9 Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Attractive to Hiring Managers

When a hiring manager views your LinkedIn profile, you have about 30 seconds to convince him or her that you’re what their company needs. Follow these nine tips to boost your profile’s appeal and ensure it isn’t one a hiring manager will pass over:

  • Build instant credibility with a professional-looking profile photo.
  • Make sure your profile headline clearly communicates what you’re all about (and not just your job title).
  • Provide even more detail about who you are with a professional summary that can be read aloud within 30 seconds.
  • Get your profile to show up on free searches by completing it.
  • Update your status at least once per week to seem more passionate.
  • Share the industry-related books you’re reading with the Reading List by Amazon application.
  • Join and participate in at least three industry-relevant groups.
  • Get to 150 connections in order to increase your chances of having first-degree connections in places you want to work.
  • Get ten or more recommendations to ensure you look like a top recommendation.

Other helpful tips:

  • Highlight your skills and competencies in your “Specialties” section. Include topic areas you have knowledge and/or experience in. Use the SKILLS AND EXPERTISE tool under the “More” toolbar on LinkedIn for additional skills and areas of expertise to add to your profile.
  • Usability – don’t be passive when using LinkedIn. Continuously reach out to your connections, build and expand your network, and maintain a presence on LinkedIn.
  • Create a blog site where you can promote your blog on your profile and share your perspectives and knowledge on topics to your network.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to edit your “public profile” link. Add this edited link to your resume.

How To Keep Your Social Media Prescence Career-Friendly

 SmartPulse — a weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues. Last week’s poll question: How do you keep your social media presence professional?
  • I keep separate accounts for personal and professional networking: 68.46%
  • I use filters, such as Circles on Google+, to make sure posts are seen by the right people: 9.13%
  • I do not use social networks for professional purposes — only personal matters: 8.71%
  • I only post things that are related to my job, no matter what network I’m on: 8.30%
  • I don’t use social networks at all: 5.39%

Last week, Tricia Smith interviewed Donna Farrugia, the executive director of The Creative Group, about how social media can be used to make connections in your career.  She cautioned that “it’s important to always be careful about what you post and with whom you’re sharing the information,” which is something that many of our readers seem to be aware of. More than 85% of readers who responded said they post only business-related content or use filters or separate accounts to make sure personal matters don’t become office gossip.

It seems that the vast majority of readers are leading double lives when it comes to social networking. Having one profile dedicated to professional life and another for their life outside the 9-to-5 was the chosen method of almost 70% of respondents. Chances are, this adds up to profiles on two different sites — one on a professional site and one on a social site. Farrugia pointed out that while “Facebook and LinkedIn are big networking sites … there are also sites tailored to specific industries,” so the idea of having profiles on two different sites may be worth the upkeep. This approach makes sense, since most professional sites focus only on your career and don’t offer all the bells and whistles such as public messaging, photo albums and  interactive games that can often lead to the kind of oversharing that gets professionals in trouble.

That’s not to suggest that social sites can’t have merit in the professional world. Roughly 8% of readers who responded have a play-it-safe strategy and only post things that are relevant to their job.  But keeping your profile professional doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Farrugia suggested that professionals post about their hobbies so colleagues can “get a sense of your personality.”

By Tricia Smith on August 31, 2011 | Smartblogs.com 

5 Ways Your Brand and Branding Define You

There is a big difference between your “brand” and your “branding.”

Your brand is you: who you are , what you do, what you stand for, your DNA personality. You are a tangible artifact, which you create into a brand–an image that lives in the minds of the people you interact with and who come to know you. Are you…

  • A watercolor nature artist?
  • An NBA athlete?
  • A criminal trial attorney?
  • An eighth-grade science teacher?
  • A cupcake baker?
  • A cardiologist?
  • A business consultant?
  • A French chef?
  • A career counselor?

Your branding is what you do: every way you put your brand in action to create  associations with you, including your…

  • Website
  • Blog
  • Email marketing
  • Community involvement
  • Social media platforms
  • Collaborations
  • Partnerships
  • Sponsorships
  • Experiences and other Professional Involvements
  • Articles, Reviews, Publications
  • Images

I recently discovered a brand website called Ranking the Brands, which lists and profiles some of the most trusted, popular, core power brands out there today–Coca-Cola, Google, BMW, Microsoft, Walmart, Hershey’s, Apple, Harley-Davidson and UPS, to name just a few.

