send a tailored résumé in response to a specific job. Your résumé employs push technology, as you are reacting to an advertised job. The following components of your résumé will contribute to your personal brand:

  1. A branding headline tells potential employers exactly who you are, as well as what you’re capable of doing. It should consist of approximately 10 words that describe what you do, perhaps the industry/ies in which you work, and some strong areas of expertise.
  2. Performance Profile is a section on a résumé that sometimes gets overlooked in a reviewer’s rush to get to the Work History. However, if you throw in phrases that immediately expresses your value, such as a bolded  accomplishment statement, your Performance Profile will not be overlooked. Example: Operations manager who increases companies’ revenue in excess of 60% annually through shrewd business acumen.
  3. Key skills for the positions you’re pursuing are listed in your Core Competency section. These are skills that are specific to the position for which you’re applying. Don’t highlight skills that are irrelevant for a particular position, e.g., strong written communication skills when verbal communication skills are essential.
  4. Job-specific accomplishments will effectively send a consistent branding message. While a show of your former/current responsibilities might seem impressive, accomplishments speak volumes. Provide quantified results in the form of numbers, dollars, and percentages.
  5. Keywords and phrases common to each position are not only necessary to be located by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS); they’ll rouse attention from employers in a Core Competency section.

LinkedIn profile

Purpose of you LinkedIn profile. Your profile is NOT focused on a specific job; it is static and more general. It uses push technology, as recruiters and hiring managers will find you by entering your title and areas of expertise.

Your consistent message demonstrated through your résumé carries over to your LinkedIn profile. While your profile and résumé are different, they are similar in how you deliver your branding message.

  1. Like on your résumé, a branding headline will tell potential employers exactly who you are, as well as what you’re capable of doing. However, it is general and includes more areas of expertise. Your branding headline and photo are what visitors to your profile will see first. Together they must make a great first impression.
  2. Your profile Summary will be different from your résumé’s Performance Profile; it is written in first- or third-person, but it must brand you as someone who demonstrates direction and potential greatness. You may use content from your commercial in your Summary. To some this is considered the most important section of your profile. You’re allowed 2,000 characters.
  3. List your outstanding technical and transferable skill in the Skills section. This section on your profile is similar to the Core Competency section on your résumé. The skills you list must show your proficiency, as opposed to your familiarity. You will be endorsed for your skills, which arguably demonstrate your expertise.
  4. Your Employment section will be briefer than your résumé’s, highlighting just the outstanding accomplishments from each job. Accomplishments that are quantified with numbers, dollars, and percentages speak louder than simple duty statements and are the most effective way to brand yourself.
  5. Keywords are just as important to have on your profile as they are on your résumé. Employers will only find you if your profile contains the keywords they enter into Advanced People Search. LinkedIn has a new Skill feature that analyzes your technical and transferable skills, indicating their projections and offering more suggestions, among other cool features.

Some additional components of your LinkedIn profile which will cement your consistent branding are ones not found on your résumé. The most obvious is a highly professional or business casual photo. Another useful area of your profile is Media which allows you to share PowerPoint or Prezi presentations, copies of your résumés, videos, and various other files.

Combining both documents, your brand with be more powerful than if you use a résumé alone. The résumé to respond to job ads and your LinkedIn profile to pull employers to you will be the powerful punch you need in your job search.

Photo: Flickr, Ploymint HQ

Job Search Tip #4: Revise…or…write your résumé

In the last article we looked at assessing your skills. Now we’ll look at revising your résumé or writing one. There are three notable challenges jobseekers are facing when revising or writing their résumé:

  1. Many haven’t kept up with writing their accomplishments while working.
  2. Some jobseekers are looking for work for the first time in 10, 20, even 30 years and now need to produce a résumé.
  3. Many college grads are looking for full-time work for the first time in a turbulent economy.

In all cases, today’s résumés have changed, with a focus on industry keywords, accomplishments, short-easy-to-read text blocks, and targeted delivery of your résumés.

