Are You Committing The Top 3 LinkedIn Profile Sins?

LinkedIn Profile MistakesChances are good that you’re NOT maximizing your LinkedIn Profile in a way that will actually get you hired.

How do I know? Because I’ve seen these mistakes many times… especially when I’ve explored the methods used by job hunters enmeshed in a failing job search.

Here are 3 common pitfalls to avoid when building and leveraging your LinkedIn Profile for a job search:

1 – Failing to use all the space provided.

You’re guilty of this if your summary is comprised of just a few sentences, your work history only includes titles (and no description of your achievements), or you skipped sections like Interests or Skills & Expertise.

These are valuable pieces of data that not only educate readers on your career, but also serve to boost your searchability quotient. Here are the current character limits for LinkedIn categories:

  • Headline – 120 Characters
  • Summary – 2,000 Characters
  • Skills & Expertise – Up to 50 Characters
  • Company Name – 100 Characters
  • Job Title – 100 Characters
  • Job Description – 2,000 Characters
  • Interests – 1,000 Characters

If your profile isn’t close to maxing out each of these spots, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities to sell yourself to employers!

In addition, many recruiters surf LinkedIn for candidates that possess specific skills or career experience. By adding more information that contains key search terms, your odds of being found based on a keyword search (and subsequently recruited!) can rise dramatically (particularly important in Skills & Expertise).

Even the Interests section is keyword-optimized – so use it! (See my post on LinkedIn SEO for more power tips!)

Want proof? Take a look at my LinkedIn Profile (or search for me on LinkedIn, using the phrase “executive resume writer” in LinkedIn.) You’ll quickly see why every word counts.

2 – Conveying a message that is inconsistent with your traditional resume.

There’s no way around it – employers will be trolling the Web for information about you, even if you’ve already sent your resume to them to review. The problem comes in when your job history, core competencies, or achievements seem different online than on paper.

After creating both your resume and your LinkedIn Profile, I recommend printing them out, and reviewing information such as job dates, education, job titles, and employer names side-by-side. You’ll be able to spot any discrepancies quickly.

In addition, reviewing the profile this way allows you to see if it delivers the same value proposition message as your resume. If you missed mentioning highlights of your career (such as metrics on revenue generated or cost savings), you can incorporate this data back into the profile so that it aligns with your brand.

3 – Mistaking a resume summary for a LinkedIn summary.

Your LinkedIn Summary is designed primarily to present a snapshot of your brand and value proposition. However, many people mistake this for the resume summary of qualifications, and insert a long paragraph.

I can’t say this enough! Web copywriting is much different than writing for printed or emailed documents. You’ll need to create your profile so that it can easily be read online, using first-person writing style, with presentation techniques intended for the Web.

Rather than use your resume summary, instead write a more personalized account of your background and qualifications, breaking up the text visually so that employers can quickly scan through for key words. Font treatments such as bullets or all caps can help to deliver more punch.

Remember, your career isn’t identical to anyone else’s. Why settle for making your LinkedIn Profile blend in when it can promote you with a differentiating, powerful message?

Need a competitive edge for your executive job search?

As the #1 U.S. TORI award-winning executive resume writer, I create branded, powerful resumes and LinkedIn Profiles that position you as the #1 candidate – PLUS arm you with the job search tools that will get you hired faster.

My clients win interviews at Fortune 500 firms including Citibank, Google, Disney, and Pfizer, plus niche-market companies, start-ups, and emerging industry leaders.

Get in touch with me to experience the outstanding results my expertise can bring to your transition.

– Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CPBA, TCCS, COPNS, CIC 

How to quit rewriting your resume for each job

Several executives have recently sent me their resumes in anticipation of our working together, and one thing struck me from viewing the files: these candidates were already working on versions 10 (and up) of their resumes!

If you find yourself writing and rewriting your resume just to get it to “fit” a particular job description or employer, stop and read this instead.

When you continually rework your presentation to fit someone else’s needs, you’re stepping into reactive mode on your job search, and this doesn’t bode well. For one, tailoring your resume to a particular job opening means that you’re putting yourself at the mercy of employers… reworking, rewriting, and waiting, over and over again.

For another, I DON’T recommend tailoring your resume to each job description. There, I’ve said it. I don’t believe that the “rule” that gets passed around as gospel, where you must have a different resume for each job. Here’s why:

Your value proposition doesn’t change, no matter what job you’re seeking. If your resume eloquently and consisely describes your core brand value and achievements, there’s very little reason to tune it over and over.

The other issue with resume customization is that you’re obviously answering job ads as a search method–and it’s one that I don’t recommend.