What do these standout brands have in common?

  • First, they are laser focused on what they do, who they are and whom they serve.
  • Second, they differentiate themselves from their competition.
  • Third, they evolve how they serve through their brand story.

These brands have built legacies and leadership by paying back and paying forward. They have built schools, donated food, supported the Olympics and encouraged educational and philanthropic activities, which is why we want to support them and what we remember them for.

Here are five ways your brand and branding define you:

1) It’s your calling card, piece of real estate, your stake in the space.

2) It’s the only way to make a footprint and imprint.

3) It tells a story about you and what you do.

4) It’s the way people remember, recall and recommend you.

5) It is the single most important way to establish your credibility, authority and niche.

Sam Walton wanted Walmart to be remembered for saving people money so they could live better.  Milton Hershey wanted to open new doors for children in need.  Patch Adams wanted to treat patients by first getting to know the patient, and second by implementing humor.

What does your brand say about you and your business?

23 Things Great Brands Do In Social Media

No one wants to invest time in something only to be mediocre at it. We want to be great. But before you can be great you have to understand what being great looks like. What are you trying to achieve and what are you aiming for? What do people who are great at X look like? Because before you can be better than them, you at least have to be equal. And that takes some understanding on your part.

Do you want to be great at social media? Well, below are 23 things that great businesses do in social media. Maybe you can help me and add to my list in the comments.


Great social media brands…

  1. Bring sexy back to word of mouth marketing.
  2. Dedicate time to answering questions from customers, potential customers and people first learning about the brand.
  3. Constantly poll their community for opinions, feedback, and criticism.
  4. Make it a habit to highlight other brands that are doing cool things, even if they’re doing it outside of their particular industry.
  5. Start conversations that others are scared to have.
  6. Give their employees a unique voice and the permission to connect to others.
  7. Regularly save the day.
  8. Push back the curtain to give their audience a better understanding of how things work, why they work that way, and what the company believes.
  9. Bleed company culture.
  10. Use tools to monitor their social media activity and makes adjustments when things aren’t working.
  11. Don’t take social media too seriously, but are too smart to view it as a joke.
  12. Understand the importance donuts and share them regularly.
  13. Don’t forget to tie offline events into what they’re doing online so there’s cohesion between strategies.
  14. Track their brand name in social media and knows when to respond, how to respond and how to engage brand advocates.
  15. Give us “the why” to go along with their social media calls to action.
  16. Plan for social media as to not leave channels voiceless for long periods of time just because they’re busy.
  17. Never, ever automate human interaction.
  18. Understand social media doesn’t belong to just the marketing department, but the company as a whole.
  19. Enter the waters with a social media plan to help guide their interaction and make sure they’re getting something for their investment.
  20. Use their social media plan to avoid falling victim to Shiny Object Syndrome.
  21. Understand that social media is the medium, not the message.
  22. Pass on insights gleaned from social media throughout the entire organization so that the right people are hearing the right conversations.
  23. Have clear social media guidelines so that employees know how to engage on behalf of the brand and connect with customers.

5 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Land a New Job

Are you wondering why everyone in the professional world is so agog over LinkedIn? If you’ve been avoiding LinkedIn because you think it’s probably just a more boring version of Facebook, you’re missing out. This professional networking site has become a very powerful tool for job candidates who want to increase their visibility and showcase their best qualities.

1. Update Your Status ASAP

If people know you are job hunting, they are often happy to help you out. When you post to let your network know about your job search, put a positive spin on it. For example, “I’m starting on my job searchtoday. The years I spent at (name of previous company) have prepared me well to advance my career through this transition. I’m excited to see what’s available on the job market. If you know of anyone who’s looking for a (name your job title) with (name a couple of your top skills), let me know!”

2. Get Relevant Recommendations

Former managers, direct reports, coworkers, clients, and vendors can be great sources for recommendations on LinkedIn. When recruiters view your profile, they are very interested in what other people are saying about you. Don’t spam your network with requests for recommendations. Instead, ask about a dozen people who have worked closely with you to post feedback that is specific and focuses on both your character and your job skills. 

3. Find Out Who You Know

Use LinkedIn to get the inside scoop. Run a search on LinkedIn for a prospective employer’s company name cross referenced with the name of your high school, any colleges you’ve attended, and your past workplaces. That way, you can pull up anyone you know who is or has been involved with a prospective employer. You can pump them for information about the company’s culture and how they were successful in getting a job there. It’s even better if they know the recruiter or someone else in the hiring decision-making chain. Friends of friends may also be able to hook you up with an inside connection.

4. Use the Job Search Function to Boost Your SEO

Finding posted jobs is only one of the reasons to spend time browsing the job search area of LinkedIn. This is where you will find out what skills recruiters in your industry are looking for. These are the keywords you will need to add to your LinkedIn summary and your resume so recruiters who are looking for jobs that aren’t posted can easily find you. For those that don’t know, SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.”

5. Do Unto Others

Stay on the lookout for ways to assist people in your network in their job searches as well. The more you give, the more you get back on LinkedIn. For example, if you become active in a professional group geared toward your area of expertise on LinkedIn and start sharing your job search tips, you stay at the top of people’s minds when they become aware of a job that would be right for you. When you post helpful advice online, it also makes you look like a team player in the eyes of recruiters.

Using “Improv” to Prepare for an Interview

The simple act of speaking requires a good deal of improvisation because the mind is addressing its own thought and creativity through words, sounds and gestures, and statements that feed back into the thought process (the performer as listener), creating an enriched repertoire of information. Known as “in the moment” communication that stimulates one’s immediate environment and inner feelings, improvisation and the skills of improvisation can be applied to many different abilities or forms of communication (i.e. artistic, scientific, physical, cognitive, academic…and of course, interviewing).

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a one-day improvisation class at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Throughout the class we learned that improv artists use an acronym to describe their approach – CRAFT. We used this approach as part of our team building activities and improvisation exercises.

So what is CRAFT and how does it related to interviewing?

For each of the descriptions below I have included a definition/tips from both the improv and interviewing perspective. By following these tips you will CRAFT your way to winning over your audience; whether it be on the stage or in an interview.

Commit: (improv) Seize your initial impressions, ideas and feedback. Follow through with your honest and candid contributions. The best way to take care of a team member is to take care of yourself. This capitalizes the most valuable team asset: initial instincts and impressions.

Commit: (interviewing) Anytime you receive an interview the employer has determined you’ve met the basic qualifications for the position you are applying for. By preparing for the interview through knowing yourself, your resume, the position, and company you will have the confidence needed to shine in your interview. Don’t forget to “dress to impress,” deliver a firm handshake, smile and show enthusiasm; initial instincts and first impressions are everything.

React: (improv) Use your environment, one another and your own ideas as the inspiration for your thoughts and actions. Resist the illusion of control over an inherently ever-changing world. This maximizes the human and inspirational resources at hand.

React: (interviewing) Believe it or not, the employer you are interviewing with is not inviting you in to torture you but instead to put you at ease and create an enjoyable learning experience for both you and them. Also, when it comes to the Q&A part of the interview – don’t panic – your preparation will carry you through as you share your stories about the skills and experiences they are asking about. Remember to be yourself and not the person you think they want you to be.

Affirm: (improv) Regardless of whether or not you agree with an idea, embrace its contribution. Say “yes” to an idea, then use it to base your contribution. This fosters trust that all ideas are heard and respected as well as forcing collaborative thinking.

Affirm: (interviewing) When providing your responses to interview questions – despite their level of difficult – be sure to affirm your stories with detail and keywords relevant to the position. For instance, if asked a behavioral question (i.e. Tell me about a time when…) try using the STAR technique (S: Situation; T: Task; A: Actions; and R: Results). Or, if you are addressing questions about skills or strengths remember to always back them up (affirm) with proof of when, where and how you’ve used them. By implementing these strategies and affirming your stories, you can be assured that your responses will be heard.

Focus: (improv) Stay present with one another and pay the very attention you seek when contributing. Conscious attention is evident through eye-contact and active listening. This ensures the maximum input and evaluation from team members.

Focus: (interviewing) There are two key parts to consider when focusing: eye contact and actively listening to what the employer is asking. By no means should you devote yourself to 100% eye contact, giving the impression that you are psychotic. Instead, try more like 70%. Effective eye contact can help communicate confidence and belief in what you are saying. Secondly, be sure to listen to each interview question and pin-point the key words (skills or experiences) they are asking you to address. No matter how long-winded or confusing some questions may be, you will at least know what information they are seeking. Lastly, if provided a tour during your interview make sure you are engaged by asking questions, delivering the same positive first impression to new people you meet (as you did with the interviewer), and paying attention to the dynamics of the work environment.

