Character Limits and Special Characters for Personal LinkedIn Profiles

linkedin character image limitsAs an advocate, trainer and coach of LinkedIn, I write a lot of articles and facilitate numerous workshops on how to leverage the power of LinkedIn to get hired by the right company or clients. There are so many fantastic integrated elements to writing a profile that works for you.

This article is all about the space.

There is a blessing and a curse to the character limits to LinkedIn: it allows a cut off for those who have a tendency to ramble on and on and on and on while reducing the stress of those who are not comfortable talking to a great extent about themselves.

Here is a breakdown of the character limits for personal profiles. I am also attaching a list of special characters that you can use in your profile (heading, summary, title etc) that can be copied and pasted directly from this article.

For the visually driven, here is a link to a profile with highlighted blurbs giving each element’s character maximum: LinkedIn Personal Profile Character Limits.

All of the character limits listed are maximum unless indicated otherwise. In LinkedIn, everything counts as a character – spaces, punctuation, returns etc. To easily determine your character count, at the end of this article, I have included instructions for a quick check in Word and two external links.

Header/About You/Headline

First Name: 20 characters, Last Name: 40 characters.
Professional Headline: 120 characters
(Don’t forget picture – your profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed with a professional profile picture)

Contact Information

Phone number: 25 characters (only visible to first degree connections)
Address: 1000 characters (only visible to first degree connections)
IM (Instant message): 25 characters (only visible to first degree connections)
Vanity URL: 29 characters after the http://www.linkedin.com/in/
Website Anchor Text: 30 characters
Website URL: 256 characters

Summary

Summary: 2,000 characters

Experience

Position Title: 100 characters
Position Description: 200 minimum and 2000 maximum characters

Recommendations

Recommendations: 3,000 characters

Interests

Interests: 1,000 characters (only visible to first degree connections)

Skills

Skills: Up to 50 skills using 80 characters per skill

Additional/Contact

Additional Info / Advice for Contacting: 2,000 characters

Status Updates

LinkedIn Status Update: 600 characters – unless you chose to update LinkedIn and your Twitter, Twitter updates are 140 characters.

If you write articles or blogs on LinkedIn using LinkedIn Publisher:

Post Headline: 100 maximum characters (LinkedIn recommends up to 70)
Post Body Text: 40,000 characters

Character Count

In Word: Highlight your text (Control + A); Tools (Alt + T); Word Count (W)
External Links: Letter Count or Character Count

Special Characters

Please use them wisely! Remember, you can copy and paste right from this article.

Stars: ⋆ ✢ ✣ ✤ ✥ ❋ ✦ ✧ ✩ ╰☆╮ ✪ ✫ ✬ ✭ ✮ ✯ ✰ ✡ ★ ✱ ✲ ✳ ✴ ❂ ✵ ✶ ✷ ✸ ✹ ✺ ✻✼ ❄ ❅ ❆ ❇ ❈ ❉ ❊
Hand: ☜ ☞☝ ☚ ☛ ☟ ✍ ✌
Copyrights: ™ ℠ © ® ℗
Yes: ☑ ✓ ✔ √
No: ☐ ☒ ✇ ✖ ✗ ✘ ✕ ☓
Triangles: ▲ ▼ ◄ ► ◀ ◣ ◢ ◥ ▼ ◤ ◥ ▴ ▾ ◂ ▸ △ ▽ ◁ ▷ ⊿ ▻ ◅ ▵ ▹ ◃ ▿
Quotes: ❝ ❞ « » ‟ ‹ › ⟨ ⟩ „ ′ ‵ ‘ ’ ‚ ‛ “ ” ‷ ‴ ‶ ″
Round: ◉ ○ ◌ ◍ ◎ ● ◐ ◑ ◒ ◓ ◔ ◕ ◖ ◗ ❂ ☢ ⊗ ⊙ ◘ ◙ ◍
Boxes: ❏ ❐ ❑ ❒ ▀ ▁ ▂ ▃ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ ▉ ▊ ▋ █ ▌ ▍ ▎ ▏▐ ░ ▒ ▓ ▔ ▕ ■ □ ▢ ▣ ▤ ▥ ▦ ▧ ▨ ▩ ▪ ▫ ▬ ▭ ▮ ▯ ☰ ☲ ☱ ☴ ☵ ☶ ☳ ☷ 
Arrows: ➟ ➡ ➢ ➣ ➤ ➥ ➦ ➧ ➨ ➚ ➘ ➙ ➛ ➜ ➝ ➞ ➸ ♐ ➲ ➳ ➳ ➴ ➵ ➶ ➷ ➸ ➹ ➺ ➻ ➼ ➽ ← ↑ → ↓ ↔ ↕ ↖ ↗ ↘ ↙ ↚ ↛ ↜ ↝ ↞ ↟ ↠ ↡ ↢ ↣ ↤ ↥ ↦ ↧ ↨ ➫ ➬ ➩ ➪ ➭ ➮ ➯ ➱ ↩ ↪ ↫ ↬ ↭ ↮ ↯ ↰ ↱ ↲ ↳ ↴ ↵ ↶ ↷ ↸ ↹ ↺ ↻ ↼ ↽ ↾ ↿ ⇀ ⇁ ⇂ ⇃ ⇄ ⇅ ⇆ ⇇ ⇈ ⇉ ⇊ ⇋ ⇌ ⇍ ⇎ ⇏ ⇐ ⇑ ⇒ ⇓ ⇔ ⇕ ⇖ ⇗ ⇘ ⇙ ⇚ ⇛ ⇜ ⇝ ⇞ ⇟ ⇠ ⇡ ⇢ ⇣ ⇤ ⇥ ⇦ ⇧ ⇨ ⇩ ⇪ ⌦ ⌧ ⌫
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Money: € £ Ұ ₴ $ ₰ ¢ ₤ ¥ ₳ ₲ ₪ ₵ 元 ₣ ₱ ฿ ¤ ₡ ₮ ₭ ₩ ރ 円 ₢ ₥ ₫ ₦ z ł ﷼ ₠ ₧ ₯ ₨ K č र
Compare: ≂ ≃ ≄ ≅ ≆ ≇ ≈ ≉ ≊ ≋ ≌ ≍ ≎ ≏ ≐ ≑ ≒ ≓ ≔ ≕ ≖ ≗ ≘ ≙ ≚ ≛ ≜ ≝ ≞ ≟ ≠ ≡ ≢ ≣ ≤ ≥ ≦ ≧ ≨ ≩ ⊰ ⊱ ⋛ ⋚
Phone: ✆ ✉ ☎ ☏
Write: ✐ ✎ ✏ ✑ ✒ ✍ ✉ ⌨
Question: ❢ ❣ ⁇ ‼ ‽ ⁈ ¿ ¡ ⁉ ؟
Smileys: ☹ ☺ ☻ ت ヅ ツ ッ シ ϡ ﭢ
Love: ♥ ۵ 웃 유 ღ ♂ ♀
Scissors: ✁ ✂ ✃ ✄
Music: ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ ♭ ♮ ♯ ° ø
Religious: ✡† ☨ ✞ ✝ ☥ ☦ ☓ ☩ ☯ ☧ ☬ ☸ ♁ ✙ ♆
Political: Ⓐ ☭ ✯ ☪ ☫ ✡ ☮ ✌
Chess: ♔ ♕ ♖ ♗ ♘ ♙ ♚ ♛ ♜ ♝ ♞ ♟
Cards: ♤ ♧ ♡ ♢ ♠ ♣ ♥ ♦
Weather :☼ ☀ ☁ ☂ ☃ ☄ ☾ ☽ ❄ ☇ ☈ ⊙ ☉ ℃ ℉ ° ❅ ✺ ϟ
Flower: ✽ ✾ ✿ ❁ ❃ ❋ ❀

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I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

Know What You Are Not To Excel In Your Career

my toolkitMy grandfather was an electrician and my father was a diesel mechanic. I am neither an electrician nor a mechanic. I use two things: duct tape and WD-40, what cannot be solved with one is solved with the other. Okay, occasionally I use a hammer…

I do have my own set of tools, a jigsaw, sawsaw (that’s what I call it), circular saw, table saw, levels, socket set, wire cutters and lots of other toys. I can use each one, although I do not have mastery of any.

This was quite obvious in a recent project.

I was changing out electrical outlets and light switches in all the rooms in my home from the almond to white. I love the white, so clean and fresh! I followed all the appropriate steps: turned off breakers, ensured no power to each item, had my wire cutters, flat head and Philips screw drivers and new switches/outlets.

I did pretty well, actually getting on a roll. I learned how to change plug in from the back to screw in to the side outlets and light switches. I made sure to put the wires in the new reciprocals exactly as they were in the old ones. I am woman, hear me roar!

I roared alright, right after only one of the three light switches worked in both bathrooms. Are you kidding me? I did it exactly as it was before – what happened?

What happened is I am not an electrician. That’s what happened.

My boyfriend provides gentle reminders that I am not a mechanical wizard. I will be working on a project and he will come up, in the most gentle and respectful way, and say, “Here honey, let me help.”

This is code for “good lord girl, let me take this over before you blow up the house.”

Do you know how frustrating it is to struggle with something for a half an hour and have someone come up and complete it in thirty seconds? Very. Very, very, very frustrating.

But here is the thing – I am not an electrician or a mechanic. My boyfriend pretty much is. Those are his strengths, not mine. The reason we work so well together is that we appreciate and recognize each other’s strengths – and weaknesses. We are that weird couple that actually enjoy finding and doing projects together.

We cannot individually be all things to each other in our relationship. He is the time/calendar structured person that can herd cats in a single bound and accomplish more in one day than most people can in a week. I am the creative, communicative, go with the flow, “flower child” as he calls me that adapts easily to whatever is thrown in the path and finds a way to make those lemons into garnishes for mojitos.

We also have similar qualities that work well: we are independent, driven, family oriented, big picture, very sarcastic, appreciate the moment kind of people.  We are a true partnership and it works very, very well for us.

Your career is a series of relationships.

You may have one that your partner does nothing but take from you and never supports your needs or goals. You may have one that they are unfaithful, giving all the best opportunities to someone else. Another might be a great learning experience, with them teaching you more about yourself than you knew. Eventually you find partnerships that allow you to contribute and receive, fulfilling your needs and goals and theirs.

There are two key factors to any relationship. The first is knowing who you are, what you like, what you want, what you will accept and what you will not.

The second is knowing your strengths and weaknesses. What can you give, what can you not, what are you willing to learn to be able to give and what are you not. These things change as you grow older and experience different situations, environments and relationships.

Remember, during each phase of your career – each relationship – it is your choice. You are never stuck anywhere. If it does not suit you it is not your obligation or requirement to stay just to make someone else happy. This makes you miserable and as such you cannot possibly give your greatest gifts to others.

If I were to give one piece of advice it would be this: be selfish. We have put such a negative connotation to being selfish. Oh, you will hear others tell you that you should think of others, that you are being selfish. What they are really saying is that you should not think of yourself, you should think of them.

You deserve to be selfish, it is a requirement! I mean selfish in a way of taking care of yourself. Define what makes you happy, pamper yourself by unplugging and enjoying only what it is that you enjoy doing. To get really flower child on you – until you learn to love yourself, how can you love anyone else?

Until you know your strengths, how can you provide real value to others? Until you know your weaknesses how can you appreciate and ask for them from others? Knowing yourself is a matter of respect. You learn to respect your strengths and learn to appreciate the strengths of others that happen to be your weaknesses.

Each relationship, each job or team, is a balance of individual strengths and weaknesses, respect and honor. When you find that balance between yourself, others and the relationships you know you have found a winner.

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I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

It is NOT Okay For Your LinkedIn Profile To Sound Like Your Resume

credit shutterstockI think I am going to have to start paying my dogs hazard pay for being in the office. Some offices have office cats, we have office dogs.

I was reading an article about LinkedIn about general advice for all users relative to their profile. All was fine and quiet until I read one tiny statement saying that if you are looking for a job it is okay for your profile and resume to be the same.

“NO it is NOT!” is what I yelled out. At which point the little one I think growled at me, the middle one looked at the biggest one like, “he did it” and the biggest one just sat there with a big goofy grin on his face.

It is not okay, in no way is it okay for your profile and resume to be the same.

Different Conversations

Your resume is an arm’s length, removed conversation; a professional sales pitch for a general audience.

Your LinkedIn profile is a one-on-one conversation with the person reading it; a business casual, professional conversation.

In a resume you used the assumed I: “Manage nine districts”

In your profile you use I and me: “I managed nine districts”

Your resume opens with a sales statement, telling the reader what you bring to the table and answers the question “What can you do for me?” Say that statement out loud, you sound silly. No one talks like that in conversation. In LinkedIn, speak from and as yourself as you were answering that question to a person sitting across from you.

Different Parameters

A resume is normally one to two pages yet there is flexibility as to font type, size, spacing etc. LinkedIn has limits, including:

First Name: 20 characters, Last Name: 40 characters
Professional Headline: 120 characters
Summary: 2,000 characters
Recommendation: 3,000 characters
Position Title: 100 characters
Position Description: 200 minimum and 2000 maximum characters

Different Pieces to the Puzzle

In job searching you are a brand and it is imperative that your branding is consistent. Your brand extends to your resume, LinkedIn profile, networking and interviewing. Each of these are individual pieces that carry the same brand. They should have a similar feel but be fit to the situation and expectations of each one.

Although you use words in your resume and LinkedIn profile that resonate with you in describing your value; the difference is that in LinkedIn you are letting your personality show through a bit more.

If your LinkedIn and resume are the same you sound like a one-trick pony. People read your LinkedIn profile to find out more information, get a deeper feel for you as a professional and person.

The primary purpose of your resume is to sell yourself. The primary purpose of your LinkedIn is to engage your target audience; to begin a conversation that opens the door for you to sell yourself.

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I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

5 Steps for LinkedIn Recommendations That Work for You

super linkedinRecommendations: one of the most underutilized and greatest assets in your LinkedIn profile. Here is a section in which potential clients and employers can read rave reviews about you – if it is done correctly.

Recommendations are like little neon signs saying “I’m amazing! Hire Me!!!”  Light those suckers up in five simple steps.

Step 1 – Get Over the Hesitation

You may feel that asking for recommendations feels awkward, as though you are bragging in asking people to say nice things about you.

Get over it.

They can always ignore your request so there is no harm in asking.

The feature is on there for a reason. This is all about business and in business you utilize the tools that are offered and effective.

Step 2 – Know What You are Selling

You cannot sell a product if you do not know what you are selling. You are the product. What are your strengths, value and traits that you want your audience to know about you? This does not need to be a long, drawn out list. Know your strongest or key aspects of what you bring to the table and your deliverables.

In other words, know why people want to hire you.

Step 3 – Customize the Script

LinkedIn provides a template for asking for a recommendation: “I’m sending this to ask you for a brief recommendation of my work that I can include on my LinkedIn profile”

Please do not use that. It makes it much more difficult for others to respond. This request is too broad. In order for people to take valuable time out of their day to respond, you need to make it as easy as possible for them.

This is when customizing it sets the parameters, steers them to highlighting your selling points while giving them space to write it themselves.

Customizing is in two parts: highlighting your selling points and putting it in a frame of reference for them.

If you are job searching you could state: “I am in the process of searching for my next opportunity. I am looking to remain in the FGH industry where I can really utilize my abilities in A, B, and C in the role of LMN or QRS. As you and I had worked together at XYZ Company and you are familiar with my abilities in A, B and C, I am writing to ask if you could write a recommendation for me about these traits. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Thank you in advance for your assistance, I appreciate your time in writing a recommendation.”

This may be a bit wordy for you – tweak it to your comfort level.

This request works for you in several ways:

  • You let them know you are looking for a job (in case they did not know or forgot).
  • You spelled out what you are looking for so that they now have those key words in mind they can immediately associate with you when they hear them.
  • Highlighting those selling points gives them specific items to comment on, making it easier for them to craft a response and in turn will re-emphasize these qualities you previously stated in your summary.
  • It demonstrates to the recipient that you took the time to write a personal request, not simply click and send to a multitude of people.
  • You showed appreciation for their time, instead of leaving it empty and possibly the assumption that they have the time to do so and will just because you asked.

In building a business, the recommendation request could read: “I wanted to take a moment to thank you again for allowing me to provide XYZ service to you. I truly enjoyed working with you and was glad that you were satisfied with my services. As you know, I pride myself in ABC, EFG and JKL and am writing to you today to ask if you would mind taking a moment to write a recommendation about my work, your experience or how you feel I delivered on these qualities. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Thank you in advance for your assistance, I appreciate your time in writing a recommendation.”

Again, if this is too wordy, tweak it to fit your needs. It accomplishes the same points as the job seeker – targeting your selling points, providing an easy framework to respond and showing appreciation.

Step 4 – Don’t Know, Don’t Ask

Recommendations are wonderful, as long as they are relevant. Asking someone that cannot speak to your qualities is disrespectful to them. If they write a recommendation for you they are putting their name on it, it represents them. They do not want to tarnish their name or reputation by fluffing a recommendation for someone they do not know. You both lose credibility.

Step 5 – Reciprocate

Are you able to write a recommendation for those that you have sent a request to? Look in your contacts and see who you could write a recommendation for, even if they have not asked.

Give and take, it is the flow of business.

What recommendations do you have that have proven to be effective in asking for or writing recommendations?

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I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

You Wouldn’t Marry The First Person Who Asks You – Why Work For Them?

proposalIf you went out with someone once and they told you nothing about themselves for example their values, their goals, family, what they do and other pertinent information and only asked about you – would you marry them if they asked you at the end of that date?

I am hoping the answer to that is no.

If so, then why would you do the same with a job?

Job searching is a lot like dating. The first date was the resume; this is where they discovered you meet their general qualifications. The interview is the second date; this is when they size you up to see if they can introduce you to their friends and family and if you will stick around.

In any long term relationship you have expectations and items that you will accept, will compromise on and things that are “oh hell no”s.

These are your negotiables and non-negotiables. One of the most important ways you can be prepared for an interview is to know what is on your lists.

It is Personal

Your non-negotiables are your non-negotiables. They are items that are personally important to you. I know there are many people in your circle that are trying to help you and it is great to have feedback and guidance. However, in the end, what you decide upon is what you have to live with, not them.

What is important to you – money, opportunity, benefits, location, travel time, duties? There is no judgement, this is your list.

Your list may be quite specific (I will not take less than X salary) or broad (I will not work for a company that is immoral or unethical based on my beliefs).

They Change

My list from 20 years ago is different from my list today. I have grown as an individual, a mother, a family member, a partner and a woman. Twenty years ago you might have foregone money for opportunity. Today you have the experience that you will not accept less salary than what you deserve.

There are many factors that change our non-negotiables. Age, experience, family, personal growth are just a few. Perhaps you have been in one industry for over 10 years and you want a change, even though you are older you are willing to accept a lower pay for the opportunity to get into your new chosen field.

It is Okay to Say No

Just because an opportunity is presented to you does not mean that you have to take it. There is no obligation just because an offer was extended. When you do decline, do so professionally.

Simply tell them thank you, but no thank you. After interviewing I do not think I am the best candidate for this position or the best candidate that you are looking for. Simple, polite and professional.

You can use this same sentiment when telling friends and family. You will be asked, ridiculed or berated for not taking a job. I have had clients that they friends or family members tell them things like: you’re crazy, you will never get another offer like that, that was stupid, what more do you want, you’re being selfish, you can’t afford not to take whatever someone is offering you.

Personally, I would like to coach them on how to tell their friends and family what they can do with those comments six ways to Sunday, but that is just me. Those are rude comments and completely unsupportive. The best way to handle them is to say very little.

It was not a good fit. If they continue to push, and remember this is not their business or the job they have to show up to everyday, stand firm: it was just not a good fit. You do not need to explain yourself or justify your core beliefs about what you want or are willing to accept.

Trust Your Gut

This is the hardest thing I think for people to grasp. Job searching is a gut wrenching process. It makes you question your value as you have the opportunity to be rejected at any time throughout the process or before it even begins.

Going back to the relationship analogy – if the thought of being there every single day all day does not give you the warm and fuzzies then your gut is trying to tell you something. Thinking you will learn to love it is not the best plan B.

Respect Yourself and the Opportunity

It is actually more disrespectful to take a job you do not want rather than decline. It is also disrespectful to you and it sets you up for failure if there is absolutely no give and take of value.

If the opportunity has a component that you could learn a certain skill while I am there and provide benefit to the company than you are making a contribution, which means this is a compromise.

Stop Talking Yourself Out of It

Talking about what you want does not make it happen. I can talk about winning the lottery but it does not make me a lottery winner. Talk is anticipation of action; however, it is only an expression, not an action that carries you forward or moves you back.

I cannot win the lottery if I do not play and even if I play it does not mean I will win. If I play there is absolutely no guarantee that I will; however there does remain a chance – no matter how miniscule.

You have to apply, talk to them and participate in the process. An offer and acceptance is a combined decision and is a step – either forward or back. Without an offer there can be no action, without trying there can be no offer.

Find Your Support

I already touched on the non-supporters who would condemn you for not taking just anything; what you need is to find the circle that supports you for not taking it. Those that do not ridicule but rather listen. They may be few and far between but they are out there.

They may not be in your immediate circle so go out and find them. It could be a networking group with the sole purpose of supporting job seekers, it could be a faith based group or a recreational group that you find one or a few people that are true supporters.

You need them, find them and support them, too. My best friend has been my person for a long, long time. Sometimes her most supportive statements are: they suck, do not apologize, why do you think that or move on.

It is an individual process; however, you are not alone. What has been the most helpful advice or encouragement that someone has given you during job searching?

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I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

The 4 Key Combination to Effective Communication

communicatingHave you ever made a statement or a request and the result you get is completely different than what you expected?

How did that happen? How did the other person or persons misunderstand?

You were absolutely clear, crystal clear; there was no room for doubt.

Well, not exactly.

No matter how clear you thought you were, no matter how much sense it made in your own mind, you were not clear to your audience. There was a breakdown in communication.

There is a four key combination to effective communication: know your audience, know what is important to them, know how they listen and know your style.

1. Know Your Audience

If you are a parent you will or have no doubt experienced this phenomenon. When I would tell my son to clean his room I mistakenly thought that was clear. It was obvious from the result that it was not.

My best friend has two teenagers who are very close. Her son is very protective and takes a fatherly role with his sister. He mentioned not too long ago that he was frustrated because she did not open up to him as much as she used to and he felt did not listen when he gave her advice.

I had a team that was made up of a wonderful group of people all with different backgrounds, goals and stages in life. Some wanted to move up the corporate ladder, some worked to fill time, some were single parents dependent upon a paycheck, some were getting an education in a different field and some were new to the industry.

2. Know What is Important

For my son the most important item to cleaning his room is getting it done quickly.

For my best friend’s son it was being heard and appreciated for being the big brother and taking care of his sister.

For my team there were multiple factors including praise, growth, recognition, advancement or bonus.

There are no right or wrong motivations so there should be no judgement on why you need to incorporate what is important to them in your message.

If you incorporate their need into your message you are more likely to get buy in and clarity.

Although it is perfectly acceptable to give the reason “because I said so” to your children, it is not in the working world.

3. Know How They Listen

My son listens with an emphasis on omission. If I do not say it than it is not assumed or done. I learned that I had to spell out what I wanted and not assume one step logically lead to another. I made checklists. He would get frustrated and think I was oversimplifying the process; however, the result was what I wanted and the process was made much easier for him.

For my best friend’s daughter, it was triggers. Hearing her brother say things like, “You need to” or anything that took on a commanding position put up a wall. I suggested to her brother that he talk with her as her brother, from a guy’s perspective. The first time he applied this tactic she responded in a positive way saying she had not thought about the situation from that perspective and she followed his advice.

For my team the listening style varied. Some were black and white, straight to the point kind of listeners. Others were paint the picture with color and flowing lines. If I tried to use all the colors of the rainbow with the straight line listeners, I would lose them – quickly.

If I tried the black and white method with the whole picture listeners, I would confuse them and leave them without all the necessary information to complete the task. I then incorporated their needs into the communication style. In asking various team members for a report the request would vary depending upon the team member:

“We need this report to give to the management team to help them project next month’s numbers.”
“We need to get this report to management and I want you to put it together because I think it would be a great opportunity for you to learn this system, which is used a lot in the position you want.”
“We need to put together this report and I want you to lead it so management sees you as the go to person.”
“We need to get this report together and you know this system better than anyone else, I truly appreciate your skill on this.”

4. Know Your Style

I am an over-analyzer. When I look at a challenge I see it from a multitude of angles, possibilities, challenges and options. I could have several scenarios running through my head at one time. My brain takes multi-tasking to another level. If I were to verbalize my thoughts it would make other people’s heads explode.

My natural inclination is to give all the details – paint the picture with all the colors of the rainbow and every possible twist and turn. It was only from an awareness of my natural communication style that I could learn how to communicate in the straight line method.

Self-awareness gives opportunity for growth and an improved skill set. I am now able to fluctuate between the two for the most effective communication style for my audience. Yet there was one more factor that I need to add: learn to ask and take responsibility.

Learn to Ask and Take Responsibility

Sometimes just a little tweak can make a huge improvement on communication, respect, trust and results. Instead of barking orders, you engage and gain buy in. This builds respect, which in turn leads to shared accountability for the task and a greater effort for the desired result.

It is not always easy to determine a listening style and adapt your own communication style to your audience. The fastest and easiest way to do this is to ask your audience.

When I first work with a team or individuals I often will ask questions like, “does that make sense?” “what do you think?” “how do you see this?” Ask questions that will give you clues to what is important to them, if they like colors or black and white and how they listen.

I also put the onus on me. I will tell the group or individual that I know that sometimes my communication is not clear, what I think in my head is not the same that comes out of my mouth so I want to make sure they can understand me and we are on the same page. I reiterate that it is important to me that I communicate effectively without overkill.

This way I have set the stage that what they think is important, I am not trying to bully or demand rather I am looking for engagement and commitment and I am willing to change my methods for what works best for them.

I also take responsibility to get more information from them to make sure I do not drop the ball in receiving information, not just giving it. If something is said that could possibly be taken in more than one way, I ask. I preface with “I am not challenging you or doubting you, I just want to make sure I fully understand…”

Letting a boss know that I want to do a good job so I want to make sure that I am clear on expectations goes a long way and is much better than assuming and screwing it up. I have assumed, I have screwed up – it is not pretty nor is it fun.

This is in direct conflict with good ol’ Abe in better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. I would rather look like an idiot for a moment and end up being on the same page.

Sometimes leadership feels they have to know all the answers and get it right every time. Take away that title and you are still human. People have different motivations, communication styles, expectations, fears, ambitions, goals and motives. How can you possibly know all this information without asking?

Do not be afraid to ask, to go out on a limb and tell your team that you do not always know the best way to communicate and for that you need their help. I have yet had an occasion when clarifying with a team or staff member hinders my credibility or authority. It has actually proven the opposite, it has been respected because it proves I care enough about the project, its effects and the people involved to get it right, even by admitting there are things I do not know.

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I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

Listen for the Pebbles That Can Propel Your Career

Luke on guardSome of my greatest lessons, examples and reminders come from my dogs. I have three dogs; the one pictured is Luke, the baby of the family. He is a big six year old puppy full of enthusiasm, joy, unconditional love and unbridled energy.

And the attention span of a gnat.

I discovered after Luke was a part of my family that he had special talents – being able to open doors (especially the pantry and empty the contents), figuring out child locks, putting holes in walls, leaping six foot privacy fences and major anxiety.

Luke and I have been playing new games for over a week. It is actually training, but do not tell him that or he will stop playing. In less than a week he now drops his toy for me to throw instead of drooling all over me and nipping at me while trying to get me to take it out of his mouth. Today, he dropped a toy over nine times in a row before he got bored and napped. Major victory!

We have also been working on playing nice while walking on a leash. Here is the thing – this dog could drag me all over creation without batting an eye. He weighs almost as much as I do, extremely strong and big – and don’t forget that unbridled energy. So walking nice on a leash is a big thing.

This weekend he was praised by a neighbor for calmly walking past her two yip-yip hyper dogs as they tried to tear through the fence to play with him. I was a proud mommy. Training was going well. I still have to remind him when he sees people on the other side of the street or in their yard that they are not out there to meet him.

Yes, all was going well, until that guy.

We had completed over a mile and a half at a good pace so he was happy and a bit tired and listening well when a man, his dog and his small daughter appeared at the end of the street. As they got closer, I shortened Luke’s lead and told him (in a voice loud enough for the guy to hear) “good boy, no, we are not going to play, stay with mommy”

Apparently the guy was deaf.

He kept making a bee-line right toward us. So when he was close enough, I started to take Luke off the path and told him, “He’s training, so we can’t say hi to your pup.”

Apparently the guy is really deaf.

He continued right up to Luke with his dog and said, “It’s ok, they will be fine.”

I’m sorry, what?? As I tried to pull Luke back and continue, the guy moved forward so his dog could continue to sniff Luke and then said, “See, they are doing good.”

Are you kidding me? What?? That is when I was finally able to break free of that guy and his dog. The whole time his young daughter looked on.

I am normally a very nice person, a friendly person and a happy person. However, disrespect my dogs or my kids and it becomes a different story. For the sake of the little girl, I kept my calm and walked away, praising Luke for being a good boy and muttering not nice words about the man in my head.

I fumed about this for a bit. I specifically told this guy to not bring his dog up to mine. I was nice, I was firm and I could not be more clear. Okay, maybe I could, but that might have involved words that my mother would not approve of, so yes, I was clear.

Yet he refused to listen.

It hit me later that there are a lot of people that do not listen throughout their career. Their bosses, customers or coworkers are nice, firm and clear but they just do not listen. There are so many opportunities lost because we do not listen.

If it is suggested by your boss that someone should learn a certain skill, take on an additional responsibility or serve in a certain capacity – how many times does this fall on deaf ears?

That is opportunity! More than one opportunity – a way to learn something new, let your boss know you are listening and willing to put forth effort needed and a chance to step up.

It is a pebble. The road to greatness, adventure, advancement, exploration and growth are all built upon pebbles.

If your coworkers or boss compliments an aspect your work or the job you did– those are pebbles. You have been recognized for a skill set or ability, now how can you build on it and do even more? Are you listening?

If a customer makes a suggestion or even a compliant – are you listening? It is a pebble. An opportunity to solve a problem or go beyond to create an even more memorable experience.

Often people feel stuck in their jobs or careers; yet what they do not realize is there are amazing opportunities all around just waiting to be taken advantage of propelling them to where they want to be.

Stop, listen and then take action.

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I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

I Prefer Windows to Doors

open windowMy dad was an amazing man and a huge influence on who I am today. Of course there are some traits that he cultivated that, if he were here to see them in action, I am sure he would be doing a mental face palm. Not like I didn’t see enough eye rolling or hear enough sighing growing up.

Now, don’t go feeling all sorry for my dad, he also had a wicked sense of humor. Like the time he gave me a black spiced jelly and after I put it in my mouth said, “Isn’t that the worst thing you ever tasted?”

Or the time we were on a fishing trip and he told me that the little round things in the tapioca pudding were fish eyes. He ruined that for me for good.

I did get my dad’s sense of humor and my son has suffered for it. When he was in elementary school my son got in trouble for a “food fight”, he threw a piece of cheese at another student. He also lost a tooth that day and put it under his pillow that evening for the tooth fairy.

The next morning he woke up and excitedly looked under his pillow only to find a piece of cheese. He looked at me with the same face I am sure I gave my dad about the tapioca/fish eyes thing and I told him, “The tooth fairy heard you had a thing for cheese, especially throwing it at school.”

I’m not that mean, there was money there, just further back.

But there were times that I got the combined look of “what the heck” and “I’m kinda proud of that” from my dad. Like the time we talked about house keys.

Well after the house I grew up in was sold, we were talking about if we still had our house keys. I told him that I hadn’t had one for years. This shocked him because we grew up as what would be called latchkey kids, so how did I get in the house?

I pried open the basement window with a screwdriver I had buried in the flowerbed.

I specifically remember the pause in the conversation and that “what the proud” look on his face. I looked back and said, “What, you created me.”

And he did. He and my mom created several foundations within me. This one was there is a solution to every problem. It may not be typical or “normal”, but sometimes creativity is exactly what is needed.

All though junior high and high school I basically broke into my own home, hey, it worked. Does that count as breaking in since I lived there? I think not, I just called it an alternative entrance due to a locked door.

In your career, you will encounter seemingly locked doors. A promotion you want, a new job you desire, having to find another job after losing your current one, additional learning/educational opportunities –doors you want to go through, but seemingly do not know how to unlock it.

Walking through these doors will give you access to a whole structure; rooms filled with floors, walls, furniture, electricity – and windows. Stop banging your head on the door and take a step back – you can see the windows.

These windows may be represented by networking, volunteering, part time jobs, speaking up asking for what you want, taking your work to the next level. The one thing they all have in common is this: they are there waiting for you to discover them, you just have to get off your rear-end and do it.

Just because you see only one path as a solution to a problem does not mean that is the only path. Too often we get so focused on the problem that we get tunnel vision and do not allow ourselves to see possible solutions. When that one solution seems impossible, we want to throw our hands in the air and declare it is impossible. Done deal, never going to happen; poor me, I have no control or ability to do anything about this.

Several years ago I was a part of an organization and I was at the point of frustration, I just did not feel that I was getting anything out of it. I realized that I was attending, but not participating. So I set a timeline and made a deal with myself. I would go through the window of volunteering on committees and give it a certain amount of time for me to gauge ROI.

I joined three different committees; I was a little go getter. My logical mind thought that the ROI would be more business. Boy was I wrong. The ROI I received was expanding my network to befriend some amazing women. Today these women are my friends, mentors, cohorts and inspirations.

If I had not gone through that window my business would not be what it is today, nor would I as a person.

I also met many women and was able to lead by example and assist them in becoming more active in the organization, which provided value to them and their businesses.

The other benefit of going through a window is you can get inside then open the door for someone else; remember, the best way to get is giving to others.

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I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

Don’t Let the Bunnies Force You Out of Your Job

bunniesMy dogs have a strange fascination with bunnies. Beyond strange, more like obsessive.

They sit at the window and watch, for hours, for any sign of a bunny. When one is spotted or a trail is picked up in the yard, they go into high alert. This consists of strange noises and the doggie equivalent of bouncing off the walls. It goes from peaceful silence to complete chaos in two seconds flat.

So imagine my surprise when I took the boys on individual walks yesterday and bunnies were in the vicinity but there was no chaos. No barking, no whining, no chasing – not even a twitch! How is this possible? How can those furry little things turn my sweet, loving crew into crazy, possessed pups in one situation and not the other?

It is the environment. On their turf, bunnies are the devil reincarnate. Outside of their turf, they do not even appear on their radar.

Our environment guides us in how we judge an issue. If you are at the point of hating your job and ready to find something new, ask yourself why. What are the bunnies that are getting to you right now?

Why do these bunnies bother you? What about them – is it a task, a person, a situation, a long commute, too much travel, a process, an inability to grow in your position? Figure out the bunny and the underlying issue with it.

Here is a curious thing. When I work with clients, they tell me why they want to leave their current job. They have identified their bunnies and the reasons why.

Then they see other job opportunities that they are interested in and get really excited. The thing is, the bunnies are listed in the job description. Right there in plain sight! But in that situation the bunnies do not matter so much.

So going back to the original list of bunnies and reasons why, it may very well turn out that it is not bunnies at all. Because you don’t notice the bunnies outside your normal environment. This is when you want to go back and re-evaluate your list on why you want to leave.

This is important because if you get an interview for that new, exciting job and you list out the reasons for leaving as the bunnies, but they are the same bunnies where you are going, odds are the interviewer is not going to think you are a good fit.

Maybe it is not the bunnies, perhaps it is you.

Have you outgrown the position, company, environment, team, city – whatever it is, there is something in you that wants a change because of a bigger pull than a bunny. When I took the boys on a walk yesterday, I diverted their attention when there was a bunny in the vicinity. I steered them to a bush to smell or mark, talked to them to distract them – anything for them not to see the bunny.

They were so happy to be interacting in a bigger capacity – outside the walls of their home or fenced in yard, that those cute little furry creatures were no longer a concern. That was the whole thing that made them happy – to be a part of something bigger.

If you are in a situation where you are not able to leave, take a look at those bunnies again. Are they really that destructive? Is it possible that you could find a bigger environment to enjoy where you are now to minimize the bunnies until you are in a better position to leave?

There are times that one of those furry little creatures is sitting right outside the window driving my crew crazy – and yes, I think they do it on purpose. I simply go outside and walk towards it, giving it gentle persuasion to go away. When I comeback in, all is calm again.

We have the power to rid the bunnies from our environment to a degree, do not let them drive you up a wall to leave one yard to jump into the very same yard but with different landscape. Do not let the bunnies hurt your job.

Take a walk around your job; look at it from a new perspective. If you were new and just hired, would these bunnies really matter? Are there other opportunities for you to explore that you had not seen before? Give yourself a chance to recreate yourself in your own environment. Often the things we want are right there in front of us, just hidden behind the bunnies.

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I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

5 Blunders That Could Ruin Your Interview

Head SlapOne of the biggest frustrations of interviewing, right after not getting the job, is not being told why you did not get the job.

It is a competitive market with a lot of quality candidates out there. However, what could have cost you the job are some simple mistakes that you yourself made.

From the moment you release your resume you are on stage. Everything you do from here on out with regards to the job is being watched and judged. Slack in one area and the curtain closes.

They Like Me

We like to be liked; I believe it is human nature. During an interview we really want the interviewer to like us. The problem in this is when being liked and or being likable trump being relevant. When you spend more time trying to be their buddy rather than demonstrate your value in the position, your experience, skill sets, expertise and being the solution to their problem.

Yes, you want to build a rapport and demonstrate that you are the right fit both in terms of qualifications for the position as well as within their culture.

Always Pick Multiple Choice Answer C

I remember hearing that when in doubt on a multiple choice question, you should always choose answer C if you do not know the answer. I am not sure who came up with this advice and I never saw the wisdom in it.

You might be asked a question and you immediately see more than one way to answer it. It is a mistake to assume you know the intention of the interviewer. Ask. Simply ask the interviewer if they are looking at the situation from perspective A or perspective B. The interviewer might not be aware that there is more than one possible viewpoint. This demonstrates thoughtfulness in your answer and an expanded view on the topic.

Not Even In the Same Ballpark

It is great to prepare for an interview and have examples to answer the “tell me about a time…” question. The problem comes when we have memorized those stories and relay them when they are not relevant to the actual question being asked.

Relevancy comes from addressing issues related to the position, industry, company and situation. You must demonstrate that you get their need and you can solve their problem. Do not leave them to try to connect the dots – show them so they can walk out of that room saying, “That’s our person!”

Unlike the financial industry, in the career industry past success is an indicator of future success.

It Is Assumed

Several recruiters, hiring managers and human resource personnel have told me that an interview could have gone well, but they never followed up because at the end of the interview the candidate never expressed that they were still interested or wanted the job.

Do Not Assume. Just because you showed up and answered the questions does not automatically equate to you still wanting the job. Your silence could leave the interviewer wondering if you did not like what you heard but you are being too polite to tell them you are no longer interested.

Speak up. At the end of the interview reiterate that you believe this is a good fit and are very excited to join their team.

Dead Air

You showed up early, were completely prepared, aced the interview and closed strongly with an “I really want this job” – yep, you have got it in the bag.

Nope, not so fast – your work is not done.

You are not done with the “I want the job”, that is your face to face closing but not the end.

Follow up with a professionally worded ‘thank you for your time’ correspondence. Be sure to highlight the strengths and positives from the interview. Thank them for their time and re-iterate your interest and excitement for the position.

This will reinforce all the positives that you have and give you an additional edge. Surprisingly many hiring managers will keep those follow up correspondence to put in your personnel file because it demonstrated a positive quality about you.

You should arrive early, be prepared, look the part – all the traditional wisdom for interviewing; however, you also need to pay attention to the details along the way. As the sayings go – the devil is in the details and it only takes one pebble to start an avalanche.

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I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

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