LinkedIn Series – Expert Power

Career advancement is what we all strive for. Using LinkedIn can be a very helpful tool to show how you’re an expert in your field. Staying current is necessary for both currently employed professionals and individuals searching for employment. That brings us to a very important question:  Actually, have you ever even noticed it?

LinkedIn truly is like the professional Facebook (but so help me G-d if they introduce a chat function); there is now a newsfeed-esque component that you see right when you log in to LinkedIn and that is fed by what goes into your Activity feed and those of your Connections. Go to your profile and look at your Activity feed–we’ll wait.

See it? My guess is that the feed is mostly full of, “You are connected to so-and-so” and the occasional, “You are not following xyz company.” Yawn. That filters directly into the Newsfeed of all your connections and they are likely skipping right over it. Why not REALLY utilize this section and indicate your sector knowledge in the process? Post relevant articles!

You might find it a challenge, being that there are already not enough hours in the day, to post a bazillion articles. Good news: it’s quality over quantity. All you need is a minimum of five minutes per WEEK to utilize LinkedIn for posting relevant news articles and trends that are emerging in your sector. Why would you do this? Three letters: SME. To be a Subject Matter Expert, and to communicate that expertise via LinkedIn is a subtle–but strategic–opportunity to broadcast just how knowledgeable you are of your particular industry.

If you are currently employed it’s not a suggestion but a necessity to know current and future trends. It isn’t only important for you–the professional–but also for your company. Your expert power will speak volumes to your commitment with the company/sector and it will more likely than not give you a better understanding of how your sector is evolving.

If you are not employed, LinkedIn serves as a platform allowing you to connect with the professional world without having to step into an office. Right from home, while your search for a job continues, you can boost your LinkedIn presence by posting relevant articles to your LinkedIn profile. Others will be able to view them and get an understanding of your expert power within a given industry.

In doing so, you are still demonstrating your SME-ness via LinkedIn and that can work wonders for your job search. Hiring managers and recruiters will see this about you and that, alone, can increase the likelihood that they will reach out to connect. The main idea is to continue to grow professionally regardless if you’re employed or not.  Every time you post something on LinkedIn, you are upping the ante on just how savvy you are and the powers that be will respond in kind.

Now that you are up-to-speed on how post sector-specific newsworthy info to your LinkedIn profile, let’s move on to why you want Siskel & Ebert to give your profile two thumbs up!

Until next time, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

LinkedIn Series – Summary & URL

They say first impressions are everything. What you decide to write about in your LinkedIn Summary is going to be that all-important first impression to a potential employer.  Looking beyond your job title and that spiffy picture you have up, the summary should, in a nutshell, make a complete circle from what you have done so far to your future career path. Don’t feel the need to tell your whole professional life story; rather, let your character shine through. Remember this is a professional social media site, but it is still about you. Let people get to know what you’re about, and what makes you the unique professional that stands out.

Utilize a nice, easy writing style to ensure maximum comprehension by the reader. LinkedIn provides a maximum of 2,000 characters to complete your summary; use them wisely! If you are actively searching for a role don’t be afraid to indicate that. Additionally, you should provide an abbreviated list of your core competencies so people viewing your profile can truly understand what skills you bring to the table. Make your summary a powerful one so that it truly represents who you are, what you have to offer.

Another very important profile component people tend to overlook is having a unique URL. Searches on LinkedIn are done by real names, and because there are many people with the same name, your URL will never automatically be your actual name. Instead, you are assigned a URL that is a combination of your name and a whole series of numbers. Not very professional looking, but that’s okay because you can change that.

If you have a rare(ish) name you might be lucky enough to pick a URL using your name. If someone has taken your preferred URL name, you can try putting in your middle name or initial. Additionally, you can opt for extra branding–add a higher-level degree (MBA, PhD) or even a geographic location (NYC, ATL). The goal is ensure your new URL is more memorable and easier to share. Customizing your URL doesn’t only look better on your profile, but it also demonstrates your technology knowledge. Having a unique URL looks more professional and you can even add it to your business cards. Changing your URL is easy enough; directions for how to do so are below:

  • While logged in to LinkedIn, click on “Profile” and then “Edit Profile”
  • Click “Edit” next to your current URL positioned underneath your profile picture (some people may need to click “Contact Info” and then “Edit” depending on certain LinkedIn settings).
  • On the next screen, scroll down slightly and look on the right-hand side of the page. You will see a box that says “Your public profile URL” box.  Click the “Customize your public profile URL” link.
  • Type the last part of your new custom URL in the text box.
  • Click Set Custom URL.

Note: Your custom URL must contain between 5 – 30 letters or numbers (please do not use spaces, symbols, or special characters).

Now that your Summary is complete and you have a unique URL, let’s discuss the power of the SME! Not sure what that even means? Stay tuned!

Until next time, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

LinkedIn Series – Profile Basics & Your Resume

You have your basic LinkedIn profile set up and have included (please) a snazzy headshot, but how do you work in your resume? Should your profile and resume match? Although your resume is an important part of your LinkedIn profile, they’re not the same thing. In fact, the two are more like supportive siblings than identical twins: they should complement one another but not match (exception: your basic contact and job info should always be consistent between the two!).

While completing your LinkedIn profile, keep in mind that it should be a good self-representation of where you want to go with your career while indicating that you have the foundation for it (again, similar to your resume…but not identical). Your profile should be straight to the point, but unique at the same time. Remember that others will be viewing your profile. It is a good idea for someone else (who knows you and your work) to review it and provide constructive feedback to ensure you are on the right track. View your LinkedIn profile as your image. Build it accordingly to create a powerful reflection.

Once you have the work/education basics in place, it is time to flesh it out with details. Concentrate on your accomplishments for each role and provide context if that would suit your needs. Additionally, indicate your Core Competencies in the Summary section (though they will be referenced again in the Skills/Expertise section; more on that later!).  Remember to read our post on Resume Don’ts (parts I and II); though it’s true that the two should not be identical, many of our guidelines here still ring true for LinkedIn!

We have much to cover regarding LinkedIn profiles–today’s post barely scratches the surface on how to handle the basic profile. Next up:

  • Creating a strong summary and how to obtain a unique URL.

Other upcoming profile topics include:

  • The importance of outside validation and strategies for obtaining it.
  • Why projects matter and how to work them in to your profile.
  • An overview on increasing your “Subject Matter Expert” presence and why you want to do that at all.

After we cover the profile, we’ll move into the amazing features built into LinkedIn and discuss how to maximize your usage of each one. Until then, remember, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

LinkedIn Series – Resource For Success

If there is a heaven on earth for HR managers and recruiters, it is definitely LinkedIn. Over the last several years LinkedIn has quietly moprhed into a vibrant resource for job-seeking and networking professionals.

Why is LinkedIn such a powerful tool in today’s job world? For almost every professional at any level and within (arguably) most every sector, LinkedIn is largely considered the best online professional networking tool out there. It allows you to create a powerful profile in which, if filled out correctly, will display your strengths and experiences as well as best position you for your target audience. Additionally, the platform allows for extensive research into sectors, companies, and people on top of its key messaging system, job board options, and additional perks just for being a member of the site (and a non-paying one at that).

The question remains, though: are you maximizing LinkedIn for your professional development purposes? Moreover, is your profile truly effective? Have you learned effective messaging techniques to utilize in connecting with people? Do you even know what those Skills/Expertise Endorsements are used for and how important they are to recruiters? LinkedIn is more than just a profile platform and it is in your best interest to know how to best utilize it for your future needs.

Stayed tuned and check back to our LinkedIn Series for some key tips essential for your success story using LinkedIn. We will be discussing a range of related topics that will be vital to your ongoing career success; some of our topics will include how to strategically improve your profile, understanding the logic behind your Skills/Expertise (and the endorsements that come with those), the most effective techniques out there for connecting with people, and so much more!

Of course, don’t forget to connect with us on, what else, LinkedIn! Until then, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

Yahoo!’s Big Gamble: The Workplace Flexibility Conundrum

With more and more companies offering workplace flexibility, it came as a shock that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer issued a memo late last month explaining that the company would require all of its employees to come into the office instead of working from home. This decision has received plenty of heat, with some calling the policy change “short-sighted”, “going backwards” and an “epic fail”. After all, 24% of Americans reported working from home at least a few hours per week and 63% of employers reported they allowed employees to work remotely.

Even though allowing workers to telecommute may save the company money in a sluggish economy, some firms are noticing definite drawbacks to having an emptier office. Studies have indicated that employees who work from home are more productive but less innovative – apparently, employees interacting with one another can lead to more new ideas and faster decision making. For a struggling company like Yahoo, having employees in the same place could mean the difference between growth and stagnation.

Job applicants shouldn’t always assume their future workplace will embrace workplace flexibility. It may be an attractive option to work from your couch all day, but it may not be the best decision for your career. Often, employees who primarily work from home miss out on crucial decisions and also may be passed over for promotions or special opportunities partly because they are much less visible in the office environment.

Recent college graduates and young professionals may be searching for jobs with greater opportunities to work from home, but Mayer may have started a trend with more companies focusing on keeping people in the workplace. Workplace flexibility must be kept in balance with other job aspects – how important is it to you to work at home compared to the possibility of job security or career growth? Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important, but no job will be perfect and in this economy, sacrificing working from home just might be necessary.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

Proven App: Can You Trust It?

It seems like there’s an app for everything recently – with the help of your smart phone or tablet, you can order Chipotle, check the weekly coupons for Publix and find the nearest ATM. Now you can even find a job on the go with the new Proven application.

Users can browse Craigslist job postings, upload their resume and cover letter and apply right from their computer or iPhone. So far, Proven has received great reviews from users for being easy to use and the numbers speak for themselves – 18K users downloaded Proven in January. Proven received 5 out of 5 stars from users on the iTunes store and the updated version allows users to sync accounts on their phone and computer.

While using the Proven app may seem like the new frontier in finding a job, it also has its limitations. Although the app makes it easy to send resumes and cover letters to potential employers, it also is restricted to positions posted on Craigslist. Not all job postings on the site are exactly what they seem and there is often a larger concentration in service industry job postings. This may require more in-depth searches to find a legitimate posting that is well-suited for an employee. Jobs on Craigslist also represent only a fraction of available jobs, so Proven is not a one-stop-shop in finding your next job.

With other job search apps like JobMo, Job Aware and Ultimate Job Search gaining in popularity, it seems like thousands of people are taking advantage of the convenience of applying for jobs on the go. As so many aspects of our lives are virtual nowadays, it makes sense that we would use technology to apply for jobs. Keep in mind that your online presence should also be kept up to date to best utilize the Internet in your job search. With RYS’ Social Media services, we can help you put your best foot forward in your online job search.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

LinkedIn for the 1%: Yay or Nay?

With the popularity of social media in networking, it’s no surprise that users are increasingly establishing professional connections through sites like LinkedIn and even Facebook. While these sites can be incredibly useful for exploring potential job or partnership opportunities, there are many high-level executives who have a LinkedIn profile typically only updated by their staff – rendering it useless in terms of trying to network with the actual CEOs or CFOs. Now, a new site called Relationship Science is looking to make it easy to connect with the 1%, all for a small fee of $3K .

The upcoming launch of this site, described in this New York Times article, will enable users to enter a CEO’s name and see what kind of primary, secondary, or tertiary connections they already have to said CEO from the users’ own contacts. The search results will show how people are connected (“friend”, “friend of a friend”, etc) and will also judge the strength of the connection, from “strong” to “weak”. Relationship Science won’t post phone numbers or emails of its users, because as RS founder Neal Goldman points out, “This isn’t about spamming people.”

While this may seem like a great service, is it really worth it? Yes and no. For some, Relationship Science can show them connections to bigwigs they never knew existed. These contacts could be the key to being able to get a meeting or interview with the higher-ups, leading to career advancement. Unlike sites like LinkedIn where people need to create their own profile in order to interact on the site, Relationship Science uses the Internet, not the user, to gather information. This means you can still find connections with a company president without he or she having to put their own contacts on the website first.

On the other hand, not everyone needs to engage in this level of networking, and the price tag might not be worth it for most people in the workforce. Another good point is that even though you discover new connections, there’s no guarantee that anyone will respond to you.

What’s the bottom line? While Relationship Science may be worth it for a specific group of people, more often than not, real networking occurs in the real world. Attend networking events, actively update your LinkedIn profile and get to know your colleagues. In short, Always Be Networking! Refresh Your Step’s Networking Skills services can help you maximize opportunities to establish professional connections and career possibilities!

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

LinkedIn: The Ugly Duckling Gets the Last Quack

While our blog has made LinkedIn a focus on several occasions (most recently, here), a recent Wall Street Journal article provides further evidence of how powerful a tool the site can be when used effectively. Though some of the initial points focused on outperformance of the company’s stock since its IPO relative to some of its social media peers,  perhaps the more relevant information for job seekers is the article’s take on what has driven the company’s market capitalization  to more than quadruple since 2011 compared to decreases of 25%-60% for social media “darlings” Facebook, Groupon and Zynga.

 

This article’s main point is that companies both large (i.e.  PepsiCo and Starbucks) and small are devoting an increasing amount of time and resources to find applicants across a wide variety of industries and experience levels. Why? Because LinkedIn’s “pool of candidates is so  large and resumes tend to be more actively fleshed out and updated versus rival job sites and social networks.” What’s more, the article goes on to say, “LinkedIn also specializes in connecting companies with people who may not be looking for a job,” which can be appealing to a company.

