Do You Really Want to Use THAT LinkedIn Photo?

Some time ago, I ran across a LinkedIn picture of a job seeker who was holding a very specific political sign over her head that used bright letters.

While wearing shorts (and no, they did NOT become her).

Curious about this phenomenon, I surveyed my fine resume-writing, coaching, and careers industry colleagues at Career Directors International on the subject of inappropriate LinkedIn photographs.

As a result, I came away with a very interesting list of purported job seeker LinkedIn photos that:

  • Were taken from such a distance that no one would recognize them
  • Included the candidate posing in a bikini on a beach
  • Showed the candidate’s GARDEN – without her in it
  • Displayed a major league sports cap (a turnoff to the recruiter that contacted him, who noted that it was the “wrong city, wrong team”)
  • Were snapped at a party where the subject obviously had too much to drink
  • Resembled a mug shot – no smile, just a grimace that did not put the candidate in the best light

Job hunters, PLEASE!  It’s time to think carefully about the image you’re projecting online.

It’s an employer’s market, and the best opportunities WILL pass you by if others believe you aren’t serious about your career.

Take that picture down (the one where someone else’s shoulder can still be seen next to you, with that big shadow!), and succumb to a professional headshot.

At the very least, let someone adept with a digital camera take your photo in a suit, with a smile, and use it to put your best foot forward.

Don’t Apply Just Once

Planning to apply to that hot job you just found online? Take it a step further with some competitive research that can put you first in line (but at another company).

Here’s the idea: when companies post a position, they might be hiring from within their network – looking at suppliers, competitors, vendors, and any other organizations within their sphere of influence for that perfect candidate.

If they follow through on hiring from within this group of companies, there’s now a space to be filled somewhere within this network.

Here’s your cue: jump on this scenario, and send your resume to any of these other firms BEFORE a job is posted, putting yourself first in line (before these companies realize that someone is leaving)!

Find a hiring manager (using LinkedIn or Zoominfo), then add supporting detail to your cover letter that shows your research on the industry, and your interest in their specific operation. (This letter WILL be read in detail, because you’re going to send it in hard copy, intriguing the manager enough to open it.)
Next, plan to follow up in about a week by phone or via LinkedIn.
Congratulations! You’ve just made a preemptive strike in your job search, figured out how the hidden job market works, and probably generated sufficient interest to win an interview.

Want Stronger Results? Try a Networking Resume

Trying to engage high-level decision-makers in your job search? Planning to contact recruiters or network during business meetings?

You might find that these audiences quickly become overwhelmed with reading your full executive resume—or that a multi-page document is simply too much to handle in a busy networking situation.
The solution? A Networking Resume—a powerful sound bite that encapsulates your career in a single page and gets more traction in your search by supplying a quick picture of your bottom-line brand value.
Also called a Marketing Brief or Networking Biography, this single-page document allows you to zero in on what you want, while hitting the high points of your career. It’s especially useful for job hunters in the midst of person-to-person contact who want to avoid the hassle of tracking multiple sheets of paper.

Best of all, a Networking Resume is fairly simple to construct, especially after you’ve invested significant branding effort into writing your full-fledged executive resume. (See this example of a Networking Resume for a CEO & CEO candidate.)

Here are 5 easy steps to take when condensing your leadership expertise down into a potent, single-page marketing tool:

1 – Skip the job descriptions.

There’s no room for lengthy explanations of teams led, budgets managed, and so forth. Instead, you’ll want to pull out some results-focused stories from your work history or a bullet-point executive accomplishment list that reflects the high points of your career.

2 – Distill your career into just titles, dates, and companies.

A Work History section on your Networking Resume will present just the facts of each job in your career, and believe it or not, this can be very effective.

Often, recruiters will be skimming for progression in your background, and writing a short summary of your job titles can quickly demonstrate promotions and the increasing level of responsibility required for a leadership position.

3 – Give your success stories a label and some context.

The best part about writing a Networking Resume or Biography? Giving more detail on highlights of your work, using full sentences that pack in metrics and tell a well-rounded story.

While these items should be featured on a full resume, they rarely will be allowed the same breathing room. Consider fleshing out each Challenge-Action-Result story, highlighting up to 3 achievements.

4 – Write a branding tagline that speaks to results.

If you’ve been able to make significant impact as an executive, here’s the place to show it. Break your brand message down into a straightforward and condensed headline that describes how you get results (as shown here).

Struggling with this step? Keep condensing it, taking out words and refining the tagline until you have a powerful sentence that conveys impact. Here are some ideas:

Turning Around Challenged IT Organizations by Building Loyal, Productive Teams
Generating 650%+ Revenue Increase Through Competitive Market Strategies

5 – Sum up your education and board affiliations.

Boil your educational background down into just a few lines, using common abbreviations for degrees, states, universities, etc.

You’ll also want to cut to the chase on professional associations, speaking engagements, and volunteer affiliations; use the organization’s initials to conserve space; list keynotes with the word “Speaker,” followed by the name of the organization.
Now, you’re prepared to give a snapshot of your professional background and executive abilities to recruiters and hiring authorities, without worrying about information overload or excess paper.
You’ll still need a full resume for interviews, of course, but your new Networking Resume can serve as a value-packed, concise introduction to decision-makers.

A Job Search Model Bound to Fail

In my Sunday Denver Post, I was intrigued to read a story in the Business section that detailed the woes of 2 job seekers. Each of these women had been on the job hunt for months, with no end in sight (until one of them obtained retraining in another field).

One of these women relayed her story of spending 5 to 6 hours per day on Internet job searching and networking, and the other mentioned sending more than 300 resumes out to posted ads.

Maybe you also read the same story, and thought that this was a prime example of how bad the job market really is out there. Or perhaps you could relate to the journeys that these women had taken in their quest to find new work.

I read something different.

In fact, I was amazed to hear the details of both stories, and here’s why: sending your resume to posted job ads is the worst possible method to use when unemployed.

This method not only pits you against the largest volume of competition possible, but also forces you to play a numbers game, where your resume might be number 501 in the stack–but the employer has stopped looking after the first 500 entries.

What’s astounding to me is that time-tested advice on the right way to look for a job (by targeting desired employers and creating an irresistible pitch) are everywhere, including this recent how-to job search article from Erin Kennedy.

In addition, I was shocked to learn that each of these job hunters had a sales background! This means that they probably possess fantastic, door-opening abilities to cold call and penetrate accounts at a decision-making level.

Why not use those abilities to follow up and find an actual person on the end of each inquiry?

What about using sales databases or other company data (Dun and Bradstreet, Hoovers, etc.) to find contacts at local companies? Even the Harris Infosource Directory can be had for free at any Denver public library.

In addition, neither job hunter mentioned how she used social media to advance the job search, so I did a little investigating. There, I found that one of these people had populated her LinkedIn Summary with a cover letter. (How do I know this? I wrote it. Yep, that’s right – all 2,000 characters are my cover letter, save for about 5 words.)

It was lifted from a letter that I developed for another job seeker, who must have passed it along. (So, not only is the profile written for someone else, it uses copy that wasn’t optimized for LinkedIn!)

Is it possible that these job hunters had never heard of the proper way to use LinkedIn?

I find that hard to believe, given the volume of data published by the careers industry on a daily basis. Ask The Headhunter, Tim’s Strategy, Career Rocketeer, CAREEREALISM, Secrets of the Job Hunt, and all do a fantastic job of educating job seekers on social media topics, as well as fresh, innovative ways of getting out from behind the computer to make an impression on employers.

Now, I know that job search isn’t easy, but the techniques and tools needed to make things happen are totally different in 2011 than they were even a few years back – and there’s plenty of help for anyone that trolls the Internet to find it.

I’m just amazed that the word hasn’t gotten out to those that really need it.