Why Your LinkedIn & Resume Are Flatlining – And How To Revive Them

Are you sending out resumes that are getting lost in the blackhole of no responses?

Are people looking at your LinkedIn but not connecting or responding?

These are two strong indicators that your resume and LinkedIn profile are dead. Or dying a slow painful death.

What happened? You’re using keywords to describe your experience. It should be obvious that you are a match. Why won’t someone talk to you? Why is your resume or LinkedIn on life support or worse?

Because you are not talking with anyone. You’re writing at them.

That’s the cause of death.

Here are the symptoms

Is your job description your main points? Are you trying to talk “resume” or “professional”? If so, you’re not engaging. You are not only killing your brand; you’re killing the conversation before it starts.

You’ve got your eyes closed, hands over your ears talking in a different language to the person in front of you. You can’t have or invite a conversation that way, now can you?

Here’s the why

Resumes are a funny thing. No, strike that. Resumes stink. They are in a weird language, use the assumed “I”, and you’re not sure of what to include, how, or even the current rules. Writing your resume is a frustrating, mind numbing, nerve racking, exercise of torture.

Given this set up, is it any wonder that most people do what is easiest – use their job description as bullet points? No, of course not.

But easy isn’t always right.

The problem in doing so is many:

  1.  You are not conveying value.
  2. You are writing what you were hired to do.
  3. No one cares what you were hired to do.
  4. They only pay attention to what happens when you do it.
  5. They only care when it relates to them – what can you do for them.

In other words: boring, irrelevant, snooze fest, they have moved on. That’s if someone actually reads it. If it is your resume, it probably hasn’t passed the ATS system. But that’s another conversation.

Here’s the fix

Stop trying to be the right words and be you.

Have a conversation. I know resumes are a bit awkward. I call them an arm’s length conversation. You aren’t sure who is going to read them so it might be a bit removed, but you are still having a conversation.

Talk to them!

Take those bullet points, job duties, and bring them to life. Tell them why they want to talk to you. Break them down to include points of interest. Do so by examining them with these questions:

  1. Who did you work with?
  2. How did you work with them?
  3. What did you do?
  4. How did something or someone benefit from this?
  5. How is it better since YOU did it?
  6. What is unique about how you did it?
  7. What was the problem?
  8. Why was there a need for this?

It’s a bit of storytelling, a dash of context, sprinkling of keywords, and a whole lot of demonstrated value. Mix this all up and you have a conversation starter.

Talk with your reader. Imagine them asking you a question – “tell me about a time you fixed this problem”. Then answer it speaking to them directly, without the $10 words and fluff. Tell them what matters to them in a fast and understandable way.

If you drone on in person, people will tune you out. Drone on in your resume, they do the same thing.

Now LinkedIn is a bit different. The conversation changes. Instead of an arm’s length, it is now a one-on-one with the person you want to read your profile.

Think of it – and write it – from this context. You’re sitting in one of those ridiculously overstuffed chairs in a foo-foo coffee house across from your target reader. They ask you to tell them about yourself.

How do you answer that?

If you answer it like your resume, “I’m a senior technical professional with 20+ years’ experience….” Zzzzzzzz You killed the conversation. Why? Because no one talks like that in real life!

Answer it as a person. A real-life person facing another real-life person. What would you say – in person – in that casual, professional environment?

One of my most favorite examples is a client with boundless energy. And a LinkedIn opening of: “I am a TITLE with COMPANY who covers TERRITORY.” Zzzzzzz

We captured her energy by opening a conversation with an engaging statement that represents her, her industry, and her clients. In less than 10 seconds you know she is an influencer, a winner with a healthy balance of work and play.

We used “me”, “my”, “I” and “our” in her profile. She is talking directly with her audience.

Her views shot up 300% in the first week and recruiters were engaging with her.

Summary

Yesterday I talked to a young man frustrated at the lack of responses and engagement. When he explained to me one of his bullet points, he could tell me the value. His resume was a job duty. He exclaimed, “I don’t know what to say or how to say it!

My answer – to him and to you – stop talking at someone using words, phrases or even a style that isn’t natural. Pretend you are talking to me. And be you.

You are going to get noticed and hired due to a combination of things. Your experience, skills, expertise, and/or potential. But don’t forget the most important part of that equation, what it all starts with, even that sentence: you.

How can you tweak your profile to invite a conversation?

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As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help amazing professionals get career happy.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more.

Why Dumping a Resume/Bio in Your LinkedIn Summary is Killing Potential Conversations

road block stop

 

Do you know why someone is reading your LinkedIn profile? They want to get a sense of you: who you are, what you do and what you enjoy doing – in a professional context.

I heard it said that LinkedIn is a virtual handshake.  I think that is perfect.  Although it is a huge, digital platform, it is very business-personal because it is a one-on-one conversation between you and the person reading your profile.

The reader is imagining what your voice sounds like, how tall you are and all the little particulars about you based on the words you choose.  They are going beyond putting together the face with the name, they are filling in details.

The reader can look at your experience section or perhaps they have read your resume.  That is the business-business side of you.  LinkedIn is the business-personal side.  This is where your personality should shine through.  Instead of assumed I statements on the resume, you are speaking directly to the reader using I and me.  (i.e. resume: “Manage team of 30” – LinkedIn: “I manage a team of 30”)

You are beginning a business, networking relationship with the reader by digitally extending your hand and using your summary to say, “Hey, nice to meet you, let me tell you a little bit about myself”.  You are speaking directly to them, again, a one-on-one conversation.

Writing about yourself is hard.  I get it.  Even though branding is my passion and business, I cringe every time I have to put something together for myself when I lead training or for a speaking engagement.

The easy thing is popping your bio or resume into your LinkedIn. Just because it is easy does not mean that is the best plan.  For your experience section, it is doable – just remember to insert the I’s and me’s so it is more of a conversation and not so standoffish.

However, for your summary, dropping in your bio or resume is a terrible plan.

Bad to Worse

Imagine you are at a networking event.  Go ahead, close your eyes to visualize – no, wait, if you do that you won’t be able to get the rest of this.  Scratch that.  Keep reading and imagine an event with 25 people or so.  It is business professional environment, pretty lively with everyone getting to know each other.

Now imagine a professional looking person walking towards you and extending their hand, introducing themselves at Pat.  You tell them “Nice to meet you Pat, so tell me about yourself, what you do.”

Now imagine this response:

“I have 15 years’ experience as a financially savvy, customer experience-oriented Operations Manager with a passion for success.  I have proven success in process efficiency in manufacturing and am proficient in Windows, Access, PowerPoint and Excel.”

Did you stop listening at customer-experience-oriented? Probably, because that is not normally how people communicate in a face-to-face, relaxed business environment.  It is boring, it is memorized, it is robotic and not a person.

This is the resume dump in your summary. The distance puts up roadblocks in starting a conversation.

Let’s set the stage again for a different response:

Professional Pat comes over, handshake giving their name. You say: “Nice to meet you Pat, so tell me about yourself, what you do.”

“Pat has 15 years’ experience as a financially savvy, customer experience-oriented Operations Manager with a passion for success.  Pat has proven success in process efficiency in manufacturing and am proficient in Windows, Access, PowerPoint and Excel.”

Whoa!  Wait, what? Who is Pat? I thought I was talking to Pat but is Pat talking about a different Pat?  It feels like a SNL skit.  When I hear someone who talk about themselves in third person little buzzers and flashing lights go off in my head and I look for the quickest exit possible.

This is the bio dump in your summary.  This goes beyond roadblocks into the road was swallowed by a sink hole.

Do not take the easy way in dropping into your LinkedIn summary.  Take a few minutes to ask yourself:

  1. Who do I want to read my profile?
  2. What is important to them?
  3. What do I want them to know about me?

Write the answers to these questions down.  Then say it out loud as if you were standing in front of that person in a business, casual environment.

That, my friends, is your summary and one that will start great conversations!

 

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A little about me: I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career, position and place that renews their brilliance.

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

★ To get all my latest articles, click the “Yes Please!” button on the right ★

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.

My Anti-Networking Secret Weapon: Shoes

I am a shoe freak.  When traveling most people get trinkets with the name of the local on them, I get shoes.  Boots from Dallas, killer pumps from Ocala – no matter where I have been I have a pair of shoes from there.

My grandmother started it.  When I was growing up she had a full size walk in closet lined in shoes, rows and rows of shoes.  It was heaven.  She knew every shoe store in the tri-state area.  I have proudly continued what she began.  It is one of the things I am known for – my shoes and boots.

I will admit, I do not always love networking.  Sometimes on the walk in phrases like “necessary evil” pop into my mind.   Then there are events that are just not good.

You know the ones; you are expecting one thing and end up in an environment that is completely different.  Whether that environment is a low turnout, the feeling of a singles bar or a complete different venue than what was offered.

This is when I find it difficult to network because there is a disconnect in my mind and the environment. I call it being in the ‘anti-networking’ mode.  You are there, but you just do not want to do it.

That is when I use my secret weapon: shoes.  I start looking at people’s shoes and I make a game out of it.

I will walk up to someone and compliment their shoes.  I do not try to talk about business, certainly not mine; I talk to people about something as random as their shoes.  I give a genuine compliment that is personal to them.  It is amazing how many people are thrown off by compliments to their shoes.

Instead of being approached with a horrible networking line or a fake conversation, they hear “I love your shoes” or “my son would love your shoes”.  Yes, my son has inherited the shoe lover gene.

This leads to fun conversations, real conversations, relaxed conversations that take the pressure off ‘networking’.  It helps draw in the introverts, exclude the creepy card handers and forms a sort of unique dynamic.

Not every networking event is going to be a business success.  But that does not mean that you cannot have fun and engage people from a different perspective – through a genuine compliment.

Sometimes when I run into those same people at other events they greet me warmly with, “It’s the shoe lady”.  That works for me because if nothing else, I did make a connection.

Isn’t that the whole point of networking?

10 Tips to Elevate Executive & Speaking Presence to Command a Room or Conversation

Raising boys was the best preparation for public speaking and commanding attention in one-on-one and group settings.

I learned the “Mom Voice”.

It works.

My boys include not only my son, but all his buddies who were all over 6’ tall, big, beefy, rambunctious, silly and lovable.  I am Mom to one – Jake – and Momma McDonald to many.

All the boys are in their early 20’s now, but it still works.  Saying their name in the Mom Voice gets met with an immediate response of “sorry Momma McDonald”.

A couple of years ago, one of the boys shared the power of the Mom Voice with me.  To understand more clearly, you need the visual.  Jake’s dad is a 6’4”, 250 pound, commanding presence of a man.  I am 5’ tall, sometimes reach triple digits and am very petite.

During a conversation he looked at me and said, “You know momma, you would think that we would have all been afraid of Jake’s dad growing up, but we were all terrified of you.”

It works.

Teaching the Mom Voice to my clients helps them establish presence, without being overly dominant.

It is simple and effective and with a little practice, easy to master.  Here are 10 Steps to learning how to command a room or conversation:

1. Lower your octave

It is no coincidence that many of the voice response systems are created to recognize and better respond better to male voices.  The octaves are lower.  A lower octave commands more attention.

2. Slow your speech

My normal talking speed is fast or “what the heck did she just say” when I get excited.  Jake told me once, “talk slower!”  I told him to listen faster.

Make a deliberate effort to pronounce each word.  To help in practicing slowing down you can download a metronome app, set it at about 60 and have it playing in the background to give you a sense of rhythm.

Being deliberate in speed triggers your audience to tune in.

3. Pause

One of the most powerful actions you can take when speaking to an individual or group is pause.  Allow your words to sink in, allow your listener(s) to think about it and take a moment to read their responses.

4. Know when to stop

The biggest problem most people have in interviewing is talking too much.  They have an insatiable need to fill in the pauses with more words essentially having a case of verbal diarrhea and digging themselves in a hole.

When you have made your point, stop talking.  Allow your audience to think about what you have said and how it applies.  It  helps you maintain control of the conversation or talk.

5. Limit hand gestures

Hand gestures can emphasis a point; however too many and you may come across as insecure, nervous or just had way too much coffee.  Be deliberate in your gesturing.

6. Remain open

Fight the tendency to cross your arms or use any other body language that communicates shutting down or not listening.

7. Relax

Take a moment before your meeting or talk to take a deep breath.  When you exhale, imagine your breath is a wave of relaxation from the top of your head all the way to your toes.

8. Stand tall

Let your shoulders relax, back straighten and head lift slightly.  Do not lean on tables, podiums or door frames.  Good posture projects confidence.

9. Smile

During a positive moment in your conversation make sure to smile.  A genuine smile exhibits engagement, a relaxed demeanor and confidence.

10. Engage

Ask questions of your audience and listen to their answer(s).  Use the information to respond accordingly, even if this means backtracking or going off topic for a moment.  This conveys to your audience that are listening and respect their time and input.

One last tip: when practicing these tips, do so in the bathroom.  Really.  Watch yourself in the mirror to identify any “tells” that might suggest insecurity.  The acoustics are also great to determine your octave and practice at different levels.  The last bonus – you can shut the door and keep distractions out while you focus on you.

–Lisa

Lisa K McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

http://www.CareerPolish.com

Six Easy Networking Conversation Starters

Handshake“What’s your name?”

I hear this every time I see my little neighbor, Hayden.  He is a curious, spirited and a great three year old helper.  He has been my little buddy for over a year, almost two.

He has assigned himself jobs at my house.  He fills the bird feeder, checks on my garden and lets me know when I need to refill the fountain in front of the house.

When he hears me in the backyard, he climbs on the bench on his deck (much to the chagrin of his mother) to peek over the fence and calls out, “Lisa, what are you doing?”

When he hears my car coming or going and he is in his garage, he runs out to wave hello and ask where I am going or what I am doing.  We throw balls back and forth over the fence, blow bubbles and look at the flowers in the yard together.  We play catch, sort of and he has races in my driveway.

Yet he keeps asking me my name.  Almost every single time I see him.  I took one of the boys out on a walk yesterday and he was waiting at the bottom of his drive on his bike.  What was the first thing he said?

“What’s your name?”

I looked up at his mom, bless her heart, and she was looking skyward shaking her head with complete exacerbation.   So I answered as any responsible adult would,

“Seriously, kid?”

In three year old fashion he just replied, “Oh, what are you doing?”

I thought I was bad at remembering names!  In the first month of asking me my name, his mom told me he knows my name, he just asks everyone.  It is like his little icebreaker or conversation starter.  Ok, to each their own.

I will give the little guy credit, he definitely starts a conversation.  Once he asks and you respond he has the green light to talk away.  About anything, what you are doing, what he is doing, about his pajamas.  It doesn’t matter, once he engages you, he’s got you.  He also happens to be incredibly cute.

I suppose when networking going up to each person and asking, “What is your name” is one way to start a conversation; although it might be a little awkward, especially if you are all wearing name tags.

Here are a six alternative icebreakers to start a conversation at networking events.

The Classic

“Hi, I’m Lisa.”  Simple, easy and sure to put someone more network shy at ease by you starting the conversation by introducing yourself.

The Compliment

“Great shoes!”  Give a genuine compliment to someone.  It breaks the monotony of “what do you do” as a conversation starter and you just might find some common interest that will shift  into a great conversation.

The Food Critique

“Do you think it is a requirement for all networking events to have chicken?”  Any comment on the food (although I would suggest you refrain from commenting that a particular food is terrible when the other person has it piled high on their mini-plate) is a great starter.  You can always it lead into a conversation about other networking events or groups that you belong to or have recently attended.

The Anti-Networker

Spy someone in the corner looking miserable, uncomfortable or though they are trying to blend into the corner?  Try empathizing by saying similar to, “Sometimes these things can be a little overwhelming, mind if I stand with you?”  This may be their first event or maybe they just got overwhelmed, self-conscious or fearful.  They may be thankful for an empathetic new friend to help ease them ease into the event.

The Long and Winding Road

“Did you have any trouble getting here?” In Indianapolis, we seem to always have construction on our roads.  Odds are between construction and some sort of traffic there might have been a hiccup in getting to the event. You can use this to lead into what side of town they came from, i.e. where their office is located, their company and what they do.

The Sports Page

“How about them Colts?” It is football season.  That is no small statement here in Indy.  We bleed blue.  Try opening a conversation about the most recent game, had they seen it, are they a Colts fan – anything about the local team.  Word of caution – stay away from opening with the negative news in the sports world.

Networking events are first and foremost about business.  Starting a conversation about the negative and very sensitive sporting news is risky.  It can make either party uncomfortable and possibly put you at odds with someone you do not even know right off the bat.

Networking events are also fun.  Try mixing up your openings with some of the above to have more relaxed conversations and enjoy yourself.  Make a game of it.

At one event and met two gentlemen; the first asked me for my card, the other simply said, “Give me your card.”

I made some comment about cutting to the chase; we decided to make a game of it.  As we met others that night each continued their card requests and we compared how many each collected and noted that no one (except me) said anything about the card demand.  That was almost four years ago and I still talk to those two guys to this day.

What are some ways that you start a conversation at networking events?

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

www.CareerPolish.com

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