I often come across job seekers who need a career change. They’ve had enough with their former career and want something more rewarding. I should know the feeling, as I have changed my career three times.
The LinkedIn profile is designed much like a chronological résumé, and there’s nothing you can do about it. The order goes: Summary, Experience, and Education. The Experience section is typically the most important one. The Summary is also important, but LinkedIn’s recent move to truncate it, is telling. Wouldn’t you agree?
This traditional outline is fine for most people, because 1) they show progression at the places for which you’ve worked, 2) have a steady work history, 3) are staying in the same occupation and/or industry.
1. Career changers, listen up!
If you’re changing your career, your friend is not the Experience section. Rather, your friend is the Summary section, which is now truncated in the Snapshot area. It is in the Summary where you will express your value to potential employers, not the Experience section.
This said, it is important that the first two lines of your Summary (outlined above) entice viewers to read the rest of it. If or when LinkedIn returns to the complete Summary, this may not be as important.
2. Career changers can’t rely on the Experience section alone
Your Experience section will consist of responsibilities and accomplishments that don’t necessarily match those of your new career. You need to showcase the skills and experience that will make your transition almost seamlessly.
A typical chronological format wouldn’t work with your résumé, so why would it work with your LinkedIn profile? Presenting a chronological document would require the employer to search for your relevant skills, like a needle in a haystack.
Therefore your message needs to be delivered before the Experience section, and it needs to be delivered clearly.
3. This is where the Summary comes to the rescue
How do you show your value on LinkedIn? The answer is quite simple; you showcase your value in the Summary section, and you focus mostly on the accomplishment statements that highlight relevant transferable skills.
Take this career-changer scenario: you’ve been a public relations manager in technology for seven years but want to change to a program coordinator in the nonprofit.
The ability to make this change might seem like a leap to some, but with strong transferable skills, e.g., program coordination, communications, leadership, and outreach, you have a great chance of making this happen.
Using this career-change scenario, your Summary will include an introduction, three or more paragraphs describing your strong transferable skills, and a conclusion stating your career goals.
Intro (with strong opening statement)
THE VALUE I DELIVER
I develop programs that consistently increase participation by 80%. My enthusiasm for working with colleagues to produce results for the organization is evident by my willingness to collaborate on multiple projects.
Learn how I’ve demonstrated skills in program coordination, communications, leadership, and outreach.
Value-added body (strong transferable skills in all CAPS)
I’ve demonstrated strong program coordination, as demonstrated by supervising events and services, including work allocation, training, and problem resolution. Further, I’ve Increased sales leads 150% from Q1 to Q4, 2016, by creating a community outreach event.
My president trusted my writing abilities to the point where she stopped proofing the ghost articles I wrote. As well, I wrote press releases and spoke at trade shows with no supervision. Currently I write a blog addressing marketing strategies.
Within two months of becoming the MARCOM writer, I was promoted to public relations manager, where I oversaw a staff of five. I also communicated directly with the director of sales in weekly meetings. I was acknowledged by the VP of marketing as a “natural born leader.”
Read what the VP of Sales at XYZ, Inc: “Tom has opened new territories that have resulted in increased sales. He is extremely adept at creating relationships with important partners, VARs, OEMs, the Media, and most importantly our customers.” Jack Jones
Conclude with career goals
With strong transferable skills to bring to your organization, I am excited to contribute as a versatile program coordinator. I have proven experience in program coordination, communications (both written and oral), leadership, and outreach. I can be reached at (email) and (telephone number).
As a career-changer, the Summary is the most important section of your profile. Simply writing a brief Summary and relying on your Experience section will make it more difficult to help employers understand how your previous experience can be transferable to your new career.