Building a strong online presence is a major component of contemporary career management and can make or break your job search success, too. LinkedIn remains at the heart of that online presence for many, if not most, professionals, with over 500 million global users.
In spite of this popularity, a quick LinkedIn search reveals that many users only go so far as to create an account and add the skeleton resume that includes position titles, company names, locations, and dates.
Those that go beyond this tend to include very stiff, dense, corporate-speak content that sounds more robotic than conversational. Finally, many people simply copy and paste their resume content into the appropriate section of LinkedIn and don’t really consider the differences between a resume and a LinkedIn profile across audience, platform, and overall objectives. If you are nodding your head yes to any of the above categories, it is probably time to revamp your profile.
Why is LinkedIn Important for Job Search?
1.) Potential employers will compare your resume to your LinkedIn profile side by side and look for any disconnect.
2.) Recruiters and potential employers are always looking for promising candidates through LinkedIn, so your profile needs to stand alone without your resume— and stand out.
Tip #1: Align Your LinkedIn Profile with Your Resume
Everything that is included on your LinkedIn profile needs to dovetail with your resume, particularly facts, figures, position titles, company names, and dates. A small mistake on your end might look highly suspicious to an employer who doesn’t know you and has no reason to give you the benefit of a doubt.
Once you have these details nailed down, you can use LinkedIn to provide additional insight into your personal brand.
Tip #2: Keep the Summary Content Narrative and Conversational
There is nothing engaging about the dense corporate-speak content we can find on any number of LinkedIn profiles today. Keep in mind that if you want a recruiter or employer to read your entire profile, it is important to make it compelling!
If your summary reads like this:
“Finance professional with expertise in P&L Management and track record of revenue growth and sound strategic planning for both short- and long-term business goals.”
Consider replacing it with something like this:
“My life-long love of math coupled with my passion for business development makes me an exceptional finance leader. I am capable of understanding both the numbers on the spreadsheet and the big picture business goals in order to drive revenue growth through strategic planning and sound P&L management.”
These two statements are basically conveying the same information and keywords, but my eyes glaze over halfway through the first sentence. Why? Because it does not speak to the person’s emotion or story. When writing your summary, think about your goals, values, passions, strengths, skills, and aspirations. These are the ingredients for a compelling personal brand.
Tip #3: Open Your Summary as if You Are Answering a Question
The best summaries dive right into a specific story that hooks the reader. The following opening lines all have one thing in common: they are all setting up a story, and that is why I want to keep reading!
“Ever since my first summer job at McDonald’s, I’ve been told that I have a rare talent for training new associates.”
“Little did I know that when I signed up for an Geography class back in high school, that it would ultimately lead to a 20-year career with the largest construction and civil engineering company in the US.”
“Even though I was promoted 5 times within 5 years at GW Hospital, things haven’t always been easy.”
Questions to ask yourself to help evoke unforgettable summary content:
1.) How did you first get into your current line of work?
2.) When did you first realize you were a natural for your line of work?
3.) What about your job excites you and makes you get up in the morning?
4.) What are your top 2 career achievements?
5.) What are you most proud of about your career?
Tip #4: Use the Summary for Improved Keyword Density
While the best summaries weave keywords and phrases in throughout a narrative, sometimes it can be difficult to artfully work in all of the major buzzwords you want. Feel free to include a short list of your core competencies at the end of the summary section like this:
IT Infrastructure Management
Bonus Tip: If you have a commonly misspelled name or if you use a nickname but not with everyone, consider also adding a line to the very end of the summary like this:
For Chelsea Kerwin:
Common Misspellings/AKA: Chelsey Kerwin/Chelsie Kerwin/Chelsea Kerwen
This way, searchers will still be able to find you even with the wrong name.
Tip #5: Avoid Positioning Yourself as Desperate for a Job
I’ve seen LinkedIn profiles with headlines in all caps: “CURRENTLY JOB SEEKING.” That might as well state “OUT OF WORK” for the cringes it induces in readers.
Most of us, when unemployed, are feeling pretty desperate. But that is a major turn-off for your readers. If you think of job seeking like dating, the problem with coming across as desperate might be clearer.
So how do you clarify that you are open to new opportunities without being perceived as desperate? One solution is ending your summary with a call to action like this:
“Please feel free to contact me to discuss how my business acumen and expertise in financial planning will benefit your organization.”
It doesn’t state outright that you are unemployed, but it does make it quite clear that you are happy to be contacted.
Tip #6: Provide Context and Personal Branding Throughout the Profile
Don’t forget to keep up the conversational approach in your professional experience entries. Think about the context surrounding each role. Were you hired for a particular reason, like jump-starting a lagging project? Were you recruited or promoted into the role, and if so, why?
Imagine yourself at a dinner party and how you might explain your job in that setting. You want to be entertaining, and you definitely don’t want to come across as stuffy or dry. But you also want for your role to be cast in the best possible light. You might say something like:
“I was hired by X Company to help transform the stagnant culture and rebuild trust between lower-level employees and management. I quickly became known as one of the hardest-working people in the company after I accidentally got locked into the building overnight when I stayed late to work on a project. In the end, that mistake made my job much easier since everyone knew my name after that!”
When writing your profile, keep your audience in mind, and your resume open in front of you. If you are struggling, talk to a friend, trusted colleague, or family member about your personal brand, and/or browse through profiles of other professionals in your industry to look for inspiration.
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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