yourst yesterday I was sitting down having a chat with an unemployed young woman. We were talking about several things she could do to enhance her online presence, and together were discussing some of the things she could do offline as well. It was altogether a good discussion.
What I noticed however was a huge problem in her self-branding and the message that she was communicating to anyone who came across her LinkedIn profile. If by chance this same situation applies in your own case, I’d suggest you get on it and fix things right away lest you miss some opportunities too.
So here’s the situation. At the present time, to supplement her income, she has taken on a job over the last couple of years as an independent Sales Consultant for a company that sells fragrant candles. She has therefore listed this activity as her most recent and current job on her LinkedIn profile. In making her profile, she claims the program defaulted this job as her Job Title on her profile. The problem is that she is seeking employment in the field of Legal Administration.
So imagine you were selling beauty products, greeting cards, perfumes and fragrances or any other products to supplement your own income. It is income at the moment but is really meant to be a secondary income to your eventual job in the field of your education and training.
The catch-22 is, do you put this on your profile to explain what would otherwise be a gap, or do you omit it so the reader doesn’t get confused with what your employment priorities are? Furthermore, if you do put this on and it’s showing up as a first read on your profile, shouldn’t you nonetheless have a different Job Title at the very top of the profile to attract the right kind of attention. The answer to that last one is yes!
Surely you’ve come across suggestions of people you might want to connect with. You’ve seen photos of the people with their job title (self-branding) attached for you to connect with or pass over. How would someone know she’s in Legal Administration if under her photo it says, ‘Sales Consultant for (and the name of the candle company)? Good free promotion for the candle company, but hurting her chances of attracting the right attention.
You should have a job title that’s going to get you noticed, and noticed for the right job you are after, or the business you are in. I’ve browsed photos of people on LinkedIn that pop up after connecting with someone. Some have what they think are cute pictures of their animals to represent them. I’m reminded of that now all too famous internet phrase, “You’re doing it wrong!”
If your picture is a blank silhouette, I have no emotional connection to you and can’t surmise any information that would motivate me to connect. If your photo is your dog or cat, a tree, your pool or your car, I’m not interested either because apparently you don’t take connecting as seriously as the rest of us do, and I’m suspicious of letting you know who I am if you intentionally don’t want to reveal yourself to me. Most people like to know who they are dealing with.
This was a second problem my unemployed client was facing. While she has a nice smile and can be photogenic, her picture looks far too serious; almost to the point of looking like a police mug shot where you want to smile but are told you can’t. The background is a solid white wall, and the overall impression is that she looks strained, under pressure and her skin tone washed out against the background. Changing her photo now while she is just getting going is highly recommended before her profile gets too much exposure.
Back to her content. One thing I noted was the lack of a summary section. A summary section is a good place to put your desired message out there. What do you want people who visit your profile to know about you RELATED TO YOUR PROFESSIONAL CAREER OR CAPABILITIES? What’s your philosophy of service if you are in the customer service profession? Beliefs? Work ethics? How do you get your buzz? (satisfaction from a job well done, not drug-induced!)
The key to a good profile is to ensure that whomever reads it is left with the impression of you that you intended your readers to have. So if you are seeking a job in the field of Legal Administration, the information on your profile should send that consistent message. If your photo is a good headshot, possibly even you seated at a desk in an office setting, visitors can picture you in THEIR work environment, and just that photo alone can help them imagine you fitting in chemistry-wise – or not – in their workplace.
The title you use need not be what appears on your business cards. This is your profile, not yours via your employer. Walk that line between self-promoting yourself as you would like to be viewed, while at the same time not offending or misrepresenting your current job (if you have one).
In my own case by way of example, my business cards say I’m an Employment Counsellor. My LinkedIn profile however, says, I’m an Enthusiastic and Empowering Employment Counsellor.
Hope that helps people.