Welcome back! In part one of this series we started talking about how to use LinkedIn effectively. At the risk of droning on and on, we cut it short, and here we begin again with Part Two.
It’s highly likely that the position that you’re currently in isn’t your life’s ambition. Life is a journey, and everyone is in progress. Even if you’re not in the industry you desire, it can happen. Now it’s time to set yourself up for success with a solid LinkedIn profile.
Tip #6 – Your headline is customizable. Changing it can be a great eye catching tool in the right industries.
For example: “Assistant Marketing Coordinator at ABC Company” sounds a whole lot less personable than “Innovative Strategist | B2B Marketer | Travel Junkie.”
Do keep in mind that this type of personalization only works in certain industries. If you’re in technology, the startup world, entrepreneurial positions, absolutely. Finance… maybe give it some thought and see what others in similar positions to you have implemented.
Your Work History
Arguably, the most important part of your profile is a detailed work history. I recommend that you fill out your work history to the best of your ability. The more information that included in an organized way makes your profile shine. By organized, I mean consistent.
Tip #7 – Consistent formatting is key. Triple check!
There are so many different, yet correct, ways that you can approach displaying your content. The key is to keep that approach consistent throughout your various positions. Dashes for a bulleted list? Paragraph form? All are viable ways, but utilize one and stick to it. This goes for capitalization and point of view, too.
The key in your experience section is to show your professional experience in a positive way, illustrating your passion and or pride in your work without stepping over the line into boasting.
A good way to show that you absolutely rocked that position is to include detailed statistics. If you’re in sales – what was your sales closing on average as compared to your competition? If you’re in recruiting – how many folks did you place in their perfect role? Maybe you replaced someone who struggled at a certain portion of the job. How did your performance compare to the previous norm? (Not naming names of course!)
Tip #8 – If quantifiable, include statistics that show how efficient/successful/knowledgable you are.
Don’t forget to put them in layman’s terms so that anyone can understand. Keep the statistics informative, but don’t overload them and include 15 different comparisons.
An Example Work History
Your LinkedIn work history is a different medium than the one-line explanation of job duties listed on your resume. Here you’re able to provide more detail to fully illustrate your impact on the role. Let me give you an example.
Recently I was evaluating a LinkedIn profile for feedback. I have changed the details provided to protect his anonymity, but here was the general description for a role that was more than two years in duration:
Managed budgets, faculty and staff across three educational facilities, remotely and on-site
Recruited, trained, and evaluated employees
Ensured compliance with corporate regulations
Supported and oversaw all departments to meet client needs and improve placement, retention, and success rates
Perfect for a resume – concise, to the point, and informative. However, this is a passionate professional who made an impact on the organization’s total success. I don’t see that impact, that passion, anywhere in the description. It left me with a lot of ideas for how it could be improved.
For example: “Recruited, trained, and evaluated faculty members.” A faculty of what size? At what interval did he evaluate current members? What personality traits did he specifically look for in hires? Why does hiring the right person make a difference in this setting? What was the ratio of folks hired versus interviewed and rejected?
Another example: “Managed academic budgets, faculty and staff across three campuses, remotely and on-site.” That is a plethora of things to include in one bullet point. Budgets alone… what did you personally champion to ensure that funding was received? (For example, if you promoted funding for technology, or a language.) This is where I would want to see how he made a personal impact on the role responsibilities.
Compare that last description with the following:
Personally managed the success of three educational facilities by ensuring that all programs, faculty, and staff had the tools to provide a stellar educational environment to all enrolled students.
Supported and oversaw all academic and administrative departments in an effort to improve placement, retention, and success rates of students. I worked with each department to set and meet realistic goals to ensure that all was being done to help students graduate.
Managed the budget for the entire education system with a focus on “smart spending” – investing in technology tools that keep students ahead, an environment that fosters intellectual growth, and quality educators passionate about imparting knowledge.
Recruited, trained, and evaluated all employees of this educational system. In my last year in the position, employee attrition was down 15% as compared with the calendar year prior to my arrival.
Much more informative, passionate, and engaging. Again, there are a plethora of ways to structure the content. But that’s a good starting point.
Tip #9 – Link each position to the official LinkedIn company page so the logo shows up and you are considered officially affiliated with that company.
If it was a small company, or even one where it you just you as the sole proprietor, you can create a company page easily! If it is a large company, linking your profile to that reputable organization only strengthens it. Everyone has biases about certain companies, and you can use that to your advantage. (Internal dialogue: “Woowee – Joe worked at Cerner for 10 years. Cerner sure expects a lot of output from its folks if they’re going to stay around, and they work a ton of hours. No doubt Joe has a solid work ethic!”)
In the case of recruiters, many are looking for domain industry experience. For example, if a recruiter is looking for a software developer with telecommunications experience in Kansas City, it’s a likely bet that they will include (in their targeted search parameters) past employees of Sprint. Link these things!
Tip #10 – For the love of God, if there is a gap in your resume history, do not put a new company entry by the name of “unemployed…” ever!
I have seen an unemployed span of time handled incorrectly so many times, especially for long stretches of time. Remember, you want to put a positive spin on every part of your LinkedIn profile. Just reading the word “unemployed” evokes a negative knee-jerk – even if there was a truly legitimate reason behind that period of not working!
There are plenty of alternatives:
- Leave that time blank. Sometimes folks won’t look that closely if it’s in the middle of the experience span, and especially if it’s surrounded by great roles.
- Omit the months of employment and only include years in timespans (i.e. 2014-2015 instead of June 2014 – January 2015).
- Create a new job entry to show what you spent your time on in that span (i.e. volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about, traveling the world, taking courses at JCCC, raising children, etc.
Tip #11 – Don’t forget that ‘what’s in the past,’ stays in the past! (And not just your crazy college days.) Not currently working in that role you’re describing? It needs to be past tense. Currently in a role? You’re in it – use present tense!
I received a great question about how to structure a long-term position that included multiple roles:
I was in the military for over 9 years and worked my way up, getting out as a Staff Sergeant. Do I list each rank that I earned under separate roles, or include all of my roles under just one position?
Of course, there is no 100% right way to do this. But I have advice for you based on how you answer the following question: do you have short and/or sporadic lengths of employment displayed anywhere else on your profile?
Answer: I have some sporadic or a period of short-term employment elsewhere on my profile.
In that case, include your entire military career under one single role so that the period of time is spent in one position for just one employer. In that one role, include each position in chronological order with date ranges for each position. The reason behind this is that you want to illustrate your dedication to one employer for an extended period of time, that you’re not a “job hopper” so to speak. For the position title, you’ll put your last position in that role, the highest you climbed. Then in the description area, you can explain the multiple roles and progression that prepared you for the highest achieved.
Answer: I have no short-term nor sporadic roles elsewhere on my profile.
Awesome! Then you’ll want to separate each definitive rank into chronological time periods. You have established on other parts of your profile that you have the ability to stay with an employer for a long period of time, so you don’t have to reaffirm that fact. Use the extra real estate to really explain each role – what made it different, what you excelled at, deployments, etc.
Tip #12 – Explain any industry jargon so that a layperson would have the ability to comprehend it.
Maybe you’re in a specialized field in which that everyone around you understands your acronym soup – still, explain it! Who knows, your dream job could be in a totally different industry that you aren’t familiar with just yet, and by breaking it down, someone can understand your previous experience to apply it to a new industry they’re recruiting you for.
Acronyms are all over the place from the military to STEM roles (the sciences, computer programming, medical fields, etc), and marketing to human resources. But once you get out of those industries, there aren’t many folks who can tell you what the difference is between OOP and SPA (programming), MOS, ETS, and ACU (United States Army), ACU and AYA (medical) CPC, CPM, and CRM (marketing).
Plus did you notice in the two different fields, there was the same acronym for two completely different things? There’s a big difference between the Army Combat Uniform and an Ambulance Care Unit. You need to explain exactly what you’re talking about, alleviating any potential confusion. All else fails, say both: “Single-page Application (SPA).”
Well, it seems like I’m getting pretty wordy again. Stay tuned for Part Three with all kinds of LinkedIn goodies like tips for the Skills and Recommendation sections of your profile.