Hope Springs Internal™

July 1, 2009

How To Enhance Your Career With An Online Profile

Filed under: coaching — by latancs @ 3:55 pm
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By Linda Tancs

Online professional networks such as LinkedIn provide job applicants with a powerful tool to gain the attention of employers and recruiters. LinkedIn currently has over 42 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the world.  Make the most of this vast network by creating a compelling profile of your experience and achievements.

 The most significant portion of your LinkedIn profile is the summary section.  Think of it as the online equivalent of a traditional 30-second elevator pitch.  To that end, you should hit the high points of your background, illustrating your most prominent characteristics, accomplishments and goals.  Be sure to express your individuality–what is it that makes you unique?  What do you do better than your colleagues?  Consider three priority messages you wish to communicate to your target market. Unlike a résumé, your summary should be an overview of your background; keep it short and focused on your target audience. 

Following the summary is an opportunity to list your specialties.  Here you should define the areas of expertise under which you want to be found when potential employers search for those skill sets.  Begin by thinking of your job functions.   For example, are you skilled in operations and general management?  Do you specialize in contracts and procurement?  List your functions and notable achievements, such as strategic planning, process improvement, restructuring and other skills.

After you’ve completed the summary section of your profile, it’s time to consider your work experience and education.  Begin with your most recent employment and include at least the name of your employer, job title and dates of employment.  In the event you were promoted during your tenure with an employer, call attention to it by listing your title in terms of your career progression, e.g.., “Manager to Director.”  Optionally, you may include a brief description of each job. Moreover, note that it is common practice to treat a substantial volunteer position as a job provided that the volunteer nature of the position is indicated in some manner.  In the education section, list all of your programs of study, including distinctions.  Also, don’t neglect any special training or certification programs relevant to your career goals.  Further, add value to your experience and education section by securing recommendations from employers and classmates.  As with any reference, choose individuals who are familiar with your work or academic accomplishments and who can attest to your skills and strengths.

In completing your profile you may include other information such as your interests, group memberships, honors and awards and websites.  Use these additional sections to include information not listed elsewhere on your profile to more fully showcase your talents, expertise or background.  For example, use the “interests” or “opportunity preferences” section in your contact settings to indicate the nature of contacts you seek, such as consulting offers, business deals or expertise requests.  Be careful in selecting “career opportunities” if you are currently employed to avoid putting your job at risk.  You may include in this section as well comments on your availability, specific types of projects or opportunities that interest you, and what information you’d like to see included in a request for your services.  Group affiliations are likewise an effective way to network, particularly those affiliated with your educational institutions, job functions and industries or topics of interest.  You may wish to consider forming a group of your own as well to carve out a niche in your targeted areas and make connections.  Make sure those groups that are directly relevant to your career and networking goals are visible on your profile by clicking on the visibility button.  Furthermore, honors and awards should include such items as academic honors (e.g., Phi Beta Kappa), company recognition awards, nominations for professional or civic awards, and your inclusion in well-known industry directories such as Who’s Who.

Finally, don’t forget to include references to blogs or websites that you control, particularly if they show a level of thought leadership in your field or targeted profession.  LinkedIn allows inclusion of up to three sites as part of your profile.  To maximize your site’s visibility with search engines such as Google, choose a name for the site other than LinkedIn’s default “My Website” or “My Blog.”  A better choice would be a word or phrase that seekers of your services would be likely to type into a search engine.  You can also link a blog directly to your LinkedIn account so that it appears as part of your profile by visiting the “Featured Applications on LinkedIn” portion of your home page.

 Once you’ve written a powerful and engaging profile, promote it by integrating your LinkedIn public profile web address (for example, http://www.linkedin.com/in/johndoe) into networking materials and e-mails to increase your visibility, and be open to invitations to connect.  You never know where that next great lead may come from!

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