Tag Archives: LinkedIn

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

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

serious adult bearded worker using tablet near window in workshop

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

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

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

First, think about your accomplishments

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

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

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

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

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

Your profile

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

Snapshot area: background image, photo, headline

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

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

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

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

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

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

About section: they why, how, and what

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

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

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

woman working at home using her laptop

Experience section: be more descriptive

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

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

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

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

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

I’m more than a workshop facilitator & designer; I’m a career and LinkedIn strategist who constantly thinks of ways to better market my customers in their job search. Through disseminating trending job-search strategies, I increase our customers’ chances of finding jobs.

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

Education section: continue to tell your story

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

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

Skills and endorsements/recommendations: help others

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

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

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


The rest

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

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

 

25 activities to make your life and job search easier during COVID-19

Tempers are starting to run high in our household. When we were first quarantined about three weeks ago, life went surprisingly well. Think about it; even the most congruent families will start to feel like caged tigers after awhile. Well, our time just arrived.

Yoga

I came home from a five-mile walk to hear the crashing of pots and pans. When I asked my wife what was wrong, she said the pans weren’t cleaned properly. An outburst like this is not common in our household. Yes, the time of implosion has definitely arrived.

In an article from Psychology Today, the author lays out the psychological symptoms of social distancing and being quarantined:

Perhaps you’re experiencing some of these symptoms or all of them—especially if you’re working from home for the first time, homeschooling your kids on top of this; on furlough; or unemployed.

For whichever reason it is, you didn’t choose the situation you’re in. But you realize you can’t let yourself and family members become angry at the slightest drop of the hat. You have to reduce the anxiety and possible depression you’re experiencing.

For me a daily four- to five-mile walk does the job. It gets me going in the morning before settling down in my chair, which is my office, to conduct the work I have to do. My wife enjoys cooking better meals than what I produced as well as taking walks with one of her friends.

We also love talking with our two daughters and parents—who are within driving distance but self-quarantined—via Facetime, Zoom, or the phone. Here are some ways you can reduce the stress in your life.

Ways for everyone to make self-quarantine more bearable

Stop using your treadmill as a coat hanger. You’ve been looking at that thing for years wondering why you’re not using it. Now’s the chance to use it if you don’t have anywhere to walk.

Catch up on old The Office episodes. This is one of my favorite shows, especially the seasons starring Steve Carell as Michael Scott. I also recommend Ozark on Netflix or Luther on Amazon Prime.

Search through your bookshelf. I don’t understand why people, like a colleague of mine, re-reads books. That’s not me. Maybe you’re a re-reader.

Start that puzzle you purchased at the beginning of the pandemic. My wife bought one that has yet to be assembled. Maybe we’ll get to it. Maybe.

Stay in touch with family. One of the things I love doing is talking with Mom during my walks. As mentioned earlier, my wife and I Zoom and Facetime with the girls. It’s the next best thing to being there.

Tell your spouse you’re taking a walk. A long walk. You need to get away from your kids if you’re home-schooling them. That’s okay. Take turns; don’t do it by yourself.

Gas up the minivan. We called it forced family fun (FFF) when the kids were younger. We’d corral them in the van and tell them we were going for a ride. Of course they’d want to know where we were going. The answer was, “You’ll find out when we get there.”

Bake a cake. Or brownies, apple crisp, cookies, or whatever strikes your fancy. Our son who is home from university was exposed to baking. It didn’t take.

Take yoga online. My daughter has taken a liking to watch and perform yoga exercises. I tell her it looks too painful for me. This video with Yoga with Adriene has close to 3.5 million views.

Take a hike. For the more adventurous people, find an area that isn’t heavily populated—maintain social distancing—and enjoy nature while you’re walking ascending trails and climbing rocky terrain. Just don’t fall.

Break open a great bottle of wine. You have the right to relax. How you decide to do it is up to you. After the kids have gone to bed, take the moment for yourself and your loved one.

Ways for job seekers to utilize this time

Look at this time of self-quarantine as an opportunity to ramp up your job search. Despite the hit our economy has taken, it is going to rebound and employers will need to fill positions that employers were originally going to.

Note: for other great advice, check out a post that is heating up.

Develop a wellness strategy. Sabrina Woods advises job seekers to create “more calm and enhance productivity by:

  • Creating and following a schedule every day.
  • Paying attention to how much news/media you consume, as these will impact your state of mind.
  • Staying connected with friends and family (set up phone and video chat dates).”

Take on a project. A valued connection of mine, Sarah Johnston, writes that she’s painting old furniture as a way to take control of the chaos we’re experiencing. Take your mind off the job search by doing something that is cathartic.

Take inventory. My valued colleague, Maureen McCann advises to “research what you have to offer the market.” She created a great video summarizing how to do this. Check it out.

Read books relevant to your job search. Jim Peacock, another valued connection, is always peddling books and even writes reviews. Or read some fiction to take your mind off your search.

Join a free or inexpensive virtual program. Speaking of learning, Edward Lawrence suggests joining virtual trainings which are inexpensive or free through the Massachusetts Council on Aging, The Professional Development Collaborative of Boston, or MassHire in Massachusetts.

Now’s a great time to update your résumé and LinkedIn Profile. My connection Susan Joyce advises taking this time to finetune your LinkedIn profile. She suggests, among others, that you focus on your problem, actions, results (PARs) to write accomplishments.

Grow your LinkedIn campaign. People who I’ve coached know that I’m a staunch advocate for building one’s like-minded network and then engaging with them. Great opportunities arise from LinkedIn.

Networking must go on. I wrote an article that talks about how I run job club meetings via Zoom. We jokingly call ourselves the Brady Bunch, but it’s all serious business. Mark Babbit suggests reaching out to mentors and former colleagues via video platforms.

Be proactive and reach out to recruiters. They have time on their hands and any recruiter worth their weight in salt will welcome new connections that fit their industry. More importantly, recruiters are hiring for certain industries; maybe yours.

Be prepared for video interviews. “Practice zoom interviewing, use zoom to grab informational meetings, get very comfortable in front of the lens, it’s going to be more prevalent than ever, says Andy Foote. He offers some tips which you can read in the post.

Talking about being prepared; know your story: Gina Riley advises job seekers to get an understanding of employers’ pain points and be able to explain through your stories who you can solve them.

Attend virtual events. Do you want to take a deep dive into networking? Brenda Meller suggests attending virtual professional association events and gives as examples some events she’d attend: Detroit Together Digital, American Marketing Association, or Troy Chamber of Commerce

Take online courses. This suggestion comes from my valued connection Paula Christensen. If you’re not taking advantage of LinkedIn’s free Premium upgrade, do it. You can take advantage of LinkedIn Learning.

Take care of yourself. Vincent Phamvan says it well: “Spend some of your time on activities outside of your job search. Spend time with family, take walks, try to eat healthy meals. This will keep you mentally fit and ready to rock your upcoming interviews.”

Back away from high expectations. This one comes from Patricia Harding, and I thought it was so insightful that I’ll allow her to say it: “I think it’s also ok to back away from high expectations of yourself (and others) and slow down and do nothing now and then.”

Read what many other career-search pundits have to way about the job search in this COVID-19 time.

Photo: Flickr, Timothy George

New LinkedIn feature provides advice on how to answer 26 general interview questions

As well as questions specific to two industries.

LinkedIn has launched a new interview-practice feature which leaves me with a sense of ambiguity. On one hand, I think it’s a great attempt to educate job seekers on how to interview for a position. On the other hand, there are limitations to this new feature.

Interview women

What should we expect with any feature that tries to be all things to all people? Where you might love the new information presented, I might see it as slightly contrived and overdone. LinkedIn has done its best, and I give credit where credit is due.

Let’s first look at where to find this new feature. Many people are unaware of it, let alone where it resides.

How to find Prepare for an interview

Click the Jobs icon, select More Resources, and choose from the dropdown Prepare for an interview.

Prepare for an interview

LinkedIn shows you a list of what it considers to be the most common interview questions, as well as questions specific to two industries (Categories). At this point there are 26 common questions and questions for only finance and sales.

Common Questions

You can first watch “expert” advice on how to answer a question, then watch an example of how someone would answer the questions. You can also record answers to questions and submit them for feedback from your connections by selecting Practice and get feedback.

What’s nice about this feature

The new interview-practice feature gives job seekers some guidance on how to answer what LinkedIn deems are important questions. I’m encouraged that LinkedIn is taking the job search more seriously. As well, LinkedIn is sending the message that practicing answering questions is smart.

Another plus is the number of behavioral-based questions listed under Common Questions. This type of question is most difficult to answer. The advice on how to answer them is sound. Career strategists and coaches suggest using the well-known S.T.A.R. format when answering behavioral-based questions.

The quality of the videos is top-notch. LinkedIn’s career strategists and hiring managers are well-spoken in both framing how to answer the questions and delivering sample answers. (Ironically career strategists are matched with each other, and the same goes with hiring managers.)