 

What does this mean for those of us that don’t care as much about the company’s stock price? As LinkedIn attracts more users and expands its business lines, your LinkedIn presence is as critical as ever. Think that just means updating your profile with your latest job? Think again. There is much more to it and we can help. Whether in person or online and over the phone, we will ensure that you have the tools to maximize the benefits LinkedIn has to offer.

 

Are You Part of LinkedIn’s 5%?

Were you one of the lucky LinkedIn users who received this email?

While you may have at first been thrilled to receive this email, your excitement may or may not have diminished once you realized 10 million other LinkedIn users also saw the same email in their inbox. After so many users were told they are pretty popular on the leading professional social media site, it left many thinking – was the email just a clever marketing ploy or something to be proud of?

Millions of professionals took to their Facebook or Twitter pages to brag about receiving the LinkedIn email, leading to the email story going viral (and lots of free publicity for LinkedIn!). Although many were quick to let others know how popular they were, many more LinkedIn users were skeptical.

“I was thoroughly irritated by that mail. It felt very spammy, a blatant attempt to appeal to narcissism, and not entirely credible. If I’m one of the top 5% most viewed profiles, and I’ve never generated any work as a result of my presence on LinkedIn, then what does that say about LinkedIn?”

“Maybe I expect a little more out of LinkedIn. But in the last couple of days, I got a congratulatory email telling me that I was “one of the top 5% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012!” This I seriously doubt. I’m wondering if this is not some kind of a psychological play on their part. In other words, if you find out you’re good at something that you didn’t know about, then it gives you a little boost to go look at it again. And there’s a click for LinkedIn.”

While there are no statistics on who exactly received the email, no college students I know received the email (neither did I!), but Emily Kapit, Lead Resume Writer and Owner of RYS, did. This fact lends credence to the “top 5%” email because it’s highly unlikely that established professionals would be competing with college students for top-viewed honors. In fact, college students are probably the ones looking at professionals’ LinkedIn pages in hopes of connecting with the right people in an effort to secure a great job.

What’s the bottom line of this story? Although this LinkedIn email may have been a nice ego boost, it’s far from an accomplishment worthy of putting on your resume. That being said, having an up-to-date, professional LinkedIn profile will help attract more views, which can lead to more opportunities in your career. RYS is here to help you with our Social Media services to make your social media presence the best it can be. With the help of RYS, you can challenge Presisdent Barack Obama (with 525K+ views in 2012) for the title of Most Viewed LinkedIn Profile of 2013 and wouldn’t that be quite the resume-worthy feat?

It’s Your Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

Beware Phantom Job Postings

No matter if you are a college student entering the job market for the first time or a 30-year veteran of the working world, making a career change or seeking a promotion is something that may never be far from your mind. Unfortunately, as this Wall Street Journal article points out, you may have to face plenty of challenges while staying on the job search.

Even if you are actively applying for a new position or just looking to see what may be available in your field, many job postings may just be formalities – many positions are already filled by current employees or specially selected outside hires. While this may seem discouraging, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure the door to career advancement is always open.

First, never fall behind on networking. This ensures you stay on the radar of prospective employers while also forging new connections in your field. Networking can happen anytime and anywhere, online or offline, and it does not have to feel like work! Check out our blog post on networking to help get you started with this crucial aspect of professional life.

LinkedIn is a vital tool in keeping up with the opportunities available to you. Use the website and other social media to your advantage – connect with the people most relevant to your field, decide what you’re going to do with those connections, and decide on your final goal. Keeping those things in mind will make you an effective virtual networker. Check out our previous blog on using the Internet for continued career success for some quick tips.

While networking is a smart move in today’s connection-focused career world, you also need to strategically choose what jobs you apply to. As the article mentions, even if the NFL posts a job opening for a head coach, chances are you don’t qualify (no matter how well do in your Fantasy Football league). Look at exactly what the job is asking for and be realistic when deciding if it’s a position for which for you would be well-suited. As much as I would like to be a Cirque du Soleil performer, I don’t think my years of trapeze experience (which are non-existent) would get me hired.

Luckily, you’re not alone in this process. Our Strategic Career ConsultingNetworking Techniques and Social Media Presence services can help ensure you’re putting the best foot forward while in your current job or during a job search. With the right mix of smart socializing, a strong social media presence, and choosing potential jobs carefully, an amazing career opportunity is just around the corner.

Remember–it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

–Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern