Help Your Network Help You Get The Job You Want

 

nyc-subway-7

I had never been to New York City until this week.  All I can say is – I am going back.  I was there two days, walked over 20 miles and barely scratched the surface on things to experience, see and do.  I will not even start on the food, let’s just say it is a good thing I put on over 20 miles on the sneakers or I would come back looking like Violet from Willy Wonka after the bubble gum incident.

The trip was fantastic and we were so proud to say we were getting the hang of the subways.  We spoke too soon.  The last train back to the hotel after a full day of experiencing and we were exhausted.  We knew the station we needed to get off on so instead of plotting it out ourselves, we asked the subway expert for instructions.  We needed to go to Flushing.

Flushing Brooklyn that is.

It is not where we ended up.

We went to Flushing in Queens.

For anyone familiar with New York City, you are welcome for the laugh.  For anyone not familiar, these two places are, according to Mapquest, about an hour away via subway. They are not close.  There was a bit of backtracking before we were headed in the right direction.

I was not upset at the little impromptu adventure added to our trip, after all, who could I get mad at?  We asked for instructions for Flushing – we just did not specify – so we left it up to whomever we were talking with to fill in the blanks.

This is what can happen when job searching.  If you simply tell your friends, family and network that you are ‘looking for a job’ they might send you to Queens.  How do they know you want Brooklyn and not Queens if you do not specify?  It is not their fault, you left it way too open and allowed them to fill in the blanks.

To be honest, you do not want just any job.  I saw several people this week working tremendously hard at jobs I would not want to do or could not do.  Do you want to be the guy in the shop that cooks the ducks that are still staring at you as they roast?  How about the one stocking the local mart with the live frogs on the end cap?  Or a delivery driver in the heart of NYC?  Oh heck no!

You need to be specific when speaking to your network, yet speak in a language they understand.  When buying Dragon Fruit at the Asian market, we found unique ways of communicating as we had a very limited shared communication platform.

Use words that your network can relate to and more importantly, understand to repeat.  Do not simply leave it at a title or industry.  The only thing your network knows about titles or industries is this: what they have personally experienced or heard from their network.

Leaving it to simply an industry is much too vague.  Information Technology, that means nothing.  The possibilities within that industry are endless. Do you work on a help desk, system programming, analytics, accounting, sales – what do you do?  Then explain it in a way that relates to your audience.

Think of from their eyes. If you work with the help desk in some capacity, think about how they would interact with you or your department.  Perhaps saying something like, “You know when your company updates a system and the next morning you’re completely frozen out….I’m the guy/gal that makes sure that doesn’t happen.”

Give them something they can relate to and repeat to help you get to the right station in life and not wandering around for another hour stopping at every unrelated stop along the way.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles ★
please visit LisaKMcDonald.com
Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. 

Is Your Mouth Cutting You Off From Your Network?

covering mouth

It fascinates me how it really is a small world. I really do think there is something to the theory of six degrees of separation.  It is fun discovering the connections with people that you meet.

These connections can help forge strong networks and connections.  People in your network remember you because of something shared.

Sometimes the connections are made by one party but not in a good way.

Years ago, I had a young man ask for time to conduct an informational interview.  He was very eager to enter in the financial industry, and to please whomever he was sitting in front of at the time. He had transferred from another state and had talked to someone in banking before speaking to me (I was in investments).

When discussing the differences between banking and investments he said he talked to a woman in the other state, but she didn’t know anything about the industry. I asked what bank and he told me and the woman’s first name and title.

As luck would have it, he talked to my best friend, which I casually tossed out there.  The interview ended shortly after, he was a bit at a loss for words having insulted my best friend – and not being honest because that woman knows more about the industry than anyone I know.

You never know who knows whom. People should really keep this in mind when networking.  You may think people from a certain town are back-water hicks, but for goodness sake, do not say that out loud!  Insulting other people is not a way to align yourself with someone else.

Neither is assuming they are idiots. I was at a networking event once and met a financial advisor. He liked to dictate conversations and let everyone know how important he is and so much smarter than his audience.

A friend and I were talking to him, well, listening to him talk about investment strategies. At one point, he paused and looked at me and said (in a voice you would use with a young child) “I can explain the difference between stocks and bonds to you later if you need.”

My friend about choked on his drink, he knew my background.  I smiled politely and told him that it would be very kind of him but I do have an idea of the difference between the two.  I tried.  I really tried to give him an out in a very polite manner.  But he was having nothing of it.  He persisted that investing could be very complicated for someone not in the industry so I really shouldn’t assume I know enough to make any decisions or know the difference.

That was it.  I said I should know the difference since I am a former manager and compliance offer having held my 7, 63, 65, 9, and 10 and I also know about insurance having held my 26, Life & Health and Property & Casualty.  (I was licensed as a stockbroker and manager in both investments and insurance).

The point is this – treat everyone in your network with respect. Our backgrounds make us unique, not put us at a disadvantage or beneath anyone else.  There is pride in our past. Being disrespectful of a person’s background or upbringing does not align you with ‘the right people’ it alienates you from people.

Celebrate differences and focus on what you have in common and how you can help others.  That will build strong bridges that lead to incredible opportunities.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button 

 

How Do You Explain You?

how to you explain you

One of my favorite quotes and guiding principles comes courtesy of the great Albert Einstein:

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

This is something I learned from my dad.  Heaven help that man, he was ‘blessed’ with a very curious daughter who liked to ask a lot of questions – most of them “why?”

He had an amazing teaching capacity being able to translate the complicated into something a young mind could grasp, understand and replicate.  This is how I learned to use power tools before jr high, the delicacy of baiting a hook and driving a stick shift – in about 20 minutes.

He knew the key for me: explain the why while describing the how.

Knowing your audience, understanding their language and explaining something simply was how he helped me move mountains.

When you are staring at the mountain of career change, it is important to remember these three key elements, which bears repeating.

Know your audience

Understand their language

Explain simply

The first two are the easier of the three to accomplish.  If changing industries – do your research; if you are advancing in your current field – rely upon your expertise in the field.  You will be able to identify the decision makers, what their challenges are and make the correlation to your strengths and accomplishments demonstrating you and the value you offer as a solution.

Explaining simply is hard.

We have a tendency to use too many words.  As an Executive Resume Writer – I know of what I speak.  I do it, too. Ask any of my clients and they will tell you that when I send them their working draft I give the caveat – this is too long and too wordy.

I do it intentionally.  I want them to get the full effect, to see all the words to comprehend the concept.  The next step is the fun part – we rip it apart. We tear through all those words and simplify.  We cut to the core, cut to the chase, cut the crap.

I could do this on the first draft, but I like them to see it this way for a couple of reasons: we like words, we feel like we get a better understanding of words.  Seeing too many words also makes you realize that there are too many words.  This strengthens the process.  If we started with the cut to the core they might feel we missed something.

The other reason is that my process is a collaborative process.  My clients have skin in the game; the more they are engaged and are a part of the process, the more they engage and own their tools.  This leads to them loving them more and utilizing them more effectively.

When people ask you what you do – are you explaining it simply enough?  After thirty seconds, you lost them – it is not simple enough.  Do they ask questions, are the engaged and want to know more?  If not, it is not simple enough.

One way to help simplify how you describe you is to think about how would you explain it to a child?  Think teenager or preteen.  Old enough to grasp things but with a short attention span.  We all have short attention spans when it comes to asking others what they do, kids are just not as good as faking it as adults.

If you can explain it to this age group and they get it – you are spot on. Not only will they understand, they will be able to repeat the information, i.e. sell you.

Years ago in between football practices my son brought a buddy home to raid the fridge and hang out.  I overheard the conversation and I knew I was spot on in how I communicated to him.

His friend asked what I did and my son told him I help people get jobs.  At this point I wanted to jump in and correct him because that made me sound like I do recruiting or placement (which I do not).  But something held me back and I listened out of eyesight.

This is when the magic unfolded.

His friend asked how.  Tada – my son phrased it in a way for his audience to ask a question.

He explained that I work with them in re-writing their resumes, help with interviewing and all the stuff that helps them get a job.  Alrighty then.

The next day his friend’s dad called and hired me.  Bingo – my son explained it in a way his audience could understand and sell me to others.

Using big words, industry jargon or a whole host of fluff does not impress or improve your message – it dilutes it.

Explain it simply and people will connect.  This is how you start moving that mountain.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button ★

 

 

Really Connect When Networking By Getting Torn Apart

I used to attend quite a few networking events as a friend of mine before he relocated.  He was a great networker, always bringing new people to events.  He liked to play a game with them, the poor unsuspecting people.

Many that he brought were new to networking or did not feel comfortable, so he was their wing man.  He also told them that there was someone there that could help. He just did not tell them about the way I would help.

Before he had us do our introductions, he would comfort each person saying, “Just go with it, I promise it will help.” Then I would ask them what they do and the fun began.

It might go something like this:

Me: “What do you do?”
PUP (Poor Unsuspecting Person): “I work for XYZ Company…”
Me: “That is who you work for, but what do you do?”
Pup: “I’m a manager at XYZ Company…”
Me: “’Manager’ is pretty vague, it still doesn’t tell me what you do.”
Pup: “Well, I oversee the ABC Department” looking at my friend for help
Me: “So you just hang out and watch people in the ABC Department work?”
Pup: “No. I mean, I do watch over them, but I do more than that.”
Me: “Like what?”
Pup: “Well, I have to set the goals and standards for them.” shifting in place uncomfortably
Me: “So you just set goals and standards for people that you ‘manage’?”
Pup: “yeah” small sigh of relief that it is over – not quite….
Me: “No.  That can’t be all that you do.  What is the purpose of you setting the goals and standards?”
Pup: “So our customers get their orders taken care of quickly and the right way and we can take more calls.” a little flustered at this point
Me: “So the managing, goals and standards all goes into customer service, it’s about your customers?”
Pup: “Yeah” a little worn out from the drill sergeant approach
Me: “So what you do is make sure if I order something from your company that I get the best service on the phone followed by receiving my order quickly and right the first time?”
Pup: “Yes! That is what I do.” light bulb!
Me: “Then that is how you introduce yourself.”

This whole conversation can take place in about a minute or so.  It is a rapid-fire approach that limits the poor person’s ability to think and formulate an answer.  I don’t want them to think about it, I want them to answer.  Gut feeling, instinct.  They know what they do, they are just afraid to say it the wrong way.

We get caught up in thinking too much. I am an over-analyzer, so I know all about this.

Networking is an interesting game and experience.  Most people are not paying attention because they expect to hear the same things from every person, just like getting the same networking chicken at every event.

“I work at…”
“I am a fill in title here”

Neither of these things tells value.

Of course, my golden rule comes into play here.  If you are a Pediatric Oncologist – that pretty much sums it up.  You get a free pass on this one in using titles.

For the rest of us, our title and even company do not convey value.  They convey – wait for it – our title and the place we work.

Our value is the positive benefit received by what we do and how we do it.

To craft a succinct elevator pitch you have to peel back the onion, or think of it as a series of ripping off band-aids.   Enlist a friend and do a rapid-fire exercise.

Take turns practicing your elevator pitch – but – for each blanket statement or open ended word immediately interrupt that person and ask a question. Ask questions like:

Who do you work with?
How do you do that?
Why do you do that?
What does that mean?

Ask immediately and make the other person answer without pause.  Keep asking questions, it is the theory of five whys.  The more you ask the more layers you peel back and the real, impactful value is soon discovered.  Using the rapid fire approach also helps cut out a lot of the unnecessary words and fillers.

It can get frustrating but as this is a friend, keep reassuring each other that you are doing great.  This is an exercise and it is meant to help.  There are also no wrong answers, just more avenues to discover.

Take your friend along to the next network event and be each other’s wing-person.  When they are introducing themselves with their new pitch, watch the reaction of their conversation partner.  Critique the interaction including their delivery, body language, if they capitalized on opportunities to engage further and any other items you notice.

In a very short period of time you will have achieved:

  1. An elevator pitch that tells people your value (what they care about the most)
  2. A succinct delivery
  3. The ability to engage your conversation partner
  4. Quality interactions

One last tidbit – mix it up.  Do not rely on the exact same opening for each networking opportunity.  Do not memorize your speech, know the highlights and let it flow.  It will keep it fresh and you can easily modify it for your audience leading to energetic interactions with each new person.

Although networking can be critical to building a career, reputation and business – it should also be fun!  So grab a bottle of wine or a six pack, a good friend and have some fun playing ‘rapid-fire rip apart the elevator pitch’!

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

Build Better Business Relationships With 2 Simple Steps

coffee meeting

How many times have you met someone through networking or business connections and want to build a business relationship with them? What is an almost knee jerk action to do so – invite them for a coffee meeting (or lunch/drinks/dinner/etc).

Before you do, let me give you the two steps to dramatically improve your budding relationship:

1. Stop wasting their time
2. Know your why

I used to get asked for coffee meetings a lot. Used to – now I rarely have them.

For one thing, I don’t drink coffee, but more importantly – they were a huge waste of time. The person either had no idea what they wanted to talk about or they wanted to sell me the entire time.

My secret in killing the coffee meetings – I started asking people why they wanted to meet. It is amazing to me the number of people who cannot answer that question. Mostly I get a stammering close to, ‘so we can learn more about each others business.’

Not to be unkind, or rude, yet this is a media age: look up my LinkedIn, my website, my articles; email me to start a conversation. Requesting me to commit to the most time consuming event – of scheduling an outside meeting – to find out what I do is nutty.

Even if they have an idea of what I do and wanted to schedule a coffee meeting ‘to find out more’ or ‘get clarification’, I would ask them – right there on the phone or in the email –what is it they would like to know?

It can really take the wind out of a coffee meeter’s sails when you fill them in either right there on the phone or by email thereby eliminating their whole reason for getting together.

I cut to the chase to eliminate time wasters.

I am very happy for the coffee meeters – those that seem to have an endless supply of time on their hands to joyfully go around town and drink lots of java, then have lots of lunches followed by lots of cocktails or dinners.

I do not have that kind of time.

I am not special or better than anyone else in my network or business circles – all of our time is valuable. I have a thing – I will not waste your time and you are not going to waste mine. It is very simple.

Coffee meetings, or lunches, dinners – anything outside the office – may not be the most conducive to your audience. Perhaps a half hour phone call is better for them. Be considerate and ask what is best for them and their schedule. It is not all about you. You may be dying to get out of the office; but some of us are not.

Knowing your why is critical. Before you even attempt to engage someone in any type of meeting – you must know your why. What is your agenda, what are you looking to get out of it and equally as important – what are you bringing to the table for them?

Relationships are give and take; if you have nothing to give what is their reason for going? Be clear when you request time with the other person, give them the purpose.

Sometimes you may not have an exact why. For example perhaps you have met someone in networking that you think there might be good synergy between your businesses. This is your why, yet you should explain why you think there is potential synergy. How could you help each other. No one is going to jump at the chance to meet with you because you have a golden book of business for them with nothing in return.

Perhaps your why is information. If you are breaking into a business and you know of this person and are looking for advise – be honest and tell them. Do not try the ‘get to know each other’ bit when you are looking for an hour of schooling. That is disrespectful and trickery.

Do not feel as though you are being rude by asking them to qualify the meeting. I once was given the name of a woman that a mutual friend said I should call, using their name, because we should connect. I was an idiot. I did not ask why. But she did! When I called her up I told her our mutual friend had given me her name and said we should connect.

Her response was, “That’s nice – why?”

I was stumped. I told her that I honestly had no idea and apologized for intruding and wasting her time. She was very kind and told me no problem and that if I found that we had a mutual business interest perhaps we could reconnect then.

I ran into her a year later, luckily she did not remember me, and we had a great conversation. We did have many shared interests and we began to speak frequently. I did tell her about the first meeting we ever had and how it had really helped me. Sometimes looking like an idiot can be a great learning experience.

On behalf of your business and networking community – I gently request that before you type up that email or make that call to know your why and offer options that do not waste their time. We thank you in advance and look forward to hearing from you.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies and their leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about Career Polish and what we can do to help you.

How I Eliminated Unprofessional LinkedIn Posts from My News Feed

solution

Yesterday I wrote an article providing insight as to possible negative consequences of posting and ‘unprofessional’ posts on LinkedIn and distinguishing among those posts. The article also described the possible negative consequences of responding in an unkind or angry manner to these types of posts.

It was a balanced article for both those that post and those that respond. It did not throw stones, merely an opportunity to learn the reasons behind why it could be a bad idea to post and respond unprofessionally.

After seeing this morning’s fed with upset and angry posts about keeping LinkedIn professional in the form of blanket statements and graphics, I realized I was selfish.

Here I was, posting a long article about the whys and offering suggestions on positive actions for change when right here in my own little head I had the solution -but I did not share it!

My apologies for being so greedy with this little tidbit.

It is easy and fast and could help a lot of people; literally anyone on LinkedIn can do it!

It is how I took control of my news feed!

Ready? Let’s do this!

Click on the down arrow on the upper right hand of the offender’s post, then:

a. “Hide this particular update” – or –

b. “Unfollow Contact Name”

The post is gone! The beauty is it takes less time to perform two clicks than rally against.

Just speaking for me, rants do not work. Angry general blanket statements to an entire network do not work.

I have never changed my behavior because someone put out a directive or angry broadcast about how a particular type of behavior was a bad, bad thing.

I change my behavior because I am either educated to make a different choice or I make the decision on my own to do so.  It is my responsibility.

Just for the heck of it, check out the article mentioned above. Share it with offenders, it might help educate them as to the damage they could potentially cause their professional image. Share it with responders, it might provide some insight as to how one could be perceived in responding in a less than calm way.

Here is the link: But WHY Shouldn’t You Post or Respond to Personal Items on LinkedIn?

One last food for thought – the CEO of LinkedIn recently posted what could be called a political post. It was of a political figure accompanied with his personal comment. I did not see one single person rally against him telling him to “keep it professional”.

This solution works for me. I like stories about victories whether personal or professional, scroll through cute animal pictures, skim over the math problems and hide posts I do not want to see.  I hid quite a few today!  All in a few short clicks.

Be a positive agent of change. Take charge of your own news feed with two simple clicks. Focus on the contacts that provide value to you, your clients and your business and how you can provide value to them.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies and their leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

Let’s Replace LinkedIn Policing With LinkedIn Education & Support

linkedin police

Either there has been an increase in the number of LinkedIn Police or I am just noticing it more this week.

The LinkedIn Police are individuals who have appointed themselves the authority and voice of reason instructing the LinkedIn universe on LinkedIn etiquette such as:

1. “LinkedIn is professional and for business”
2. “LinkedIn is not Facebook”
3. “Do not post personal pictures, word hunts, math problems that only a genius could answer, memes, cute pictures of their dogs/kids and personal notices”
4. Or publicly denounce and shames other individuals who have utilized messaging to hit on them

Yes, LinkedIn is a business-driven platform. It is a venue to create and strengthen networks and business alliances.

Yet, let us not forget the one fundamental rule of networking and alliance building – it is built on relationships.

Relationships take time, effort and energy to develop. It is a process of building trust, finding synergies, understanding and discovering traits, characteristics, value and individuality in the other person. Relationships are people getting to know each other.

Throughout my professional career I have developed wonderful personal friendships and business friendships. I know the distinction and that is why I do not connect with business friends on Facebook. That is my personal platform. That is my choice.

I know others that connect with their business friends on Facebook or share their personal status updates on LinkedIn for their friends and business friends that is their choice.

My brand is defined and executed by me. As is everyone else’s brand on LinkedIn.

I am a Brand Strategist, therefore I am very well aware of the etiquette rules of LinkedIn. I help people define and communicate their brand. I have not had the opportunity to reach everyone on LinkedIn, so let’s cut them a break. I am working on it.

Although I do not post any of the hand-slapping items listed in item three above, when I see the offender updates I do one of two things:

1. I chuckle and keep scrolling
2. I simply keep scrolling

I also work through the math problems in my head just for the internal smug satisfaction of being a math genius.

There is also an option on the top of the status with a small arrow pointing down that allows you to choice either “I don’t want to see this” or “unfollow name

I agree, using LinkedIn to try to get a date is icky; but instead of publicly shaming individuals that do so, I delete the messages. Less energy given and problem solved.

LinkedIn is an integral part of the branding work I do with clients – creating individual profiles, teaching seminars, training corporate teams on strategy and implementation – yet, I am not going to join the LinkedIn Police.

Why?

No one is going to stop posting cute puppy pictures on LinkedIn because I publicly denounce them. They would probably scroll past that status update just as I scroll past their word search update.

And let’s face it, if one had the power to change other’s minds or get them to do something just because one posted it on LinkedIn – would it not be more useful to use this power for a much greater gain other than to stop potentially annoying others with the burning question of what is the first word you see?

If I had that power, I think I would use it in a different way, perhaps:

1. Adopt a fur-baby from your local animal shelter
2. Donate your time or financially to a cause near and dear to your heart
3. Be a mentor, Big Brother or Big Sister
4. Be nice to your kids, significant other, parents, friends, family, coworkers
5. Get involved in your community
6. Stop world hunger
7. End homelessness
8. Eradicate cancer
9. Eliminate illiteracy
10. Do a good deed today without expecting reward or recognition
11. Forgive yourself and others
12. Go after your dreams
13. Enjoy the day
14. Eat that piece of cake
15. Love yourself
16. Stop judging yourself and others
17. Accept your flaws and the flaws of others
18. Learn something new
19. Laugh
20. Or hey, if I wanted to be selfish: hire me!

If the LinkedIn Police are going to try to stop all the ‘unprofessional’ personal status, they might start trying to eliminate the really good ones. I like some of those personal updates. It allows me to see the person, not just the brand. They share events that are important to them.

Some of these posts share the joy of personal successes – from achieving a long standing personal goal to family member’s successes and even announcements of their child’s remission.

I will take 100 word searches every day to see one child in remission.

Many articles, tips and experts emphasize engagement is key to networking, okay, so these types of posts are not ideal; however, they are the product of someone trying to engage. I do not know of one person who posts these just to annoy the heck out of anyone else.

The LinkedIn Police may not be able to stop these no-no updates; but they do have a choice: unfollow, remove from their feed, do not do business with this person or ignore.

Since I have probably upset the LinkedIn Police and will be getting nasty grams for this, I might as well go one step further….

If you know, personally know, a person who is posting these offensive things – why don’t you personally reach out instead of publicly condemn? Why not have a conversation and ask them, “So tell me, friend, because your business is important to me – what’s your thought in posting the ‘only a genius math problem’?”

Perhaps an educational, supportive conversation will help them see that there is a better way to connect with their audience. Or, maybe they are trying to narrow down their network to geniuses.

Oh, and for the cherry on top – here is a picture of my boys,
just because they are so darn cute.

 

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about Career Polish

and what we can do to help you.

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles ★
please visit LisaKMcDonald.com
★ Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. ★

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.

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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 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.

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