Is one of your goals this year to find a new job?
Statistically, now is the time to do it. Career Sidekick says that January and February are the best months to job hunt. Company goals are set, budgets are updated, and decision makers are in the office.
Over the past couple months, some clients and friends have asked for my help with their LinkedIn profiles and resumés (or CVs, as they’re called everywhere except America). They want to make a career shift, and they know that now’s the time to do it.
Even if you’re content where you are, you should still take note. The perception that one only spruces up her profile and resumé when she’s looking for a new job is a bit outdated. And not for nothing, but an overhaul done well can take weeks, if not months. Say a recruiter calls you tomorrow with the opportunity of a lifetime. He’ll want your resume. Do you want to slap something together tonight, or put your most well-thought-out foot forward?
Over the next three weeks, I’ll summarize the best advice I’ve received, to create a lasting impression through your LinkedIn profile, resumé, and interview.
Let’s begin with LinkedIn because these days, an online presence is often your presence. Period.
Before you dive into all those fantastic accomplishments, start with your summary.
To compose your summary, articulate:
- What’s my objective?
- Who do I (really) want reading this?
- What impression of me do I want to leave with them?
You have to be honest. Seriously honest (with yourself, if no one else). One friend recently told me, “I want to make my profile more me.” Luckily, this is a close friend, so I called B.S. After some friendly but difficult provocation from yours truly, we got to what she really wanted: a promotion.
Of course, I do not suggest that if you want to leave your job, you declare on this public forum, “I’m seeking a job.” However, there’s nothing wrong with heavily alluding to your ambitions and supporting evidence of why people should see you in “x” position, when today you’re in “y” position. After all, if you’re a good communicator, you’ve already expressed this to the right colleagues, sponsors, and your boss; no one should be surprised.
I once heard this prompt and think it’s a great litmus test to know if someone’s summary is on point: after reading your profile, the reader should be able to concisely describe you by “_______ is someone who _______.”
The summary is key. That is the “topic sentence” if you will, from which all your individual points should flow.
Edit your experience to that which is supporting evidence for your summary. And use bullet points.
Do not copy and paste your resumé. Do not use industry jargon. Do not pass go (just kidding).
Recruiters, colleagues, and LinkedIn browsers will not read every word written, but they’ll also glaze over if your points are so general that you blend in with other candidates. When someone does take time to read your full profile, they are not reading it to internalize all of your individual accomplishments. They are reading it to take away an impression of your personal brand.
And the following is a critique I received last year. It’s a small thing that takes a tiny bit of extra effort, but I think it’s worth it: use bullet points. Last I checked, you can’t create them in LinkedIn, so I write up my bulleted list in Word, then copy/paste into the site. It makes the readability better, which means that you’re making life easier for the person you want reading your profile.
Get a professional headshot.
Again, it’s simple but takes extra resources. According to Inc., LinkedIn profiles with photos receive 21x more views and 36x more messages than those without! At this point most people do have a photo. So, your extra credit assignment is: get a professional headshot, which will get you 14x more views than a non-professional photo.
Personally, I recently went all out and had a personal branding session with Christy Shaterian Photography in Nashville (and she travels to other cities, folks!). If you want to read about the experience and see a sampling of her magic, check out this profile of our shoot. Both for LinkedIn and in a broader sense, this was hands-down the best investment I’ve made in my business so far.
Like I said, on this step I went to the extreme, but getting a professional headshot is accessible these days, if you’re not yet able to invest in a full-out branding session.
Although I understand that there are LinkedIn skeptics still out there, I thought I’d mention: after I followed these three steps (thank you for the coaching, HEC!), I was recruited for two high-value jobs that were perfect opportunities to move into the digital transformation of insurance, as I had positioned myself online at the time. Ultimately, I acknowledged my own bigger picture and realized that this track wasn’t my end game, but my point is: the techniques work!
If I can do anything to help you, please let me know. I partner with Career Contessa to give one-on-one feedback on your LinkedIn profiles and resumes. Since I appreciate your readership, I’d be happy to offer you 20% off if you’d like to book a session. Use code q0iv8JuIMQ6aft4wzv8l for your discount.
Photo from Career Contessa