Your LinkedIn profile is more than just a copy of your CV. Your LinkedIn profile is a networking and marketing tool. It can help you get a new job or emphasise an aspect of your skills or improve your work image.
- It allows you to keep contact with past and current colleagues.
- It lets you connect and keep in touch with other people in your industry.
- It’s a way for employers to find you, or to research more about you.
- It can help to improve your profile within your industry and within your company.
There are many articles online with suggestions on creating a good LinkedIn profile. Here’s one by entrepreneur Aaron Clayton-Dunn, and here’s another with excellent tips from the marvellous Liz Ryan.
The mistakes I see:
- Not supplying contact details.
- If you’re looking for work or thinking of changing jobs then make it easy for people to contact you.
- Too many words.
- Keep things short and punchy. You want the key details to stand out.
- A bad summary.
- Write the summary in ‘CV style’ (brief, with bullet points) and be clear about your value and what you are looking for.
- An unprofessional photo (or no photo).
- You don’t need a professional photographer, but you do need to choose a photo that looks professional.
- If you’re not sure if your photo sets the right tone, ask yourself what impression it would give the CEO at your dream company.
- No recommendations, or too many.
- There doesn’t seem to be consensus on a suitable number of recommendations but I’d say around 3 recommendations in total is a good number.
- I don’t think colleague recommendations are especially useful. Try to get ones from people you reported to or from seniors at your company or on your project.
- If you don’t have any recommendations, ask people, but help them by specifying the kinds of things you’d like to emphasise when describing their experience of working with you.
- If you are going to send someone a LinkedIn request, don’t use the generic message. Tailor it. The only generic requests that I accept are from people I already know.
Aside from the content on your own profile, there are other useful ways to use LinkedIn.
- Read Pulse articles (Pulse is LinkedIn’s ‘blog’ platform) and give people feedback by commenting on their Pulse articles, but always be thoughtful and respectful, especially if you disagree.
- Post links to work-related articles and/or add your comments to the post.
- Write posts on Pulse. This is an excellent way to put your thoughts out there so people can get an idea of what you care about.
- Did you know you can follow someone on LinkedIn? You don’t need to connect if all you really want to do is read their posts or see their LinkedIn activity.
- Set aside some time to assess your LinkedIn profile. [30-minute activity]
- Look at the profiles of people with your role, or the one you’re hoping to get. Compare your profile to theirs. What do you like/dislike about their profile? And yours?
- Make changes to your profile. [30-minute activity]
- If you don’t want people (such as your current employer) to know you’re making changes then set “Notify your network” to No. You’ll find that setting on the bottom right of the profile editing page.
- Find a Pulse article you like. Comment on it. [10-minute activity]
- Write a Pulse article. Search online for tips on how to write a blog or LinkedIn post. [2-hour activity]
I hope these tips have helped you create a LinkedIn profile that you are proud of and that accurately reflects your awesomeness!
(Check out this blog for CV tips).
Does your CV reflect your awesomeness?
During my time working in the tech industry I see hundreds of CV’s and many of them do not accurately reflect the person they are describing.
It’s disappointing to discover during an interview that someone who looked great ‘on paper’ doesn’t actually have the skills they promised on their CV. But the opposite is even worse – knowing that there are people who will not get an interview because their CV doesn’t describe their value.
The purpose of your CV is to land an interview. It’s not to get a job … the interview is for that. The entire reason for a CV is so that the person reading it will be interested enough to want to know more.
Your CV is a marketing tool.
It should reflect who you are in a work context, and who you want to be.
- It needs to cover the basics – contact details, profile, employment history, relevant skills and experience. There are millions of sites that give helpful advice. Here’s just one example – it says how to approach writing your CV.
- It should be professional and positive. This article has good tips on what to avoid.
- The layout and content should not make it hard for busy people to find the key details. There are many examples and templates here and here of simple, clear CV’s.
The mistakes I see:
- Way too many words.
- Pretend you’re sending each sentence as a text message or a Tweet. You’re not writing an article, you’re writing bullet points and summary details.
- Decide what you really want to emphasise and delete the rest. Your CV is not a full and complete story of everything you’ve ever done! Focus on the highlights.
- CV’s are too long or too “busy”.
- Related to the point above, but the way you format a CV can result in lots of pages. It’s also not always a good idea to have lots of tables and borders and fancy formatting. When I’m reading your CV, I care most about the content, not the colour of section headings.
- People talk in generic terms (“I’m passionate about learning / Tech / testing” or “I have excellent communication skills”) but don’t show their actual achievements and strengths. Your CV needs to emphasise why you are valuable and useful.
- Think of awards you’ve got at work, or things people consistently compliment you on, or times you’ve exceeded expectations.
- What business ‘pain’ do you solve?
- What are you most proud of? What makes you stand out?
- Why would a company benefit from hiring you? What have you demonstrated you’re really good at?
- Not being clear about what you’re looking for. Read my blog “Something is better than anything” for ideas on how to be clear about what you want.
- Not matching your strengths/skills to the role.
- Make sure to highlight where your skills match the role or job ad. (But don’t fall into the trap of feeling you have to tick every item on their list before you apply. You don’t need to have everything.)