The videos are a good length overall. Most of them don’t exceed 1:50 minutes, which is nice if you’re interested in seeing most of the videos.

LinkedIn offers tips on how to answer questions. For example, to answer “Tell me about yourself” LI suggests:

  • Prepare for this question in advance and have a compelling story about your past experiences.
  • Pull prominent skills from the job description.
  • Be “SHE” (succinct, honest and engaging).

To answer, “Tell me about a time when you were successful on a team”:

  • Describe a problem that arose with a team.
  • Outline your key actions with the team.
  • Explain the positive result based on the work you did.
  • Give credit to your teamwork skills.

Probably most valuable is the ability to record answers to questions with which you need the most practice. And then send your recording to a connection for critique. This could be a gamechanger for someone who sees the need to practice answering questions and has someone who is willing to provide feedback.

Practice answering questions

Where this feature drops the ball

The most obvious fault of this feature is that LinkedIn has more work to do in order to complete it. I’m speaking about how only two industries are represented, finance and sales. It would be nice to have a wider range of industries, such as marketing, engineering, medical devices, nursing, etc.

This might be a reflection on the questions interviewers are still asking, but many of them are ones I’ve seen since being in career development, 15 years (gulp). Such as, “What is your greatest weakness?” Could LinkedIn have been more creative when it comes to the Common Questions?

Not all the questions have video. This speaks to the fact that LinkedIn has miles to travel before it sleeps. Where there are no videos, LinkedIn provides articles that don’t have the same appeal. I would rather see fewer questions than incomplete samples.

Related to one of the strengths I mentioned above: the quality of the videos is top-notch, the answers come across as contrived. Some of the career strategists and hiring managers think that acting is a better approach than speaking naturally. Also, please do not start with, “That’s a great question.”

Do they think interviewers want candidates to walk into the room and schmooze them with canned answers? I suppose the speakers shouldn’t come across as deadpan but come on, let’s not talk too unnaturally.

Conclusion

Overall, I think this feature has some merit. It can benefit job candidates who are nervous going into their rounds of interviews. There are more pluses than negatives. Now the big question is will LinkedIn require its users to upgrade to premium to use this feature?

5 steps to take on LinkedIn to be proactive in your job search

To land a job in 2020, more than ever, you’ll need to be proactive rather than reactive. In other words, stop blasting out job applications 10 per day. If you’ve been doing this for months, by now you know the ROI is very low. In some cases my clients, who are spraying and praying, haven’t heard a peep from employers.

proactive

This act of futility demands different approaches. I’m going to talk about one of them: how to be more proactive in your job search by researching and using LinkedIn. Below are the five steps you should take to do this.

  1. Research to identify companies for which you’d like to work
  2. Identify the people in said companies who can be of assistance
  3. Utilize your shared connections
  4. Get an introduction from your shared connections to the key players
  5. Follow up

Identify companies for which you’d like to work

For some this is a difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s going to take some work on your part. Let’s say you’re in the digital marketing space and want to work in or around Boston, Massachusetts, for a company that requires someone with your expertise.

You Google, “companies in digital marketing, boston” and arrive at sites that include the types of companies you’re seeking: Digital Agency Boston, Digital Agency‎ | Top Creative Agencies in Boston – 2020 Reviews, Clutch.co | Top Creative Design Companies in Boston, January 2020.

Selecting Top Creative Design Companies in Boston, January 2020, you see it provides information important to you such as the size of the company, it’s location, and the clients it serves. Now your research begins, as you go through each of the agencies’ websites to determine if they will be included on your list.

Note: you can develop your list of companies by talking with people in the industry. In many cases they’ll have a better idea of the culture and management of the companies in question.

Identify key players in your companies using LinkedIn

You’ve completed perhaps the most difficult process of being proactive in your job search. From here on in you’ll be using LinkedIn for your proactive job search. I’ll walk you through the steps of finding people who work in departments for which you’d like to work.

You read the short descriptions of the companies on the website and one company catches your eye immediately because of its size and location. Plus they have a really cool website. They also have a LinkedIn company page which shows that 92 people are on LinkedIn. Now it’s time to use Search and All Filters on LinkedIn.

1. Using Search type in the name of a company. You’ll see an option to choose People, which will give you a list of those who currently work for the company as well as those who used to work for the company. You’ll select from people who currently work there.

2. Go to All Filters (seen below) and select your company in Current Companies. This will give you the people who currently work there. Past Companies can be useful if you want to contact people for the lowdown on your company’s management and culture.

3. Other filters you’ll want to select are Connections (2nd), Locations (Boston), and Industries (Broadcast Media and Marketing & Advertising). This should give you a more manageable list of people from which to choose.

All Filters GYK

Utilize your shared connections

Shared connections can be extremely helpful when asking for an introduction to the people you have identified as key players in the company. This is why it’s important to have a focused network with like-minded people, as they can vouch for you when you want to correspond with said key player/s.

The connections you and your key player share is located under your key player’s name (seen below).  Josh is the one you want to contact and potentially connect with. You’ve identified Meredith (last name) as a shared connection who is trusted by you and your key player.

Shared Connections

Get an introduction to your key players

Sending a cold invite to a desired connection is the least of successful of the three methods I’ll mention, especially if you send it with the default LinkedIn message, “I would like to add you to my professional network.”

The second least successful, although much better than the aforementioned, is mentioning a shared connection in it. “Meredith (last name) and I are connected and she strongly suggested I invite you to my network.” This is the gist of the second type of invite.

Your best route to Josh is having Meredith send him an introduction. Of course she will, but out of courtesy you send her an email outlining the purpose of connecting with Josh. As well, you ask her to point out three of your areas of expertise.

Meredith sends Josh an email carbon copying you:

Hi Josh.

I’d like to introduce you to Sherri Jones, a trusted friend of mine. She is a marketing specialist with extensive knowledge in digital marketing. I worked with her two jobs ago in our marketing department.

Sherri has recently been laid off, along with her whole department, due to the company being acquired. She has many accomplishments to tout in data analytics, lead generation, social media marketing. I know the two of you can benefit from connecting and having a discussion.

Sherri,

You’ll find Josh to be a great resource for questions you have about companies similar to his. I hope you and he have the opportunity to connect on LinkedIn and then speak in person. You two will hit it off.

Note: Meredith could send Josh a LinkedIn message but he is more likely to open his email, especially if it’s sent to his work email address.

But you’re not finished

That’s right, you’re going to follow up with Meredith to thank her for the introduction. She did you a solid and you promise to keep her in the loop by pinging her on any progress.

Next you send Josh an invitation to connect with him, referencing Meredith and the email in the invite. Josh naturally agrees to connect because, as I once said to one of my close connections, “When you recommend someone to connect with, I do so without hesitation.”

After thanking him for agreeing to connect, circle back to Meredith and thank her again for the introduction. You tell her that he agreed to connect.

Start building the relationship by sending a message to Josh, further introducing yourself to a greater extent and offering your assistance in any way. You noticed on his profile that he’s from the Greater New York area, so yo ask him, “Yankees or Mets?”

When he returns your message with an answer to your question–it’s the Yankees–you first tell him you’re a Red Sox fan and tell him you won’t hold it against him for rooting for the Yanks. In the next paragraph, you ask if he’ll be willing to give you some advice at his convenience. You’ll be willing to call or set up a Zoom session.

He gladly accepts to Zoom with you and so the relationship begins.


To recap

The year 2020 will be your year if you’re proactive with your research and utilizing LinkedIn. Keep the five tenets in mind:

  1. Research to identify companies for which you’d like to work
  2. Identify the people in said companies who can be of assistance
  3. Utilize your common connections
  4. Get introductions to your key players
  5. Follow up

 

10 LinkedIn New Year resolutions I know I WILL achieve

Like many people, I dislike New year resolutions, mainly because we rarely achieve them. But this year I’m going to set some resolutions that are attainable. The resolutions I vow to achieve are ones that relate to LinkedIn. These are ones I can do.

2020

I also hope my resolutions will benefit other LinkedIn users, namely job seekers; that they will emulate them. The following are 10 actions I will take in 2020.

1. Reach out to more people in a personal way. Admittedly of the nearly 4,000 connections, I haven’t met, in person, most of them. I plan to meet at least 40 of them. I will be a guest speaker at the Merrimack Valley LinkedInLocal, so this will be a great opportunity. Zoom and Skype count as making a personal connection.

2. Spread the word to people on LinkedIn. There are too many young adults and older adults who are not benefiting from LinkedIn. Sure, they have a LinkedIn account, but they’re not using it as it should be used.

Many people erroneously believe that a profile loaded with keywords will draw the attention of hiring authorities. Read 3 ways job seekers will be found on LinkedIn.

3. Get a newer photo taken. In 2016 I wrote an article entitled 4 ways your LinkedIn photo is an imposter. It feels as though my current photo is now an imposter. I’m thinking that my new one will be more theme-based, maybe one of me talking to a client. I’m not sure yet.

4. Produce even better content. I was awarded one of LinkedIn Top Voices for the content I delivered in 2019. I will continue to write articles, posts, and even videos for the upcoming year, but they will be more focused and relevant. Trending stuff.

5. Be more consistent in posting. Related to number 4, I aim to post at least four articles on a weekly basis. I will also follow my own words and improve how I comment on other’s posts. Sure there will be times when I will only react, but quality comments mean so much more.

6. Become a better curator. There are LinkedIn members who curate other’s content like pure champions. People like Mark Anthony Dyson, Hank Boyer, Sarah Johnston, Hannah Morgan, and Susan Joyce come to mind. Then there are others who only share their content. The ones who only share their content tend not to garner as many viewers.

7. Make my network even more focused. It’s important to create a like-minded network. I’ve done my best to do this, but there are many in my network who are…”dead wood.” They are not like-minded and, therefore, the content we share isn’t relevant.

8. Update my profile. I said earlier I’m going to update my photo but like many, I don’t visit my own profile as often as I should. I need fresh material and to add accomplishments to my Experience section.

9. Follow LinkedIn changes. Admittedly I don’t follow LinkedIn changes as best I can. I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling of visiting LinkedIn and noticing something has changed, whether it’s small or big. My friend Keven Turner keeps me up to date on these changes.

10. Spend less time on LinkedIn; think quality, not quantity. I estimate that I spend close to an hour, if not more, on LinkedIn per day. I’m also on it every day of the week. The only time I wasn’t on LinkedIn were a few days when I vacationed in Italy. This will be the toughest one.


I’m sure I haven’t covered all I need to improve upon. So I will continue to add to this list of resolutions throughout the year. As a practice, I’m not a fan of New Year resolutions. I haven’t set any for my personal life. Better habits will be developed over time.

I’m curious if you have New Year resolutions for 2020. Feel free to list them in the comment section below or comment on LinkedIn.

Photo: Flickr, cg “Chasing the Light”

9 major areas where your LinkedIn profile brands you

It’s safe to say I’ve critiqued or written hundreds of LinkedIn profiles. What’s most important in a profile is that it brands the LinkedIn member; it sends a clear, consistent message of the value the member will deliver to employers. Does your profile brand you?

linkedin-alone

In this article we’ll look at nine sections of your profile where you should focus on branding yourself. When you accomplish this, you’ll have a profile that will help you land a job.

1. Snapshot Area

I call this section the Snapshot area because that’s exactly what it is: a snapshot of who you are. This section includes your background image, photo, and headline as the major components which have an immediate effect on your branding.

New Snapshot Bob

Your background image can serve to brand you by letting visitors know the type of work you do. For my background image, I display my LinkedIn Top Voices recognition. Other members might use a background image that speaks more to their personal interests.

If you think a photo is unnecessary, you are sadly mistaken. A profile sans photo gives the impression you can’t be trusted. In addition, people won’t recognize and remember you. LinkedIn says profiles with photos are 21 times more likely to be viewed than those without.

Perhaps most important is your headline. It’s what people first read about you and can determine if they open your profile. It might be enough for someone to accept an invite from you if written well.

Headlines that say things like “Seeking Employment” or “Finance Manager at Company X” are ineffective, as they fail to show value.

Rather, your Headline should brand you like this: “Finance Manager at Company X | Financial Planning and Analysis | Auditing | Saving Organizations Millions.”

2. About Section

This is where you tell your story, which can include the passion you have for your occupation, a statement about your expertise, or even explain how you’re changing your career. Here’s how your profile can brand you.

  1. It allows you to tell a story that can include the, why, what, who, and how. In other words, why are you passionate about what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it. Similar to your résumé’s Summary, you should list accomplishments that immediately speak to your greatness.
  2. Your About section is written in first- or third-person point of view, giving it more of a personal feel than your résumé’s Summary.
  3. It is significantly longer. You’re allowed 2,000 characters to work with, which I suggest you use.
  4. Finally, you can highlight rich media such as video, audio, documents, and PowerPoint presentations.

Read this article that describes how to craft a kick-ass About section.

3. Articles and Activity

When I review people’s profiles, I pay special attention to this section. It tells me how engaged a person has been on LinkedIn. To brand yourself successfully, you want to show that you’ve engaged with your connections. Do you have to write articles? That would be ideal but not necessary.

Articles and activities

I will click “See all activity” to see how if a person is a player on LinkedIn. If I see the person hasn’t used LinkedIn in months, I will not be impressed; neither will hiring authorities.

4. Experience

Bob Experience

I’m often asked by job seekers how they should address the experience section of their profile. I tell them they have two options: They can either write a section that resembles the work history found on their resume, or they can use their experience section to highlight only their most important accomplishments.

I favor the latter approach, but some think their profile might be the only document an employer sees, so they believe showing all is the way to go. What’s most important in building your brand is listing accomplishments with quantified results.

Good: Increased productivity by implementing a customer relations management (CRM) system.

Better: Initiated and implemented – before the deadline – a customer relations management (CRM) system that increased productivity by 58%.

It’s a good idea to use bullets to highlight your accomplishments. One of my LinkedIn connections, Donna Serdula, has created a handy list of bullets and symbols you can copy and paste for use on your own profile.

5. Education

Many people neglect this section, choosing to simply list the institution they attended, the degree they received, and their date of graduation. This might be the norm for resumes, but LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to further support your brand by telling the story of your education.

Take Mary who completed her bachelor’s degree while working full-time – a major accomplishment in itself. If she wants to show off her work ethic and time management skills, she might write a description like this:

University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA
Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, Magna Cum Laude

While working full time at Company A, I attended accelerated classes at night for four years (two years less than typically expected). I also participated as an instructor in an online tutoring program, helping first-year students with their engineering classes. I found this to be extremely rewarding.

6. Volunteer

Build your brand by showing visitors that you are utilizing your skills and developing new ones. It’s fine to volunteer for what I call “a good cause,” but to show people you’re serious about your occupation, you’ll volunteer at a host agency that requires your expertise.

(If you volunteer for a significant amount of time, I feel it’s fine to list this experience in your Experience section, as long as you write “Volunteer Experience” beside your job title.)

7. Featured Skills and Endorsements

A healthy Skills section consisting of 30-50 skills is another way to strengthen your brand. The skills you decide to list should demonstrate your expertise. Do not list skills you are simply familiar with.

To further enhance your brand, the skills may be endorsed by your first-degree LinkedIn connections. If you’re unsure as to which skills to endorse, here is a previous article of mine that can help you.

endorsements

8. Recommendations

This is a section I talk about in my LinkedIn workshops, and I always stress how valuable it is to receive recommendations from others, as well as write them for others. By receiving recommendations, you show the value you bring to employers. Meanwhile, writing recommendations shows your authority and what you value in workers. Either way, recommendations are a great way to brand you.

9. Accomplishments

Certifications, Organizations, and Projects are listed under Accomplishments. Prior, they had their own real estate, but now they’re buried under this header. And yes, they must be expanded like most sections.

You can still brand yourself by pointing out in your About section a project or two that you completed on time and under budget while managing a team of six.


These are just some sections on your LinkedIn profile that contribute to supporting your strong personal brand. I’m curious to know about other sections that can brand you.

Next read 5 Types of People You Should Connect with on LinkedIn.

This post originally appeared on Social-Hire.com. 

The ultimate comparison of the résumé and LinkedIn profile: a look at 12 areas

Occasionally I’m asked which I prefer writing or reviewing, a résumé or LinkedIn profile. To use a tired cliché, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. The first fact we have to realize is that each has its own purpose.

Reading a Resume

The second fact is that, although the résumé and LinkedIn profile are trying to accomplish the same goal, show your value; they are different in many ways. One of my pet peeves is looking at a copy and paste of the résumé to the profile. It’s just plain wrong, and you’ll see why as you read this article.

LinkedIn Logo longPurpose of each document

Résumé

Your résumé is most likely the first document hiring authorities will see, so your value-add must make an immediate impact. If not, your chances of getting interviews are very slim.

You will send your résumé in response to a specific job. As such, it must be tailored to each job and contain keywords. Failing to do this will adversely impact your résumé’s chance of getting past the applicant tracking system (ATS).

Lastly, you use push technology with your résumé; therefore far fewer hiring authorities will see it.

LinkedIn profile

Your consistent message of value-add demonstrated through your résumé carries over to your LinkedIn profile. Your profile is NOT focused on a specific job; it is static and more general.

Most likely you’ll have a résumé constructed before you build your profile. Therefore, the stronger your résumé, the easier to build your LinkedIn profile.

You rely on pull technology with your profile, as hiring authorities find you by entering your title, areas of expertise, and location if relevant.

Comparing the two

I’ve broken down the sections of the résumé and LinkedIn profile to compare them side-by-side.  It’s easier to see the differences this way. As mentioned earlier, it’s similar to comparing apples and oranges.

Note: Sections 1 through 6 are those which both documents possess. Further down this article are sections the LinkedIn profile has and most likely the résumé doesn’t.


1. Headline

Résumé: A headline tells potential hiring authorities your title and a line below it your areas of expertise and perhaps a two-word accomplishment (Cost Savings) in approximately 10 words.

It is tailored to the job at hand, like most sections on your résumé. Most executive-level résumés have a headline.

LinkedIn profile: Similar to your résumé, a headline will tell hiring authorities your title as well as your major strengths. It is more general and includes more areas of expertise.

One benefit I see with the profile headline is it allows more characters to work with than the résumé. You have 120 characters or slightly more than 16 words. If you want to include a short branding statement, this could be a nice touch.


2. Summary/About

Resume: The résumé’s Summary sometimes gets overlooked in a hiring authority’s rush to get to the Employment section. The key to grabbing their attention is creating  accomplishment-rich verbiage, such as:

Operations manager who reduces companies’ costs by 60% annually through implementing lean practices.

There are two other points I emphasize with my clients. The first is that the Summary should not exceed 110 words or three lines; the shorter the better. The second is there should be no fluff or clichés included in it.

LinkedIn profile: Your profile’s About section will differ from your résumé’s Summary for a number of reasons.

  1. It allows you to tell a story that can include the, why, what, who, and how. In other words, why are you passionate about what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it. Similar to your résumé’s Summary, you should list accomplishments that immediately speak to your greatness.
  2. Your About section is written in first- or third-person point of view, giving it more of a personal feel than your résumé’s Summary.
  3. It is significantly longer. You’re allowed 2,000 characters to work with, which I suggest you use.
  4. Finally, you can highlight rich media such as video, audio, documents, and PowerPoint presentations.

Read this article that describes how to craft a kick-ass About section.


3. Core Competencies/Key Skills

Resume: Here’s where you list the core competencies or key skills for the position you’re pursuing. These skills that are specific to the position for which you’re applying. You can also include skills that might be tiebreakers. Nine to 12 skills are appropriate for this section.

LinkedIn profile: This section is located further down your profile; whereas it’s typically placed under the Summary on your résumé. However, I wanted to discuss this out of order, as this is the closest section to Core Competencies.

List your outstanding technical and transferable skills in the Skills and Endorsements section, which is similar to the Core Competency section on your résumé, with a few major differences:

  1. You can be endorsed for your skills. There is debate as to the validity of endorsements, but they can be legit if the endorser has evidence of the endorsee’s skills.
  2. You are given up to 50 skills to list. I suggest listing skills that are related to your occupation.
  3. When applying through Easy Apply in LinkedIn Jobs, they are one criterion by which your candidacy is measured.

4. Experience

Resume: Job-specific accomplishments effectively send a consistent message of your value. 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.

Good: Increased productivity by implementing a customer relations management (CRM) system.

Better: Increased productivity by 58% by initiating and implementing – 2 weeks before the deadline – a customer relations management (CRM) system. 

LinkedIn profile: Your Employment section will be briefer than your résumé’s, highlighting just the outstanding accomplishments from each job. Another approach is to copy what’s on your résumé to your profile, but that lacks creativity.

I also point out to my clients that they can personalize their LinkedIn profile’s Experience section, which is not commonly done with their résumé. One approach is to write your job summary or mission in first-person point of view. Following is an example from Austin Belcak:

I teach people how to use unconventional strategies to land jobs they love in today’s market (without connections, without traditional “experience,” and without applying online).

My strategies have been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Inc., Fast Company, and more. My students have landed interviews and offers at Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Deloitte, Accenture, ESPN and more.

Read this article on 5 reasons why you shouldn’t ignore your LinkedIn profile Experience section.


5. Licenses & Certifications

Résumé: This section is usually named Training and if there are any certifications or licenses earned, they are mentioned here. I suggest that my clients list them above Education, as our eyes typically go to the bottom of the last page to find Education. In some cases, especially with teachers, Certifications are listed at the top of the résumé.

LinkedIn profile: LinkedIn doesn’t see the placement of Licenses & Certifications as I do. On your profile they are placed below Education. This is not the point, though. One might wonder why this section even exists, as it is buried in the bowels of your profile.

6. Volunteerism

Résumé: I include this section because it’s a good idea to list your volunteerism because it shows your willingness to help the community and demonstrates that you’re developing new skills. If you’re volunteering in your area of expertise extensively—20 hours—include it in your Experience section.

LinkedIn profile: This is a place for you to shine, in my humble opinion. The experience you list on your profile can be as serious and strategic as what you have on your resume; however, you can also be playful. For example, two of my volunteer experiences are about coaching soccer and basketball.


7. Education

Résumé: Typically the résumé’s Education section consists of the institution, location, years of attendance (optional), degree, and area of study or major. You can include a designation such as Magna Cum Laude. Here is an example of how your education should be written.

University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA
Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, Magna Cum Laude

LinkedIn profile: Many people neglect this section, choosing to simply list the information they would on their résumé. This is a shame, as LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to further support your brand by telling the story of your educational experience.

Take Mary who completed her bachelor’s degree while working full-time – a major accomplishment in itself. If she wants to show off her work ethic and time management skills, she might write a description like this:

University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA
Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, Magna Cum Laude

While working full time at Company A, I attended accelerated classes at night for four years (two years less than typically expected). I also participated as an instructor in an online tutoring program, helping first-year students with their engineering classes. I found this to be extremely rewarding.

=======================================================================

Sections more likely on your profile than your résumé

The following areas are most likely not going to be on your résumé; although, there not entirely out of the question. For instance, you might have a Volunteer Experience on your résumé, especially if your volunteerism is pertinent to your career objective.

8. Photo and background images

These two images are the first to brand you on your LinkedIn profile. They are what truly separate the profile from the résumé.

Résumé: A photo is not likely unless you are in acting, modeling, or perhaps real estate. I have never seen anything close to a background image on a résumé. However, graphics are common for graphic artists and other creative occupations.

LinkedIn Profile: I see the photo and the background image as a must for the profile. Discussing the profile photo with my clients is somewhat touchy, as the average age is 55. You know where I’m going with this.

Here’s the thing: without a photo, you will come across as unmemorable, untrusted, and unliked. What’s most important is that your photo is topical, current, and high quality. I’ve seen photos of older workers that make their profile pop.

The background image, if done well, can demonstrate your industry or personal interest. LinkedIn allows you 1,584 x 396 pixels in size.


9. Articles and Activity

Resume: Nonexistent. Your Hobbies and Activities section would be the closest match, but there’s very little information included in this area compared to the LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn profile: Because LinkedIn is an interactive platform, your articles and activity will be shown on your profile. This is something I pay a great deal of attention to when critiquing a client’s profile. I like to see that they’ve at least been active four times a week.


10. Featured

Résumé: Nonexistent, primarily because this section requires access to links and downloads. Some job seekers will list a URL to their website, which is appropriate for people in the creative fields.

LinkedIn profile: This…feature…is not new; it’s just been enhanced. It previously had no name, but with the update, LinkedIn probably felt it needed to be named, as it wasn’t getting a great deal of play. As such, Featured no longer requires multiple clicks to get to the media you’re showing off.

What can you show off? You can provide links to video through YouTube and other sources; audio through podcasts and other recordings; PowerPoint presentations; documents; links to documents and your books. It’s a pretty cool feature, but is it being used to its capacity?

11. Recommendations

Résumé: Nonexistent, nor should they be included with your résumé. You might bring them to an interview as part of your portfolio, but to send them with your résumé just gives hiring authorities more verbiage to read.

LinkedIn profile: Where to begin? In short, one of the most popular sections to one designated to the…you guessed it, bowels of the profile. What a gem these are in terms of branding you. Not only can you show hiring authorities how much you’re regarded by people with whom you worked; you can write recommendations for your employees.

Read 5 reasons why LinkedIn recommendations should get more respect to get a clearer picture of how I feel about their treatment.

12. Accomplishments

Lastly we arrive at accomplishments, where so many great nuggets are hidden on your profile which could be included on your Résumé.

Résumé: Do you have a section on your résumé designated to outstanding projects? If you did, most likely it’s at the top just below your Summary section. It makes good sense if you want to highlight some of your greatest career accomplishments. Perhaps you have patents and publications listed on your résumé.

LinkedIn profile: Well, you can include the aforementioned and more; but in order for hiring authorities to see them, they’d have to be curious or you’d have to direct them to your Accomplishment section. I tell my clients to provide such instructions in the About section. “If you would like to see how I raised 2MM in revenue for one company, journey to my Accomplishment section to read about it.”

To further make my case, one of my dear connections was interviewed by Aljazeera America for his photography of homeless people and models in NYC. Naturally he has it listed as a project in this section. I had to write to him and advise that he include it as rich media in his About section. Here is the link to his awesome video.


Lastly…for real.

If you’ve read this far, I salute you. I would love to hear your feedback on this article, as well as know which you favor, the résumé or LinkedIn profile. By the tone of this article, I guess you know which one I fancy.