Try this instead: build your resume around a specific JOB TYPE, rather than a JOB AD. Say you’re pursuing an Operations Manager role, but you’d also be interested in a Sales Operations job.

Create just 2 resumes for these goals, incorporating different resume presentation (because different audiences will hire for each of these jobs), a unique set of keywords that match each job type, and a value proposition that clearly states qualifications for each target.

Next, create a list of 10 companies where you feel your skills could make a difference in each of these roles. Create a custom letter, find out who the COO is (because that’s the likely hiring manager), and send him or her your focused resume and cover letter for the job you want.

Repeat THIS process over and over – you’ll see a dramatic increase in response and the number of interviews you’ll win.

There – isn’t that simpler than tracking which version of 12 that you’re issuing to a nameless, faceless job ad? Declaring your independence from continual resume reworkis much easier and a much more high-ROI activity than the change-apply-wait cycle you’re already using.

The Amputated Resume: Is Yours Missing The Tie-In to a Promotion?

I’ve seen an alarming trend among self-written resumes lately, where job hunters are positioning themselves for promotion, but have failed to include any information that substantiates their placement at this level.

If you’ve decided that it’s time for the next step up in your career, you’ll need to pack some punch by leading with a resume title that clearly shows your intent.

But if you forgot to include supporting detail—or it’s too low-key to resonate with employers—then you just wrote an amputated resume, which is missing the critical tie-in for your desired change.

In other words, you need to Show.Your.Readiness.

As an example, I’ve worked with candidates who are ready to take on the role of IT Director or CIO, and have a great career progression: previous systems analyst work, project management skills, and infrastructure-building activities.

However, their resumes show experience that is related to lower-level jobs (such as Systems Architect, Project Leader, or even IT Manager), with no mention of directorship skills such as executive team collaboration, board-level relationships, or infrastructure decision-making.

The result? The candidate keeps wondering why the resume isn’t clicking with hiring authorities—who still see a technician coming through on paper.

If you’re struggling to make an upward move, here’s the changes I’d recommend for your resume:

1) Include specific competencies tied directly to your goal.

Elevate employers’ view of your skills with a list of keywords that closely match your desired title.

Not sure what these competencies look like? Use indeed.com or jobing.com to find a good cross-section of job descriptions, then pull the requirements shown for each job into a keyword list.

2) Take your career experience out of micro view.

So, you’ve met deadlines and made your boss look good? Take it a step further, looking at the projects you’ve worked on and how they impact the company, not just your department or team.

Now, you’ll want to flesh out this impact in more detail, including dollar or percentage figures on the overall benefit of these projects and adding these metrics to your resume.

3) Remove skills that pull you down.

While you’re boosting your image on paper, don’t forget to take off skills that only a lower-level candidate would display.

Examples are basic computer experience in applications such as Microsoft Word or Outlook, or obvious competencies like technical documentation. Most employers will assume that you possess these skills—given that your target is at a higher level—so use your resume real estate wisely!

Remember that your resume, like any marketing piece, should be shaped for a specific audience with a precise message, and you’ll be able to fill in the missing links to your desired promotion.

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Professional Resume Writer?

So, you’ve decided that the time is ripe to become a professional resume writer, especially given today’s tough job market. If you’ve already helped others write their resumes or have logged experience as a recruiter, it may seem like a no-brainer.

Here are 5 crucial points to consider before embarking on a venture where you hold others’ futures in the palm of your hand… along with ways to get started if you’re really intent on launching your own resume writing operation:

1 – It’s difficult, if not impossible, to write cohesive resumes without business knowledge.

Before creating a website or advertising your new resume service, you’ll need to be honest with yourself about the extent of your business expertise.

Do you have the background and know-how to understand the metrics behind sales and operations positions? Will you be able to guide a client that isn’t sure how to present a stint in the retail industry?

What will you do when an IT applicant tells you that he or she is looking for a step up in a technical career? Can you analyze the differences between a project leadership position and a program director’s job?

These proficiencies are a must for anyone who wants to enter the field of resume writing. After all, prospective clients will rely on your ability to know what’s relevant and important to them at any point in their careers. You’ll also need a firm grasp of the latest developments in job search and hiring practices.

My advice? Take steps to become more educated on your clients career paths, corporate hiring models, and the economic climate. Study job search 2.0 concepts by following some of the most respected career experts on Twitter.

Read What Color is Your Parachute? (plus similar books) and get familiar with the Occupational Outlook Handbook so that you can understand the nuances of career change and what it means for clients that need your assistance writing their resumes.

2 – Reading resumes all day doesn’t make you a resume writer.

The same way that reading the newspaper on a regular basis doesn’t make you a journalist, and becoming enthralled by a book doesn’t transform you into a novelist, having access to resumes on a regular basis isn’t an automatic qualification for the job of professional resume writer.

Resume writing is a very tight and contrived form of communication, with fragmented sentence structure, limited space, and the need for parallel structure throughout each document.

You’ll need a flair for written expression, a skilled command of the English language, and an eye for technical detail in order to create focused and well-written resumes that truly help your clients.

Specifically, the speed and brevity with which you communicate key information can make or break your client’s options. Even the most qualified candidates struggle to land jobs at the right level without a sharpened business presentation.

To help boost your writing abilities, I recommend obtaining your own copy of the Associated Press Style Guide (a bible for most resume writers) and studying examples that demonstrate compelling writing style, strategy, and business aptitude.

You’ll find great samples in the Expert Resumes and No-Nonsense resume book series published by Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark, as well as in Resumes that Knock ‘Em Dead by Martin Yate.

3 – It’s far more than templates or typing.

Great resume writing requires the ability to elicit the kind of information that most people miss adding to their resumes in the first place.

If you don’t believe this, then you’d need to see a sampling of the resumes that cross my desk on a regular basis… which skip over “details” such as multimillion-dollar budget figures, project success rates, sales awards, and the candidate’s role in corporate growth.

In fact, information mining is the cornerstone of effective resume writing! Even CFOs and IT Directors leave critical details off self-written resumes—details that you’ll need to grasp in order to ask the right questions.

Rewording original facts and figures won’t cut it, as you’ll need to truly understand each client’s career change from a strategic perspective and gather NEW information.

There are different ways to extract this data as well. Some writers elect to present their clients with detailed questionnaires, while others prefer to conduct a thorough interview with each applicant. Whatever your style of information gathering, you’ll need to ask as many pivotal, thought-provoking questions as possible.

In addition, graphic design is a core element of every compelling resume. Even though you may be tempted to just pop your clients’ data into a template, your clients are paying for a more customized presentation that allows them to stand out… without resorting to the use of gimmicks.

The top resume writers continually refine style elements and examine trends in font, color, and formatting to present client data to the best advantage—and today’s hotly competitive job market demands it.

You’ll need to become intimately familiar with the formatting techniques offered in Microsoft Word, including borders, tables, tabs, text boxes, and other treatments, in order to market your clients as individuals with unique accomplishments.

4 – Spin artists need not apply.

Truly effective resume writing is NOT embellishment, lying, or marketing hype. It’s centered on the ability to extract the most relevant and fitting accomplishments that make up a career, and then ensuring that they are presented in the best light.

You can expect to deal with professionals that have a job gap, unrelated experience, or other challenges. It’s your charter to ensure that these obstacles don’t hinder the applicant, without resorting to elaborate tactics that hide information and skew the facts.

Here is where the power of your writing skills and business knowledge will make a critical difference. Employers need to know the truth about each applicant, and they’ll reject any attempt made to gloss over important details.

Therefore, you’ll want to take note of strategies for special situations, which are covered in Resumes for the Rest of Us: Secrets from the Pros for Job Seekers with Unconventional Career Paths, Gallery of Resumes for People Without a 4-Year Degree, and other career publications.

5 – If you’re in it for the recession, reconsider.

If you’re looking to make a quick buck by churning out resumes, think carefully about the effect you’ll have on others. You may end up like those that tried resume writing, failed to get results, and left the industry within a year or two—leaving a wake of unfulfilled clients behind them.

Most of us in this field started out by writing others’ resumes after discovering a knack for pulling careers together on paper.

Others decided to rid the world of bland resumes after having worked in HR or recruiting, and still other writers got their start in fields that demanded extreme focus, such as journalism or marketing.

Most writers focused on their ability to pinpoint client strengths when getting started in the business—with very few lured by the prospect of a recession.

There are numerous professional associations that train, credential, and mentor resume writers, such as Career Directors International, the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, the National Resume Writers Association, Resume Writing Academy, and the Career Management Alliance.

Candidates for certification must follow a course of study and pass a multi-part exam graded by judging panels in order to qualify for the various credentials offered through each organization.

Bottom line: writing for others—living and breathing their career histories, goals, and dreams while immersing yourself in the details—is far from simple, and requires an emotional and professional dedication to helping others through one of life’s most significant challenges.

While attaining true proficiency can take years of intense work and dedication, you’ll find few fields as simultaneously rewarding, demanding, fulfilling, and fascinating.