How & Where to Best Use Keywords for LinkedIn Profile SEO

LinkedIn Profile Keyword SEO

Optimizing a LinkedIn profile is critical for job seekers. But what if you are perfectly content in the position that you have, what is the benefit for you?

The benefit is the “what if”.

What if you were offered an opportunity to more of what you love, for more money, maybe in a desired part of the country? What if you were asked to serve as a consultant or expert on an intriguing project?

You may not be looking for these things, but wouldn’t it be nice if they came to you?

Recruiters are looking for the best talent, they do not limit themselves to only the truly available candidates – they look for passive candidates. They leverage LinkedIn because it can provide results quickly and effectively.

According to The Undercover Recruiter, 97% of all HR and staffing professionals are using LinkedIn in their recruiting efforts.

The question then becomes – how can I be found?

Keywords

The right keywords in your profile, using them often and to your advantage.

What Are Keywords?

These are the words that are important in finding that which we search. If you are looking for a certain position, the words you use to search that are relevant for the position are keywords. They are buzzwords, jargon and industry language. It is how the industry or companies describe the job, profession or duties.

Keywords are critical in Search Engine Optimization to filter through search engines, social networks (LinkedIn) and applicant tracking systems (ATS) and resume databases.

Where Should Keywords Be Used?

The most effective sections in LinkedIn to use keywords are:

  • Headline
  • Summary
  • Job Titles in Experience
  • Experience
  • Recommendations
  • Skills

It has been suggested that extra weighting is given in LinkedIn search algorithm for keywords in the Headline, Experience Job Title and Skills sections.

Before we get to how to best use the keywords, let’s get a foundation of what they are and how to find them.

What Keywords Should Be Used?

The keywords that you use will depend upon your industry, job, experience, qualifications and where you want to go in that next level.

Keywords are also how you describe what you do.

In January of 2015, many articles published lists of the top 10 buzzwords for 2014, which was a variation of the following:

Motivated, Passionate, Creative, Extensive Experience, Responsible, Strategic, Track Record, Driven, Organized/Organizational, Effective, Expert, Innovative

Soon we will be getting the lists of what was overused in 2015. Although somewhat helpful, these lists tell you about the previous year, not forecasting for this year and what to use now.

I think there is a bit of subjectivity in the lists. If organizational is in your title or instrumental in the value you provide – use it. If you are a recognized expert, then say it. Yes, many people may overuse the term expert; however, if you demonstrate it in your context then you are perfectly fine using the word ‘expert’.

Determining the Right Keywords

There are several sources for mining effective keywords.

Talk It Out

You are a great resource that you might be discounting. Try this exercise – sit down in front of a computer and type out a conversation that you would have with someone unfamiliar with your job. Describe to them what you do and how you do it. Include people or groups that you work with and how you work with them.

From this ‘conversation’ you can mine several possibilities.

Search For That Job

Do a search on your own or previous job. Pay attention to titles, products, services, job responsibilities, certifications or degrees listed in the requirements or responsibilities.

Job boards are a great resource to mine for keywords. Indeed.com is a very robust job board and easy to navigate. It also has other tools on the website that can be helpful – more on that in a bit.

Scope Out Your Competition

Do a search on LinkedIn for those doing the job you are doing or the job you want to be doing and mine their profile.

The top searches will have certain items in common; pay attention to not only the words, but how they are used.

Power Your Research

Once you have blocks of text, now is the time to synchronize your research and condense it to the most effective keywords.

Copy and paste the text from your internal conversation, competition and job boards into a word cloud application. Tagcrowd.com is a phenomenal site that takes the information you paste and creates a visual word cloud highlighting the most important and often used words.

Below is a screen shot of a word cloud from a project manager position found on indeed.com:

Get Geeky With It

You can take your search one step further on Indeed.com and see how certain keywords are trending.

Go to Indeed.com/jobtrends
– Type in the terms you want to compare; use quotes around the words and separate with a comma
– Click on Find Trends
– The graph will show historical information on how those words have been used in job postings, how they are trending and how popular they are recently.

Below is a screen shot comparing Information Technology with IT, as an example.

How to Use Those Keywords

Remember, these keywords are impactful in describing your brand and the value that you add to an organization, team and clients.

Headline

This prime real estate has 120 characters to benefit from – use it to your advantage. Go beyond your title and company and utilize keywords that make an impact for you, your brand and your value.

Instead of “Information Technology Director, ZBC Company

What about: “IT Director Leading Global Enterprise Growth Strategies – Improves Quality – Strengthens Productivity & Efficiencies

That packs a little more of a punch!

Summary & Experience

Use those keywords to tell not only what you do, but how you do it.

The summary is not the place to list your current job as a series of job duties; it should tell your story. Your experience section should follow suit – do not list a bullet point list of what you were hired to do; tell the reader what you did.

If you were involved in a Six Sigma project and it had an impact, let the reader know. Simply stating ‘Six’ Sigma is not enough. It is putting keywords into your profile, true, but it is not painting a picture.

Instead, try: “Instrumental in implementing Lean Six Sigma processes that significantly improved processes resulting in a 46% decrease in costs for xyz.”

Reflect back on the top LinkedIn profiles of your peers or of those holding the position you seek to get an idea of how to communicate your value.

Job Titles in Experience

Your job title must match up on your profile to what is used on your resume and what the company listed; however, you have 100 characters to expand on that to create a more complete, and impactful, picture.

Financial Analyst

Becomes:

Financial Analyst – Asset Management, Market Analysis, Trend Forecasting, Profit & Loss, Auditing

And that is 97 characters.

Recommendations

When requesting recommendations, forgo the boilerplate template that is provided and create a personalized message. Use keywords when asking for a recommendation to encourage the responder to do the same.

“Joe, as you and I worked together at KDI Company and you are familiar with my skills in trend forecasting, corporate auditing and asset management, I would greatly appreciate if you would write a recommendation for me that I could post on my LinkedIn profile.”

You have not only politely asked for a recommendation, you have given a road map of what you want to highlight!

Skills

Select from the skills provided by LinkedIn ones that best support you, your value and your brand.  Remember, the right key words in your skills section have been said to have extra weighting in the LinkedIn search algorithm.

LinkedIn All-Star Status Rocks & How To Reach it in 7 Steps

linkedin all star banner

The year is coming to an end and soon people will be making New Year Resolutions or professional goals for 2016. I imagine on many lists will be to either:

Get a better job or move up in their industry
Grow their business

Growing your network is paramount in accomplishing either one of those goals. The good news is LinkedIn is king in growing and nurturing your network.

Before you can leverage the power of LinkedIn, you must be able to be found, understood and add value.

Today begins a series of LinkedIn tips and insights to building a strong profile before the New Year to prepare for another series on leveraging LinkedIn to accomplish your 2016 goals. The topic today:

Achieving All-Star Status

There are five levels of status, from least complete to highest completion: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert and All-Star.

Why it is important to be an All-Star

According to LinkedIn:

Users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn.

That is forty times more likely to receive opportunities including job offers, new clients, new markets, new connections to centers of influence and more.

Whether you are actively looking for a new job or open to hearing about opportunities, a 2014 Jobvite survey found that 94 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to source and vet candidates.

It might be safe to assume that recruiters find plenty of candidates within the All-Star category without venturing into Expert or Advanced profiles.

What it Takes to Reach All-Star

For your profile to be considered complete, there are seven criteria:

  1. Profile Picture
  2. Experience
  3. Skills
  4. Summary
  5. Industry & Location
  6. Education
  7. Connections

It is not enough to have each section, they must be completed in the most impactful way.

Profile Picture

Although the statistic of profiles with a picture are 14 times more likely to be viewed, the caveat this statistic does not mention is that profiles with professional pictures are more likely to be viewed.

Not just any picture will do.

Your photo should be current showing you in a relaxed, inviting, professional manner. This means no bathroom selfies, Facebook fun pictures, pets, kids, families or group photos.

There are exceptions to every rule and if your business is all about dogs, having a puppy in your photo may just be the ticket for you – as long as it matches with your profile headline.

Headline

You have a limit of 120 characters for your headline. Yes, I said limit. Your title and company name is not all that you can fill in for this section. This about this as a very short introduction, you want to be known for more than just your title and company, right? Add keywords and phrases here that represent you and the value you provide.

Experience

Your experience section will need your current position and two prior positions, all completed with supporting information. In other words, simply listing two previous positions is not enough.

Use experience section to build your story of where you have been and how it is getting you to where you are going. List the value you provided, who you served, how you served them and the difference you made while there.

You have the parameters of 200 minimum characters in the experience summary and a maximum of 2,000. You do not need to use all 2,000 characters – a short paragraph will do; accompanied with a couple of supporting bullet points is even better.

If you are a student or unemployed, you will still need to list a current position. Without it you will not be ranked as an All-Star.

Skills

For All-Star status, you must have at least five skills listed. You can add up to 50 skills, but let’s not get carried away. Fire eating, fire breathing, small talk, cat herding, chewing gum, Halloween, snacks and drinking water are all listed as skills. Seriously, type them in and see for yourself!

If you do not have a skills section click Skills section under profile summary at the top of your profile. You may need to click View More to find this section

To add more skills:

Select Edit Profile under Profile at the top of your page
Scroll to the Skills & Endorsements section of your profile
Click on +Add Skill button in the top right corner of this section
Select Yes after “I want to be endorsed”
Type in skills and when they populate, click on the skill then click on Add
Click Save when done.

Summary

Your summary is your introduction to you. This is your opportunity to speak to your audience directly, in a one-on-one conversation. It should be an expansion of your headline and incorporate your style, strengths, specialties, experience and atta boys.

Use keywords to emphasize and describe rather than throwing in industry jargon to try to appease. Remember, this is a conversation, not a script.

Think about writing your summary from this perspective: you are sitting down at a foo-foo coffee house across from someone you want to read your profile.

They ask you, “So, tell me about yourself” Now go! How you answer that in a relaxed, professional environment is how you write your summary.

You have 2,000 characters to play with so make them count. It is not necessary to use them all as long as you tell your story the way you want the reader to understand it.

Industry & Location

These two areas simply tell readers where you are located and in what industry you operate.

When editing your profile, click the edit button next to these fields (see below). Enter your country and zip code then enter your industry. To finish, click Save.

Education

Simply add your education in this section. It is not necessary to put graduation dates. The additional benefit of adding education is it gives you an opportunity to connect to fellow school attendees and alumni – you have a built in connection!

Connections

For All-Star status, you need at least 50 connections. Start by connecting with professional contacts you know. Use the search feature to search companies you worked for to find former or current employees on LinkedIn. Do the same for the schools listed in your education section.
These are the basics for reaching All-Star status. Look for articles soon to feature:

Where, when and how to leverage keywords to complete your profile
Above the fold, maximizing the spaces you are not completing
Telling your story to reach and connect with your audience
Recommendations – how to ask for and receive recommendations that work for you
… and more!

★ I have created a tip cheat sheet on several sections and character limits; to view or download, just click here: LinkedIn Personal Profile Cheat Sheet 

Whatever You Do, Don’t Job Search During The Holidays!

hire me santa

Whoever is giving that advice and following it up with “hiring slows during the holiday season” I wish they would stop.

Just stop. It is terrible advice.  The holidays are a great time to continue a job search. They provide unique opportunities giving job seekers a break from traditional searching techniques.

Here are 10 things to keep in mind during a holiday job search, including benefits of job searching at this time:

  1. Some searches slow down or are temporarily delayed; however, there are plenty of opportunities still available and interviews to score.
  2. Companies have a need due to a recent “reorganization” at the end of the year or by staff giving notice to take advantage of time off coupled with holiday closing. Candidates will be needed to fill these needs at the start of the new year.
  3. There is less competition because so many take the ill advice of taking a full break during the holidays.
  4. Holiday hiring has its own timeline. It requires flexibility and patience to accommodate staff taking time off before they lose it at the end of the year, holiday parties and companies closing for a day.
  5. If you do not hear by the end of the year it is not an automatic rejection. There are many factors coming into play, not only the ones mentioned above, but the human element of after the first of the year everyone reengaging to move forward.
  6. Fiscal year and budgets come into play so your start date could very well be after the new year, this could also work to your advantage in negotiating salary and benefits.
  7. This is the time for good cheer and many attendees at holiday events will welcome the opportunity to help you with your search or spread the word.
  8. There are more networking opportunities that come along with holidays – more events and more attendees. Think beyond company events to research and include Chambers of Commerce or professional associations, as well.
  9. Partner changing your strategy (attending more events) with changing your approach. Think of this push as growing your network instead of finding a job and it will increase your ability to enjoy the interactions much more. Added bonus – partner these two with a goal of helping those you meet.
  10. Use holidays as an excuse to reconnect with your network and gently remind them you are searching. Send holiday notes, cards or emails wishing them well and casually mention, in an upbeat tone, that you are continuing to search for your next great opportunity and know it will be coming soon. If your contacts have helped you in the past, be sure to thank them.

If you are uncomfortable with holiday cards, send a message at the first of the year wishing your network a happy new year with the same sentiment about continuing to search for your next great job, which you know is right around the corner.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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 companies, professional organizations and colleges speaking to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

I Speak 7 Languages; None Are Right for Writing a LinkedIn Profile

different languagesI have developed a pretty impressive multi-lingual ability as I age. I have learned to speak six languages besides English. One of these languages is the language of resumes.

Even though I speak resume as a Brand Strategist, Career Coach and Professional Resume Writer – this is not the most important language for LinkedIn. In fact, it is the worst language to use. It is the wrong conversation tone.

One of the most important differences between a resume and LinkedIn is voice. There is a clear distinction for each.

Resume: This is an arm’s length conversation. The tone is a removed, professional sales tone. It is written in the assumed “I” – instead of “I am responsible for xyz” a resume is written as “Responsible for xyz”. It is a language that is only used for the resume, not for any other type of conversation.

LinkedIn: This is a one-on-one conversation with the person reading your profile. They are looking at your picture and getting a sense of what you sound like. You are speaking directly to that one person – your target audience. You should use the “I” or “me” as it is a business, professional, casual conversation.

Think of your summary as this: if you were sitting down in a foo-foo coffee house across from your ideal target and they asked you, “Tell me about yourself” you would not answer with “I am an experienced Professional Title with 15 years’ experience doing ABC”. This might be the opening of your resume, but is not how you would talk to another person.

Instead you would tell them a modification of your elevator and interview pitch. You would talk like a real person talking to another real person sitting in front of you. How you answer that question is basically your LinkedIn summary.

So the most important language you should use when writing your LinkedIn profile is the language of you.

Use words that accurately describe you. If you are energetic, passionate, motivated and the like – then use these types of words.

If you love the behind the scenes analysis, research and reporting – then tell it like it is!

Be you, the professional you, and that will allow the right audience to connect with you resulting in expanded networks and opportunities.

The other six languages I speak: Mom, boy, dog, obvious and sarcasm.

Mom: I raised a son. I learned the best way to communicate with him was short and direct. I also learned that he interpreted things differently than I did; for example “clean your room” had two different meanings to us. I learned how to command the “Mom Voice”.

Boy: My son’s best friends were often at our house so I was the adopted second mother to a house full of boys. I am five foot tall, they all grew to be over six foot before high school, I had to learn to talk boy quickly to gain and keep control. The “Mom Voice” came in handy here, too. I also learned to be fluent on topics of sports, flatulence, explaining why not to do stupid things just because it popped into their heads and the difference in holding a fork like a utensil and not a shovel.

Dog: I grew up with four dogs, at one point had a pack of five and my current pack is now part of the office. Yes, they have different sounds, whines, barks, yips, moans, sighs and howls; and yes, I understand them all. I know the difference between a chipmunk sighting alert whine and a delivery truck alert whine.

Obvious: One of the two languages passed down from my father and brother. This language is incorporated into my body language, it cannot be helped. In this instance, I was holding a friend’s crutches and someone remarked, “wow, you’re short”. We captured the moment.

Sarcasm: The other language passed down from my father and brother; my brother was the king. I prefer to call this effervescent witticism. I am a huge fan and skilled translator.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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 companies, professional organizations and colleges speaking to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

You Are Unique, Why Does Your Resume Sound Like Everyone Else? 7 Tips to Stand Out

stand out from crowdJust how many resumes are received for a job opening?

A lot.

Of course it depends on the position, industry and demand; and what little research I found was an average of 75 for each position in 2009 and up to 250 for each position in 2013.

Needless to say, there is a lot of competition for great positions. So many that many companies use software as the first step in eliminating a great majority in an attempt to get a manageable number to review.

With all this competition from other candidates and computers weeding you out – why would you want your resume to look like everyone else’s when you are not like everyone else?

The common sense answer is that you would not; however, the difficulty is figuring out how to make your resume sound like you to get the attention you want and deserve.

Here are some seven tips and suggestions to make your resume your own and stand out among the crowd:

1. Know What You are Selling

Your resume is your personal sales statement. In order to sell any product, you must know the features and benefits. What do you bring to the table, how can you add value, what makes you better at what you do than your competition?

2. The Proof is in the Pudding

It is not enough to tell a prospective employer that you have x years’ experience in a field. Length of time does not equate to quality or value. Haven’t you worked with someone who has been at a company for an extended length of time and wonder how they are still there because they have no clue as to what they are doing? Exactly.

It is important to demonstrate your expertise, skills and value. Instead of telling them you prepare reports (no value, statement only) demonstrate the value of this task, perhaps something like, “compile and present monthly x reports identifying new avenues and opportunities for growth” What is the value to what you do.

3. Duties vs. Value

To be frank: no one cares what you were hired to do; they care what you did. Listing out job duties as bullet points is simply posting your job description on your resume. It only tells the reader what you were hired to do, which does not demonstrate value.

To determine value, think of these questions:

  • Who do you work with?
  • How do you work with them?
  • What do you do?
  • Who benefits?
  • What is the value received by you doing what you do?

From there you can create a value-centered bullet point for each task integrating the answers to these questions into your bullet point.

4. Templates are a Start

There are many templates available to utilize when building your resume. These are fine, as a start; however, they do not customize your resume for you. If you feel stuck on how to start, templates can be a good kick starter. Just remember to personalize it after you fill in the blanks.

5. If it is You is Should Sound Like You

We each have our own style and that cannot be captured in a template or by sounding like everyone else. If you are a very dynamic, go getter than you want to use words that reflect that side of you. If, on the other hand, you are a behind the scenes kind of person using dynamic words is a contradictory.

Think of it this way – when you read a book you get an image of a character based on the words that are presented. This helps your mind form an image of that character in your mind. The same is being done when someone reads your resume – they are forming an image of you based on the words you chose.

6. Research

Keywords are king. If you are having trouble finding the right keywords, find job postings of the position you seek, copy and paste them into tagcrowd.com –  this gives you a word cloud of the keywords used in the position.

Another option is google similar resumes to see what phrases or keywords are used. Do not copy and paste the whole resume, just utilize these to get a sample and make them your own.

While you are searching similar resumes, click on the “Images” tab of Google and look at them from the visual perspective. At this point, do not read them, just let your eye flow over the many, many resumes before you and see what you are naturally drawn to. You can then emulate this design into your own style.

7. Would You Hire You?

Writing your resume is a daunting and not fun task. Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to say the right thing that end up saying nothing at all. Take a step back from your resume and read it from as though you were the hiring manager and ask yourself, “Would I hire this person and why?”

Challenge yourself to prove that you own that next job and make sure your sales presentation supports that sentiment.

Lastly, relax and do not try to write the one be all end all resume of all times in one setting. Your resume will need to be tweaked and modified for each position. It is an evolution at every turn so allow yourself to grow and modify it as you go along the process.

The very first resume you write may not be the worst or the best, but through the process of revisions, tweaks, research and modifications the real you will come out and get the attention of the right hiring manager for the right job!

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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 companies, professional organizations and colleges speaking to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

I Did Not Connect with You on LinkedIn Because of Your Facebook Picture

facebook picture on linkedinLinkedIn is LinkedIn and Facebook is Facebook. They are two different venues, environments and interactions. Facebook is the silly, personal side. LinkedIn is the business side.

I am not going to belabor the point of mixing behavior between the two. This article is only about the profile picture, and why using a Facebook type picture on LinkedIn is preventing you from expanding your business network.

I have read many articles stating that it takes seven seconds to make a first impression – but that is if you are having an interaction. Seven seconds in meeting someone face to face or seeing their body language. How quickly do we form an impression based on a photo?

As little as 1/10 of a second.

That is what was found in a series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov. It only takes a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face. Click this link to read the full, fascinating article: How Many Seconds to a First Impression by Eric Wargo on Association for Psychological Science.

Here is a list of photos that I have seen that close doors on LinkedIn:

  • Wedding photos
  • Data nights – including your date and the food
  • Bar buddies – you all look like you are having a good time, plenty of cocktails and which one are you?
  • Phantom hands on shoulders – cropping the rest of the other people out, but not those hands
  • All decked out in favorite sport team gear – jersey, face paint, Mardi Gras beads
  • Holding or surrounded by children
  • Cartoons – either a meme or a characterization of yourself, perhaps ok if you are a cartoonist
  • Car shots with seat belts and back seats
  • Up the nose selfie – holding the phone at such a low angle that the inside of your nose is most prominent
  • Painful, angry or confused – not sure if the picture took, well dressed mug shot or it hurts to smile
  • Showing off favorite toys – motorcycles, cars, boats and this has nothing to do with your business
  • Are you in the shot? shots – vacation shots, dog shots, fun in the sun shots where you are merely a speck among the scenery
  • The future is so bright I gotta wear shades
  • Looking cool selfie with a full view and prominence of your arm
  • And the honest to goodness bathroom selfie complete with the shower curtain, sink and holding the phone in front of your chest

All of the above are fine on Facebook, but what value do they convey about you as a business person?  What value does your child, dog, toy, sunglasses or bathroom give your business (unless it is directly related)? My dogs are extremely photogenic and just so darn cute, but having them in my profile picture does not speak to me or my value as a career and business coach.

In other words, in the business world no one cares about those lovely attributes of your personal life unless they bring value to them as a connection, customer or prospective employer.

What comprises a good photo, one that will open doors? It is a matter of five elements:

  1. Expression – Smile. It does not have to be a full on toothy number, but at least look approachable and open. When getting your picture taken, instead of a forced smile, think of something that makes you grin – a funny line in a movie, something cute your child did, hearing praise from your boss – anything that brings a natural, genuine smile to your face without going into full out laughter.
  2. Clothing – Dress for where you want to go or what represents who you are professionally in a business casual sense. Business relaxed, not the corporate suit and tie head shot unless that is the image you and your company want to portray.
  3. Background – This is a backdrop, not the most important element of the picture; it should not be distracting or inappropriate. It does not have to be in an office environment, however, it should be the last thing someone focuses on in your photo.
  4. Proportion – Your head and shoulders should take up at least 60% of the frame, we want to see you!
  5. Likeness – The picture should be somewhat current and look like you, over the age of 40 no high school photos or glamour shots.

Unless in that 1/10 of a second you convey you are about business prospective clients, connections or employers will not take the time to accept your invitation or read your profile. LinkedIn is for business, it is all about making connections, adding value, expanding your networks and knowledge – if your picture is closing those doors you are missing the greatest of opportunities.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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 companies, professional organizations and colleges speaking to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

Stop Ignoring The Most Important Person To Give You Job Search Advice

confidenceWith the ability to have instant access to a wealth of information on any topic known to man, it would seem to be a pretty easy task to become fairly well educated on a desired topic. The flip side to this is information overload which leads to analysis-paralysis.

If you are in the process of making a change in your career – moving up or changing industries – it is natural to do a little research to be prepared. So you begin a search on the internet. You find information on job search strategies, resumes, networking, LinkedIn, interviewing – just to name a few topics that you are likely to run across.

So you pick on and start doing some real research on one topic to get started and that is when the fun starts.

One site tells you that you should always have a one page resume, another says that two pages is preferred or most common. One expert tells you that you should never have a summary on the top of your resume, another says it is an absolute must, and the list goes on and on and on and on….

What you start to quickly realize is there is a lot of conflicting information out there, with an emphasis on a lot of information out there. By the time you amass all the tips, tools, tricks, insight and recommendations your head is about ready to explode. You feel worse than you did when you began the process.

Perhaps you feel like you thought you knew a thing or two but now you feel you really do not know a darn thing about this whole process after all. A sense of doom and gloom starts to creep in.

Should you redefine your brand, resume, LinkedIn, networking, interviewing and everything else that you do every single time you leave the house or apply for a position? Everyone seems sincere and authoritative, even if conflicting, so who do you listen to?

Let’s not forget the well-meaning intentions of family and friends. Some turn into instant experts on job searching and all the elements as soon as they find out you are in that mode. They tell you with extreme confidence exactly what you should do. Sometimes, if you are really lucky, they badger you asking if you have followed their advice to the letter and if not why not and it can turn into berating rather than supporting.

Professionals, websites, articles, videos, seminars, books, friends, family, former bosses, co-workers, networking groups – who do you listen to? You have so many options of who to listen to but odds are you are not listening to the person who has the most to contribute, your most valuable expert.

What if I told you there is one person who knows you better than anyone else and who can guide you? They can weed through the landfill of information and pick out the gems that benefit you the most because it is in line with who you are and what you want.

Who is this person??

It is you.

That’s right; you need to listen to yourself. Your gut, intuition, little voice in your head – whatever you call it you need to learn to listen to it.

No, you do not know the world of job searching, but you know you. And selling yourself in a way that resonates with you is the foundation and vital to your job search success.

You can gather the best advice in the world but if it does not work for you than it is worthless. Listening to yourself allows you to pick and choose among the strategies and suggestions and mold them into your comfort level.

For example, if you read a very persuasive article advocating for colors, graphics, charts and statistics on your resume but your stomach tightens just thinking about it. That would be a signal not to do that. If you choose to ignore this advice from yourself and do make those changes you will probably end up not liking your resume.

This in turn means you will be less likely to utilize it and send it out. That means less visibility and not creating opportunities for you to be considered. This could prolong your job search, deepen your frustration and make you feel worse than before.

If your gut says absolutely no but you think there might be some value in the advice, see if you can find a compromise. Say, “Self, I know I cannot do the fancy-smancy resume, but is there something here we can use? I really want to upgrade the look of my resume.”

Self may very well respond with, “How about using a different font, work with the white space, change your letterhead and make smaller visually impactful changes?”

Now you create a look that you like, that you are proud of and one that you happily send it out. You therefore increase your chances for visibility, communication and action.

The bottom line is this: it is your career, your life, your resume, your LinkedIn profile, your networking, your brand – it should represent you! Do research, listen and then have that conversation with yourself. Find a compromise in order to build a personal brand, make connections, expand your network and capitalize on opportunities.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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.

4 Steps To Create Engagement In Any Conversation

a conversationCommunication is important in business, communication is vital. It is not enough to introduce yourself while networking, tell your clients what you do and take orders from your boss. You have to exchange information and build alliances.

It is called engagement and there are four steps to creating engagement in any conversation:

1. Ask a Question

Soliciting information from another person opens the door for them to share information and insight with you. In turn, based upon their response, you can then help guide the conversation.

2. Keep Quiet and Pay Attention

Once you ask a question, give the recipient all your attention, do not talk over them and do not be distracted by anything else in the room. Give them your undivided attention in order that you can hear what they say and relay their importance to you.

3. Listen

This goes beyond hearing their words or preparing a response before they are finished giving their response. Listen, really listen to what they say, what they do not and their body language. The total message is comprised of all three.

4. Follow Up

If you were paying attention and listening to what they said, you will be able to formulate either a follow up question for further clarification, deeper understanding or to be able to provide comprehension of what they said. It is validation to the other person that you were listening, what they said was important and you are engaged with them.

Using these four steps, you can build rapport with anyone at any time in an easy manner allowing them to provide all the information and clues to guide the conversation and find a common ground, allegiance, prospective opportunities and collaboration.

The Help You Get is Not Always the Help You Need

Luke paintBedrooms were painted this weekend at my house, it was an event in which the whole family participated – which means the humans painted and the dogs got paint all over them.

Bless my little puppies, they really did think they were helping. They wanted to be a part of the process, to not miss a moment of the fun and to share the experience. I highly recommend the color Wicker for a room, just not for a dog; although I do believe Luke wears it well.

Sometimes people think they are helping and they really are just getting your paint everywhere and getting hair stuck to the walls.

There are plenty of articles that will tout that up to 80% of jobs are secured through networking, the numbers vary but this is a pretty common and accepted percentage.

Networking is critical not just in finding the right job, but also in building a connection of influencers, prospects, allies and accountability partners. I am all about networking. I love it, I teach it and I am a great networking wing-man.

As great as networking is and allows for an abundance of opportunities, there are downsides.

Some people do not know how to help you.
Some people do not want to help you, only themselves.

Painting Helper Luke – Do Not Know How

The ones that do not know how to help you have the best of intentions, they really do. They may hear that you are looking for job so they give you a couple of names of hiring managers. Unfortunately, the jobs they are hiring for are just not right for you. The job could require a lot more certification or experience than you have, in an entirely different field than what you do (and you have no desire to change industries) or in a whole other state (one in which you do not care to relocate).

These are the Lukes – very excitable and anxious to help, but not really having a clue what you need. Luke thought he was helping this weekend by being close, he would sit right next to us as we painted and that meant sitting his butt right up against the wall. Luke lacks focus.

How to focus the Lukes – give them details that they can relate to and remember. If you are in purchasing then you need to explain this in a way that resonates with them. Explain what you do in a way that you would to someone that is not in the industry or use an example of how you would do what you do for them or their company. They need to understand to be able to help, and this means they need a little bit of clarity.

Painting Helper Lexi – Do Not Want To

Those that only want to help themselves normally are trying to make themselves look good or they are just going through the networking motions because they see it as a necessary evil. These are the Lexis. She wasn’t so much of a helper as a hindrance. More than once we had to gently ask her to move because she would position herself right where we needed to paint.

I have encountered the “I’m such a connector – I’m awesome, even though it has no value to you” and the “here’s a name just so I can look like I’m contributing although it is not a good contact for you”.

How to eliminate the blocks set up by Lexis – ask why. When someone says you need to call so-and-so ask them why. It is not rude, so do not worry about that. It can simply be asked as, “Thank you for the contact, so why do you think we would be a good connection?”

And it is okay to do follow up questions. If they respond, “Well, she knows everyone!” That sounds good, but no one knows everyone. So a good follow up question would be, “Great! Does she know a lot of people in the XYZ industry/hiring managers/purchasing department etc.?”

Gain as much clarification before you make that call and waste your time and theirs. This happened to me. I once called a woman – just because the person I knew from networking was so enthusiastic that she was wonderful and a great connection for me. When I did call her, bless her, she asked me why I was calling.

I told her I was referred by this guy and she said, “Okay, but why?” I was stumped! I was honest and told her “I have no earthly idea, but thank you so much for taking my call and I apologize for being unprepared and taking up your time.”

Turns out she and I met up again months later at another event and we hit it off. She is now one of my closest friends and a mentor.

It is wonderful and exciting to get leads through networking, just do a little more homework before and after getting the lead to make sure it is a good one and that is worth your time and theirs.

One last word – be sure to reciprocate. Now that you know how to handle the Lukes and Lexis – do not be one. Listen to what people are saying, ask questions to clarify and offer assistance when you can. To give, one must give.

Back to top
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,096 other followers

%d bloggers like this: