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!

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