Friday, March 27, 2009

LinkedIn Experiment Part 6: Your Past Employers

Like the ghost of Christmas past, where you have worked before will always "haunt" you. It will "haunt" you when filling out job applications, interviews, and even when filling out your LinkedIn profile.

When setting up a LinkedIn profile, pay special attention to the "Experience" section. This section is so important that you may want to take a few days - or a week - to correctly complete this section. Because it reflects - you - and communicates how well you could "do the job" if a hiring manager were considering contacting you for an open position.

First - Think of Yourself As A Company - "You, Inc."
Think of yourself as a company - "You Inc."

Think of the "Experience" section as the equivalent of a company website's "Products & Services" and/or "About Us" section. If you were to visit a company's website and read these two sections, it would give you a good idea of the following:
  • What the company has to offer/What does the company do

  • What the company can "do for you" - also known as the - "why you should care factor"
Depending on how well these sections are worded, readers may get an "extra bonus" because the company will share their accomplishments and awards in their field to establish credibility. Which leads us to...

What Does Your Company - "You, Inc." Stand For?
What do you want to be known for? If you are searching for a job, you want to create a clear and consistent message of who you are and when hiring managers should think of you.
For example, if you are seeking a paralegal/legal assistant career in family law then you want hiring managers to think of you as the person that can solve their problems by performing the job of paralegal/legal assistant well. Maybe you even have a track record in certain areas that a paralegal/legal assistant performs or encounters every day. Perhaps you even have a certain characteristic that "crosses over" into this industry very well - like demonstrating a professional attitude under highly stressful situations. Remember, hiring managers are human beings first. When a hiring manager has a problem they don't think of the solution to the problem in job titles - "Hmm, I'm really swamped and I have 10 more child custody clients to see today which means I will not leave the office until 11:00 pm tonight" **sigh** "Last week our clients got into a shouting match and it took a long time to calm everyone down and get back on track." **another sigh** "Would have been great if I had some help to handle these high stress situations so our office could stay on schedule...."

See, in this situation, the hiring manager doesn't think "Would have been great if I had a paralegal." The hiring manger thinks, "Would have been great if I had some help to handle these high stress situations so our office could stay on schedule...."

What Does This Have To Do With The "Experience" Section of LinkedIn?
A whole lot...
If you have experience in handling high stress situations - no matter where you worked in the past - and a bullet point under a company that you worked for in the "Experience" section - it would look like this:

ABC Employer
Job Title
  • "Demonstrated ability to address high stress situations resulting in improving operations and increasing client satisfaction to consistently meet deadline"
Then this will increase the chances of a hiring manager that comes across your LinkedIn profile wanting to know more about you (because you have experience in an area they need help in) which leads to an interview and possibly - a job.

Contact Your Last Employer
Remember last week's article on using the recommendation feature in LinkedIn? This is when you would utilize this approach. If possible - try contacting your last employer (it can be your boss, co-worker, or subordinate) and ask for a recommendation in the area that you want you/"You, Inc." to be known for. This way, when a hiring manager reviews your profile, the recommendation "backs up" your statements of "being able to do the job" thus giving you more credibility.
If you can't reach your last employer, then start with your current employer by securing recommendations that provide greater insight into the area you want to be known for.
Over time, taking this approach will help you find a job because you will have customized an Experience section based off of what hiring managers are looking for instead of just tossing a "laundry list" of past job duties that may or may not relate to the the job you are looking for - resulting in a more effective and targeted job search.
Give it a try!

Friday, March 13, 2009

LinkedIn Experiment Part 5: The Recommendation Feature

How do you feel when you are recommended for something? Good? "Warm and Fuzzy" Inside?

How do you feel when you are searching for something important such as a doctor, dentist, or a babysitter? Frustrated? Hopefull?

Imagine this scenario:
You are walking down the street and a complete stranger walks up to you and says, "Hi, I'm a doctor, if you need me give me a call"

Now imagine this scenario:
You are chatting with a co-worker and you tell them that you need to find a doctor. One week later, you co-worker drops a sheet of paper on your desk with the number to a doctor and recommends you give them a call.

Which doctor would you call? Doctor "A" off of the street or doctor "B" referred by your co-worker?

Most would pick doctor "B".

What Does This Have To Do With LinkedIn?
Everything... Or at least a whole lot. LinkedIn has a feature built in that allows people to recommend you. I HIGHLY recommend you use this feature. Employers and staffing firms "Google" candidates and sometimes look for candidates before a position is even advertised. Your LinkedIn profile looks more credible when you have recommendations and increases the chances of you being considered for a job.

But Wait..... Don't Just Ask For Any Ol' Recommendation....
You are building an "online brand" remember? So your recommendations will be different. Think about 3 things you want to be known for. These are the areas you want to build your "case" for. So, you will want people that can provide recommendations to "back up" that you can "do the job" in the areas that you want to be known for. Therefore, when asking for a recommendation - be specific. For example, if you want to be known as the best researcher in the world, then ask people that you have performed research for to write a recommendation based on their experiences with you in the areas of research. This way, if a hiring manager is looking for a great researcher, they will see that someone (or several someones) recommended you highly in this area.

In the end, you increase your chances of finding a job because of this unique approach because it increases your credibility and your ability to “do the job” better than anyone else.

Tell me what you think. Did this post help you think of using LinkedIn in a different way? Chime in!

Friday, March 6, 2009

LinkedIn Experiment Part 4: Branding Yourself Online

What Would You Do If.....
What would you do if you saw a movie with Batman flying though the air - by means of shooting a spider web from his wrists?

What would you do if you saw Spiderman driving - but in the Bat Mobile?

Would it seem out of place? Out of character? Would you think that something is wrong? Of course!

The same applies to your "Online Brand".

Spiderman is consistent. We expect to see him climbing buildings and shooting webs from his wrists. Batman is consistent, we expect to see him with a big "bat cape", while driving the "Bat Mobile" across town.

The same approach applies to your postings on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

When You Create A LinkedIn Profile....
If you create a LinkedIn account for professional reasons, then keep your chats and posts professional and specific to your industry. For example, if you are a legal student and you want to be known as the "go to person" for paralegal "stuff" then you will want to write about - anything related to being a paralegal. Your posts should pertain to things that concern the legal field and you should stay on top of the latest "crime fighting” and/or problem solving techniques that are relevant to being in the paralegal field. This is true for any field as well.

Your posts should not include to much personal information. In the beginning, when you are trying to build and establish your "Online Brand" your post should really focus on your industry. This is not a time to share personal areas and interests. As you build your "Online Brand", you can opt for an 80/20 rule. Eighty percent professional and "brand oriented" content and 20% personal notes and comments on personal interests.

You Want People To Get To Know You As A Professional...
Because you want people to get to know you as a professional. You want to establish yourself as an industry expert - or at least an enthusiast. You want credibility. This way, when hidden and upcoming job opportunities are available, people will think of the professionals that they know of and think of you - the really smart and professional industry person. Not, the person with "personal issue xyz."

Make sense? Feel free to share. What have you been doing to create and maintain your "Online Brand"?