career management

3 Traits of a Badass LinkedIn Profile

Is your LinkedIn profile bad or badass?

If it sounds like my client John’s did, it’s bad:

I am an experienced business development leader with a track record of success in multiple positions.  I am a hands on, outgoing, team player.  I am looking for a company culture and position to utilize my skills and many years of experience to contribute to their growth and overall success.

Here are the problems with John’s LinkedIn profile:

  • It lacks humanity – he sounds vague and robotic.
  • It lacks results – he offers no examples of past accomplishments.
  • It focuses on features rather than benefits to an employer: He describes himself as an “experienced business development leader,” a “hands on, outgoing, team player,” but never shows the business pain he solves.

Know this: You are being Googled, and your LinkedIn profile is the first result in a Google search. As the host of your LinkedIn profile, are you wowing visitors who drop by?

Be distinctive. By sharing your humanity, your proudest successes and how you’ll benefit an employer, you’ll transform your own profile from bad to badass.

And get the attention you deserve.

Here’s how:

Disarm viewers with genuineness

Please ditch the 3rd person. It may make sense for a BIO or resume, but not for your LinkedIn summary, and here’s why.

Your likeability is key at this stage of the game. In contrast, 3rd person builds a wall between you and your viewer, making you seem stiff and aloof.

Using 1st person drops the wall. Here are some sparkly lines I re-wrote for 2 clients’ profiles:

John: I thrive in a challenge. Got chaos? Stuck in neutral? I’m on it. I love pulling companies and teams forward in their mission.

Becky: I’m old school in the best ways: A genuine, hand-holding insurance professional who goes the extra mile for my clients. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?

Tell us:

  • In what way are you the best at what you do? C’mon, tell us what you’re secretly smug about (but don’t sound smug)!
  • What business problem do you love to sink your teeth into?
  • Why are you passionate about your industry and what is needed that only you can provide?

No matter what position you’re aiming for, from sales to C-suite, be relatable. Hear ye, executives! You can be genuine and a powerhouse.

Succinctly describe past successes

Nobody wants to sound like a braggart. That’s why so many profiles sound like John’s. According to LinkedIn’s Catherine Fisher, 46% of executives don’t feel comfortable sharing their achievements.

Know this: If you don’t, you will be skipped over. Achievements make you stand out whereas listing features like “team player” and boring keywords make our eyes glaze over.

Here’s how I’ve described clients’ successes on their profiles. Tell me if it sounds like bragging:

Yasmine: When I see potential in others, I want to nurture it. At one engagement I mentored a colleague through a sales cycle and within 6 months, her impact helped triple the account revenue to $1M+. Today, she is a high-performing senior sales support contributor.

Jerry: In my work with Fortune 500 companies prior to focusing on healthcare, I mastered the art of revenue management.  When asked to help a struggling healthcare practice in 2004, I turned the business around from $4M to $20M in revenue in only five years.

Provide high level detail – a sentence or 2 that drives home what you accomplished. Too much detail isn’t appropriate on your LinkedIn profile. Share enough to be convincing, that will invite a conversation. No need for a career autobiography.

Here’s a formula:

  • Describe your superpower(s). Then describe a result you achieved using those superpower(s) – in 250 characters.

Emphasize benefits, not features

Your features — strengths and competencies — matter. But they take a back seat to how you benefit your future employer, who reads your profile thinking, “What’s in it for me?”

Here are some different ways to emphasize the benefits of hiring you that address an employer’s  concerns:

John: As a kid, I could fish ALL DAY, hooked by the thrill of “What’s next? What’s bigger?” That same curiosity and fascination for what is possible stays with me today. I love creating ideas and concepts, testing and improving processes, nurturing productive teams to meet aggressive sales goals.

Doug: My secret? I run your business like I’m the owner. You’ll NEVER hear me say, “Let’s throw this food away, I didn’t pay for it.” I don’t waste your product, your labor, your time, or your materials. Sure, I can do it the easy way, but I’d rather not waste money.

Tell us:

  • Something you learned as a kid or in your early profession that has stayed with you. How do you apply that knowledge to solve problems, grow revenue or streamline processes?
  • Like Doug, frame a cherished principle as a secret. Then describe how it provides value, solves problems or saves money.

As the host of your LinkedIn profile, expect surprise guests to drop by. When they do, it’s essential you make it worth their while: By being relatable, sharing your accomplishments and describing benefits over features, your guests will never want to leave.

Image above drawn by Anya Talatinian.

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a certified LinkedIn™ Profile Writer,  LinkedIn trainer and Career Transition Coach. She is the founder of Coming Alive Career Coaching, and loves teaching people how to get found on LinkedIn.  A participant in one of her workshops recently wrote: “Julie’s LinkedIn class took me from a skeptical LinkedIn novice to a believer in the power of LinkedIn!”

To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Optimization packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com. You can also follow Julie on Twitter and Facebook.

What Joan Lunden Can Teach Us about Busting Through Career Barriers

How is your mindset affecting your job search?

While it’s important to master the mechanics of job search – networking, relationship building, personal branding – what you tell yourself can make or break your search.

I recently saw Joan Lunden – morning show host pioneer and intrepid journalist — deliver the keynote speech at a TrueU conference. She shared how she busted through thick-as-brick walls to reach her goals, demonstrating it’s how you champion yourself that matters.