Trust: (improv) Proceed in spite of the possibility of failure. Rest assured that the attention, respect and deference you give other team members will be given to you. This encourages the efficiency of collaboration by marginalizing the impact of fear and doubt.

Trust: (interviewing) Be yourself – trust yourself – believe in yourself! Most interviewees think they must deliver their “A game” in order to receive a second-round interview or job offer. While you will certainly prepare yourself to perform at this level, we are human and humans make mistakes. Not every response will go as you had planned. Sometimes your “B or B+ game” may just be enough.

For those interviewing – I wish you all the best as you begin to CRAFT your way to a successful interview!

5 Quick Tips to Make Your Resume Stand Out!

Make no mistake about it, writing an effective resume has to be a highly individualized matter, since no two people are alike. Nevertheless, it is such a constricted and standardized format, that we  find ourselves adopting certain phrases or words that each of us tends to prefer and that in fact help us get jobs. Every career counselor/job seeker has his or her own list. Here is mine:

1. “$3,000,000” (vs. “$3M”) – To a skimmer’s eye, “$3M” looks like three dollars. If you are dealing with big numbers and write out all the zeros, the employer’s eye will find it anywhere on the page, no matter how fast they are skimming through your resume. Quantifying aspects of your experiences can prove to be extremely beneficial.

2. “Created a database for…” (vs. “Developed a database for…”) – “Developed” is an overused and nondescriptive word. Often databases, procedures, lists, or whatever other job activity you are writing about is something you actually put together (even if you used a standard software program to do it, for example). “Created” is closer to the truth and is certainly much more impressive on your resume.

3. “Applied xyz methods…” (vs. “Learned xyz methods….”) – Many job seekers list important skills or knowledge that they learned on a job on their resume. But that isn’t going to impress a potential employer. The potential employer wants to know if you actually used those skills. How and where you learned them is immaterial. Similarly, avoid using the word “assisted.” This word is obsolete unless you can communicate how you specifically assisted in a given situation.

4. “Show…not tell” – Any of us can say we have certain skill sets, but can we back them up with proof (examples of where we used them)? Employers find skills, strengths and competencies very valuable. Yet, unless you can provide examples of how you used them in action – they won’t get you very far.

5. “Value to an organization:”… (vs. “Career Summary”) – Who cares what your career summary is? In my humble opinion and extensive experience, deep down inside the first thing a potential employer really wants to know is if you can help their bottom line. Otherwise, I don’t really think they’re that interested in reading yet another career summary on a resume.

Strategic Career Planning: The Personal SWOT Analysis

Now that you have done some personal assessment, exploration, and goal setting, it is time to move on to the final step of developing your career plan: the personal SWOT analysis.  While the SWOT analysis is traditionally used by organizations in their strategic planning process, it also serves as an excellent tool for career planning. To get started, create a matrix, using the image below as a guide:

Next, you will need to examine your current position. What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats; and how can they help and/or hinder your ability to secure a job or internship? Consider the following:

  • Strengths & Weaknesses. What differentiates you from the competition/what personal improvements can you make? Identify your positive and negative VIPS (values, interests, personality, and skills). Inventory your education and experience. Evaluate your drive and ability to network. Understand that these are things you CAN control.
  • Opportunities & Threats. What external factors can you take advantage of/what stands in the way of your career goals? Research the industry–are there an abundance of jobs available or are layoffs the norm? Can your network help open doors, or are they your competition going after the same positions? Understand what external attributes will provide advancement versus serve as roadblocks. Know that these are things you CANNOT control.

The personal SWOT analysis inventories steps one through three of your career plan, providing you with a deeper understanding of your brand. It is now up to you to promote and position your brand with potential employers, taking everything you’ve learned into consideration when searching for your dream job or internship. Best of luck!

Social Media’s Impact on Hiring: 2011 SHRM Survey

In April 2011, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted a  SHRM Staffing Research Survey: “Social Networking Websites and Staffing.” A sample of HR professionals were randomly selected from SHRM’s membership database, which included approximately 250,000 individual members at the time the poll was conducted. The sample was composed of members with the job function of recruiting/staffing. For this analysis, 541 responses were used, yielding a response rate of 18%. The margin of error for this poll was +/- 4%.  In hopes of creating a stronger comparison, the results of the survey were compared to a 2008 SHRM Research Survey: “Online Technologies and Their Impact on Recruitment Strategies.”

What Did They Define as Social Media?

SHRM defined social media as any type of virtual interpersonal communication or media that included social interaction; media that transforms people from content consumers to content producers. It also included various forms of user-generated content and the collection of websites and applications that enable persons to interact online; such as LinkedIn; Facebook; Twitter.

Key Findings

More than one-half (56%) of the organizations currently use social networking websites when recruiting potential job candidates. This is a significant increase since 2008, when a little over one-third (34%) of organizations were using these sites as a recruiting tool.

Among organizations that used social networking sites for recruiting, the most utilized social networking website in 2011 was LinkedIn (95%). This was followed by Facebook (58%) and Twitter (42%).

The percentage of respondents who believe that social networking websites are efficient for recruiting nonmanagement, management and executive-level employees has increased significantly since 2008. One respondent mentioned, “Social networking websites allow an employer the opportunity to gather initial information about a job candidate before a single word has been exchanged.”

When asked  the top reasons they are using social networking websites for staffing, 84% of the organizations indicated they are using social networking websites to recruit passive job candidates who might not otherwise apply or be contacted by the organization (69% in 2008). In addition, 67% of the organizations reported that they use social networking websites because it is less expensive than other methods of recruiting candidates, while 60% also reported that they use these sites to increase their organization brand and recognition.

For more on this data, visit the 2011 SHRM Research Survey.

Phone Interview Tips

In some cases, telephone interviews are a way for employers to “pre-screen” possible job candidates before they are granted an in-person interview. In other cases, employers will conduct the full interview over the phone. Whether you are required to go through a pre-screening or have already been given the interview, you must be more prepared than you would be for an in-person interview, even if you are allowed to interview in your PJ’s. Below are some telephone interview tips to keep in mind so your next phone interview is a success.

Telephone Interview Tips

1. Use a landline. You don’t want to risk having problems with cell phone service. It is irritating for employers to conduct interviews if the call breaks up frequently or is dropped completely. If you don’t have a land line at home, just make sure you are in an area with as much cell phone service as possible. Do what you can so the process runs as smooth as possible.

2. Keep your materials handy. In fact, lay everything out in front of you. This includes your resume, notes about your career objective (even if it isn’t included in your original cover letter it’s a good idea to have this out depending on the questions he will ask you), a pen and pad of paper for note-taking and anything else you think may be helpful during your interview. Because you won’t have to schlep into an office, you can have anything out in front of you to aid with your success.

3. Steer clear of distractions. Find a quiet place to interview and stay there! There shouldn’t be any noise in the background to distract you or your potential employer. However, it is understandable that this can be tricky if you have young children at home who need your attention. When you set up your interview appointment, try to schedule it for as precise a time or window as possible. That way, you are able to avoid possible distractions (ex.: your phone interview is between 4 and 4:30, so no one can have company over during that time, the kids are fed and occupied or a sitter will watch them, if need be.)

4. Speak slowly and clearly. When you speak to people face-to-face, you are able to understand what they are saying more clearly because you can see their mouth move. So in a way, you are reading their lips! Neither you nor your potential employer will be able to do this over the phone of course, so speak clearly and a little bit more slowly than you would if you were talking to this person in person. If you can’t hear him, drop hints that he isn’t speaking clearly or loud enough by politely asking him to repeat himself. If this makes you uncomfortable at all you can always blame it on your phone: “I’m really sorry, it’s hard to hear you, the volume on my phone just won’t go up!”

5. Remember – you can’t be seen. That means that anything you say cannot be interpreted by your body language. Beware of jokes or sarcastic remarks that would have been harmless had he seen your facial expression. Maintain your professionalism; stay on target with the interview topics and focus on the key information about you that will get you hired.

6. No eating, drinking or chewing gum! This is self-explanatory. But, we humans are creatures of habit and might pop a potato chip in our mouths at just the wrong moment. However, when I say no eating or drinking I mean during the phone interview. You should eat beforehand to get your brain going so you can focus.

7. Prepare questions ahead of time. Just like in a personal interview, prepare a few questions to ask your potential employer at the end of your phone interview. Some examples are: “What does a typical day look like for an employee with this job?” “What are some skills I would need to develop in order to excel in the position I’m applying for?” “What software/equipment would I be using?” Remember – do not ask about salary or benefits until the employer has brought it up.