Archives for LinkedIn

Purpose: Why Are We Here? What Are We Doing?

Peeking by Neville Nel of Flickr

 

These are deep questions, ones that in the midst of our hustle and bustle lives we rarely contemplate with any depth. This time of year as we supposedly get a little time off to focus on what matters and approach a new year, the opportunity for a fresh start, allow these questions to simmer in your mind for a bit.

Purpose is not a basic need, like food and shelter. However, people who consider themselves happy point to purpose as their happiness fuel. You can certainly be content to have the things that you need to survive, but I cannot help but feel as though if you have not reached the level of happiness that living your purpose provides, you have not really lived.

Sometimes purpose is underestimated as a resource for survival. I know so many people, too many people, who feel like they are treading water, just barely keeping their heads above. I want to help them all.

A very common key ingredient missing from their lives is the fact that what they do for a living is not at all tied to their purpose. This leads them to underperformance, underemployment, and underpayment, which then leads to a vicious cycle of under living, and that is the source of feeling like your head is barely above the water. The converse of that, however, is a feeling I wish everyone could experience. The best way I can describe it for those who have not yet discovered their purpose, is that it is like when you are at a live concert or show. The combination of the music plus the performance and the crowd crescendo to a point where you feel like your heart is so full that it is bursting, and you have a sense of connection to something bigger than yourself. Perhaps for you this sensation came in a different setting, like a Tony Robbins event, or a really moving religious ceremony. It is exhilarating, or as one client referred to it recently, LIGHTENING.

When your vocation is tied to your purpose, this sensation is a regularly-occurring phenomenon.

The best contribution that I can make at this time for all of you who have not yet known or have forgotten what it feels like to thrive and be happy is my new eBook: Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint Your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days.

Please spread the word, as I would like to get it into the hands of as many people who are living under their potential as possible.

Discovering your purpose is not only for your sake, but it is also of great importance to the GREAT employers. In fact, I just read a LinkedIn post about how REI doubled the amount of applicants by integrating purpose into their culture and hiring.

If you have yet to succeed at a great company, consider that the missing ingredient is PASSION. There is no better time to start than NOW… Well, December 28th, actually.  That is when the book is officially launched. In the meantime, however, grab your copy NOW.

“Laser-Sharp Career Focus now goes to the top of the list of helpful tools for job seekers and those endeavoring to manage their careers more successfully. The book is practical, effective and affordable! If you do the work in the book, the book will work for you. You can even revisit the exercises periodically, to reflect on your answers and update your career priorities. In my opinion, Laser-Sharp Career Focus should become your constant companion, helping you over time to build your most ideal career!”                    

 ~ Ford R. Myers, President of Career Potential, LLC and author of Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring 

 

 

Make 2017 the year you level-up your career fulfillment and shoot for EPIC success.

 

 

How to Tell if You’re About to be Laid Off

CIMG6096 by Daniel of Flickr

CIMG6096 by Daniel of Flickr

 

It is always worse when a layoff comes out of left field, isn’t it? There is definitely something to be said about being mentally prepared to find a new job. Of course there is even more to be said when you are fully prepared with an updated résumé and a branded LinkedIn profile that will position you for what’s next.

I can relate to being in denial; I certainly should have seen the signs coming before my first layoff after 9-11. Even though I had been yearning for greater responsibility and wanting to either move up or move on, I took my layoff very hard. When it took ten months to find something new, and that something new was a step back, I regretted not being more prepared.

That was the first of three times, so I feel like I have learned a little something about how to tell when bad news is coming. The more warning you have, the higher the chances that you can turn the bad news into a positive next step.

 

1. News of future plans grows quiet

Any company doing well is going to want to generate excitement about the future. If projects are suddenly put on hold, or high-priority projects that your manager had previously told you were coming down the pike suddenly don’t seem as important, something is about to change.

This treatment could even seem like being given the cold shoulder. You may be starting to consider whether you should just confront your boss directly. If you do, be prepared to hear no news or to receive bad news. Ultimately and unfortunately, when bad news is impending there is a pecking order for who is told first.

 

2. Your employer no longer spends money on certain things

This could refer to perks, travel, technology, training, or even bonuses. Even if there are no immediate plans for the company’s leadership to sell or close, and you can see that the focus is more on cutting costs than growing, it is only a matter of time before they lose market share or become obsolete. If you want to be noble and go down with a sinking ship, that is your prerogative, but simultaneously prepare a life boat. Read over any non-competes, decide what company you want to target, update your LinkedIn profile and start reconnecting with people in your network, update your résumé, and decide how you are going to tell people about why you are looking for something new. (Do so in that order.)

 

3. Other people are being let go

This sounds pretty obvious, but I have seen some professionals insist that those who were let go were logical choices, whereas they were top performers. This is who gets hit by the news the hardest. You might have done everything right, you might have established that you are irreplaceable, and still be the victim of a workforce reduction. Does it have to do with your salary? Maybe. You will spend days and weeks trying to figure out what you could have done differently and the answer could be nothing. Instead, act immediately to position yourself as a rock star and a thought leader in high demand. Promote everything that you have done to add value to your employer and promote your résumé through social media. Consider publishing posts and responding to calls for speakers at industry conferences. Set up lunch meetings. Organize happy hours.

 

Being uncertain of the future and being in flux are very uncomfortable for most people. The best way to ease your worry is to make something happen. Start to build momentum. Even if you are wrong and your job is completely secure, you might open new doors to unexpected opportunities.

 

4 Questions That Build a Killer LinkedIn Summary

LinkedIn Logo by Esther Vargas of Flickr

LinkedIn Logo by Esther Vargas of Flickr

 

I am glad that LinkedIn exists for multiple reasons, but mostly because there is a venue for professionals to communicate beyond concise and awkward résumé language. Through LinkedIn, they can “speak” in their own natural voice with their own innate verbiage.

As a former hiring professional, it was helpful to understand who the candidate was behind the résumé. As a branding professional and Certified Professional Résumé Writer, I love having a place where I can better express my clients’ personalities and add greater context to their achievements and unique value.

Storytelling has burned a place into corporate and personal marketing because of its effectiveness. It helps people better learn and recall what makes a person impressive and better inspires them to take action on that person’s behalf.

If your LinkedIn profile summary still is a carbon copy of your résumé summary, answer the four questions below. These questions will help you better optimize the 2,000 characters that LinkedIn allows you, so you can distinguish yourself in your own voice. If your computer or phone has a dictation app, I recommend that you use this tool. Do not be too concerned about wordsmithing or character limits as you initially answer these questions.  Do not yet judge how people will perceive your answers. Just record your answers as they emerge.

Not only will this exercise enable you to craft a LinkedIn summary that provides visitors with a much better idea of who you are as a person (not just a professional or a candidate), but it will reveal to you how you have been presenting yourself to your network. You may even find that once you record your answers, evaluate them, and edit them that you have been divulging messages that are extraneous, irrelevant, and incongruent (or even damaging ) to your brand. Once you become conscious of these, you can craft better network messaging and become more effective at inspiring introductions and interviews.

 

Question 1:  How did you get here?

You have an experience section on your LinkedIn profile, so there is no need to chronicle your employment history. However, look at your present status as a sum of inspirational and educational moments that you have acquired throughout the years. Some of your most inspirational moments may be more personal than professional. Again, do not initially judge your answers. What we share about our personal learning experiences can often be more powerful in helping people resonate with who you are and what you have to offer.

Think about it and record those moments to answer to this question. What you record may wind up being paragraphs or even pages long, but eventually you will want to edit it down to one paragraph, starting with a vivid depiction of one of your most powerful moments.

 

Question 2: From what contributions have you derived the biggest sense of fulfillment and satisfaction?

You do not want to spill the beans with all the specific anecdotes from your employment history that have made you most proud. Instead, you want to entice the reader to keep on reading and to scroll down to your employment history to read the rest of the story. In your summary you want to be general. I encourage you to include anecdotes as an answer to this question because it will help you write summaries for your previous positions. Sometimes it is easier to recall specific memories and then to take a step back and figure out what these memories have in common.

You want to look for patterns and themes that have been threaded through each of your previous experiences, regardless of how different those experiences may be. This is where you demonstrate your passion. Notice, please, that I have yet to encourage you to tell people how passionate you are. The answer(s) to this question will do a much better job of communicating that you are passionate without stating your passion.

 

Question 3: How have you honed the primary skills and talents that enabled you to make these past contributions?

In the Career Management course I teach at Drexel University, my students are tired of hearing me lecture about how important proving your KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Achievements, aka KSEs: Knowledge, Skills and Experience) are to potential employers. Rather than simply leaving your list of skills out there without context as to which skills are strongest and without proof as to whether you really possess them or not, use this opportunity to explain how you developed personally and professionally. Some of this could be through formal training, some could be through life experience, and some could be through interesting challenges that enabled you to identify talents you didn’t know you previously had. Can you see how this creates more intrigue?

 

Question 4:  How do you envision being able to apply and further develop these talents and skills to make greater contributions in the future?

Whether you are a happy and engaged employee hoping to elevate your status within your current company, you are confidentially looking to leave your current employer, or if you’re unemployed and seeking your next big career opportunity, the answer to this question will help you position yourself for growth. Even if you are confidentially seeking new employment but working, you can shape shift the answer to promote your current employer and as a byproduct, promote yourself. This will enable you to mitigate potential suspicions that your new LinkedIn updates are intended to help you leave. You would need however, to find a way to make your future aspirations fit within the future vision of your current employer.

If you are unemployed, you may need to resist the temptation to keep your options wide-open. I understand the logic of wanting to do so if you need an income, but in my 15 years of experience I know it will most likely prolong your search or, sometimes worse, lead you to land in the wrong position at a toxic company where you become stuck and feel hopeless. Good employers want to offer their employees growth opportunities. It is integral in their hiring process to find candidates who are clear about their short and long-term ambitions. These days especially, you don’t have to make a lifelong commitment. In fact, most likely in a few years you will reinvent yourself.  But, for now, demonstrate that you have clarity over how you want to apply your skills and talents, and that you have goals.

 

After you pared down your answers to about a paragraph each, or about 500 characters, leave yourself another 500 characters to create a call-to-action (use the formula within this article) and/or a list of skills that will help you keyword optimize your profile.

Visit this LinkedIn post to see how to include symbols, such as bullets, in your content.

If you use these questions to transform your LinkedIn summary into a compelling story that attracts new connections and opportunities, please share a link to your profile and your results in the comments below.