Most résumés these days have a keyword-rich Branding Headline that accurately describes your occupation and areas of strengths. Each strength should be intended for a specific position. Here is an example:

Marketing Specialist | Public Relations | Program Development | Increase Visibility & Revenue.

A Performance Profile can make or break you. You have to grab the employer’s attention with a no-fluff, fact-revealing statement that serves as a snapshot of you and what is to follow for the rest of the résumé. To simply write the word, Creative does not have an impact.

However something like the following carries more weight:

Demonstrate creativity through initiating programs that have contributed to financial success by 55% annually.

More specific information should be included in your work history.

This statement should be directly related to what skill/s the employer’s looking for. As it’s relevant to one particular position, it may not be relevant to others and, therefore, shouldn’t necessarily be included on every résumé you submit.

Your Competency Section is meant to show employers what skills you possess, as well as additional skills that may be a plus to the employer. They are key words that should also show up in your headline and professional profile.

The Work History is the most important part of your résumé, so it must contain high-impact information that demonstrates your accomplishments. Duties are simply…duties; however, accomplishments sell. If you have a boatload of duties on your résumé, do your best to see how they can be turned into statements that show positive impact on the companies for which you worked.

Duty statement: Spearheaded the first continuous improvement committee at the company.

This is an accomplishment statement with a quantified result. Spearheaded the first continuous improvement process that eliminated redundant, costly programs. This resulted in an overall savings of $200,000.

Shortened one-line version: Spearheaded continuous improvement process eliminating costly programs, saving $200,000.

The final piece is your education section. For college grads, I’m a big fan of putting your hard-earned degree beside your name at the top of your résumé. In your education section fully spell the degree. And proudly list your GPA if it is higher than a 3.5/4.0 (there’s some debate over this).

Masters of Business Administration
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
GPA: 3.94/4.00

Martin Yate says it best, “No one likes to write a résumé.” He also says that a résumé is our most important financial document. No one said writing  your résumé would be easy, but as time goes on it becomes easier. Remember that each résumé must be tailored to a specific job. Even in this turbulent economy, jobs are being had; so never give up on your job search.

Next Friday we’ll look at writing your cover letter.

10 reasons why your résumé may be a zombie

zombie boyLast Halloween my son (at right) was talking about being a soccer-player zombie at least two months prior to this much-anticipated night. He explained he would paint his face white; outline his eyes with black; and, most importantly; apply fake blood to the sides of his mouth. The way he described it got me stoked for Halloween.

I shouldn’t have been surprised when his friend from up the street showed up as a zombie. Nor should I have been surprised when our adult neighbor walked over dressed as, you guessed it, a zombie. She was pregnant and had doll baby legs extruding from her large belly. I asked her what her husband was going to dress as, and she told me…a farmer zombie. Further, they dressed their one-year-old son as a zombie.

At least five zombie kids came to my door, and we were only one hour into a night of candy-crazed kids roaming the streets. I felt like I was in an episode of the Walking Dead.

What does last year’s Halloween have to do with the job search? It brings to mind how employers feel about the slew of résumés they receive that lack originality. Like nearly every kid (and adult) I saw dressed as zombies, employers are getting résumés that don’t speak to their needs; they are zombie résumés. Your résumé is a zombie if it has the following characteristics:

  1. A cookie cutter résumé. Written and done, is how some feel about their résumé. No thought about what employers need, therefore no mention of the skills and experience highlighting those needs. Like the zombies that arrived at my door, this résumé doesn’t make an impact.
  2. Failure to capitalize on your accomplishments. Quantified accomplishments are what immediately grab employers’ attention at first glance. Duty-based résumés don’t separate you from many other candidates.
  3. Contact information that lacks your LinkedIn URL. David Perry and Kevin Donlin, Co-Creators of The Guerrilla Job Search System, write, “If you’re not on LinkedIn and looking good, you don’t exist to most employers.” You have a zombie résumé if you’re not on LinkedIn and don’t proudly display it in your contact information.
  4. No branding headline. The best way to say who you are and what your areas of strength are is by having a headline that sets you apart from the other applicants. It’s where you first state keywords and phrases. Zombie résumés fail to make use of this valuable real estate.
  5. A say-nothing Performance Profile.  Zombie résumés start with statements like, Result-driven Project Manager with 20 years of experience in Manufacturing. Instead,  Project Manager who leads teams producing software that generate sales exceeding $3M in competitive manufacturing markets, would be more enticing to the employer.
  6. Your résumé isn’t prioritized. A zombie résumé fails to demonstrate your knowledge of what’s important to the employer, based on the job description. Your Profile should state your qualifications in order of the employer’s requirements, thus making her job of finding them very easy. Prioritize your statements.
  7. No core competency section. A résumé is not complete unless it has a Core Competency section that lists the skills required for a position, plus additional ones that can add to a person’s candidacy.
  8. The Work History lacks relevant accomplishments. Perhaps the most important aspect of a résumé is the Work History, but what makes it escape Zombie status is powerful accomplishment statements. Accomplishments that describe how you have contributed to the growth of an organization/company. Increased revenue, improved production, reduced costs, saved time are but a few accomplishments you should highlight.
  9. There’s no Training Section. If you were fortunate enough to receive training or took advantage of professional development, you should have a section for training. A zombie résumé contains no Training section and screams to employers that, “I have not taken advantage of bettering myself and keeping up with technologies.”
  10. The Education Section is incomplete and includes dates. All to often I have seen résumés that skimp on the Education section. Whether you earned a degree 5 years ago or 20, this section informs the employer that you started and completed something. Don’t be shy about writing that you made the Dean’s list four years running, something you accomplished through dedication and hard work.

Zombies roamed my neighborhood on Halloween walking lethargically, extending their hands for candy, just as many résumés lack the imagination and authenticity required to earn a place at an interview. Don’t submit a zombie résumé. Rather think about the ten important components of your résumé and how to make them strong. Who knows what next year’s Halloween will bring?

Don’t neglect this part of your LinkedIn profile; the Experience section

Previously I wrote about the LinkedIn Summary section and how it should contribute to your branding. Today we’ll look at the experience section of the LinkedIn profile.

When asked which section of your résumé is most important, most people will say the work history. This section should clearly describe your duties in a brief job summary (paragraph format), followed by bullets that highlight your quantified accomplishments—how much you were able to increase profits, reduce costs, save time, enhance procedures, etc.

Your work history is the meat of your résumé. Some attest that the same holds true for your LinkedIn profile. I recently saw a poll that asked what people thought was the most important part of the LinkedIn profile, the title, summary, work history, or applications feature. A resounding number of people considered the work history section to be one of the most important sections. (The title was also favored highly.)

Let’s step back and consider the major differences between the résumé and the LinkedIn profile. The résumé must be tailored for a particular position. The LinkedIn profile is not.  (It is, however, inaccurate to call your LinkedIn profile a stagnant document because you will update it regularly with the update feature; however, the work history will generally remain the same.)

You have two options when creating your LinkedIn work history.

The first option is to keep it brief and list three or four accomplishments. Choose what you consider to be your top accomplishments at each position, and describe them with quantifiable results. Remember, numbers, dollars, and percentages speak loud and clear. This approach is similar to an accomplishment-based résumé.

Benefit: Your résumé will describe the duties you performed and, most importantly, the accomplishments you had at each company. You will not be repeating the same information that’s on your résumé. Think of the facts, just the facts. It will make the employers ask for more if they haven’t seen your résumé.

The second option is to pour your soul into your LinkedIn work history and present it as a complete profile of your work history. This means you will describe as many duties and accomplishments as possible.

Benefit: If employers are searching through LinkedIn for talent and not calling for résumés yet, they will get a good sense of what you’re capable of doing. This being the case, you will rely on employers to sift through the content and glean what is most important to them.

The question you must ask yourself, “Will I better brand myself by only mentioning my most outstanding accomplishments in my LinkedIn work history, or should I dump the whole unadulterated story into it?” Further, at this point in your short career, can you substantiate a long work history that reveals all, or would a more poignant story draw an employer’s attention?

