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

The Power of Interns Part I

When ReFresh Your Step quietly launched an intern program last spring, our goal was simple: provide college students with a chance to get some real world marketing, business development, and project management experience (and, of course, a professionally written resume á la one of our writers). We specifically wanted college students in majors that would coincide with our needs, as that would benefit all involved; additionally, we traditionally look for students who are truly interested in working independently but are aggressive, creative, and productive.

It also occurred to us that applying to work at a career advisory firm (with minimal experience in the sector) could be, shall we say, daunting?

So, they write resumes…and know exactly what to look for…could I hire them to write my resume and then apply for the role?

Um, how do you interview with a professional interview advisor?

Is being on LinkedIn a requirement? What if they are on Facebook and can see my pictures? What if they JUDGE me by my pictures? Where are those security settings?

To answer those questions in order:

1) We are absolutely extra-critical of applicants’ resumes but are aware that college students are not the MOST up-to-date of today’s resumes standards (and investing in a new resume with us before applying for the position is actually pretty brilliant).

2) Just practice; I may know how to interview really well but don’t (often) bite; and

3) LinkedIn is not a requirement ahead of time but is by the time you’re done with the role. Also, I’ve been on Facebook a lot longer than you have, my friends post worse things than you do, and I was in college too (for the record, Mark Zuckerberg and I are contemporaries. We also both like to wear hoodie sweatshirts to work). I do advise putting your security settings on high anyway; ask me how to do that if you need to help.

Of course, if you happened to mention that you are a big fan of AJ Jacobs’ work, I’d probably just hand you the job, as this would indicate you appreciate excellent writing, humor, and the occasional bit of crazy. We’ll get along just fine.

I am a huge fan of AJ’s work and am thrilled he has started writing columns for LinkedIn; recently, he wrote about how he hires interns and it just made me think about our own process. This internship is not about getting me coffee or walking my dog; rather, as career advisors, we are KEENLY aware of how incredibly important it is to provide not just resume-building opportunities but to actually educate and groom our interns on gearing up for a job search as well as how to best prepare for the real world.

Our last intern did amazing work in terms of advancing key projects, writing excellent blog posts, and helping with major marketing initiatives. This semester, our intern is already churning out some excellent blog posts (9 Steps to a Successful Career Launch Part I and Part II, as well as her own perspective on AJ’s article); additionally, she will be essential to our business development maintenance and long-term growth, especially as I transition into a new role shortly (more on that later).

We look to our interns for real-world work and are happy to provide them transferable, high-level opportunities. We also like to give them an insider’s education on how this whole “job search” thing works; our hope is that this role with a career advising firm can truly pave the way for a fulfilling career.

If you are interested in a future internship position, please email Emily Kapit, MS, CPRW, ACRW to see the job description. Until then, it’s YOUR Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

Are Stressful Jobs Really Worth It?

No career is without its stressful moments, but a study from careercast.com –and covered by CNN–has announced the 10 Most and Least Stressful jobs of 2013, with enlisted military personnel earning the most stressful spot and university professors claiming the least stressful. This CNN article points out that even though some jobs may be higher in stress levels, they are often more rewarding. While firefighters (#3 on the list) have to deal with long hours and very dangerous situations, they are also keeping their community safe and aiding people daily. Often, people who are in high stress careers do so because they receive something more than just a paycheck.

As a college senior looking to enter the work force in the next few months, I have to start considering what kind of work I would like to do and how that affects my lifestyle. High-pressure jobs may mean long hours, busy days, and multiple Starbucks runs, but they can also pay off in ways I might not expect.

Public relations executives (#5) or newspaper reporters (#8) may face tighter deadlines and tougher decisions than a medical records technician (#3 on the least stressful list), but the more stressed out employees can have quite meaningful reasons for their profession selection. Apart from a high level of personal fulfillment, a stressful job can also mean that boredom at work is rare, activity is high, and daily responsibilities are never the same. People who enjoy a challenge and shirk monotonous duties may seek out a more stressful career because of the less obvious benefits they receive.

Jobs are rarely completely stress free (and life isn’t either), but those moments of stress can be worth it for a career you love. It’s important for students to remember that when it’s the right fit, even a high pressure job can mean be much more rewarding than a relaxed one. With that in mind, find the career path that seems right for you – and find activities outside of work that can help you unwind!

–Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern