Tell us a bit about yourself – LinkedIn #2.
In my last blog entry about LinkedIn we covered do’s and don’ts for your profile photo, headline, and summary. As promised, let’s talk about professional experience and skills, volunteer experience and whether you should shell out for a LinkedIn Premium account.
There are two schools of thought. Those who say you should list every job you’ve had, including those high school stints working at a bagel shop with the thought, “more customer service experience can only help me as long as I will be working in a client facing role.” The counter argument is that recruiters and executives don’t want to keep scrolling through the laundry list of jobs you’ve held unless they’re relevant. Recruiters and executives are busy and this is not a hunting expedition. I agree with the latter point of view. I left a career in Finance and don’t plan on returning to that field, so what purpose does it serve to include it? Furthermore, I don’t include college or high school jobs where my level of responsibility rarely rose above making copies or filing. Rather than try to artfully manufacture diamonds from fool’s gold, why not showcase jobs where no embellishment is required?
When you compose the job’s description, try not to refer to the posting that you responded to when you applied, i.e. the one created by HR. You understand the actual job better than they do. Include three or four strong (active voice) sentences about how you passed the day. (kicked butt and took names)
LinkedIn gives you 50 skills. I would aim for 15-20 of these.
Step 1: Under Profile, choose “Edit Profile.”
Step 2: Scroll down to the Skills section.
Step 3: Click on the blue pencil on the top right of the section.
Step 4: Begin typing in your skills in the box, selecting ones that are already listed in the LinkedIn database.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) recently released the results of a survey, in which they asked hiring managers what skills they would prioritize when recruiting in 2015.
- Ability to work in a team structure
- Ability to make decisions and solve problems (tie)
- Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization
- Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
- Ability to obtain and process information
There’s the related subject of skill endorsements on LinkedIn. Only people who are your first connections can endorse you, so they’re only as credible as your connections. Make sure that you haven’t invited too many guests to your LinkedIn party. LinkedIn is for professional networking and you should not reach out or accept requests from people UNLESS it is a wise professional move.
You cannot delete endorsements but you can hide them. Go to the pull-down menu at the top of the screen and under “profile,” click “edit profile.” When you scroll to the “skills and expertise” section, you will see a pencil icon. Click that and you will see an option to “manage endorsements.” A box will pop up showing who has endorsed you. Uncheck the box next to that person’s name.
Forty one percent of professionals surveyed by LinkedIn in the U.S. stated that when they evaluate candidates, they consider volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience. Don’t give it short shrift but only include volunteer experience if it is relatively recent, perhaps within 5 years, and if it is something you know won’t be controversial. If you volunteered for the ACLU but will be entering a relatively conservative field such as banking or oil and gas, it is wise to leave that out.
I included my volunteer work with Denver Public Schools as it is relatively recent, 2008-March 2015. This kind of experience included training, communicating with teachers, students and parents and is a source of pride that I enjoy talking about.
What does it get you? Three InMail messages (or messages that can be sent to any LinkedIn user, no connection necessary) each month, additional details on the people who view your profiles, and more tools to help make those profiles stand out to recruiters.
Advantages: Many decision makers maintain privacy settings that restrict users from connecting with them, so InMail messages could help you here.
Disadvantages: Inmails are just emails with a different moniker. You can pretty much figure out anyone’s email if you do a bit of online tinkering. Figure out if it is a firstname.lastname@ or a firstinitial.lastname@. It’s not brain surgery. (neurosurgeons are so hot right now – a la Ben Carson)
It doesn’t open up as many profiles as you may think. Even with premium you will only be able to view the professional profiles depending on that person’s privacy settings.
Furthermore, you may know that an executive at Arrow Systems looked at your account, but how helpful is that without a partial name?
My take: It is a must for those working in sales, recruiting or human resources, management, marketing or public relations. I don’t know how many people can rely primarily on LinkedIn tools and land the job or sale. It’s going to take some pavement pounding and IRL networking to seal the deal.
Now that we’ve covered those topics, there are a few loose ends. Do I include my GPA? Do I include years I graduated, thus sending out a bullhorn about how old I am? How do I phrase my connection requests or InMails? In my next installment, we’ll touch on these topics.