Here are the mantras she used that cleared the path. Adopt them. They are free for the taking:

“If you want to play the game, find a way to get on the playing field.”

After Lunden graduated college, a family friend in TV suggested Joan apply for a job at a local TV station. In spite of the fact there was no actual job opening and she lacked relevant experience, she showed up at the TV station the following day and requested an interview and an audition.

Afterwards, they told her, “Nice job. Except we don’t actually have an opening.”

The weatherman there noticed her audition, and was impressed. He recommended her to another station, where she became the first female “weather girl” ever hired in Southern California.

Lunden was not thrilled being a “weather girl” because:

a) She knew nothing about weather

b) She had to wear a tight, white mini-dress and white lace-up boots (this was the early 70’s). Nevertheless she was determined to break into TV. Intuitively she knew this role was her ticket to landing a job she could eventually sink her teeth into.

As a job seeker, aim toward your future, as you chart your career. When less-than-ideal opportunities land in your lap, ask yourself: Will this opportunity provide either skills or connections to others which will move me forward? Lunden reasoned the “weather  girl” role was her ticket. It gave her exposure in front of a camera, strengthened her poise, and taught her to think on her feet.

Lunden landed on the right playing field, then bolted to 2nd base, but she had to embrace the idea that . . .

“Sometimes you have to take the risk of not being great in order to learn how to be great.”

Lunden’s popularity grew quickly after taking the weather girl job. Within 6 months, 6 stations across the country offered her a job. Not sure what to do next, she asked the same family friend for advice. He recommended she speak to his network executive friend in New York. When the executive found out she had 6 offers, he offered her a job, as a journalist. Something she’d never done before.

Fortunately, Joan had a nurturing “inner champion” who said, Say yes, then figure it out. Many of us lack an audible “inner champion,” and instead listen to our (really loud) “inner thwarter,” who says, I can’t do this job because I’m not qualified! or,  I have no experience doing that, or I’ll fail! Sound familiar?

What would be possible if you let yourself be a beginner at something you’re excited about? Imagine this: Decca records rejected the Beatles, telling them “We don’t like your sound. You have no future in show business.” It’s helpful to remember The Beatles weren’t always The Beatles.

Lunden accepted the journalism job. On the first day, a cameraman asked Lunden, “How many magazines will you need?,” referring to the film reel holder. She said, “Oh, I probably won’t have time to read magazines today.” They burst out laughing,  and took her under their wing. And thanks to them, she learned about journalism.

 

“Take every small assignment and make it shine. And then you will grow.”

After Lunden landed the coveted morning host spot on Good Morning America, Barbara Walters took her aside and gave her the advice above. Walters  chose not to fight the male-dominant TV culture (Lunden’s 2 predecessors fought it and were let go). Sure enough, Lunden’s initial assignments were about home-improvement, parenting, and consumer products, all topics she actually loved. She researched like a fiend, adding her own unique spin, and her work gained attention. Eventually she landed interviews on par with her male counterparts, reporting from 16 countries, interviewing 5 U.S. presidents, and covering 5 Olympic Games.

While Lunden clearly had good mentors who helped her along, she hit roadblocks that might intimidate the best of us. She hurdled the roadblocks because she followed the wisdom of her positive, inner champion.  Lunden models for us, be mindful of what you tell yourself. It may just come true.

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a certified LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer. She is the founder of Coming Alive Career Coaching, and loves teaching people how to get found on LinkedIn.  A participant in one of her workshops recently wrote: “Julie’s LinkedIn class took me from a skeptical LinkedIn novice to a believer in the power of LinkedIn!”

To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Optimization packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com. You can also follow Julie onTwitter and Facebook.

 

6 Steps for Pivoting Into Your Next Job Breathlessly Insanely Fast

My friend Amy just nabbed her ideal job, after a 6 month search. While she’s thrilled where she landed, she knows this won’t be the last company she ever works for.

“Next time, I don’t want the job search to take so long. I’m dreaming, aren’t I?” she asked me.

Not at all. In fact, I wish more people thought like Amy.

No job is permanent. All it takes is one little change of command to get hauled into HR on a dime. No one expects to be laid off or stuck in a dead-end job, but that’s life these days. Here are 5 steps you can take to pivot into your next job breathlessly, insanely fast.

1. Engage on LinkedIn enthusiastically

First, your LinkedIn profile is optimized, current and engaging, right?

Second, if you’re not active on LinkedIn now, today is a great day to start. William Arruda suggests all you need is 9 minutes a day:

  • share a status update on something you’re an expert on
  • request to connect with someone you admire
  • join a Group, comment and provide insights
  • share an accomplishment

Worried your boss will think you’re passively job searching as a result of your activity on LinkedIn? Choose one of these responses:

  • “You’re not interested in massive brand reach and lead generation? Oh my, we need to talk!”
  •  “By highlighting my accomplishments, it makes YOU look good. Other companies enjoy doing business with winners.”

I have a lot of clients who love their jobs, who actively work the LinkedIn ecosystem. They understand this platform is much more than a job search tool: It’s a vibrant way to provide value, serve others, and learn.

2. Keep a running list of the ongoing impact you’re having, quantifying results.

I’ve created LinkedIn profiles and resumes for CFOs, Lean Six Sigma experts and Sales Managers who scratched their heads when I asked them how they contributed to revenue, sales and bottom line – the very information hiring managers care about most.

You will make your life so much easier at the next go-round by tracking your accomplishments along the way. While your job isn’t only about numbers, you will forget the results you created during that product launch 2 years ago. Record your successes!

3. Have productive conversations at least twice a month with people who work at interesting companies

Really. You can do 2 a month. Over a year, that’s 24 people you’ve developed relationships with whom you can help, who may be able to help/refer yousomeday.

I get it. It’s so easy to say, I haven’t got time to meet new people. Consider this: People are much more open to meeting with a stranger who is employed than one who isn’t. (Though you meet with and help job seekers, right?)

To find both interesting companies and the people who work there: Google

  • Top Workplaces 2016 in [your city]
  • [your state] chamber best places to work
  • Top companies for work-life balance
  • Contact thought leaders in your industry and ask them

Once you’ve discovered which companies to pursue, find insiders and hiring managers who work there using LinkedIn, and write a glowing, personalized connection request.

And at the end of every productive conversation please always ask, “How can I help you?”

4. Grow your number of LinkedIn connections

The greater number of connections you have, the greater your reach. The more genuine, legitimate 1st degree connections you have, the more people you have in your corner who can refer you to people in their network.

It’s to your advantage to be a genuine connector, not a people collector.

5. Grow your number of LinkedIn Recommendations

Recommendations are like stars on Yelp – and you can never have too many. Make sure recommendations written by colleagues, mentors and managers are specific and reflect the superpowers you most enjoy using.

I really like this recommendation template by Adrian Granzella Larssen. It’s not rude or over-stepping by inserting it into your LinkedIn recommendation request. On the contrary! Do you enjoy writing a recommendation from scratch? Didn’t think so. Help out your reference by providing a guideline. They will appreciate you.

6. Do you pass the “ layoff test ?”

I learned the phrase, “pass the layoff test” from Alan Henry. Here’s the test: If you were laid off today, do you have 10 people in your network you can reach out to, for support and to troubleshoot next-steps? If not, that’s a sign you’ve let your network languish. Time then to get to work and rebuild relationships.

John Maxwell says, “Your network is your net worth.” In other words, your best asset is the people you know. Take good care of your future while you’re still employed by following the steps above, and remember: The shortest distance to a job is measured by the number of people who are thrilled to refer you.

Stay in touch, build new relationships and keep thrilling others by serving well.

Image:Depositphotos@iqoncept

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a certified LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer. She is the founder of Coming Alive Career Coaching, and loves teaching people how to get found on LinkedIn.  A participant in one of her workshops recently wrote: “Julie’s LinkedIn class took me from a skeptical LinkedIn novice to a believer in the power of LinkedIn!”

To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Optimization packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com. You can also follow Julie onTwitter and Facebook.

3 Ways to Overcome Your LinkedIn Stage Fright (and Get Found Faster)

Are you afraid to share your professional opinions on LinkedIn?

You’re not alone.

At a recent LinkedIn training I led for job seekers, I emphasized the importance of circulating in LinkedIn’s ecosystem: Sharing articles, commenting on Long Form Posts, offering industry insights.

“Anyone have any hesitation about sharing your Thought Leadership on LinkedIn?” I asked.

Hands shot up.

“I’m out of a job! Who will take me seriously?”

“What do I know, compared to others out there? I feel like an imposter!”

“What if I say something wrong? There’s no recovering from that!”

The people I trained weren’t recent college graduates with limited experience. Many were seasoned CFOs and CEOs who’ve made millions of dollars for companies. They’ve got skills. And yet on LinkedIn, they’re afraid to express their hard-earned, proven wisdom.

I call it LinkedIn Stage Fright: The fear that you’ll say something wrong and end up with egg on your face. While there are “Negative Nellies” out there who pounce with lip-smacking glee on people whose opinions they dislike, I would argue:

  • Their bad form reflects much worse on them than you
  • LinkedIn is more forgiving than you might think

Last year, I wrote a blog in which I exposed my ignorance about how to detect Spammers on LinkedIn. One of my readers graciously educated me by providing information, both on my blog thread and privately. Did my followers think me a fool? Maybe. Did anything terrible happen as a result of my “oops?” Nope.

Actively circulating on LinkedIn matters, a lot. By sharing what you know, you can quickly establish your reputation as an authority in your industry, which is catnip to hiring managers and recruiters.  LinkedIn is a relationship-building tool above all else, tailor-made for developing the “know, like, trust” factor people need in order to do business with you. Being active increases your profile views, and helps you get found faster.

How to hurdle the fear of blowing it? Take these 3 steps:

Start small

Set up a Google Alert, entering topics you care most about in your industry. (i.e. Business Development, Leadership, Change Management, whatever’s in your wheelhouse). Several times a day Google will send you curated articles on those topics. Select the juiciest one, and share it in the “Status Update” feature on LinkedIn, writing a lead that entices your network to read the article, and lets them know how they’ll benefit from reading it:

Example of a lead: “Excellent article on Informational Interviewing – concise & very helpful. Doing them will ramp up your job search.”

I share about 1-2 articles a day with my network. Next . . .

Practice commenting in Groups, testing the waters further.

Jeff Haden offers this advice for selecting Groups on LinkedIn. Participate there with people sharing a particular interest. It’s a smaller pond, where people tend to engage more and let their hair down. As Haden says, observe the rules of engagement, then dive in. Groups can be an excellent place to find your feet beneath you and gain confidence. Once you’re comfortable there . . .