- Adjust the words you use so they mirror the terms that the company uses.
- General tips for people wanting to work in New Zealand
- In NZ, we use the term CV rather than Resumé.
- We generally don’t capitalise words other than proper nouns (and acronyms/initialisms/standard terms, like .NET).
- I’d suggest using ‘and’ instead of & in a sentence.
- Always aim to provide short and meaningful context for your reader. This is especially important when describing the company or project you’ve worked on outside of NZ.
- Assess your CV. Does it show your value for the kind of roles you’re hoping to get? What do you like about it? What don’t you like? [10-minutes]
- Do you know how you are valuable? What business ‘pain’ can you solve? [15-minutes]
- Write a list of 5 ways you are useful to a company, your top 5 achievements, and 5 ways you stand out.
- Does your CV highlight these things?
- Look at the articles I linked to above. Does your CV contain any of the mistakes those articles refer to? [20-minute activity]
- Is your CV too long or is the format too busy? [20-minute activity]
- Look at the sample templates linked to above, or search online for others. Find one that looks clean and simple and transfer across your details, deleting excess words and descriptions as you go.
- Look critically at your CV and find things to delete so that your main points stand out. [15-minute activity]
- If you’re applying for a specific role then does your CV show the ways your skills, talents and experience match that role? Are you using terms in your CV that are used in the job ad or the company website? [10-minute activity]
- Get someone else to review your CV – ask for honest feedback about language, spelling, meaning, and formatting. Is the language appropriate for your target audience? Will the words you use be suitable for automated systems that search CV’s for keywords? Change what you need to. [15-minute activity]
- Have a final read-through – out loud – to make sure you’re happy. Name your CV sensibly (e.g. “MarySmith_CV”, not “June2015”). [10-minute activity]
- Pat yourself on the back for taking the time to do this all-important career task! [1-minute activity 🙂 ]
I hope these tips will help you create a CV that you are proud of, and one that potential employers will find interesting and relevant enough to want to meet with you. (Look out for a future article on preparing for a successful interview).
You have skills and talents to offer! Make sure your CV reflects that.
[See this blog for advice on your LinkedIn profile.]
If you’d prefer one-on-one help with your CV, get in touch with me via firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve worked with many people to create CV’s and LinkedIn profiles that reflect their value.
Shirley Tricker is founder of Elementum, a company dedicated to helping people in Tech to be their best at work. Elementum offers career advice, coaching and online training, specialising in the soft/social skills and techniques that make a difference in the workplace.
Sign up for Elementum’s monthly newsletter for more articles and information, or follow Shirley on LinkedIn.
When you tell someone you’re looking for a new job, you can expect that their next question is going to be something like “so what are you looking for?”. You’d be surprised how often I hear people answer with “anything”.
They say things like “I’m looking for anything in testing” or “anything in IT” or “anything to do with customer service”.
Imagine it’s your first appointment at a new hairdresser. As you sit down they ask what you want and you answer “anything”. How likely is it that you’ll be happy with the end result?
I can understand that when you’re looking for a new role you may not be sure what kind of roles are available. Or you may actually be willing to do a whole range of things. Or maybe you think by being specific you might not get some other role you’d be perfect for.
But here’s what it sounds like when you say “anything”:
- It sounds like you haven’t put any thought into what you want, what you could contribute to a company or where you might be valuable.
- Instead of making you seem open to a range of things it could make you seem desperate or unenthusiastic or vague or lazy. Employers tend to like enthusiasm and driven and focussed people.
- It could make you look like you don’t care.
- It’s hard for employers or recruiters or people you’re networking with to mentally match you to roles/companies they know about if they don’t have any idea what it is you want or would be suited to.
When people ask what you’re looking for, you need to help them to help you. Prepare for their questions by considering the items in the list below. You don’t need to have firm answers for all points below … just focus on the things that you feel strongest about.
- What do you want from your next role? To develop technical skills or leadership, to stretch yourself, to embed skills you already have?
- Do you have an idea of the role you want in the long-term? Is your next role a stepping stone to that or do you want something completely new?
- How senior a role do you want? Why? Do you want to be a leader and do you have experience in this? Would you prefer to work in a team or alone? How big a team would you prefer?
- What industries have you worked in before that would give you an edge, and what industry do you want next? Why?
- What type of company do you want to work for? A small start-up, a growing company, a large corporation?
- What type of work environment do you want? Fast-moving, flexible, traditional, innovative? Is the development methodology important to you? Do you want a team where roles are flexible and varied or do you prefer clearly-defined responsibilities?
- What salary/benefits would you want ideally and do you have a minimum in mind?
- Do you have any must-haves?
- What is most important to you? The role, company culture, salary, benefits, training, flexibility, industry, opportunities, location, or other things?
Let’s change those examples above to something a bit more helpful:
“I’m looking for a test lead role at a telco.”
“I want a Java developer role in a large corporate organisation.”
“I want to work part-time in a customer service role.”
Once you have some idea of what is important to you and what you want to aim for, then decide how specific or broad you want to be when telling others. You don’t need to disclose exactly what you want but it’s good to have your ‘first prize’ in mind.
So the next time someone asks what kind of role you’re looking for be ready to replace “anything” with something.