The Surprising Reasons You Should Have a Good LinkedIn Profile

Linkedin on Apple iPad

I recently held a career development workshop at a local company. When the topic of LinkedIn came up, I heard a wide range of responses. Everything from “Yeah, of course! I love LinkedIn. I found my last job on LinkedIn” … to … “No, way. Scary. I have no time for that. I don’t want to be on LinkedIn at all.”

This is typical. While many savvy professionals are realizing the benefits of a solid LinkedIn presence—leading to better personal branding, recruiter attention, and networking—many people remain confused, overwhelmed, or leery of jumping on the LinkedIn bandwagon.

You don’t have to be a LinkedIn super-user who posts articles and is active in groups. (Though you certainly can be if that works for you, and people who do find it very useful to their careers.)

But in this day and age, every career coach, resume writer, recruiter, and hiring manager out there will tell you that at minimum a professional, well-curated LinkedIn presence is a must.

Let me say that again. EVERY career coach, resume writer, recruiter, and hiring manager out there recommends you established a LinkedIn presence.

I’ve had multiple hiring managers tell me stories of qualified candidates who were passed over because they didn’t have a LinkedIn profile. Times when, all else being equal, the candidate without a LinkedIn profile lost the job.

Why?

Because LinkedIn’s usefulness is so pervasive, so well-established that a candidate who says “I pass” on such a valuable resource is seen as somehow lacking in basic savvy and competence.

So here’s a quick rundown on some of the reasons LinkedIn is a worthwhile investment:

LinkedIn is a NETWORKING TOOL

  • Maintain and leverage your connections—past colleagues or vendors, college friends, former supervisors. LinkedIn allows you to keep those connections open.
  • Monitor trends and opportunities. You LinkedIn connections may post job openings or share useful updates about what’s happening in their companies, giving you inside information on your industry niche.

LinkedIn is a JOB SEARCH TOOL

  • Let recruiters and hiring managers find you. LinkedIn is a top way recruiters (internal and third-party) identify and source good-fit candidates. Set up your LinkedIn profile correctly, and interesting opportunities may come your way.
  • Control what prospective employers find out about you. Once you’re in the sourcing process, recruiters, hiring managers, future managers, and potential colleagues will be vetting you. A LinkedIn profile lets you control the message they receive about you.

Okay, those are the basics. But LinkedIn’s usefulness goes beyond networking and job searching. Here are a few more LinkedIn benefits that you may not have thought about:

LinkedIn is a SALES TOOL

  • Vet your potential business partners, service providers, and vendors. If you want to sell something to someone or partner with someone, you should be using LinkedIn to research the company and the people who work for them.
  • Sell yourself. Your profile should highlight what you do and how you can solve potential clients’ problems. It should portray you as solid and successful—the foundation for any sales relationship.

LinkedIn helps you PROTECT YOUR PROFESSIONAL REPUTATION

  • Enhance and protect your reputation within your current company. So the next time a plum project or a promotion opportunity comes along, your managers see you in your best light.
  • Protect you from layoffs. When HR teams are researching downsizing or consolidations following an acquisition, they’ll likely browse LinkedIn to assess the contributions of employees. Make sure you’re making a bright impression and highlighting the contributions you’ve made.

So if you’re like most busy professionals, it’s time to take a fresh look at your LinkedIn profile and make a few updates.

The good news is that an effective, professional LinkedIn profile isn’t hard to achieve. 

Here’s a quick rundown of 3 simple steps to an effective, professional LinkedIn profile. And if you’re ready to up your game, here are some introductory strategies for increasing your LinkedIn engagement.

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The Secret to an Above-and-Beyond Job Application

You know the importance of a well-written resume. But don’t stop there. Get your resume the attention it deserves by adding a follow-up letter to your application package. Angela from RedRocketResume shows you how.

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So you’ve found a great job opening and sent out your resume. Now just settle in and wait for the call, right?

Not exactly.

In almost every scenario, the right approach for job search/career development success is a 1-2 punch:

  1. Follow the prescribed channel.
  2. Make a move that goes above and beyond.

So yes, send in your resume in the manner requested, whether that’s an email attachment or submission via the company web site. But then find a way to take an extra step of follow-through.

Keep in mind these two facts:

First, for virtually any position, in any industry, hiring managers are looking for candidates with drive and follow-through.

Second, hiring can be a chore, and hiring managers are often slogging through a mire of dozens of resumes.

Show your spunk—and keep your name at the top of the hiring manager’s pile—by sending a follow-up letter.

Here’s how:

A few days after submitting your resume and cover letter, send a brief note that highlights the key match-up between your professional abilities and the hiring manager’s needs.

Make your note as personalized as possible. That means, ideally, you’ll send it directly to the person leading the hiring decision and address them by name.

To decide what goes in your follow-up letter, ask yourself this:

What do you wish the hiring manager picking up your resume will get out of it?

What are you hoping they’ll notice about your experience?

What do you hope will come through?

Brief, descriptive answers to those questions comprise your cover letter.

Here are some examples of effective follow-up letters:

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You’ll notice short paragraphs, references to further detail in the resume, and brief recaps of resume highlights.

These follow-up letters will be most effective if tailored to their target. That means think about your target company and match your tone, level of formality versus friendliness, and topics of interest.

The Hit Parade: Five Minutes to a Better Career

I’ve been planning this in my head for years, and I’m thrilled to announce that the Hit Parade has arrived!

Let me explain.

Young businesswoman in a thoughtful pose

As a resume writer, my job is to help people advance their careers by putting their accomplishments into resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

So of course, I frequently ask my clients things like—

What have been some of your wins in this role?

What are you most proud of professionally?

Can you think of some concrete successes?

And you’d be surprised how often my sharp, savvy, forward-thinking clients respond with, “Ummmm…I haven’t really thought about that.”

We’re so busy rushing from one project to the next that we often fall victim to professional amnesia.

How am I supposed to remember what I did last year? I can hardly remember what I did yesterday!

But this inability to recollect and reflect on our successes and progress leaves us ham-strung when it’s time to promote ourselves professionally.

Whether you’re pitching a new project, polishing up a LinkedIn profile, requesting a raise, or even just explaining your work to a new associate, it’s much easier to self-promote in an effective, non-cringy way when you have some solid accomplishments at the forefront of your mind.

So here’s a simple tool I’ve created to make it easy-peasy to document your career accomplishments as they happen.

I call it the Hit Parade. Here’s how it works—

  1. Click here to access the simple Hit Parade questionnaire.
  2. Spend 5 minutes jotting down some basic information about your greatest hits from the last few months.

I finished a project.

I landed two new accounts.

I finished a professional certification.

I figured out a way to finish a process faster.

I fixed a client’s problem.

I received a note of appreciation from my supervisor.

I recruited a new team member.

We’ll save your info for you. (No one else will see it and we’ll never share it, ever.)

  1. Come back and log in any time to access, change, or add to your data. Then next quarter, I’ll send you a quick reminder when it’s time to make an update.

That’s it! Over time, you’ll build a strong, specific catalog of your career accomplishments and ongoing progress.

This 5-minute process can have major reverberations throughout your career, giving you the ammunition to present your accomplishments in a clear and compelling way.

Know someone who could use their own Hit Parade? Forward them a link a share the love!

Forget Naughty or Nice. This Christmas, give “Radical Candor” a Try

This Christmas season, don’t settle for Santa’s “Nice” list. This former Google exec says the real gift we should give is “radical candor.”

Ever gotten some painful, maybe embarrassing, but (sadly!) accurate feedback?

Not fun.

Executive coach and former Google exec Kim Scott recounts (fondly!) the day her boss took her aside and told her

“You say um a lot, and it makes you sound stupid.”

Rather than being offended or becoming defensive about this direct, negative feedback, Scott–

a.) Took the advice and got a speaking coach to eliminate her um problem.

b.) Figured out what exactly makes for effective feedback or guidance.

The result of Scott’s research is her rather surprising claim:

“I would argue that criticizing your employees when they screw up is not just your job, it’s actually your moral obligation.”

Scott asserts that the single most important thing a boss can do is learn how to give, receive, and encourage guidance. She calls her approach “radical candor.”

Radical candor is telling the hard truth from a place of caring.

Radical candor happens when you both “care personally” and “challenge directly.”

She pictures it this way:

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Or in other words, at the intersection of the “give a damn” axis and the “willing to piss people off” axis. A place where you care enough about a person to tell them hard truths.

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Radical candor is—

Humble

Helpful

Immediate

In person (in private if it’s criticism and in public if it’s praise)

Doesn’t Personalize.

Here’s a video of Scott’s talk describing how she hit on the notion of radical candor and how to use it to become a better leader and friend.

Can you see some places (at home or at work) where you could use a little more radical candor? And which axis do you need to work on? Are you short on caring personally or challenging directly?

Merry Christmas!

LinkedIn 101: 3 Simple Steps to a Strong LinkedIn Profile

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—

A strong LinkedIn profile is an essential, no-excuses, must-have in the modern career market.

But many people I talk to feel intimidated and overwhelmed by LinkedIn. Profiles. Networking. Posts. Comments.

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It’s true that using LinkedIn can get complicated. Recruiters, marketers, job seekers, expert networkers, and thought leaders dig deep to use LinkedIn’s functionality to grow their brands and connect with clients / employees / employers / partners.

If becoming a LinkedIn super-user is your thing, that’s great. But if not, here’s how to press the easy button.

Add these 3 components to your LinkedIn profile and you’ll dramatically increase the reach and professionalism of your profile and position yourself as a savvy professional.

1. Summary section

The very most important part of your LinkedIn profile is what’s called “Summary” section. This section functions a lot like the qualifications section of a resume and it should contain a statement of your personal brand.

This section is highly optimized in LinkedIn searches. This means that any keyword or phrase that you want leading to you—think recruiters or potential customers googling for someone like you—needs to be here.

What to do:

Write a brief paragraph or a few bullet points (or a combination thereof) describing what sets you apart, what expertise you bring to the table, and what you have to offer.

Don’t stress over making this poetic or perfect. Just start with a simple, straightforward statement of who you are and what you do.

2. Work experience

Populate the “Experience” section of your LinkedIn profile with your basic work history. This a.) lets users know what you do, and b.) enables LinkedIn to do its networking thing to let former colleagues and associates to find you.

What to do:

At a bare minimum, list your-

  • Company Name
  • Title
  • Time Period (LinkedIn won’t allow you to skip this, but don’t feel obligated to list months.)

Include at least your work history for last 10 years or since you graduated from college, whichever is shortest.

For bonus points, include a few bullet points outlining the scope of your role and highlighting a few of your biggest accomplishments.

3. Picture

Yep, you do need one. It’s a part of LinkedIn genre/culture. You don’t want a glamour shot, and you don’t want an unprofessional picture of you at the beach or at a party. (Unless you’re a beach volleyball player or party planner.)

What to do:

Next time you’re dressed for work and having a good hair day, stand in front of a blank wall and ask one of your friends to snap a pic with your phone. Crop it to head-shot dimensions (from mid-chest up) and post it on your profile.

Congratulations! You now have a solid LinkedIn profile that puts ahead of many, many professionals out there.

To make your LinkedIn profile really work for you, revisit it every few months. Spend 10 minutes or so clicking through your profile, adding new info, and making little tweaks to keep everything fresh and updated.

 

Get Clarity on Your Personal Brand

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be conducting a workshop at Westminster College’s Westminster Weekend this Friday. The topic is personal branding and career development. We’re going to zoom out wide to get clarity on personal brand and then zoom in and do some hands-on career development projects. It’ll be both enlightening AND productive.

(And I’m going to talk about my all-time favorite resume client–the world’s foremost expert on international supply chain for sausage casings.)

Find out more and register here. I’d love to see you there!

WHAT: Building Your Personal Professional Brand with Angela of RedRocketResume

WHEN: Friday, September 16, 4:00-5:30

WHERE: Westminster College, Salt Lake City, UT

Checklist for a Great Resume

One of the challenges for many people in preparing a great resume is…knowing what exactly makes up a great resume. Here’s a handy checklist of the major components of a strong resume. How does your resume measure up?

Resume checklist

Does it look sharp?

Good looks aren’t everything, but they certainly help. Make sure your resume is easy to read—clean, not cluttered; sharp, not confusing.

  • Does it have a well-designed letterhead with your name larger than surrounding text?
  • Does it include your contact information (name, address, phone number, email)?
  • Do you use lines or some other visual cue to separate different sections of the resume?
  • Does it use bullets?
  • But not too many bullets? (Bullets are meant to increase readability and help key items stand out, but if everything is bulleted, everything blends together.)
  • Is it in a clear, readable, commonly used font? Arial and Times New Roman are classic stand-bys. Calibri is one of my new faves.
  • Does it have ample white space in the margins? (Keep one-inch margins on the sides and at least a half inch on top and bottom.)
  • Is it limited to two pages?
  • Is it free from typos and errors?

Does it have all the right pieces?

Resumes are generally organized into a handful of major sections. This shorthand helps hiring managers quickly find the info they need.

  • Does it start with a Qualifications section?
  • Is work history listed in reverse chronological (newest to oldest) order?
  • For each job, do you provide company name, location, job title, and years of employment?
  • For each job, do you provide a brief description of your duties and scope?
  • Do you provide quantified accomplishments?
  • Does it provide the most detail for your latest jobs, with less detail on older/less relevant jobs?
  • Does it omit information that is personal, outdated, or off-target?

Big Picture

A great resume is clearly focused on a specific target. A resume that knows what you want helps you get what you want.

  • Does it convey a clear, unified message about who you are and what you do (aka your personal brand)?
  • Is it focused on accomplishments and benefits more than responsibilities and duties?
  • Does it speak to the desired qualifications for the type of job you’re seeking?
  • Does it replace niche industry jargon or company-specific phrases with better-understood translations? (Imagine a recruiter or HR person who isn’t necessarily familiar with the technical details of your target job.)
  • Is it consistent in terms of formatting, verb tense, organization?
  • Does it aim toward your next job (not your current job)?