Comment on LinkedIn Blogs, aka Long Form Posts.

Next, move into the larger pond, and comment on Long Form Posts. Find something to affirm about the article, and then offer your own unique twist. Not only will your name and headline be visible to the blogger’s network, but so will your unique insights.

I’ve obtained new followers, connections, prospects and clients by commenting on someone’s blog on LinkedIn.  By daring to engage, I initiate the “know, like, trust” factor for viewers who, after reading my comment, head over to my profile,which is exactly what I want.

Reframing the Critic

Months ago I spoke with my artist/writer friend Stefanie Newman about my own fear of blogging. I confessed I spend hours writing blogs, and many of them end up sitting in my Draft file, because they’re not “quite right.”

“That’s too bad, Julie,” she said.  “The world is littered with unfinished manuscripts and blank canvases because someone gave a critic too much power.”

The fact is, it is risky to offer your opinion, since someone might disagree, or judge you unkindly for having an opinion. It’s risky to share articles that some people may find uninteresting or unwelcome. You may disappoint someone out there.

While my “inner pleaser” cares what critics think, my inner educator, inspirer, and helper-of-job seekers do not care. I say let the majority rule.

Seth Godin says, “Playing it safe may be the riskiest strategy of all.” I invite you to step on the LinkedIn stage. Tell us what’s important to you, and teach us something new. We are listening.

Image: Depositphotos@alphaspirit

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer. She is the founder of Coming Alive Career Coaching, and loves teaching people how to get found on LinkedIn.  A participant in one of her workshops recently wrote: “Julie’s LinkedIn class took me from a skeptical LinkedIn novice to a believer in the power of LinkedIn!”

To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com. You can also follow Julie onTwitter and Facebook.

Sabotaging Your LinkedIn Profile? 3 Ways to Stop

“I don’t like the LinkedIn profile you wrote for me.”

These words arrived in my inbox at 3 am, written by my client, Jerry. I was baffled, because I loved how his profile “makeover” turned out: Energetic, confident, with two neck-snapping success stories.

Jerry, a former VP of Operations turned entrepreneur from Texas, has the Midas touch. He’s helped several small and large businesses grow by millions annually. Today, he helps doctors manage the business side of their practices for greater profitability and efficiency. He’s developed a turnkey solution that works, with the results to prove it.

I knew I could fix whatever he didn’t like about his Summary. I tell my clients, “We’re not done with your profile until you’re thrilled with the result.”

While talking to Jerry the next morning, I quickly learned it wasn’t the profile that needed fixing. It was Jerry’s beliefs about LinkedIn.

He offered his first concern.

“The Summary you wrote? It’s very conversational.”

“And if it’s conversational, what does that mean to you?” I asked.

Concept of problem in business

“I sound too relaxed. No one will take me seriously.”

I have heard this very argument before from clients, especially Finance or C-suite professionals.

“Actually Jerry, that’s a good thing, at this stage of the “buying” game. When people view your LinkedIn profile, they want to feel you’re relatable. At its heart, LinkedIn is a relationship building tool. Your Summary shouldn’t sound like your resume.”

I shared my favorite Zig Ziglar quote: “If people like you they will listen to you. If they trust you, they will do business with you.” I explained that if a Summary is relational and “connect-y,” it builds a bridge between you and the reader, creating that all important “trust factor” necessary to do business.

He said, “Well, that brings me to my next concern.”

“The Summary sounds so . . . different from other profiles.”

He said, “I looked at Nathan’s [who referred Jerry to me] and mine sounds nothing like his.”

“Oh,” I said. “So you’re concerned it should sound more formal, and use more ‘corporate-speak’?”

“Yes! Like a lot of my friends’ profiles sound,” he said.

“Question, Jerry. If you sound like everyone else, what’s to distinguish you from your competitor? When we spoke the very first time, this was your primary concern.”

I explained that LinkedIn is a fantastic database that allows readers to quickly weed out irrelevant prospects.

It’s the ones who stand out who get the call.

I offered up Seth Godin’s purple cow metaphor. “The key to success is to be remarkable. To be a purple cow in a field of monochromatic Holsteins.” If you don’t stand out, you’ve just made room for your competition.

Jerry’s friend Nathan holds a high level position at a conservative company. His goals when using LinkedIn are different from Jerry’s.  Nathan had made it clear, “I want to convey x, y and z, but withhold certain information.” And so, I reigned in the “purple cow.” He was not aggressively seeking new clients or a new job, but wanted a more substantive, professional profile.

Jerry said, “Well, here’s my other gripe! I’m a humble guy. I teach my kids the importance of humility.”

“I’m worried the Summary you wrote makes me sound like a bragger.”

I hear this from 100% of my LinkedIn clients: “I just want my accomplishments to speak for themselves!”

“Oh, I so get that,” I told Jerry.  “I want you to hold onto your humility too. It’s essential.

But on LinkedIn, you must convey your value in an instant, or else your viewer moves on to the next candidate or company.

“Jerry, no bank will give a loan to someone who can’t demonstrate a track record of success, right? The same applies to your Summary. You turned a struggling, chaotic company from $4M to $20M in 5 years. That’s remarkable evidence. Purple cow stuff,” I said.

It’s a weird world we live in, isn’t it? We are taught not to brag. EVER. But in 2015, our attention spans are short, and we want vital information quickly.

It’s all about context. On LinkedIn, we must “brag.”

By the end of the conversation, Jerry’s point of view had shifted. “Okay. I trust you. Make me a purple cow.”

Here are the cardinal rules for your irresistible LinkedIn Profile:

Be relatable. Be remarkable. Offer evidence.

How else will the world know you can make a difference? Please tell us out loud, because your accomplishments will never speak for themselves.

That’s your job.

Image: Depositphotos@alphaspirit

Jerry Godwin cheerfully agreed to let me tell this story here, for which I’m grateful. For more information about his remarkable company, check out his website, Optmedsol.  To connect with Jerry, visit his LinkedIn profile

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer. She is the founder of Coming Alive Career Coaching, and loves teaching people how to get found on LinkedIn.  A participant in one of her workshops recently wrote: “Julie’s LinkedIn class took me from a skeptical LinkedIn novice to a believer in the power of LinkedIn!”

To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com. You can also follow Julie on Twitterand Facebook.

The Costliest Mistake Job Seekers Make

In 2006, my one-year teaching contract ended and I decided to find a corporate job. Piece of cake, I thought. After all, I’d just taught Shakespeare to college students.

Boy, was I wrong.

Three months and only one job interview later, I was still unemployed. This was especially nerve-wracking as I was a recently divorced mother of two. Desperate times called for desperate measures. I contacted my local state employment program and joined a job search club to help me figure this whole “job search thing” out.

That decision changed everything. Within 3 months, I received 2 offers in one week.

Colorful nesting boxes on blue sky

I credit a job search community for not only shortening my job search, but transforming it. According to job search expert Orville Pierson, joining a community of fellow job seekers can reduce your search time by 20%. That turns a 5 month search into a less-costly 4.

Here are the benefits:

You will learn tricks.

I was clueless about how to conduct a productive job search: I didn’t know about elevator speeches, informational interviews, and personal branding. Say what? Explain my “value proposition” in 30 seconds? Speak to complete strangers to “exchange information?” What was this strange language that flowed off of everyone’s tongue but mine?

Before long though, I learned the art of job search by being immersed in a job search culture with fellow job seekers. The state employment program and job club community taught me practical action steps that increased my interview rate. In fact, during the final week of my search, I had 3 interviews in one day. (I don’t advise this, by the way!)

You will receive vital feedback.

While attending the free workshops offered by my local state employment program here in Indiana, WorkOne, we often divided into pairs, and gave each other feedback when rehearsing our STAR stories. Several people told me, “Pare it down. Get to the point faster.” I needed to learn to be more concise.

I had a choice: Feel humiliated or grateful. I chose gratitude and adjusted my behavior. The feedback you receive won’t just make you a better job seeker, but a better employee. Without community, you miss out on vital information that will shorten your search.

Today I meet many job seekers who self-sabotage themselves, unaware of how ineffectively they come across to others. If you find yourself in a protracted job search, find someone to practice interviewing with and be open to feedback. The advice shared may be the magic bullet needed to shave weeks off of your job search.

You will gain dozens of accountability partners.

Having a group of kind, like-minded faces peer back at me each week helped me stay positive and hopeful. Plus each week, those who’d been in the trenches awhile beamed in triumph with news of landing a job. All of us were eager to hear them tell their job search success story.

I credit those alliances with fueling my job search momentum. We all reported our progress each week, heard feedback when we’d stumble, received praise for risking. I always left each meeting with new ideas to try. Early on someone offhandedly suggested I add a line of praise from a Reference letter to the top of my resume. I started landing more interviews as a result of that piece of advice.

You will gain confidence.

My confidence took off after I joined community. Because the career coaches and job club facilitators stress face-to-face activities like networking and volunteering, I practiced honing my message with each new person I met. I quickly learned what made people light up with interest, and what made their eyes glaze over. (Hint: People light up when you listen well and demonstrate succinctly how you can resolve their business pain).

As my confidence increased, my number of interviews increased. Like anything you practice daily and are committed to, you improve.

Conducting an effective job search is not instinctive. Most people fall back on the default strategy of applying to job boards. Sadly, that strategy has run its course, and most often leads to a frustrating dead end. (Job boards were my “go to” during my first 3 months. Remember? ONE interview!).  When I learned the actual skills needed to conduct a productive job search, the tide turned in my favor. Learning these skills in the arms of a supportive community made that challenging period of my life so much easier.

To find a state-funded Employment Center near you, click this link: Career OneStop Job Center, and enter your city, state or zip code in the “Location” cell, and click Search. Good luck!

Image: Depositphotos@frenta

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer. She is the founder of Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com. You can also follow Julie on Twitter and Facebook.

I hope you found some helpful information here today. If you did, be sure to share this article with your connections. They will definitely appreciate your thoughtfulness.

1 Secret Tip to Maintaining Warm Ties on LinkedIn

This morning, LinkedIn sent me a notice asking me to congratulate my acquaintance Jane for her 5 years at Seeking Employment. While  glad to be reminded of  Jane, would you agree that congratulations are not in order?

Many LinkedIn users  feel annoyed by these “anniversary alert emails” precisely because of the clumsy scenario above, or else feel mystified by how to respond. Out of frustration, many choose to unsubscribe to these persistent notifications.

I say, resist the urge! Instead:labelless can1

Turn these auto-reminders into an opportunity to reconnect with your network.

Before you say, why bother?, let’s first remember why staying connected with your network is so vital for your career management.

A network full of cold connections on LinkedIn has no value to you. For example, you know the can in your food pantry without a label? It sits there taking up space. A cold connection — which is essentially someone you’ve not had contact with in over a year — is similar to that label-less can. Consider this scenario: Let’s say a connection in your network loses her job and reaches out to you for help, or asks you to introduce her to a prospect in your network—though she hasn’t touched base with you in years.  How will that cause you to feel?

Reluctant? Irritated perhaps?

That’s why LinkedIn has developed this “anniversary alert email,” to help you turn your cold relationships warm again. By investing 15 minutes of your day to reconnect with your network, you will reap the dividends when you need it most. Since no job exists forever,  a strong net(work) will support you when you choose (or are forced) to leave, and can help you land more quickly on your feet.

Here’s how I suggest you respond to those anniversary notices.

1. Review the profile

Take a couple of minutes to review the profile. How often do you meet people when networking who say, I’m looking for someone in the finance industry, or, I really need an IT guy, stat!, and you stand there scratching your head. When I review the people in my network, they are front of mind so I can be of  more value to people I meet. Isn’t that the point of networking? So we can help each other?

2. Find like-mindedness, shared experiences

With some you may find it easier to re-ignite that spark: Reminding them of how you met, or what you remember about them.

With others it may not be that simple. If it’s truly a cold connection–someone I don’t know– I always find something to relate to: a city we both lived in, interesting jobs they’ve had. I  always find something to affirm–the assumption being, if you’re in my network, I’m on your side.

2. Next, write back

Here’s what I recently wrote:

“Congratulations on starting your new handyman business. That takes guts. Anything in particular you’re interested in learning about LinkedIn? That’s my specialty, glad to help. . . I wish I had your skills. You get to put your stamp on things that bewilder me! All my best, Julie.”

He wrote back the next day, and our conversation continues. As a result, both our nets became tighter.

Today I encourage you to take a couple of extra minutes to follow up with your connections. By doing so,  you’ll do a favor for both of you, eliminating one more label-less can off of your shelf.

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a  LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer  She is the founder of  Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com.  You can also follow Julie on Twitter and Facebook.  

I hope you found some helpful information on this list. If you did, be sure to share this article with your connections. They will definitely appreciate your thoughtfulness.

 

How to Take Charge of Your Dead-End Job Search

Last weekend the power went out while sitting at the movie theatre watching Wild.  After awhile, I struck up a conversation with the young woman sitting next to me, a bubbly, recent college grad named Rachel. I asked her about her life, and within minutes her sparkle dulled as she expressed her frustration with her dead-end  job selling shoes. With further probing, I learned 3 things she’s not doing in her job search that are keeping her stuck.

Her frustrations are universal. By adopting  the following remedies, she can pull her job search forward and kiss her retail job goodbye.Breakthrough dead end job search1

Here’s what she told me:

1) Her job search is isolated.

“I do it by myself,” she said.

In today’s market, that approach will prolong her search and keep her knee-deep in shoe boxes. According to career expert Orville Pierson, those who join fellow job-seekers in community shorten their search by 20%. In other words, a 5 month search becomes 4. Job searching with others will boost your morale, hold you accountable, provide networking opportunities, and give you up-to-the-minute information about job search strategies.

In the U.S., I suggest  connecting to free, state-funded job search centers  here, by entering your zip code in the Get Help Near You section. These centers offer workshops on  all aspects of job search.

In 2006 when I was between jobs, I credit my job search community for landing my job in the hidden job market. At a job search club I belonged to, I recruited guest speakers each week. One of the speakers I interviewed liked me so much he hired me. Joining community is vital in your job search.

2) Her LinkedIn Profile is “meh.” 

“I’m not a good writer, plus I’m not good at bragging about myself!” she said.

I hear these two complaints a lot from job seekers; however, clinging to them may hold you back, and here’s why.

A well-written LinkedIn profile is the linchpin of your career search, which I wrote about here. Let’s pretend you start chatting with a hiring manager at a movie theater when the power goes out–could happen right? You exchange business cards. The first thing she will do when she gets to the office is Google  you. The top result of her search in most cases will be your LinkedIn profile. While chatting with Rachel during the power outtage, I peeked at her Profile on my Smart phone. Her Summary section is a desultory list of keywords, reflecting none of her dazzle.

Now back to her bragging concern. Instead, I suggest you reframe “bragging” as educating others quickly about how you offer value. You know how the app Shazam detects an unknown song in an instant? Your well-branded, results-driven,  and engaging profile works just like Shazam. Showcase your value in an irresistible way on LinkedIn, and you will get found.

3) She avoids networking events.

“Who knows who will show up at those things?!” she said.

Since 80% of jobs are filled through referral, networking is key to job search.  If you’re anxious about networking, start with less overtly “networky” events. Rachel loves ping pong and is passionate about homelessness. She can join a local table-tennis club and volunteer at local homeless shelters. She can also bring a friend to feel safer.

During job search, it’s important  to “bump up” against new people to befriend. As Susan Cain says, you don’t have to be opportunistic when networking. Instead,  “Find someone in the room who’s a kindred spirit.” Creating a genuine connection will create goodwill, a friend in the world who will say great things about you.

In an interesting parallel, when the movie re-starts, the main character Cheryl Strayed quotes Emily Dickenson and says, “If your Nerve deny you – Go above your Nerve.” To break out of her dead-end job, Rachel will need to go above her nerve. When she does, she will find a job she loves.

image: © Depositphotos.com/lightsource

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a  LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer  She is the founder of  Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com.  You can also follow Julie on Twitter and Facebook.  

I hope you found some helpful information on this list. If you did, be sure to share this article with your connections. They will definitely appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Taking the Reins of Your Career Path: 3 Essential Moves

I never managed my career. I never knew it was a thing. It mattered less when jobs lasted longer, and job searches happened only every 10 years or so. (Can you believe that was a thing, too?)

It’s sure different now. Every day, a different career expert writes, “You’re now a company of one, and need to start thinking with the clarity and vision of an entrepreneur.” The tagline for Careerealism is “Because every job is temporary.” When I first discovered Careerealism, the tagline seemed radical and edgy. Today it seems wise.

Four years ago I realized I was unhappy at my job. The unhappiness was a great wake up call though:  Time to grab the reins of my career, which I did. I tested and learned several new skills—some I liked, some I didn’t. I focused on doing things I enjoyed. Last May, I took the leap, and officially started my own business. I wish I knew the following 3 things at the beginning of my last job, so that I didn’t spend so much time languishing at a job that wasn’t a great fit. Here are 3 steps for getting back on path:penguin on shark

1. Maintain and work your LinkedIn profile

There are so many ways to work your profile, but here’s one I love, yet rarely see. It helps you maintain your excitement and edge, reminding yourself and others–hey, I belong here!, and is just darn juicy.  Besides that, it contributes value (more on that in a minute):

  • List your accomplishments regularly.

If you have  no accomplishments to add to your LinkedIn profile, that might be an indication you’re not growing at your company. Red flag there! Ideally, you regularly complete new projects and contribute to the company’s savings and growth. Figure out how to quantify that, and add it to your profile.

This is important for two reasons: One, it is data for your annual review, to justify your raise. If you are contributing value and savings, and a raise or promotion isn’t offered, it may be time to move on. Either way, listing your accomplishments on LinkedIn will position yourself well to be recruited by other companies and recruiters. Your Summary section will sing your value.

I hear you protest, But I don’t want my company to see my updates. They will think I’m looking for a job! What many companies don’t realize is accomplishments on your profile show both clients and viewers the health of your company. It reflects well on your company for you to have a robust profile. It’s short-sighted of an employer to be threatened by it. Remind them of that. Tell them, “The better I look, the better we look!”

  • Provide status updates daily

Add 1-3 status updates daily. Share a link to your recent blog post, or share an update of a colleague or thought leader; provide an insight about your industry ; a quote that inspires you. And don’t forget to share a professional accomplishment above such as, “Just landed national account after 3 months of conversation. Very excited to begin this engagement!”  According to Victoria Ipri, the ratio should be 4 to 1: Four professional updates for every 1 accomplishment

  • Grow your network

Make 500 connections your goal, before your next job search. Why? That number of connections causes LinkedIn algorithms to shift in your favor. Be careful about being opportunistic though, and clicking the plus sign beside people’s names. Find something in common, and personalize each request to connect. LinkedIn is a relationship building tool first and foremost. Reach out to people who inspire you online or  while standing in line at Qdoba, or after a networking event. If the day ever comes when you are out of a job, you now have a robust referral base to draw from.

2. Practice self-advocacy regularly

Most people squirm at this idea. My favorite rationalization for self-advocacy comes from Karen Kang. Letting people know your accomplishments is not boastful or bad. Instead, you’re educating people, helping people understand your value. This starts to fall in the personal branding arena, and that’s exactly the point of self-advocating. Your boss has many things on her mind, and advocating for you may not be at the top of her list; it’s your job to do that. As Kang says, “In today’s economy, you have to be responsible for your own destiny. . . Don’t be a victim. Be your own brand manager.”

Articulating what you do best isn’t just for others’ education. It’s for you. I met with a client recently who is an account manager, but couldn’t articulate what separates her from the rest. “I’ve no idea. They’ve beat it out of me!” she joked, referring to her employers. She works for a company where praise is frowned upon, where the mentality is, “We pay you. That’s praise enough.”

I suggest you don’t lose sight of your own value to the point where you can no longer articulate it.

3. Meet 15-20 minutes with someone new you respect, several times a year

If this sounds like an informational interview, that’s because it is! In a nutshell, you recession-proof your life by meeting people you respect and admire at interesting companies. It’s best to do it when the stakes are low, so do it while you’re employed. Listen and discern their pain points. Get a feel for their company. Is this the kind of place you might like to work?

It’s best to avoid getting so “head down” that when you do come up for air, (i.e. you got downsized, realize you’re unhappy) all your professional relationships have languished. Continue to grow new relationships and nurture the ones you have, meet new people, become the confident and Trusted Advisor for people outside your company. When you most need them, when you’re vulnerable, you will be the person they will refer to their boss when an opening becomes available.

Many people I know complain about their bad bosses. The kindest, wisest thing you can do in the absence of a good boss, is to be one for yourself.

image: © Depositphotos.com /lightsource

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a career coach, LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover Specialist, public speaker and blogger. She is the founder and principal at Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages, or to receive a complementary Ebook on optimizing your LinkedIn profile, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com.  If you enjoyed this post, or know someone who would, please share it!

 

4 Ignored Yet Essential Steps to Shortening Your Job Search

My friend “Dana” has worked in non-profits for years, and recently quit her job. She now wants to go in a whole new corporate direction. This week she emailed me saying she needs help organizing her job search: Help with cover letters, developing a generic and targeted resume, and a LinkedIn profile makeover too. She proudly announced she sent out dozens of resumes to job boards, and hasn’t heard a thing. “I’m stuck and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong,” she confessed.

Why is Dana frustrated? Because she takes the “FIRE, aim, ready” approach to job search—like many well-meaning souls before her (including myself).  Why do job seekers often take this reverse approach, which actually doesn’t work?  Because you want to feel you’re doing something to secure  food on the table. Taking the “fire, aim, ready” approach will waste your time and frustrate you. Instead, try these 4 things, for much better results.

Be kind and patient with yourself

People usually skip this step altogether. Instead, sit yourself down with a nice cup of tea before you start your job search. Have a chat with the Stagecoach Driver in your head who holds the reins and whips those horses into a mouth-frothing frenzy. You are about to embark on a journey full of surprises, unforeseen obstacles, discomfort, on uncharted ground to boot. Load up with plenty of self-compassion for your trek ahead. asphalt road under sunset with clouds

Think about it: This search for this particular job has never been done before by you; it’s virgin terrain. You allow ramping up time whenever you start a new job, right? Likewise, you need to be kind to yourself in your status as a job seeker. Chances are good you’re feeling vulnerable, even shaky. Now isn’t the time to crank up your mean “inner slavedriver.” Quite the opposite.

Instead:

  • Every day, start with kind, supportive words of encouragement, words that build your strength and confidence.
  • Notice throughout the day when your Inner Doubter or Slave Driver kicks in. Noticing can help you switch gears into a more positive frame of mind.
  • Stay connected to friends. In fact, have a job search buddy, and join a local job club. Don’t isolate yourself. People find jobs 20% faster if they search with others, because each person boosts the other.

Focus

Keep a notebook nearby of your daily successes and positive phrases, including this one:  The most effective job search is a focused job search. Recently a friend admitted she’s looking to be either an Ultrasound Technician or an administrative assistant. She wonders why it’s taking her so long to find a job. As Confucious said, “If you chase 2 rabbits, you catch none.”

An unfocused  approach will slow you down. Your search will be more efficient if all of your efforts are trained on one job, or one industry. In addition, keep this in mind: Your LinkedIn profile is the linchpin of your job search. Remember that as you reach out to people, they will look at your profile, especially before deciding to interview you. When people Google you, your LinkedIn profile will appear first. If your profile isn’t well branded i.e. focused, it will raise a red flag. You want to avoid red flags.

Do the thoughtful work up front of pinpointing your favorite skills and best accomplishments in support of the direction you want to go next.  Hire a coach if you’re unclear. Get clarity before you embark on your search, and brand yourself with that vision. It will save you time.

Build Your LinkedIn presence

Have a look at William Arruda’s article, where he talks about how to leverage LinkedIn to your advantage.  Because 80% of jobs today are filled through referral rather than through the job boards, you must build quality professional relationships. That is the beauty of LinkedIn; it gives you dozens of ways to build and grow professional relationships, turn cold calls into warm ones, and get found. Here are some suggestions:

  • Grow your connections while you’re still employed. It is the kindest act of career self-advocacy. Why? Because when you do find yourself out of a job, you’re not scrambling to build your network. Never stop building and growing your connections, not only so others can support you when you need it, but so you can support others when they need it.
  • Read articles/posts by people in your field. Comment on them, share them, then request to connect with them, writing a personalized message.
  • Join LinkedIn Groups. Don’t just join Groups along with people looking for the same job as you, but join Groups where you will be the only Administrative Assistant participating, for example. Be a contributor, really listen to others’ concerns, offer your opinion, be a thought leader. You will find like-minded people through Groups with whom you can connect. Nine minutes a day on LinkedIn is all you need, to accomplish a lot.

Spot challenges and talk to people.

Congratulations. You are positioned well now. Since most jobs are filled by word of mouth, you must build relationships with people who trust you before a job comes available. The prevailing wisdom today is, ditch the job boards.  Instead, do research on companies who hire people with your skills. Uncover their problem that you can fix. Leverage your remarkableness and keen pain spotting skill in a letter, and send it to the manager. (“Pain Spotting” is Liz Ryan’s trademarked word for noticing an employer’s challenges. She’s great. Check her out at Human Workplace).

How would you respond to a letter from someone who understands your unique troubles? Favorably I bet. It’s so novel to take this approach, you will stand out. It will show your kindness, focus, skill and sensitivity.

Take this 4 step approach to your job search, embracing a “ready, aim, fire” approach. You will hit your target much more quickly.

image: © Depositphotos.com /mycola_adams

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a career coach, LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover Specialist, public speaker and blogger. She is the founder and principal at Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com.  If you enjoyed this post, or know someone who would, please share it!

Take this 4 step approach to your job search, encompassing a “ready, aim, fire” approach. You will hit your target much more quickly.