From an expert: Chris Perry, founder of CareerRocketeer.com and MBAHighway.com, summarizes the work history in his book, Linked up: The Ultimate LinkedIn Job Search Guide: “Include as much of your current and past work history as appropriate for your desired career path. Highlight your key accomplishments from each position and quantify as many as possible to enhance your value proposition. Also, optimize your descriptions with keywords and phrases.”

Note Chris’ mention of keywords and phrases. No matter which way you decide to present your work history, make certain there occupational-related words. The expert says you can use Indeed.com or other job boards to identify the keywords.

My opinion is to keep the work history brief and tell your story in the summary section. Does this mean the summary holds more weight, or is more important than the work history? Certainly not. It simply means that you are presenting a fine three-course meal, rather than an endless buffet.

I’m thinking of résumés I see which are comprised only of accomplishments—I call them accomplishment-based résumés. They effectively bait the employer to invite the jobseeker in for an interview, where questions about their duties can be asked. It’s up to you as to which way to go with your work history. No matter what you decide, make sure you have strong accomplishments to brand yourself.

Don’t lead with a boring summary statement on your résumé

Nearly two years ago I read an article by Laura Smith-Proulx, Award-Winning Executive Résumé Writer, called Is Your Résumé Summary Boring Employers? In her article, she asserts that jobseekers need to state accomplishments upfront in the summary, not simply save them all for the work history.

I took exception to Laura’s assertion, thinking why reveal the good stuff so early in the game. I mean wouldn’t it be like showing the opposing team your best routes in football warm-ups or your homerun power during batting practice or giving your kids the best Christmas gifts first?

So I contacted Laura and asked for her reasons behind showing the firepower so soon on a résumé. I don’t recall her exact words, but the general gist was get the employers’ attention quick and, yes, save enough fire power for the rest of your résumé. This made complete sense to me.

Since our correspondence, I’ve rethought my reasoning and believe in the great WOW statements that Laura describes so aptly in her article. I now tell my workshop attendees (of all levels) that a summary full of clichés, lofty adjectives, and broad statements of greatness are garbage. And why would an employer want to read thoughtless verbiage, let alone a boring summary?

Allow me to quote Laura: “You’re boring hiring managers if your résumé contains an opening paragraph like this: Accomplished professional with proven experience leading cross-functional teams, managing budgets, increasing revenue, and creating strong customer relationships. Able to work effectively in fast-paced environments, lead teams to successful project delivery, and communicate at all levels of the organization.

Instead, she advises to start with a concise, quantified accomplishment: “Logistics Director noted for launching global supply chain that cut expenses by $1M, plus orchestrating consistent supplies across U.S. operations for 19 distribution centers.”

The difference between the former boring summary and the latter precise, metric-driven WOW statement hits you over the head. Proudly displaying three or four accomplishment statements in your summary will prompt employers to pick up the phone immediately and schedule the interview.

Jobseekers, read Laura’s article and practice what she tell us. Employers will not be bored and will look forward to reading the rest of your résumé.

Make your résumé easy to read if you want to be considered for an interview

I don’t know what’s worse, a résumé that is so dense that it looks like something James Joyce wrote, or so sparse that it looks like a Haiku.

Look, one of the golden rules of writing your résumé is that it has to be easy to read…yet sells you with accomplishments and relevancy. I know this is a tall order but it can be done.

You’ve been told over and over how your résumé is your marketing collateral. Consider reading a brochure that takes you longer than three minutes to complete during the busiest part of your workday. Consider reading a product flyer in a crowded retail store with your kids screaming to leave or wandering off. You only have 30 seconds to get the gist of the product before you decide to explore further.

This is how the employer feels when she reads a résumé to decide if you’ll be considered for an interview. On average an employer will take 15 to 45 seconds deciding whether to invite you in for an interview. The first phase of the résumé review is a quick scan, which means you must make the scanning process as easy as possible for her.

Capturing important information. Keep this general rule in mind when crafting your résumé: do not exceed 4-5 lines per word block. When possible include accomplishments that are quantified with dollars, numbers, and percentages. As quick scans go, these quantifiers will surely draw attention from the employer and entice her to read further. Just glance at the text below to see if it’s something that would be easy to digest in a 15-30 second scan.

