Tag Archives: LinkedIn photo

6 LinkedIn profile rules to ignore in 2019

There are numerous articles on how to properly write your LinkedIn profile. With all the advice that is floating out there, it’s no wonder that LinkedIn members might be confused.

Dennis Background

I am guilty of writing some of these articles, so I would like to provide relief for the confused people trying to write their LinkedIn profile for the first time, or revise the one they already have. What follows are some rules you can ignore for six important areas of your profile.

1. Your background image must reflect what you do

I’m sure some people are freaking out because they don’t have a background image that illustrates what they do, such as a medical lab for a tech, a row of million dollar houses for a realtor, etc. I get it. You want your background image to reflect what you do.

Don’t worry. People who visit your profile also want to know what motivates you, describes your personality, shows what you love. Take the image below that shows one of my clients enjoying the view of a mountain range she was hiking. And the image above which is…just colorful.

laura-background-image

2. Dress to the Nines for Your LinkedIn Photo

I’ve said it myself and regret it. “Your photo should be professional.” So what is the definition of professional? Over the years the idea of a professional photo has changed, and so has my opinion.

Anton

Maybe you men were told that you had to dress in a three-piece suit, and you women were told you had to wear a dress suit with a white blouse. In addition, you were told you had to have a blank, boring background.

I used to advise my clients to do exactly this.

Now your photo can be more casual. Or you might prefer a theme-based photo that describes what you do, such as the one on the right. Can you guess what he does?

3. Your Headline Must Only List Your Professional Title and Employer

Whether you decide to go with a keyword-rich or branding statement Headline is your choice. Please don’t leave it as “Project Manager at IBM.” This doesn’t say anything about your value; it simply tells viewers what you do and where you work.

Instead, be creative and add areas of expertise that show your value, as well as contain keywords employers are looking for in, say, a project manager. For example:

Project Manager, ABC Company ~ Business Development | Lean Six Sigma | Projects On-Time, Under Budget

4. Make Your Summary Short

There are those who believe your LinkedIn profile Summary should be short because it will make it easier for recruiters to read. While I agree this applies to your resume, it doesn’t apply to your profile. Here’s why:

1) Don’t expect your visitors to read your whole Summary. They will be attracted to certain areas of expertise (written in all CAPs) and read that content.

2) With a short Summary you rob yourself of including keywords that help hiring authorities find you.

3) This is where you tell your story, so don’t leave out important details.

Here is an excerpt of what I consider to be a strong Summary, which uses all but 44 characters out of the 2,000 allotted. Visitors might read some of it, or they might read all of it.


Advanced materials and processes can form the basis for a product portfolio that will generate repeat revenues for years to come – if a company is able to leverage those innovations. I have been fortunate to participate in several technology firms where I’ve led teams that did exactly that. Here are a few keys to our success:

► BUILDING TALENTED TEAMS – of professionals who are leaders in their respective areas. Then, encouraging and rewarding them for their collective success.

► ENGINEERING CREATIVE SOLUTIONS – that solve the customer’s problem, but also create manufacturing differentiators that will lead to follow-on production.

Here’s what I offer:

► PROVEN TRACK RECORD – At growing engineering R&D firms into repeat manufacturing businesses with broad portfolios of products (including MSI, which was recently acquired for its manufacturing operations and product pipeline).

5. Only List Your Company and Job Title

Who says you have to stick to the “official title” of where you work or worked? I haven’t been told I need to list my official title of Workshop Facilitator first. (Not yet, at least.) My current title is:

Career Strategist ~ LinkedIn Trainer | Workshop Facilitator | LinkedIn Profile & Resume Consultant.

Another consideration is that your title might not make sense to people reading your profile. One of my client’s title was “Director of Innovation.” When I asked him what his title meant, he told me he was a Project Manager.

6. Don’t Personalize Your Experience Content

This is a tough one to comprehend. I see many profiles that are meager at best when it comes to their Experience section. People have been told, “Don’t regurgitate your resume.” Yes, don’t regurgitate your resume, but do include the meat of what you do/did where you work/ed.

I suggest beginning with a job summary that acts as a mission statement. For example:

When the power’s out and you can’t see two feet in front of you, your television isn’t working, the Internet is down; I’m the one who gets your power up and running. I love the feeling of fixing a generator that powers hundreds of houses. This is what makes being a Power Line Tech so rewarding.

From there you personalize your accomplish statements, as well.

► I’m often called upon to climb the highest towers during inclement weather, when others won’t. I thrive on this.

► On average, I repair damage generators faster than most Power Line Techs. My Supervisor has named me “The Magician.”


These are six important areas on you LinkedIn profile where the rules you’ve learned can be ignored. Don’t treat your profile like your resume; they are special in their own ways. Have fun constructing your profile.

 

10 steps toward a successful LinkedIn strategy (Part 1)

In our neighborhood no one knows which side of the street to park on when there’s a snowstorm, which prevents the plows from clearing the street properly. The result is a cleared path the width of fish line. My wife and I have deduced that this is because there’s no strategy in place.

business strategy woman

What does the dire condition of my neighborhood during a snowstorm have to do with LinkedIn? Simply this, like a neighborhood without a strategy for a nor’easter, your LinkedIn campaign will not succeed.

Do you have a strategy for your LinkedIn campaign, or is it like the street I live on which requires a snowmobile to negotiate? If you lack a strategy you’ll spin your wheels, get frustrated, and possibly give up on a valuable tool that has the potential to create job opportunities. A plan includes the following:

1. Dedication. I’m a bit of a lunatic when it comes to LinkedIn. One of my colleagues once said I need an intervention and he wasn’t joking. I’m on LinkedIn for an average of one hour a day, 365 days a year—yes, this includes holidays. I’m not advising you to spend this much time on LinkedIn.

However, a dedicated strategy is necessary to stay on your connections’ minds. This is why I tell my LinkedIn workshop attendees to dedicate at least four days a week of activity, or for the more dedicated, everyday. Try to share at least two updates a day.

2. Know what you want to do. Are you zeroing in on a specific occupation in a specific industry, or are you willing to take anything? The former is the correct answer. With this in mind, you’ll be able to determine who to best network with. If your goal is to work in public relations at a university, you should connect with people at universities, not retail.

3. Write a great profile. This is a big order and a blog post itself, but having a profile that attracts employers and other visitors to your site will take a strategy. You’ll need a photo that brands you—the days of a suit and tie might be history. Write a branding title that immediately describes what you do, as well as your areas of strength.

Your Summary should tell a story, your Employment section describe quantified accomplishments, and don’t forget using the Media section to highlight your talents. A major part of your plan should be Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that includes the correct keywords to raise your profile to the top of the first page.

Read How to brand yourself with the new LinkedIn profile.

4. Update often. This is how you communicate with your LinkedIn community. I get looks of disbelief when I suggest to my LinkedIn workshop attendees that they update once a week. They ask me what topics they should updates about. First, I tell them, share articles they’ve found on the Internet.

Other topics can include seminars or conferences you’re attending; interviews you’ve had; advice pertinent to your industry; a great book you’re reading; a happy landing; even a good quote or two; and, of course, a reminder you’re looking for a job. Just keep it professional and refrain from negativity.

5. Connect with other LinkedIn members. No two LinkedIn members are alike; some prefer to keep their network intimate by connecting with people they know and trust, while others will connect with anyone who’s willing. My suggestion is to have a strategy and be faithful to it. Connect with those who you can help and who can help you—a lot like personal networking.

Expand your horizon. Include people in your occupation, industry, and various levels of employment. There are like-minded people in different industries, so don’t be afraid to invite them to your network. Who knows, maybe opportunities will arise from the most unlikely people.

Read How to brand yourself by connecting with others.


Read part two of this article. In it I’ll discuss five other components necessary for your LinkedIn plan. You need a plan to be successful on LinkedIn.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it!

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

Photo: Flickr, Sandy Huang

15 photos that will sink your LinkedIn profile

By now it’s a given that you have a photo on your LinkedIn profile. Without one, you’re as good as an outcast. However, the photos I’ve been seeing lately raise the question, “What are people trying to convey with their photof?” Are they hitting the mark?

angry-woman

What do I mean by this? Take the photo of the woman above. This is not hitting the mark unless she’s trying to appear otherworldly. Her photo does nothing but make me wish I never come in contact with her.

On the other hand, there are photos that are well done and prompt me to click “Like” or, in a few cases, write a comment complimenting the person’s photo for its quality. For example, a photo I show in my LinkedIn workshop prortays professionalism because it is a quality photo and the subject appears friendly, welcoming, and intelligent.

Now before you call me a photo snob, consider how important your photo is and why you shouldn’t slap just any one on your profile.

Photos are important. Our photo makes us memorable and trustworthy. Some, including me, won’t open a profile unless the person is known. According to some, profiles that have a photo are 14 times more likely to be opened than those that don’t.

Photos are part of your branding. The first thing people see on your profile is your photo, so make it count. They can say something positive about your personality; for example, you are caring, serious, creative, authoritative, outgoing and friendly, and so on. I demonstrate photos in my Advanced LinkedIn workshop. One of them is of a New York City photograper. Click here to see how he effective brands himself.

Quality is also important. My close connection, and published photographer, David Machowski says this about a quality photo: “A good headshot is a photograph of one’s face that is first and foremost flattering.  That fact is open to interpretation; but here is where many make the mistake of having their shot with too much detail, too far away, too close, out of focus, eyes not sharp and in focus, too much depth of field (ideally the eyes should be the sharpest point of the photograph).” He could go on forever.

The type of photo you choose is your choice. No one insists that you dress in your best suit and tie, or for you women a suit with a brilliant blouse and conservative jewelry; although that would be nice. You may want to go the route of business casual.   A black and white photo can look very creative or…hide pink hair. 

Photos that are inappropriate? This is really the gist of the issue I have with the onslaught of photos appearing on my LinkedIn homepage. Many of the photos are taken in haste, without forethought and planning, and negatively impact the subject. Some are just plain inappropriate, such as:

  1. The plain ole poor quality, like a blurry photo that appears to be taken with a Polaroid.
  2. The under water effect–this person looks like she’s literally under water.
  3. The selfie taken with a cell phone gives the amusement park mirror effect.
  4. The action shot of someone in his office, playing touch football, or climbing rocks, etc.
  5. The false representation photo of a person 10 years earlier should be a crime.
  6. The half smile or downright frown photo. Hey, people are drawn to happy people.
  7. The purple face or red-eye photo. I’ve seen this and thought there’s no way a person’s face can be purple like this.
  8. The “I’m taken off guard” photo with cinder block background. This does wonders…for a prison shot.
  9. The dating scene photo is one of my favorites. Not. Beautiful women and handsome men are great for dating sites, not LinkedIn.
  10. The “Look, I’m working” photo with the office wall in the background looks like the person is trying too hard.
  11. The bad-ass look, shades and all. This I’ve seen and wondered if the guy was in a gang.
  12. The family portrait. Whose profile is it anyways, yours or your wife and children?
  13. The photo with the person riding his Harley.
  14. The photo of an orangutan. Let’s be serious.
  15. The company logo. There’s a LinkedIn company page for that.

Additional photos suggested by LinkedIn members.

  1. From Rich Grant. The cropped photo. “What’s that random hand on your shoulder?”

I realize LinkedIn is trying to stress the importance of having a photo on your profile, but the annoying photo show is not accomplishing its intention. Or perhaps the people who are declaring their new photo are the ones who are not hitting the mark. Before you post your new photo, make sure it represents you as a professional networker, not a Facebook friend.

Photo, Flickr, Irene Ferrari

4 ways your LinkedIn photo is an impostor

 

How my guilt over being an impostor forced me to change my photo.

Will the real John Smith stand up? You’ve probably seen it before. You see someone’s photo on LinkedIn, you meet him in public, and notice that he barely resembles his photo. A bit older. Somewhat heavier. He’s an impostor.

Portrait, young business man

We’ve all been there. People look significantly different than they’re portrayed on their LinkedIn profile, almost to the point where we don’t recognize them in a crowd of people (one reason to have a photo is to be recognizable). You feel like you’ve been duped…hoodwinked.

An Impostor I met

I tell a story to my LinkedIn workshop attendees about a time when I met the real John Smith (not his real name). Weeks before meeting him I saw his photo on LinkedIn. I thought that the man portrayed on LinkedIn was young and muscular, but when I saw him in person he was older and thin.

Whether out of spite or because it just popped out of my mind, I said, “John, you don’t look anything like your LinkedIn profile.” Shortly after, I noticed that his photo changed to one that was more recent.

The Impostor I am

I experienced the other end of the Impostor Syndrome when I was leading an Advanced LinkedIn workshop. I showed them my profile pointing out that I have a photo, and one attendee told me I look older in person than I do in the photo. Ouch.

I passed off being an Impostor by telling the group I hadn’t had the time, nor resources to get a professional photo taken. It still stung when I was told I look younger in my photo. Maybe it’s because my current photo is at least four years old.

What makes one an Impostor?

Four possible thoughts cross my mind when I encounter an Impostor.

  • He is vain. This is the worst kind in my mind. Pride is listed as one of the 7 deadly sins. Vanity is a form of pride. As my father said, “We enter this world naked and we leave it naked.” As Popeye said, “I Yam What I Yam.” Why should we pretend to be someone different?
  • He doesn’t realize that eventually he’ll be outed (as in my story). I’ve entered many a room where someone says, “Hi Bob.” Not caring much about etiquette, I respond by asking who they are. I learn that they’ve seen me on LinkedIn. It’s flattering, while at the same time a little creepy. People do recognize you on social media, so you will be outed, if you don’t update your profile.
  • He doesn’t realize that honesty is the basis for networking. One point I make in my Advanced LinkedIn workshop is that those who don’t have a photo on their profile will not be trusted as those who do. To gain complete trust, don’t put up a photo of you in college when you’re 20 years beyond those golden years. What does this say about your trustworthiness?
  • He isn’t concerned about branding himself. Your photo is a way to brand yourself in a positive light. It can tell people about your personality; it really can. My photo, old and new, I’ve always felt it tells people that I’m caring and nurturing, and, hopefully, wise. Others can brand people as authoritative, creative, serious, intelligent, etc.

Lately I’ve been struggling with the Impostor Syndrome. You see, I have a photo that is at least four years old. Since getting it taken, I’ve added some wrinkles and gained white facial hair. Oh, I’ve also gained some weight (gulp).

I’m no longer an Impostor

bob2

I’d like to say that I haven’t gotten my photo retaking because of financial reasons, but who am I kidding? I haven’t gotten it retaking because I’m vain. I don’t like how I look and don’t want my ugly self being part of my branding—I mean everyone looks so great.

So recently I had a colleague take the photo of the real me. He took it with his own camera in plentiful lighting, and he even blurred the background. I appreciate his willingness to do this, as well as his encouragement, but I’m not too fond of my true image.

Here’s why: the faults I mentioned above show brilliantly clear. His camera is of great quality. He has a steady hand. Basically there’s no excuse for why I look like I do. I guess I’m vain. One of the seven deadly sins. I’m doomed.

So what do I do? Do I continue to go with the older me, or do I present the real me (the photo included)?

If you care to weigh in, I would appreciate it.

First Photo: Flickr, Kathy Tarochione

Photo: Tim O’Connor

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10 reasons why your LinkedIn profile photo is important to me

Adrienne TomI published this post less than a year ago, but the need for a photo on your LinkedIn profile can’t be emphasized enough. 

One day a customer of mine came up to me appearing quite irritated and told me he had sent me an invite on LinkedIn. But I didn’t accept his invite, according to him. I asked him if he wrote a personalized message with his invite. Yes he did. I then asked him if he had a photo. No he didn’t. “Ah,” I said. “That’s why I ignored you.” This is one of my principles, as harsh as it sounds.

While many of my colleagues won’t connect with their customers/clients, I see no reason not to connect as long as my customers embrace the necessity of having a LinkedIn photo. If they don’t embrace it, they’re in for a disappointing LinkedIn campaign. One of my favorite things to say when I’m critiquing a customer’s profile that lacks a photo is, “What’s wrong with this picture?” I know, not very funny.

Jeff SheehanPerhaps I’m getting old and stodgy, but here are 10 reasons why your LinkedIn profile is important to me.

I recognize you. If you only have the default light grey ugly box in the photo area, I have no idea who you are. I’m terrible with names, so a face helps me. I feel closer to you, even if we live 3,000 miles away from each other.

Your photo tells me something about your personality. My photo tells people that I’m caring, sincere, and friendly. All of this is true. I’m assuming your photo would say what kind of person you are, creative, authoritative, welcoming, etc.

AntonYou’ve gone though the effort to have a professional photo taken of you. One of my jobseekers told me he had his photo taken for $50. This told me that, despite not having the resources, he felt that having a photo is important.

You know that having a photo will increase your chances of your profile being opened. I’m conservative when I tell my LinkedIn workshop attendees that their chances of getting their profile opened and read increases by 7 times. Some estimates are as high as 14.

You understand the importance of branding. It was commonly believed that a LinkedIn photo was either highly professional or business casual. Now people are breaking boundaries by posting photos that reflect what they do. Take a look at one of my connections (above left) who understands this concept.

Stevie PuckettOn the other hand…your photo is not inappropriate. Some that come to mind are those you’d post on Facebook where you’re captured partying, or you’re with family on the beach, or you’re using LinkedIn as a dating site.

You realize LinkedIn is a networking application, not your resume which doesn’t include a photo. LinkedIn members feel more comfortable networking with people we can see.

You’ve gotten over yourself. I’ll be the last to say that age discrimination doesn’t exist but it’s less prevalent than you think and employers are more suspicious when they don’t see your photo. Besides, who would want to work for someone who judges you on your age.

Hank BoyerYou’ve taken that step toward online networking. Scary, huh? For some of you it was enough to simply get online, but now you’re being told–by not only me–you need to disclose your identity. I salute those of you who are making that step, albeit a reluctant one.

Your photo is about you, not your company. Talk about not trusting someone. That’s how I feel when someone presents themselves as their company logo. The profile is about you and not your company–that’s why there are LinkedIn company pages.

When it comes to the LinkedIn photo, I want to know what people look like. I guess it’s as simple as that. That ugly light grey box is disconcerting to say the least; it says to me, “I’ve got something to hide.” If I’ve got nothing to hide, why should you?


Top left, Adrienne Tom

Second to right, Jeff Sheehan

Third to left, Anton Brookes

Fourth to right, Stevie Puckett

Fifth to Left, Hank Boyer

3 ways LinkedIn is the perfect place to tell your story–part 1 of 2

My son loves to hear a story I tell about the “Perfect Place,” an isolated area with climbing rocks and meadows that seemed to span for miles. He is taken by how 10 of my neighborhood friends—probably more like five—would journey to The Perfect Place and hang out to watch cows graze, climb trees, and how we once tried to build a tree house.

LinkedIn-is-the-PerfectThen there was this time when we saw a wild dog and ran from it until we reached our homes miles away—more like a quarter of a mile. My son likes this part of the story the most.

What does my Perfect Place story have to do with the LinkedIn profile? Everything; LinkedIn gives us the opportunity to tell our story. If done right, it will capture the visitors’ attention and keep them on your profile. But done poorly, it will send them away.

Your photo is the first place to tell your story. I appreciate a person’s photo, especially one that is professionally done. Not a “selfie” like my daughter is constantly taking with my phone. Professional or business casual photos are acceptable as long as they contain only you. A nice head/shoulder shot helps me recognize my connections.

In addition, a photo tells visitors about a person’s character. It tells whether the person is sensitive and caring, serious, authoritative, friendly and outgoing, creative, reflective, etc. The eyes can say it all in many cases, or maybe it’s the wide grin. Note: I read that profiles with photos are 7 times MORE LIKELY to be viewed than those without.

Your story continues in the Summary. The LinkedIn profile Summary puts your story into words, and the limit on words—2,000 characters—isn’t all that restrictive. An interesting story is told in first person. While some prefer third person, most agree it makes the Summary seem stiff and unfriendly.

My workshop attendees ask me what constitutes a story, so I ask, “What is your passion? Tell me about your accomplishments. Where do you want your career to go? How do your combined skills contribute to your career? What is your philosophy? What are your greatest areas of strength?” These are just some of the topics you can discuss.

My Summary starts with: “Bob, I landed a job. Thanks for your knowledge and moral support.” These are words I hear often. Do I hear them enough? No. I’ll be happy when increasingly more people land jobs and tell me the words I live to hear.

Continue telling your story in the Experience section. Begin each job with a statement that describes your role or mission at that position. Why were you hired or promoted to the position? What makes you unique and better than the rest? Do you have a unique selling proposition (USP)? to state in the first paragraph?

I begin my story in my current position with a statement about my role: “I’m more than a workshop facilitator; I’m a career strategist who constantly thinks of ways to better market my customers in their career search. My goal is to provide the career center’s customers, as well as the staff, with the latest career-search strategies.”

These are just three places on your LinkedIn profile where you can tell your story. Although not as dramatic as the story I tell my son about the Perfect Place, your story will be authentic and keep your viewers on you profile. Read the next post that addresses the Media, Interests, and Recommendations sections.  

One example of how a photo effectively brands a person

AntonOne of my LinkedIn connections, Anton Brookes, sports a photo on his profile that prompts me to say to my LinkedIn workshop attendees, “Now this is a kick ass photo.” They give pause and nod in approval. Previously I told my folks that there are acceptable photos for a LinkedIn profile and there are others that are not.

Acceptable photos, I’d tell them, are ones that are highly professional or business casual; after all, LinkedIn is “the world’s largest professional network.” Unacceptable photos are everything else.

Anton’s photo is neither highly professional or business casual, but it proves as an excellent example of how the photo can catapult your personal branding.

I’m not the photo Czar–never claimed to be–but I feel strongly about how one should display his/her image on their LinkedIn profile. And I certainly believe that a profile without a photo is like a car without wheels.

Your photo serves to make you memorable and can reveal a lot about your personality. Further, it has been quoted that people trust photos and are seven times more likely to open a profile that has a photo. I agree with this statement, as I rarely open profiles that lack a photo.

The photo in question says a lot about this photographer whose branding headline reads: Owner | Fashion/Lifestyle and Street Photographer at Mock Turtle Moon. It describes what he does, while his photo supports more of the street photographer side of his business.

Homless woman

Anton’s photo speaks volumes about his expertise as a street photographer. It tells us that he’s for real and living his job, comfortable in his setting. It’s gritty and by no means pretty. It transports us to the streets of New York City. But most important, we get the sense that this photographer is knowledgeable of his trade.

A suit and tie or a button-down shirt wouldn’t have the same effect; it wouldn’t brand him nearly as well as the one he sports on his profile. Not by a mile.

I’ve told Anton that his photo helps me point out to my LinkedIn workshop attendees the importance of having a photo that brands a person, and for selfish reasons I hope he doesn’t change it. But if he decides he needs to portray himself as some one else, I’m sure he’d know how to do that.


If you’d like to see a short documentary on Anton Brookes filmed by Aljazeera America, click this link.

2 differences between the Résumé and LinkedIn Profile–Part 1

resume linkedinI tell attendees of my Advanced LinkedIn workshop, “Your LinkedIn profile is not your résumé.” It’s important for me to say this, as some of their LinkedIn profiles resemble their résumé. I can spot a copy-and-paste a mile away.

A LinkedIn “résumé” gives off a generic look rather than a unique document that makes LinkedIn a powerful tool for the job search. Potential employers are not looking for a rehash of your résumé; they’re looking for more, another look.

Let’s examine two differences between the résumé and profile.

The most obvious difference between the résumé and LinkedIn profile is the Photo. Because LinkedIn is a networking application and the résumé is a job search document, here is one major difference. A photo on your LinkedIn profile is necessary, as it enhances your brand. It may tell visitor you’re creative, sincere and compassionate, a leader, ambitious, serious, etc.

As well, a profile with a photo is more trustworthy and memorable. A recent statistic states that a profile with a photo is seven times more likely to be opened.  I for one will not open a profile if it lacks a photo, unless it’s someone I know.

I tell my attendees that despite their fear of age discrimination, a photo is necessary to network. Imagine attending a networking event where people walk around with a paper bag on their head. Not very personal.

The headline is second on the list of differences between the résumé and LinkedIn profile. An Advanced résumé must have a branding headline that immediately tells potential employers that you are the right person for the job. The headline is a simple line or two of what you do and some of your areas of strength. Here’s an example of a position-specific branding title:

Marketing Specialist 

Public Relations ~ Vendor Relations ~ Staff Supervision ~ Web Design ~ Event Coordination

Look at another branding headline that is written for a similar job:

Marketing Coordinator

Social Media | Trade Shows | International Travel | Increased Production | Graphic Design

Your LinkedIn profile has a branding headline that is similar to your résumé’s headline, save for the fact the profile isn’t written for a specific job. It needs to include more general skills/keywords. You may choose to use a branding statement instead. The same position may resemble this:

Marketing Specialist with expertise in Public Relations, Trade Shows, Vendor Relations, Web Content,
Event Coordination;
leading to increased visibility and profitability for your company.

Furthermore, the branding headline adds to the keyword count for those whose résumé will be sent through an applicant tracking system (ATS). As well it makes being found on LinkedIn more possible with key skills of your occupation and industry/ies.

In the next post, we’ll look at the differences between the résumé’s Core Competencies and the LinkedIn Skills and Expertise sections.

 

If you’re on LinkedIn, put effort into it

In my LinkedIn workshops I ask how many attendees are on LinkedIn. Some reluctantly raise their hand, clarifying they’re on LinkedIn but haven’t touched it in years. I tell them we’ll do something about that, because otherwise it’s a waste of time.

Alison Doyle of About.com wrote an honest article entitled “Don’t Waste Your Time On LinkedIn.” Let me rephrase: If you’re going to be on LinkedIn, do it right so you’re not wasting your time and the time of others who visit your profile, including employers who are searching for talent.

What I like about her article was that Alison tells it how it should be. I also like the article because she confirms what I’ve been telling my LinkedIn workshop attendees about not engaging in LinkedIn in a half-baked way. It’s better they hear the truth then spend the time starting a profile only to forget about it and take up space on the many servers LinkedIn use s to host over 120 million users.

“If you’re not going to do it right, there is no point wasting your time (and everyone else’s) on LinkedIn,” Alison writes. “LinkedIn is ‘the” site for professional networking.’”

Amen. Furthermore, she explains that when she is invited to connect with people on LinkedIn and goes to their profile to glean information on them, only to find their title or, worse yet, a “Private Profile,” she’s not likely to connect with them.

I sense her frustration and understand the reason for writing her article. She’s absolutely correct. What motivation would I have for connecting with someone who is unidentified? And for you employers, why would you pursue someone who has a profile that gives you very little information in terms of their skills, accomplishments, and related experience? The answer to both is a resounding none.

The bigger dilemma. This leaves the LinkedIn newbies with a dilemma. Should they join LinkedIn and put themselves out there if they’re not going the make the investment needed to succeed in networking on LinkedIn—let alone identify themselves? The truth is a poor LinkedIn profile will do more harm than good. Here’s why:

No photo will send a message to employers and potential networkers that you have something to hide—namely age. Whether we like it or not, LinkedIn wants us to be visible. While business people have no reason to fear age discrimination, jobseekers might. Jobseekers simply have to bite the bullet and have faith that their age will not hurt their job search.

An undeveloped Snap Shot is the quickest way to turn someone away from your profile. I’m referring to more than the photo; there’s the name and title, as well as potential blog or website URLs, that visitors see when they visit your profile. A developed Snapshot includes a full name with a descriptive title. Don’t be vague and announce yourself as a “Public Relations Professional,” when you’re a “Strategic, bilingual HR leader/business partner who achieves strong results through innovative solutions.”

The Summary section is often neglected by people who simply copy and paste their four-line résumé Summary statement. Folks, we have 2,000 characters with which to work. Let’s use them to craft a creative, descriptive Summary that states our value proposition and showcases our attention-grabbing skills and experience. Have fun and use the first person narrative, or even third person narrative if you’re accomplished.

The Experience section is also an area where visitors like to learn more about your identity. Simply listing your job title, company name, and dates of employment says, “I’m too lazy to give this any effort.” This laziness will get you nowhere. List three, four, or five major accomplishments for each job.

The last section I’ll address are recommendations, which do a tremendous job of telling visitors who you are through the eyes of your former supervisors, colleagues, vendors, partners, etc. Ask for and write at least five or six recommendations. This is especially important for jobseekers who need to deliver a quick punch.

Alison Doyle’s article had a little bite to it—I imagine because so many people with poor profiles asked to connect with her. I took a gamble and asked Alison to be in my network. Within half an hour I was accepted and also invited to join her group. Thank You, Alison. I’m glad I passed the test.

Is Your LinkedIn Photo Acceptable?

I know there’s some debate around having a photo on your LinkedIn profile. The naysayers think it will contribute to age discrimination, and those in favor say it makes you more noticeable. I happen to agree with the latter; and those who heard my opinion on this when I first started leading LinkedIn workshops are probably thinking I’m a hypocrite—one person actually called me on it. Everyone, other than politicians, can change their opinions, right?

Basically there are five types of photos: the beautiful people, the ambiguous photo, the downright nasty, the silly photo, and the ugly grey box (no photo).

The Beautiful People. Are they really beautiful, or was their photo taken 15 years ago for the company tri-fold? That’s one question I have. I’m sure that there are some great looking people out there who are accurately representing themselves. But there was one time when I met a gentleman who looked nothing like his photo. I think he was trying to avoid age discrimination. To me, that’s devious and hurts you more than it helps.

At a recent networking event, I spoke to one woman about her photo, which was taken from too far a distance. I commented that she simply show her face and shoulders in her photo. I noticed the last time I looked at her LinkedIn photo she had followed my advice, and, boy, does her photo look great!

The Ambiguous Photo. I’ve decided my photo is ambiguous. Why, because I can’t tell what my photo says about me. It’s sort of blurry, the backgrounds not right, and my garb makes me look like I’m dressed at the moment—no tie. My goal was to appear professional. I should have worn a tie. Prior to this photo, I had a black and white one—an idea I stole from one of my colleagues—because my cheeks are too red and make me look like a tomato. Hers was black and white because she had pink hair at the time.

The Downright Nasty Photo. One photo comes to mind of a woman who looks like she would kill you as soon as look at you. You can see the anger in her face…and her anger comes out in her answers to questions on LinkedIn. Her photo is a true reflection of her personality. I would bet anything that she hates life. This is a difficult photo to discuss because the description is negative and I don’t like to criticize people who don’t know better.

I’m also not too fond of the serious, why-isn’t-he-smiling photo? Isn’t the idea to show your amiable self in your photo? Your photo is part of your branding statement, so it should demonstrate to employers and potential customers the inner beauty in you…or that you’re at least a likeable fella.

The Silly Photo. I’ve seen LinkedIn photos of caricatures, people sitting by their motorcycle, soccer balls, people standing on the beach, burning masks, and other silly representations of people. To this I say they’re not taking LinkedIn seriously or don’t want to spend the effort to have a quality photo taken of them, either professionally or by someone who has a decent camera.

The Ugly Grey Box. I think this is LinkedIn’s way of encouraging people to include a photo on their LinkedIn profile, and I think it’s a positive thing. When I see that ugly grey box, I have two reactions. One, I don’t immediately recognize the person, so I feel no real connection with them. Two, I think they’re hiding something which, incidentally, is how recruiters and employers feel. It’s immediate cause for suspicion. The fact is that the workforce is aging and most people working are mature workers. Although age discrimination exists, employers can’t afford to pass up talented older workers for younger, less experienced ones. Take a chance, all you grey heads, and post your photo on your profile.

What’s the Big Deal? People who are looking for a job need to take everything about their LinkedIn profile seriously, including their photo. In fact, even those who are gainfully employed have to present themselves in a favorable light. We are constantly networking. People who are out of work, employed, and own a business are on display. Networking is about connecting with others, right? Your photo is one way to do this.