Searching for a new job or have your eye on moving up to the next level with your current employer? You never know when an opportunity is going to present itself, so you need to be prepared! One way to do so is to optimize your online presence, and LinkedIn is the premier site to showcase your experience, achievements, skills, and leadership acumen on a global scale.
Your LinkedIn profile should be one of the most utilized tools in your job search tool chest, so you need to ensure that it is sharp, fully optimized, and maintained well during your job search and beyond.
Depending on what type of device your profile is being viewed on (PC or mobile), the reader will only be able to see a fraction of your profile. That fraction has to be creative and appealing enough to make the reader want to continue to learn more about you. Don’t know where to start? Right from the top!
LinkedIn automatically gives you a default banner when you sign up. Get rid of it! This is the first place you have the opportunity to pull the reader in – be creative! You can personalize the banner to show a little bit about yourself and/or use titles and keywords to help communicate your brand. Have a special saying or motto that motivates you? It can easily be included here. Use a website like Canva to design your own banner or hire someone to do it – either way – don’t use the default banner! #lame
Your LinkedIn profile should have the same name that is on your resume, so that your name is consistently known by anyone who views your resume or online profile. Add any relevant credentials after your name, and try to ensure that you don’t use a nickname.
We all know that a lot of us don’t like advertising pictures of ourselves on social media – sorry, but on LinkedIn, people want to see YOU! Be sure to include a profile picture that is professional looking and done at a level that matches the position you’re seeking. Executives should have a photo that looks like an executive and an entry level photo could probably be a more casual photo.
Stay away from photos where you have cropped yourself out of a group, at a bar/party, or have a lot of distractions in the background. Again – people want to see YOU – not a backdrop from your trip to the Grand Canyon (unless you are a travel blogger – lol).
When you sign up with LinkedIn, your current job title automatically defaults to this section. Change it as soon as you can. Your headline gives you 220 characters to share your value, expertise, and skills. Done effectively, your headline can attract ATS systems and recruiters who are looking for candidates in your industry and is a very easy way to quickly tell people what you have to offer in your field. I like to add keywords and branding to it as well.
Take some time to reflect about what you really want to communicate in this section. Don’t just add a one-liner and certainly do not make yourself sound desperate to find a job (even if you really are). Like your headline, this is a great place to share your brand – so make it strategic, appealing, and value-added! As with your resume, the summary at the beginning of your LinkedIn profile should be strategically written, compelling, and a quick synopsis of the best you have to offer, your highlights, and even some of your skills. Using bullets and color in this section will make it stand out more than just including paragraphs of text.
Consider adding a “call to action” at the end of the summary to let people know you are available for interviews or are actively looking for a new position. You have 2,600 characters in this section, but only the first few lines may show up when people are viewing your profile, and the key is getting the reader to click on the “more” to learn more about you. Make your first few lines appealing, inviting, and clear.
The skills section is great but can also be a bit subjective. You need to add the skills that are the most relevant to your industry and position, whenever possible. Use strong keywords in this section, and make sure you are focusing on unique terms that make you stand out. “Staff Leadership & Development” sounds a lot better than “Leadership” and “Global Sales Operations Management” sounds way better than “Sales”.
As for the endorsements, this is where the section gets a little subjective. LI automatically puts the skills with the most endorsements at the top of the section; however, the top 3 skills are something you can…and should change, so that they are your strongest skills and the ones that are most relevant to your job search, regardless of the number of endorsements.
You have the option of including 50 terms in this list and that fills up pretty quickly – use the best fit and stay away from “fluff” terms that are expected in today’s professional world, like “Time Management” or “Team Player”.
These sections are just the tip of the iceberg in creating an amazing, optimized LinkedIn profile – but they are so important if you want to be “found” on LinkedIn, so you need to ensure that the content is unique to your job goals, industry-specific, and an effective marketing tool for your job search!
Career Change Can Happen at Any Time…Will YOU Be Ready?
Recently, I was speaking with a client who was eager to get out of the industry she had worked in for 20+ years to follow her dreams of becoming an Interior Design/Home Improvement/House Flipping professional. As she had spent her entire career as a Purchasing Agent in the Automotive industry, she wasn’t sure how to start her journey into a more creative field, especially when she had been in the same one for so many years.
It’s actually quite easy. When making a career change, especially to a completely new industry, it’s important to focus on highlighting your transferrable skills and some of your biggest career accomplishments on your resume and LinkedIn profile. Here are some quick steps to get you moving forward to the job of your dreams:
Change up the format of your current resume – create a format that makes your transferrable skills stand out (don’t let the need to follow tradition scare you!) and ensure that those skills and best leadership qualifications are highlighted in your career summary, branding statement, and keyword list (areas of expertise, core competencies, etc.).
Transferrable skills – so many clients have told me “this is what I want to do, but I don’t think I’m qualified”, when actually – they really are. It just requires some thought and creative writing (which is why she hired a professional service). When making a career change, it’s imperative that you include skills you’ve used in your current field that could be applied to the next one. Organizational Development, Brand Development & Promotion, Project Management, Budget Administration, Process Improvement, Team Collaboration, Vendor Relations, Inventory Procurement, Cost Control, Negotiation Strategies, etc. These are all areas of expertise used across industries.
Show where you have made an impact – at any point in your career, you should be able to show where you’ve made an impact to the organization(s) you’ve worked for. Quantifiable results work well when you highlight your accomplishments in a “Career Highlights” section on your resume. Sales goals? Cost savings initiatives? Process or program improvements? Building partnerships that result in revenue growth for your company? Add financial or numerical values where you can, and show the impact you’ve made on the organization’s bottom line!
Education and credentials – this is another one that holds people back. Just because your degree is in one area doesn’t mean you can’t excel in another! Don’t let a label from 20 years ago hold you back! On-the-job training, experience, professional development, etc. are all things that can show you have diversity in what you know and what you are capable of doing in any field! There are also tons of online certifications and skill development you can get to prepare for and show you’re eager to learn about your new field. For this particular client, she was getting her real estate license to get some more experience in the industry, staging, client relations, etc. which will make her a more marketable asset for her clients, etc.
LinkedIn – As with your resume, your LinkedIn profile is your tool for getting noticed – but more importantly, this platform allows you to get noticed on a global scale with basically a click of a mouse. Make sure your profile is optimized with key terms and highlights using language recognized in your future industry. Even if you don’t have the licensing or certifications you need right away, you can still show that you are working toward those goals. Include links to projects you’ve completed to give readers a visual view of your creative style, published works, projects, etc. There is a lot of room for information on LinkedIn, and you need to ensure you are using the site to showcase you in the best ways possible. NOTE: LinkedIn is a huge source for not only finding jobs and connecting with colleagues and other friends, but also for networking and joining groups within your new industry. The more you network and learn, the faster you will grow in your field.
Social Media – in addition to LinkedIn, you can market your skills, experience, and accomplishments on multiple sites to get your name out there. Start a business page, use creative content, and be sure to brand yourself appropriately – even when you are limited in the character amounts you can use – you can still find something short and sweet to speak to your abilities. Effective branding is key in getting noticed and pulling the reader in to want to learn more about you!
Don’t let age, lack of formal experience, or anything else keep you from pursuing your dream job. If you’re willing to learn and work hard, you can do whatever you want in your career and in life – you just need to prepare for the change, ramp up all of your marketing tools, and hit the ground running with a positive “I’ve got this” attitude.
You know the phrase…”it’s never too late to teach a dog new tricks”…it became a popular phrase for a reason. Take ownership of that mindset and rock your new career!
Building a Credible LinkedIn Profile – and Using it To Move Your Career Forward
“Are you on LinkedIn?” “Can I connect with you through LinkedIn?” “Message me on LinkedIn, and we will set up a time to talk.” Have you heard any of these phrases in your professional conversations over the past few years? They make a point…if you aren’t on LinkedIn AND actively engaging and networking on the site, then you probably either don’t have a great LinkedIn profile, or you are not using the site and all of its features to enhance your career.
Today’s executives are constantly on the move. If you’re an exec who is trying to increase organizational revenue, improve operating efficiency, or even build your individual value proposition for your next career move, being active on LinkedIn will benefit you in all of these areas. When creating a strong presence on LinkedIn and using it to your advantage through connecting and networking with the right people and groups, you will find that moving your career and/or business forward is easier than you thought. Here are a few quick tips on how to use LinkedIn to get you seen, heard, and respected in your professional circles:
Building Your Profile:
LinkedIn has so many features and options – it can truly be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be! Building your profile to effectively market you and the value you can provide must be done creatively and strategically to show that you are at the top of the game in your field.
Fill your profile out completely. Try to put information in as many sections that are applicable to you.
Add relevant credentials after your name at the top of your profile. If the job or board position you’re vying for recommends an MBA and you have the credential after your name, then the reader does not have to go through the entire profile to find out that you have achieved this level of expertise.
Use keywords or skills in your headline and not just a job title. This not only shows your creativity but is also a strong strategy for being found through SEO searches.
Be sure your profile photo is current and professional looking. Upload a customized banner to add some pizzazz to your profile – having the common LinkedIn blue banner just doesn’t cut it.
Don’t just write a small paragraph in the “About” Instead, use this space (2,600 characters) to introduce yourself to the reader using descriptive keywords, a few quantifiable career highlights, a bulleted list of skills, etc. You can really get some bang for your buck if you can craft an innovative and clever career summary for this section.
Be sure your work experience is consistent with the experience outlined on your resume (dates, titles, achievements, etc.). Inconsistencies between the two documents (yes, hiring managers do check) will either show a lack of attention to detail or that you are being less than honest. Either way, your credibility with the reader just took a nose-dive.
Only include relevant education College degrees and professional development or training activities are great but including your high school years are not.
Certifications and licenses matter, especially if you don’t have a college degree! So many people forget to add their certifications to their profiles.
Memberships in professional organizations can be key in showing that you have been active on corporate boards or are involved in groups within your industry. Many corporations are also interested in candidates who are service-minded within their communities, so including recent volunteer work is also good to include on your profile.
Including your skills is imperative! If you are unsure of the skills that are best in your field, LinkedIn will suggest some for you! Again, this is another section where you need to be creative and strategic. Instead of “Operations”, put “Operations Management” as an entry in this section. Be sure to “pin” your top three skills so the reader can see what you excel at the most at a quick glance.
These are just a few ideas that will help you to build a strong LinkedIn profile. However, you’re not done yet, because building a profile is only the first step in showing your credibility in your field. The next step is to be active on the site.
Networking and Engaging on LinkedIn:
You can connect with hundreds of colleagues and friends on LinkedIn, but if you are not actively engaging and networking on the site, your connections really aren’t going to be of any significance in helping to amplify your value proposition or your credibility for what you do.
Give and ask for recommendations. You don’t need a ton of them – but a few key recommendations from supervisors, clients, board, members, etc. can really help to vouch for who you are, your expertise, how you lead, and the value you can provide in your field.
Connect with key people in your field. Yes, you will have colleagues and old friends who may want to connect with you, and that’s okay. But LinkedIn isn’t about the quantity of connections you have. It’s more about the quality of your connections.
Join industry-specific groups and follow their pages. Watch for posts and other publications that are of interest to you and add your two cents of expertise by commenting on the posts. If you’re in an active job search, this is also an ideal way to see what opportunities are available in your field, especially if you’re targeting a specific company.
In today’s professional (and unpredictable) world, being on LinkedIn is crucial. Making your presence strong and credible is even more important. Build your profile and connections, and then network and engage on a daily basis, or as often as you can to show who you are, what you have achieved, and the credibility and value you offer in your field. You won’t be sorry and may even snag the career opportunity of your dreams!
Sometimes the idea of “Reputation Management” seems like a big business thing, but each one of us has a reputation, right? Your reputation is not based on who you actually are or what you actually do. Reputations are what other people say you do and who they think you are based on what is being said.
Why Are Reputations So Important?
Reputations are important because they either limit us or allow us to grow. A reputation for always doing a good job is going to be pretty helpful when a prospective employer checks your references, but if you never finish what you start, that may be what keeps you from being hired.
With all the technology we use today, reputations are global. You might need help with your online branding or you may think you have it under control, but the reality is that nobody controls what people are saying about you by clicking a button and making them stop. What happens is influence of opinion based on data collected over time.
Job candidates are viewed in light of all the data that can be compiled about them. That includes references, past employers, and anything that comes up on the internet via social media sites and search engines.
What Can You Do About It?
First, be someone who has integrity and actually is the kind of person you hope people see you as. Next, look at what your track record is and do what you can to fix anything in your power. Some things cannot be changed, so be prepared to show how you will be different because you learned your lesson.
You see this in the public arena quite often: the politician or celebrity makes a gigantic error in judgement. The way they handle the fallout determines how the public discourse about it proceeds. On a private level in the workplace, people who know you will give you the benefit of the doubt if all the other things they know about you are positive. Online, the strategy has to fit the scenario, but the idea of keeping the most recent information positive is usually the best idea for reputation management. Your career and your reputation are intertwined and cannot really be separated, so it’s important to be aware of how others view your contributions.
The photo you use for your profile on social media and professional sites is prime real estate. This is the face of your online brand, right? This picture is what comes up on an internet search by a potential employer, colleagues looking at your LinkedIn profile, and networking contacts. People are normally visually-oriented, and that profile pic is what their eyes go to first. So why waste that advantage?
No profile pic at all is like saying you don’t care — so why should they care?
Using a logo markets that logo, not your career
Poorly lit, grainy photos don’t say much about your professionalism
Selfies rarely look like anything but selfies (and please, NO FISH LIPS!)
Wild party profile pics look like HR nightmares
Your kid is cute, but they aren’t hiring your baby. The sames goes with pics of you and your significant other. Don’t use those for your professional pic–unless you co-own a business together and are building your brand based off of that
Using a different profile pic for each site weakens the impact of your brand
If you want to maximize the potential of your profile pic, think seriously about what it looks like and where you put it.
Having the same photograph as the face of your online brand on all your profiles; LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc. gives you consistency. People associate consistency with reliability, and that instant recognition of your photo acts as a logo for your brand. But the photograph itself also matters quite a bit, so it should be excellent. You can set up proper lighting and background then use a timer, but it generally will work much better if a photographer friend takes your picture or you opt for a professional session.
Background should reflect your industry or be a color flattering to you. Lighting should come from several sources to avoid weird shadow effects (this is why self-portraits rarely work well) and smiling is more appealing than a deadpan mug shot. You should be dressed the way you would be at a job interview and look professional. It’s a good idea to renew your profile pics once a year so they are current.
Your online brand is a combination of everything someone like a potential employer can find about you on the internet. Your profile pic is the face of your online brand, and profile development should include making sure you aren’t wasting its potential.
3 Reasons You Might Need Help With Online Branding
Online branding is hard to avoid if you are going to be involved with society. It’s actually happening whether or not you want it to, because some of your information is probably online already. Don’t believe me? Try doing a search on your name — I’ll wait.
This is why you need to “own” your online brand. Maybe there was a lot of entries with your name, maybe just a few, but when you submit your resume to a company, the name on your resume is what they will search. It’s a very important part of your professional package. But sometimes, you need to get help in order to get your online brand what it needs to be. Here are three possible reasons to ask for that help:
You are overwhelmed with all that is going on in your life right now. Sometimes life throws a real curve ball and you are starting over from square one. It could be a divorce, a death or major illness, coming back into the workforce after a hiatus, a family emergency, or even a natural disaster. If there is too much on your plate, this is one thing you can delegate to a professional.
You don’t really know what you are doing with the whole computer thing. You are learning, but you are afraid of making a mistake. I always tell newbies to the computer age, ‘You can’t break it!’ Getting professional help will give you a confident start and you can take it from there. Or you can learn as you go and try it out. Either way it’s a reality you will need to face –e-commerce, for example– you can’t go to an actual Amazon “store”… you need to order online to get what you want from there. Start small and work your way up to profile creation.
You now realize that you blew it big time. You have been buzzing along posting selfies and crazy party photos, and now you wish you’d listened when your mom told you to be discreet. She was right and now you are sorry, but you have no idea what to do about it. A professional would have experience in this area and could help. We help with reputation management and can help you clean up your digital dirt. Then you can tell all the tweens you know to heed your warning.
Professional Resume Services offers several types of online branding help, from LinkedIn Profile Development to Online Branding/Profile Development Coaching and even an Online Branding Power Package (all on the link; scroll down and see). It’s also part of what is offered in our Coaching Services. If you need help with your online brand, you can find it here!
It isn’t summer yet, but it soon will be time for the teenage job market to open up for high schoolers looking to start their working careers. Even though these first jobs will probably not become careers, there are a lot of ways the first job does shape the habits and expectations you have about the working world. Some of the standards have always been there: Getting to work on time, not goofing off on the job, doing what you are hired to do, and being trustworthy have always been part of the picture.
But today’s teens are already networking and have a social media presence long before they start thinking about earning a paycheck. Because they are so familiar with digital interactions, and because they are immature, the idea that what they say and do online will affect their future is hard to grasp. It isn’t uncommon for someone to suggest their child work in a friend’s business and find out that their kids’ online activities were unacceptable for the position’s standards. How embarrassing is that?
If you have made an effort to continually ask questions like “Can social networking get you fired?” and listen to your child’s answers, you begin to see what their perspective of online activities is. Pointing out the realities, cases where that behavior did cost a job, furthers the discussion. Start talking about how important online branding is and what it is. Challenge them to do their own research and prove you wrong when you say that employers will look them up online.
This can go a lot of directions every time you have the conversation. Cyber-bullying, sexting, and all the rest of it are hopefully going to come up so you can hear what your teen has to say and tell them what you’ve learned. Online behavior didn’t used to be on the “getting your teen ready to have a job” list, but these days it is probably up in the top priorities.
When Is Your Digital Birthday? Why Should You Care?
Have you seen a sonogram of a pregnancy in a friend’s announcement online? That sonogram is the beginning of a particular child’s digital footprint, before they are born. Similarly, every time someone posts a cute picture, mentions their name, and shares a funny video of the child, their digital footprint expands. This is the beginning of their online brand — their digital birthday.
That child does not have control over what other people are posting about them now. But someday, they will ask a search engine to compile every bit of information that has been posted with their name online and the digital version of naked-baby-on-a-rug will not seem so cute. At that point, online branding and profile development coaching start looking like a good idea.
You have more control over your digital footprint than a child does, but it takes work. If you are not proactively curating everything that can be connected to you, then it will accumulate without your control. Even not tagging your photos and using privacy settings will not prevent a facial recognition program identifying you or a security breach. Mistakes can be made, too, and your identity might be confused with someone else to your detriment. Once stuff goes viral, there isn’t anything you can do but damage control.
Because employers are increasingly using search engines to find candidates, your information might not even show up in the first few pages of “qualified potential candidates” when they start looking. If the computer doesn’t select you as suitable, there’s no chance to make an appeal. If you are not active online, monitoring all your information and adding value to your digital presence with LinkedIn activity, professional posts, and making sure your brand is what you want it to be…
then you will be as helpless as the infant in the sonogram, subject to whatever someone else says about you and unaware of what is going on.