 

5 SMART Job Search Goals That Will Get You Landed

SMART by Pshegubj of Flickr

SMART by Pshegubj of Flickr

The act of setting goals is not what moves you toward the ultimate reward of landing the job, but people who set goals are 42% more likely to achieve them when they write them down. My students write SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, Time-bound) goals for their career as part of an assignment. When the goals are specifically focused on job search activities, they tend to drastically underestimate the activity needed to create actual momentum. I have created five SMART job search goals that I have found adequately enables clients and students alike to build momentum week after week. This allows them to generate multiple viable opportunities, create demand that increases their market value and self-worth, and makes them feel empowered to make a choice that is best for their career and life.

 

  1. Spend 80% of your job search activity proactively pursuing leads in target companies. Identify 10 new target companies each week through networking, LinkedIn, business journals, and professional organizations.
  1. Add 25 new LinkedIn contacts each week by searching LinkedIn’s suggested “People You May Know” and exploring various realms and communities with which you engage. Send 10 customized (straight from the contact’s profile) invitations every day, knowing that not all invitations will be accepted.
  1. Have one meal or coffee a day with a contact or friend, even if virtually. In each conversation and correspondence (including LinkedIn invitations) invite the person to reconnect or get better acquainted. Use this time to share personal or professional initiatives or challenges with which you can both use assistance and to introduce each other to people who can move you forward. Procure five new job leads each week this way.
  1. By asking “superconnectors” in your network, leaders in your industry and checking event sites like Meetup.com and Eventbrite.com, identify 10 worthwhile events, and commit to attending six each month that work with your schedule. Share these events with other people to add value to them, and to see if you can partner with someone who can make the other four events. Acquaint each other with the network contacts that would add the most value and network on each other’s behalf. Add new connections from 20 of your target companies and make 20 introductions for your networking partners each month.
  1. Stay at the top of your network connections’ minds and establish thought leadership by posting one thoughtful social media post daily. Follow active LinkedIn group discussions, share and comment on the relevant posts of Influencers, and try something a little more advanced each week, working your way up to Facebook Live videos or Periscope broadcasts, with the intention of increasing followers/fans by 10% each week.

 

Professor Gail Matthews at Dominican University also found that 70% of people who shared their goals achieved them while only 30% of those who kept their goals private had that much success.

So, if you really want to achieve your goals of landing a great job, write down these SMART goals, or create some other ones for yourself, and share them with someone who can help you stay accountable. Check out our toolkit, designed to help you track, measure, and improve your activities and your results every week.

 

If you do not want to achieve the goal of landing a job swiftly, consider that the job for which you are looking may not be the right one and get in touch with us so we can help you identify something that excites you more.

 

100 Things to Make You Smile When Life Doesn’t Look Like We Want It To

 

 

One Hundred by Mark Paz

One Hundred by Mark Paz

 

For my 100th LinkedIn post, I want to take a page from my daughter’s preschool and kindergarten classes. They use the hundredth day of school not only to celebrate a milestone I never even thought to celebrate, but to teach kids about the number 100. It is a pretty significant number, as numbers go.

I decided, inspired by the hundredth day of school (that we are now actually celebrating having come to an end), that I wanted to use my hundredth post to expand an exercise that my daughters and I have started to do to turn our attitude into gratitude. It is a way to quickly recover when our complaining turns into a negative tailspin. I’ll have them or they’ll have me make a list of things for which we are grateful. In regard to effectiveness, this makes us feel better 100% of the time.

I started this list with ten things that I feel could apply to anyone anywhere in the world at any given moment. However, I ask you to contribute comments with the things that you can always turn to make you feel grateful and happy, even when the world around you does not seem so happy. The exercise of doing so, I guarantee, will lift your spirits. You can also be certain that as others read your contributions, you will be raising the level of happiness in others.

Recommendation: the worse you feel the more items you add. Keep adding items until you feel better.

1. You can improve your health right now just by moving.

2. It does not rain every day everywhere.

3. The biggest, scariest creatures lived a long, long time ago.

4. Satellites make it easy to see anywhere in the world.

5. It is rare that the sky is not interesting to gaze upon.

6. Seeds represent infinite possibility.

7. When life was invented, I was invented to be a self-sustaining cycle of endings and new beginnings.

8. Each of us had a mom and a dad, whether we know them or not, they brought us into this world and made possible whatever we wanted to be possible.

9. We are one of the few animals that can laugh.

10. There is music… Sweet music.

 

2 Common Networking Mistakes and a Formula to Train Your Network to Be a Job Lead Generation Army

Networking by Greentech Media of Flickr

Networking by Greentech Media of Flickr

I seem to repeat this almost every day – you cannot be everything to everyone.

You can try, but you will eventually fall short in something. It becomes very difficult to maintain the persona of someone who is equally strong in a diverse range of competencies. Even if you land the job (and it may be appealing to smaller companies and start-ups, if that is your TRUE brand), it may not keep you employed when a company feels that your competencies have been misrepresented. It also may hurt future transitions if you have to explain why your former employer may not be a positive reference for you.

Branding is the opposite of being everything to everybody. An effective brand distinguishes an individual or a company as having unique qualities that appeal to a particular cross-section of the population or demographic based on their needs or wants, also known as a niche.  Companies can execute different branding strategies for different demographics. You might notice that a phone company will air a much different ad on Lifetime than it will on Spike. However, LinkedIn has been very strict about their users only having one profile. As a job seeker, you will actually prolong your job search if you diversify your brand to reach several different employer audiences.

For employers, there is greater risk in hiring people who present themselves as the perfect fit for all their needs. In this market, the candidate whose qualifications and motivations can be trusted will be able to compete more effectively for an open position, and their future performance can be more accurately assessed. In order to instill trust, be honest about what your strengths are and what skills you want to develop further. Prominently identify the qualities or skill sets that distinguish you as a top candidate without making assumptions about the caliber of talent the company already represents.

Many people recognize that networking is the number one transition activity that helps people get hired. However, even people that network fanatically may not be developing the volume of job leads that they would like. There are two major mistakes I see most people making in networking that prevent them from being able to leverage this activity to generate momentum.

 

Networking mistake #1

It may sound counterintuitive, but not being specific and concise enough for network contacts will actually narrow the number of leads that your network produces for you. Your contacts need to walk away from the conversation understanding how to recognize a good job lead.  The chances of your contacts coming across an open position for your job title is so much slimmer than them conversing with someone who has a problem you can solve.

 

Networking mistake #2

Asking for favors is not the way to inspire people to make powerful introductions for you. A call to action is much more likely to have a positive response when the individual being called upon to act has a clear understanding of the mutual benefits of an introduction. People want to connect you so that they can help both you and their network contacts.

 

Flip your networking script

Think of network branding as training your contacts to be lead developers for you. Do not use industry lingo if they are not savvy. Do not run down your whole employment history. Tell them what they will remember, such as why companies have hired you in the past and what problems you can solve for a company. Demonstrate the mutual benefit of connecting you to your network’s contacts.

I have seen many formulas for 30-second commercials, but Margaret Lynch’s “Captivate From The Start” formula is the most impactful, by far. Though it was designed for coaches, and was a product of training that SHE received as an EFT practitioner, she decided to pass it on to coaches in her tribe, and I must share the concept with you.

It starts with understanding the pain of your audience. People are motivated to take action primarily by two things: avoiding future pain and ending current pain, with the more dominant driving force being the latter. As a job seeker, you’ll want to think about why the position you want exists, or why it should (because it might not). What business needs does the position fulfill? When it is not filled, or when it is not filled by the right person, what pain results, and for whom? What are the costs of this job not being done well?

Let your network contacts know who would be impacted, and that is a sign to them as to whom an introduction would be beneficial. Tell them two or three things that your target would experience that would be a sign that they have needs you can fulfill, and then give them an idea of the results you can bring about for them.

For example:

I help business leaders and engineering teams who have difficulties launching on time because they are not agreeing on product specifications that understand each other and the customer needs, so that products are launched with minimal bugs, with as little time and budget as possible, and with the highest satisfaction ratings possible.

It seems like a mouthful, but would you be able to find a lead for this professional?

To turn this 30-second commercial into a 60-second commercial, think about why you are the right person to fill this position. What evidence do you have to present that proves that, among people with similar qualifications, you add something uniquely valuable that will make the resolution of the pain faster, greater, or more pleasant? What was one major problem you resolved for one major initiative that you were pivotal in making successful?

Once you get the lead and someone encourages you to contact a VIP in his or her network, follow up, even if the opportunity does not seem like it is a fit. Be forthcoming if that is the case, and always offer to be a resource to your network and the network they make available to you.

 

Train for long-term retention with something tactile

Of course, not everyone learns audibly, so it is wise to have something you can leave behind, whether it is a business card that has comparable information on it, or, even better, a one page networking profile. These are becoming more standard for executive networking groups, and yet I find them to be not much more interesting than a résumé for the average reader.

People crave speedy, visual information. Not only do infographics make information easier to understand, and more fun to read and share, but they make it more memorable. If you really want to wow your contacts, give them something they will be excited to show their contacts and engage us to create your one page networking infographic.

 

Words are the most powerful force we have as a species. By changing what you say in your networking conversations, you will multiply the number of opportunities that people send your way. Furthermore, these opportunities may not look exactly like job openings that thousands of other people are vying to fill. They will most likely more often look like people who need you and are eager to find out how you can ease their pain. In turn, your pain will be relieved. Interviewing will be more productive and more fun, and will more likely result in a job offer.  The job offers you receive are more likely to be for positions that fully utilize your talents and experience. Because you will have the leverage of having a solution to an immediate need, negotiating will be that much easier and more successful. Use this formula to lubricate the tracks to success and accelerate toward a successful job landing.

 

Does Your Company Play Offense or Defense with their LinkedIn Policies?

The-best-defense-is-a

Last night during Super Bowl 50, there was a two-point conversion which put the Broncos two touchdowns ahead of the Panthers. My father at first did not understand why they would risk not getting the extra point, but it paid off. The Broncos got the two-point conversion and kept their two touchdown lead. They did not need that lead in the end to win, but knowing what a fierce team the Panthers have been all season, going for the extra point was their best shot at insuring the win.

Is your company playing offense or defense when it comes to their LinkedIn policy?

Do you think your company is spending too much time and resources trolling the LinkedIn profiles of employees? Does your boss check his or her alerts whenever an employee is active on the service?

Do you know anyone who was fired from their job for using LinkedIn? If an employer were to be suspicious, either justifiably or not, what do you think of someone being fired as a result?

There are risks and rewards for the employees who use LinkedIn to job hunt while they are still employed. For example, someone actively looking while still employed may pose a data risk to their employer. However, we cannot assume just because someone is looking for a new job that they would be immoral or unethical. (Of course, job searching while on the job is a big no-no.) What if more employers adopted a comprehensive and offensive approach to LinkedIn to engage and ultimately retain employees?

 

Defensive LinkedIn policies inhibit employee growth

Many employees may imagine their employers are regularly checking their LinkedIn profiles to make sure they are not getting ready to leave. There are two reasons why a company might routinely check the LinkedIn profiles of employees. This is to either fire them first (if job search activity is found), or to convince them to stay. Restrictive LinkedIn policies are defensive. If LinkedIn policies are too restrictive and intrusive, the company demonstrates a lack of trust and respect for the employee, which may cause an employee to seek a new job. Restrictive policies may inhibit an employee’s ability to generate leads, partners, vendors, and to recruit.

Defensive LinkedIn policies also damage employment brands and recruitment efforts

Restrictive LinkedIn policies also have an effect on potential employees. Let us examine a scenario. A job seeker sees a job opening and wants to know more about the company because they care about where they work. They know they have options and are a highly valuable employee. They research the company’s LinkedIn page and evaluate the employee profiles. The savvy job seeker and wants to know how they are connected, but the employee profiles leave everything to be desired. Many employee profiles have minimal content. The employees strike the job seeker as dull and uninterested. They did not even take a moment to write a few words about themselves, or perhaps they are hiding something. It is as if the profiles are under lock down. The job seeker is unimpressed and says “No thanks! Next!” If companies are not strategically using LinkedIn to promote their employment brand, they are failing to attract savvy employees, and perhaps even potential customers.

 

Playing offense on LinkedIn engages employees

By playing offense and being proactive, a company keeps their employees engaged professionally through LinkedIn instead of having to fear if the next update could land them in trouble.  Kevin Wheeler, a consultant and public speaker, has listed the ways a company can play offense to engage and retain their employees. Some key aspects are to excite employees, and to give them a sense of freedom and opportunity.

One of the biggest reasons employees seek opportunities elsewhere is because they cannot easily grow or find promotion within their own companies. Career development or opportunities to move up within a company are appealing.  Advancement is not always tied to a higher salary, and employees (especially younger employees), seek to grow and develop their skills. If they feel stagnant they may seek growth elsewhere.

Companies that reward their employees with recognition create good will and loyalty. This is especially true for millennial workers who crave frequent feedback on their contributions.

Employers who care about employees by offering growth opportunity and ample recognition can extend that good will to their LinkedIn policies. These policies encourage employees to use LinkedIn to the fullest to promote themselves, share their knowledge and to promote the company.

These LinkedIn policies include encouraging employees to optimize and brand their profiles. We have been hired by companies to write powerfully-branded profiles for their customer facing front line and executive teams with great results. Powerful employee profiles mention work accomplishments in status updates, publish industry-related articles and company content, connect to a company page and group, endorse and network with co-workers, and expand their network to include customers, prospects, and partners. A proactive approach also engages employees by forming policies around using work hours to connect with others, and even having a marketing team or third-party like us create promotional content that can be disseminated on employees’ status updates. A company can better utilize the complete workforce to share news and job openings. Companies like Seer Interactive and Accolade consider every employee as a part of their recruiting effort.

 

A comprehensive and offensive LinkedIn policy can play a huge role in employee engagement. Remember the scenario I talked about earlier? Now imagine a job seeker comes across a company’s LinkedIn page. Instead of lackluster profiles with minimal content, that job seeker sees powerfully-branded profiles, frequent status updates about their job and industry, and well-connected employees. These employees are happy to talk about their employer and the company seems like a great place to work. They are interested and reach out to make a connection. Now this employee can have a conversation with a candidate that can easily serve as a first interview. This is what LinkedIn can offer the companies who are willing to play offense to engage and retain their employees, rather than play defense to troll them, fearful that they may jump ship. Which LinkedIn policy appeals to you?

 

Tips to Confidentially Update LinkedIn When You are in Transition and are Still Employed

LinkedIn Logo by Shekhar Sahu of Flickr

Many employees fear that their boss is watching their every move on social media and are afraid to update their LinkedIn profiles. Other employees update their profiles and openly express an interest in new career opportunities while they are employed. The first group of employees are limiting their ability to promote themselves. The second group risks being fired by their employer. Depending on your employer’s social media policies, a LinkedIn update can land you in trouble. John Flexman was an executive at a gas exploration firm based in England. He uploaded his CV to LinkedIn and checked the box indicating an interest in “career opportunities.” His company accused him of inappropriate social media use and ordered him to remove his CV. Flexman thought this was unreasonable and resigned. Flexman’s situation is not common in the United States because employers do not own your LinkedIn profile as they do in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, there are cases where employers have monitored their employees’ use of LinkedIn. It is possible to confidentially use LinkedIn during your job search while you are still employed.

 

Promoting yourself on LinkedIn IS part of the job search

A complete and branded LinkedIn profile is the best way to connect with others, stay relevant, and expand your network. However, many people are afraid to update their LinkedIn profile because they fear their employer will become suspicious of their activities. This robs a person of the opportunity to truly optimize their profile in a way that will generate more qualified leads, better opportunities, and will put their career on autopilot. Many of my clients have received offers for promotions within their companies because they have effectively articulated their value. They promote their value as an employee while promoting their company.

Content is your greatest asset on LinkedIn! Do not be afraid to post industry-relevant content and to share your knowledge in groups. Balance the content you share in order to promote yourself and your company. Share the stories where you saved the day, but also use your status updates to express gratitude for being surrounded by and supported by a great team or leadership. Your next boss would love to picture him or herself on the receiving end of such praise. Keep your praise authentic and make sure other people would be able to validate what you say as truth. Use status updates to simultaneously promote yourself, your colleagues, and your employer. Update your status by writing about problems you solved, your nuggets of practical wisdom, and giving colleagues the credit for a great performance.

 

Keep your direct job search activities hidden

When you use LinkedIn to job search and you are employed, do not openly announce your job search-related activities. This means not mentioning you are looking for a new employer in your status updates and in groups. While it is better to find a job while you are still employed, we know from our results that with a powerful and effective brand campaign and system you can viably land a new job within 10 to 12 weeks.

Although it is possible to turn off all broadcasts of your LinkedIn activity, these decisions are often made from fear and limit your success. The questionable activity to your employer comes from adding connections from the competition. If your profile is locked down to the point where almost nothing is visible, your employer may become suspicious. You also miss the opportunity to network or to be found by potential employers who are actively looking for someone with your skills, and perhaps even your network.

Adding connections from your company’s competition may raise red flags with your employer. In this type of scenario you do want to practice discretion, especially if you plan to transition to a competitor. If you are connecting with the competition, view the profiles of others anonymously by changing what others see when you have viewed their profile. Temporarily turn off broadcast activities when you follow companies for whom you want to work. This action is temporary because you do not want to alert your current employer to a direct job search activity. Otherwise, keep notifications on when you engage in your regular LinkedIn activity to raise your visibility on the network.

Joining job search groups will alert others to your intent to find a new employer while you are still employed. Avert this by not allowing anyone to see you belong to job search groups and make sure these groups are not visible on your profile by changing the order they are displayed. Also, temporarily turn off notifications for groups whenever you join a job search group. This allows you to freely join groups without notifying your network.

If you are using a company e-mail address on LinkedIn, switch to a private e-mail address immediately. Leaving your employer means that you will lose access to your e-mail, and as a result your LinkedIn account. In fact, I recommend this action even if you do not have plans to leave your company. Anything could happen!

 

Imagine a few scenarios:

  1. A job seeker keeps his or her job search activity completely under wraps on LinkedIn.
  • They check out and follow competing companies.
  • Their profile and all LinkedIn activities are completely hidden.
  • Their confidential job search will not alert their current employer, but they are invisible to potential employers.

 

  1. A job seeker updates his or her profile to promote themselves and their company.
  • They are actively looking for work and are employed, but they do not mention direct job search activities.
  • They are not afraid to highlight their accomplishments.
  • Their profile is a beacon to potential employers and it is not long before they begin to receive interview requests and even job offers.

 

Which scenario would you choose? You do not want to scream to the world that you are actively searching for work while you are currently employed. Carefully updating your LinkedIn profile will make your transition quicker and pain-free.

 

60 Minutes to a LinkedIn Profile That Gets You Interviews

Passe partout by Wies Van Erp of Flickr

Passe partout by Wies Van Erp of Flickr

You are ready to land your next job, you know what you want from your next employer, and your résumé is polished to a shine. Before you venture out, or continue your great job seeking adventure, take a moment to review your LinkedIn profile. Are you getting the results you want? Do you receive messages from recruiters, and introductions to VIPs? Or has you inbox been quiet?  By now, I am assuming you know the importance of having a LinkedIn profile if you are job-seeking.

According to the 2014 Jobvite survey, over 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn when searching for job candidates. In part of an interview for my Philadelphia Magazine article, Jennifer Ghazzouli, QVC Director of Global Talent revealed that her hiring staff heavily relies on LinkedIn to discover talent. Given the heavy emphasis on LinkedIn by hiring managers, a powerfully-branded profile puts a wide gap between you and your competitors for jobs. Evaluate your LinkedIn profile again. If you have not been seeing the great results you want in your job search, it may be time to overhaul your profile.

In her Muse article, “How to Get Your LinkedIn Profile Ready for Your Job Search in 30 Minutes” Jenny Foss created a fantastic LinkedIn profile creation guide. Having your profile up and running is a great first step. However, if you want recruiters to call you first and excitedly invite you to an interview, then take another 30 minutes to further customize your content for your target audience.

Here is how to get your LinkedIn profile up and running and ready to attract employers. (A quick note: If you need further help with creating your LinkedIn profile, we have the tools to help. Our LinkedIn Profile Builder will guide you through creating a powerfully-branded profile that enables you to land twice as fast.)

 

Change your headline

The LinkedIn headline is automatically created when you enter your job title.  A customized headline grabs the attention of employers, recruiters, and anyone else who views your profile. An effective headline depicts the function, or role of your job, instead of the title. A job title is the name of position, while a function explains your daily tasks and activities for a position. A great headline helps employers see how you will fit into their company. In my article, “Increase Views: Ditch the Default LinkedIn Headline” I go into depth on how to create an attention-grabbing headline.

 

Use the summary section to shine

Far too many people use LinkedIn’s summary section to create a carbon copy of their résumé, when it is so much more. An effective summary tells the audience your story and is an opportunity to brand yourself. You have 2000 characters to illustrate your professional life and to sell your value to potential employers. A good headline hooks an employer, but your summary is what reels them in. The summary is also an area where keywords are listed to attract employers. Employers and recruiters often use keywords to search for talent. By including keywords relevant to your industry, it makes you easier to be found. That said, it is possible to use keywords incorrectly.

Also avoid using clichés in your summary, as these words are uninteresting and overused. Are any of these 10 words found within your summary? These words are so common that they mean very little to recruiters who read them day in and day out. Anyone can list them, but those who can prove they have these qualities are the ones who obtain the interview, or land the job. Any time you find yourself wanting to write one of these words, or any subjective adjective, ask yourself, “How would I prove this, and how do these words translate into value for an employer?” Instead, use more specifics and demonstrate them, rather than stating qualities.

 

Update your skills

Skills are a list of your talents and your hard skills. LinkedIn allows you to list 50 skills. Employers can view them at a glance to see how your qualifications match up with an open position. Additionally, skills are also another way to list keywords and to increase your chances of being found by an employer. Place the skills most vital to your position at the top of the list. Once you have your vital skills listed first, politely ask your connections to endorse your skills. Remember to also do the same for them.

 

Fill in the small details

The visual aspects of your LinkedIn profile have a big impact on how you are perceived by employers. Did you upload a photo? The lack of a photo is a turn off because employers or recruiters may ask “what are they hiding?” This is especially true for recruiters who want to submit candidates who present themselves professionally to hiring managers. Display your professional image. If you are self-conscious about your appearance for your age, invest in a photo shoot with a professional photographer and a make-up artist who will bring out your best features. If you are on a budget, you can still find a friend willing to donate their time and talent. Man or woman, you can visit make-up counters at department stores. The perception is that if you do not put your best foot forward online, you cannot put your best foot forward at an interview, or on the job.

LinkedIn is a professional social network, so use a professional photo. About Careers has great tips on how to take and choose a professional photo. A few things to keep in mind are that backgrounds should not be distracting. Your wardrobe needs to be business formal, not wedding formal. Lighting is complimentary, not halogen office lighting, or lamp lighting from a party scene. Do not include alcohol, unless you work in the beverage industry.

Also consider adding multimedia to your summary to further stand out from your competition, and to give your accomplishments some visual flair. In addition to talking about your accomplishments, you can provide your audience with specific examples. Such examples could include a picture of yourself in action on the job, slide decks of presentations you have given, video, audio, and your portfolio.

Take a minute to customize your URL. A custom URL is easy to remember and makes it easier to publicize your profile. Update your status once or twice a day with articles relevant to your industry. This shows employers you take a keen interest in your industry and that you are willing to share news and information. Go a step further and list your personal website or blog (unless they are irrelevant to your industry). Also make sure to add all social media profiles (that are of a professional caliber) to your contact information.

 

Action to take after customizing your profile

Once your LinkedIn profile is complete, consider participating in a few activities while using the service. The Social Media Hat contributor Mike Allton has created an extensive free resource that covers the features, benefits, and activities that make a huge difference in your visibility and lead generation on LinkedIn. Also try our 7 Day LinkedIn challenge. Our challenge is a way to identify and research potential employers, to make new connections, and to expand and strengthen your network.

 

Creating and maintaining a powerfully-branded LinkedIn profile increases the chances of landing your next job faster. LinkedIn is the go-to source for the majority of recruiters and employers. Having a profile that illustrates your brand and demonstrates your value allows you to stand out from the job-seeking crowd. If you have started your job search or are in the middle of a job search, updating and polishing your LinkedIn profile is the best way to give your search a boost.

 

Is Your Résumé Outdated?

Resume - Glasses by Flazingo Photos of Flickr

Resume – Glasses by Flazingo Photos of Flickr

Has it been more than five years since you searched for a job? Do you remember the last time you looked at your résumé? Do you still believe in the use of an objective? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it is time to update your résumé. Most people believe that adding a few bullet points about what they have done in the past five years is adequate. They make these small changes and start submitting their résumé. One major reason people hate going near their résumés is because it forces them to remember what they’ve done professionally over the past few years. It is a fact that the more time that passes, the harder it is to recall everything, unless you have kept track of your accomplishments somewhere.

The longer a résumé has not been reviewed, the more painful or frustrating it can be to update. Here is a more timely focus to consider- as the New Year approaches, assess your employment goals and take some time to be intentional about your career direction. Update your résumé based on where you want to be in the future as a reference for what to include about the past. Be conscientious about your BRAND. This is critical- we are not just taking about a few résumé updates, but reinventing your brand to fit your future goals.

If you have not been actively searching for a job in the last few years, the process of revising your résumé can be intimidating. Even if you are not actively searching for work, NOW is still the time to update your résumé. You may not need a job today, but your employment circumstances could change in an instant. Keeping an updated résumé is useful because an opportunity could present itself at any moment. You could meet your next boss ANYWHERE. A quality résumé branding and writing process takes five days for a first draft, and a comprehensive review process can take another three days. If a position is open, and you are given the opportunity to be the first in, be ready to strike! If 70% of the workforce is disengaged from their job, and you are one of them, this advice can help YOU.

 

What you need to know about the evolution of résumés

Résumés have evolved over the years. For decades the evolution has been slow, but in the last five-to-ten years there have been dramatic shifts in what résumés are and what employers expect from them. Mashable has tracked résumé standards throughout five hundred years of history. Here is what you need to know from the last three decades:

  • In the 1980s it was acceptable to include a fax number with a résumé because of the popularity of fax machines. It was during this time that formats with 1”+ margins, sub-headers in the left margin, and content indented to the right became popularized.
  • In the 1990s email became a popular way to send résumés. Still, résumés kept the formatting that became popularized in the 80s.
  • In the 2000s interactive résumés were popularized. By the end of the decade large margins were out, and the use of white space gave résumés a less cluttered appearance. Objectives were replaced by professional headlines and summaries, branding allowed job seekers to demonstrate their value to employers, and keywords made it easier for résumés to be found in applicant tracking systems and online databases used by employers.
  • 2010 to now- Résumés can be shorter, but it depends on the field. For years the myth that résumés had to be one page was prevalent. Actually, two-to-three pages are the standard for senior professionals and executives, and some fields require even more extensive documentation. Résumés now contain social media links and a LinkedIn profile can serve as a good companion.

 

What modern résumés require

Résumés must now be tailored to a particular job and company. The days where a general résumé would suffice are gone.  Thanks to the LinkedIn and the prominence of personal branding, you can no longer be everything to everyone. You can be dynamic, and wear many hats, but you also have to know which employers want that and to state what resonates with them. Then you have to make sure they can visualize how you will fit into their company and avoid applying to targets that do not fit. This next part takes people into a conversation I have most frequently with people who have searched for a long time. They have been advised and decided that they MUST make themselves as “employable” as possible. This often means applying to multiple positions in the hope of being seen as flexible. However, as I state in my article, “More résumés ≠ better results” taking this approach means that the job they really want will escape them. Instead of coming off as employable, you strike a potential employer as desperate. Tailor your résumé instead.

Crafting a tailored résumé requires you to put on a marketing hat and to research your targets. This means finding out what a company wants and needs for a position. If you do not believe us (per above), ask an employer if they want someone who is willing to take anything, or if they would rather hire the person who can clearly articulate where they want to add value and demonstrate how they add that value.

 

Why your old résumé needs updating

Chances are if you have not taken a look at your résumé in several years the format is dated. Most hiring managers only spend an average of seven seconds looking at a résumé. If your résumé is difficult to skim, it increases the chances of an employer passing over your résumé in favor of a candidate with an easier to read résumé. Just imagine if this article had huge indentations, and was poorly aligned. You probably would not make it halfway through before you stopped reading. The same can be said about your résumé.

Poor spacing between lines, extra indentations, and typefaces that are not compatible with both Mac and PC make for difficult-to-read résumés. The most impactful changes you can make are to remove all of your indentations so the document aligns perfectly, and to decrease your margin size. LifeClever has an excellent visual tutorial.

The content matters just as much as the format. Résumés filled with clichés such as “hard working,” “team player,” “proven track record,” or “motivated” are so overused that they have become meaningless buzz words to most potential employers. Employers want to SEE these qualities in their candidates. Instead of telling a hiring manager that you have these qualities, demonstrate them. State HOW these particular qualities have manifested value throughout your career. Think of your achievements and how your particular attributes have helped you accomplish those achievements. Expand on those specific attributes in the experience section of your résumé.

Specific attributes also form the foundation of your personal brand. In fact, your personal brand is the foundation upon which the powerful content of your résumé is built. Branding allows you to better market yourself and to stand out from the competition. A brand communicates who you are and the value you bring to an employer. A brand also allows you to demonstrate to an employer what you offer above and beyond the qualifications listed on a position, how you are a good fit for the company, and the numerous ways you have made significant contributions to previous employers. To create and infuse your brand throughout your résumé consider your talents, your skills, your most valuable personal attributes, your passion, and what makes you stand out from other potential candidates.

Many résumés are read online. Keeping that in mind, it is important to use keywords in order to ensure your résumé is found by potential employers, but they must be used in context. Keywords are a series of words related to your skills, your experience, and the position you are seeking that employers use to find your résumé among other applicants. Some résumés without keywords are never even seen. While these words are literally the key to being seen by potential employers, using too many keywords can raise red flags and cause an employer to reject your résumé. Use these words with care.

 

Updating your résumé

If you have decided your résumé is in need of an update, we can help. Check out our video series “Scrap your résumé if it has these 10 things,” to guide you in the revision of your résumé. We also offer branded résumé writing services, including semi-branded low-budget options. If you want to update your résumé yourself, we have a DIY Résumé Summary Builder (it requires Microsoft Word 2010 or newer). To be ready for an opportunity at any time, tailor your résumé for your next ideal position, and update it at least every year, if not twice a year. Keep that file of achievements handy.

 

The purpose of your résumé is to entice employers to invite you for an interview. An old résumé may garner some responses from employers, but the response will be much higher with a résumé that is current with the times. The task of updating a résumé can be daunting, especially now that you know what is required of an effective résumé, but the more often you go through the process, the faster it goes. After all, having a powerful résumé will pay dividends when you are able to shoot it right over to your next boss that same day, and you are quickly invited to interview. Have the peace of mind knowing that your résumé is ready to go at any time, even if you are not actively searching for work. Consider it a critical component for your self-generated job security.