Hired to revamp marketing department and turn around declining revenue. Managed 4 employees, including marketing communications writer, graphic designer, and webmaster. Interfaced with members of the media, partners, and consumers; recognized by many for providing excellent customer service. Oversaw more than 10 tradeshows, both organization and attending. Increased number of media contacts from 30 to 6,000 at ABC company within only 4 months. Overall contacts exceeded 30,000. Garnered 20 awards in major trade journals, including “Data Storage Product of the Year,” (5 years in a row) “Product of the Year,” “Editor’s Choice,” and other honors from top trade publications. Placed more than 50 reviews and articles in trade magazines. Designed a 60-page Website and maintained it, while maintaining role of public relations; thus saving the company more than $25,000. Received “Outstanding Employee of the Year” for volunteering to take on this endeavor.

I recently critiqued a résumé that look similar to the above. Now read the same paragraph divided into short word blocks.

Hired to revamp marketing department and turn around declining revenue. Managed 4 employees, including marketing communications writer, graphic designer, and webmaster. Interfaced with members of the media, partners, and consumers; recognized by many for providing excellent customer service. Oversaw more than 10 tradeshows, both organization and attending.


  • Increased number of media contacts from 30 to 6,000 at ABC company within only 4 months. Overall contacts exceeded 30,000.
  • Garnered 20 awards in major trade journals, including “Data Storage Product of the Year,” (5 years in a row) “Product of the Year,” “Editor’s Choice,” and other honors from top trade publications. Placed more than 50 reviews and articles in trade magazines.
  • Designed a 60-page Website and maintained it, while maintaining role of public relations; thus saving the company more than $25,000. Received “Outstanding Employee of the Year” for volunteering to take on this endeavor.

Do potential employers a favor when crafting your résumé; make it easier to read. Density is one reason employers may decide to place your résumé in the…circular file cabinet.

The #1 way to stand out on your resume

By Laura Smith-Proulx

Worried that your resume won’t stand out for that perfect job when compared to hundreds of eager job hunters?

One of the BEST ways to distinguish yourself is to measure and document your performance against that of peers (or previous incumbents).

Competitive intelligence isn’t new. Anyone who sells solutions is constantly positioning their product for a win against similar offerings. And guess what? In a job search, YOU are the product.

Therefore, your resume must explain the reasons you’ll continue to outperform others in your next job.

Here are 3 tips to help gauge your work against others, and then add the results to your resume:

1 – Assess your predecessor.

Most employers find it necessary to reorganize teams from time to time, so you’ve probably found yourself taking over a role from a former colleague.

You may have even been hired to replace an underperforming manager, which gives you a great foundation on which to base achievements. If so, you’ll want to quantify the results you gained over that of the previous incumbent.

Turnaround performance is a great differentiator, and was used as part of the strategy on this resume for a Denver-based COO in the real estate investment industry – showing how he walked into specific challenges and removed obstacles to revenue success.

2 – Compare yourself against colleagues.

Believe it or not, a side-by-side correlation between your results and that of your peers will help your resume writing skills.

Think carefully about efforts you’ve handled at work such as special projects or collaboration with leaders at your company. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Was there a reason your boss selected you to lead a particular initiative?
  • Were you promoted faster than your colleagues?
  • Are you frequently pulled into leadership meetings to provide strategic input?

If any of these situations apply to you, document the ways you’re differentiating yourself, and then leverage them!

This example of a Sales Resume for a B2B sales executive in Minnesota shows how we compared his revenue achievement to peers – demonstrating better (and faster results) that intrigued employers.

3 – Evaluate your performance against the entire industry.

Here’s where economic conditions come into play. If you’re in a sales role, you might find that you’ve earned Top Producer ranking in a down year… when others in your industry struggled to even make quota.

Take stock of your performance against that of peers in other companies. Did your company stay in business – even when others shut their doors?

Were you able to produce revenue-generating or market-capturing strategies in an industry known for slow growth?

If these scenarios apply to you, note both the achievement and the conditions on your resume. Employers are keen to hire candidates that are able to address and resolve obstacles, especially in a recession!

In summary, even if it seems that you’ve just “done your job” throughout your career, chances are good that you can think of ways your performance differs from that of other team members or executives.

Adding comparative analyses to your resume – with a full description of your results against others –will help you make a stronger, standout impression.

Laura Smith-Proulx, Executive Director, National Columnist, Author, LinkedIn expert, and former recruiter.

As a social-media savvy leader in the resume industry, Laura combines a lifelong passion for writing with recruiting expertise, global recognition, awards, and master-level credentials held by less than 30 resume experts worldwide.

Don’t neglect this components of your LinkedIn profile; the Summary

To make your LinkedIn profile appealing to employers, every section of it has to stand out. I wrote an article on the LinkedIn photo and branding headline and how they can contribute to your personal branding. Now I’ll address one of the most important LinkedIn sections, the summary. In my mind this section is neglected by far too many people, greatly reducing their personal branding potential.

Let’s look at three points to consider when branding yourself with your LinkedIn summary.

Don’t recite your résumé summary. Some jobseekers, against the advice of Professional Résumé Writer Tracy Parish, use their summary as a dumping ground for their résumé’s summary. In other words, they copy and paste the summary from their résumé to their LinkedIn summary. Is this utter laziness or poor branding? Both.

Tracy writes, “The summary section on LinkedIn is probably one of the main places people miss out on a great opportunity to showcase what they have to offer. This is NOT the place to copy and paste your résumé, and it’s not the place to skimp on critical information. As a jobseeker, it is critically important to create a ‘Wow Factor’….”

One major difference between the two summaries is the number of characters allowed on LinkedIn and the number of characters your résumé’s summary should contain. You are allowed 2,000 characters for your LinkedIn summary. So use them! On a résumé this number of characters would take up three-quarters of a page, much too long for a two-page document. A proper number of characters for a résumé should not exceed 1,000 if written well.

You have a voice with LinkedIn. You’re given more freedom of expression on LinkedIn; use it! Be creative and make the employer want to read on. This is what effective branding does, which includes your voice. It should be some of your best writing and can be written in first person or even third person.

Most pundits lean toward first person, as it expresses a more personal side to you. A summary written in first person seems to invite others into the writer’s life. To me, the first person voice is more natural. Look at Jason Alba’s summary written in first person. It is personal and makes you feel like you know him. Jason is the author I’m on LinkedIn, Now What??? and founder of JibberJabber.com.

Not many people pull off the third person voice well. In my opinion, the third-person voice can sound stilted; but if done right, it can make a powerful branding impact. Dan Schawbel is one person who makes it work, primarily because he is a reputable branding expert. His summary brands him extremely well.

Decide how you want to deliver your personal branding. How you brand yourself through your summary depends on the type of work you’re pursuing, your skill set, the story you want to tell, what you want to reveal about your personality, and other factors.

Darrell Dizolglio, a Professional Résumé Writer who also writes LinkedIn profiles, says it depends on his clients’ talents and career goals. “I have found by helping hundreds of clients over the years that the greatest results come when you use the LinkedIn summary to open yourself up to multiple opportunities/positions, while your résumés can zero in on just one position very effectively. Naturally, you can/should have multiple targeted résumés out there at work for you. However, you are allowed only one LinkedIn summary per person.”

If you want to state your accomplishments in the summary, this can be an effective way of grabbing potential employers’ attention. This is the “Wow” factor of which Tracy speaks. Some prefer to use the work history section for presenting their accomplishments, and, in fact, the history section should be all about accomplishments. Save the mundane duties for your Job Scope on your résumé.

Wendy Enelow , author of numerous job search books and a world renowned Careers Industry Leader, gives us her take on using the LinkedIn summary for telling a story. “If I’m working with a client who has a really great career story to tell, then I’ll definitely use the LinkedIn summary to tell the story. Perhaps they were promoted 8 times in 10 years with IBM, or moved rapidly from one company to another based on their strong financial contributions to each organization.”

Martin Yate says it all with his summary. He combines an out-of-the-gate introduction of himself, with a little bit of philosophy on the direction of your job search. Martin is the author of the Knock ‘em Dead series. Here’s a snippet from his summary:

“I make it my business to teach you how to navigate [the career search]. Over the years, it’s become my mission to show you how to survive and prosper through the twists and turns of a 50-year career. Whether it is in a book, on the radio, during a webinar or a video – my goal is to provide advice, actionable takeaways, and integrated strategies, because you have no time to waste and just one chance to get it right!”

As for my summary, I decided to use more of a philosophical/functional approach, describing my strongest skill areas. I put most of my effort into the summary section of my profile but don’t skimp on my work history. While every section is important, it is a heinous crime to neglect the summary section of your profile. Next I’ll talk about the work history of your LinkedIn profile.

Be strong at the interview; Nowitzki vs. James

During the NBA Finals, I wrote with great anticipation about the Dallas Mavericks hopefully beating the Miami Heat. My son and I wanted the Mavs to beat the Heat because 1) they knocked our beloved Celtics out of the play-offs and 2) we despised the way Lebron James made a circus out of leaving Cleveland, practically claiming to be the chosen one.

Maverick players were getting it done by being demonstrative and touching each other by high-fiving, patting butts, handshakes, etc. I related this to management’s attempt to raise morale as a great thing and that companies need more of it.

Now I’d like to talk about Dirk Nowitzki and Lebron James and how they are analogous to jobseekers vying for the same position. No one will stage a great debate as to whether James is better than Nowitzki; James is a dominant, every-coaches-dream player…at least on paper.

What I’m going to assert is that if you’re not the best person on paper (Nowitzki), it doesn’t mean you’re not the best one for job. I’m referring to your résumé, which may indicate a lack of certain job-related skills. It may not be the best one submitted for the job, but keep in mind that a résumé doesn’t get the job; the interview does.

Although a great résumé helps in getting to the interview, a good one can accomplish this, as well. Let’s go back to James and Nowitzki. On paper James is king, but during the playoffs, Nowitzki ruled. To further the analogy, let’s look at the playoffs as the interview.

Interviewers often look for the intangibles in job candidates. They see that the other candidate for a Marketing Manager position, for instance, has the prerequisite skills, while you’re missing a few and not coming across, on paper, as not the strongest candidate (Nowitzki). What’s your plan of action?

  1. At the interview demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job and mention your strong personal and transferable skills whenever you can. You show initiative, hustle (another word for work hard) and are willing to dive for every ball. You’re a true leader who inspires your colleagues to do their best.
  2. Take every moment to explain your accomplishments and how they raised revenue, saved money, and improved processes at your last job. Quantify your results with numbers, dollars, and percentages. Use the Situation/Task, Action, Result (STAR) formula to tell your stories.
  3. Be prepared to answer the tough questions, one of which will be, “Why should we hire you?” or some deviation of this. You can do the job, will do the job, and will fit in, is the foundation for this answer. Rattle off the requirements you meet, not the ones you don’t; talk about your love for the company and all it stands for; and mention how you were respected, not feared, by all your colleagues.
  4. Appear confident and unstressed by questions regarding the technical skills you may lack. One of which might be your experience with direct mail. Talk about experiences that required total organizational, follow-through, management, and cool-under-pressure skills. Don’t spend the alloted two minutes answering this question.
  5. Do your due diligence: follow up the interview with a thank-you note that reiterates your strong abilities to do the job. Don’t revisit the one area of the position where you lack the experience; rather focus on the ones where you do. Be gracious of the time the employer took interviewing you. Address any potential problem the company has that was raised during the interview; explain in detail how you can help them solve it.

Keep in mind the words of Rick Carlisle, the manager of the Mavericks, “Our team is not about individual ability, it’s about collective will, collective grit, collective guts.” Employers look for the intangibles job candidates have, what they can do for the company in the future. If your lack of experience is insurmountable, take pride in the effort you put forth at the interview. It was Nowitzki and his team that beat James and the Heat, despite how the King looked on paper.