Recently I have had a number of requests to comment on people’s Linkedin profiles, specifically how profiles could be improved in relation to job search.
I am certainly not evidencing any cutting edge thinking when it comes to suggesting the strength of personal branding and its place in the job search. Experts have been blogging about the subject of personal branding for some considerable time, with the likes of Dan Schawbel leading the way.
Personal Branding is not however a new phenomenon. It is something that we have had to contend with since the day we were born. How we view ourselves, market ourselves and as a consequence how others view us. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we market ourselves throughout our lives. People buy from people and we are all promoting ourselves in some way to get ahead, even if we are not doing it consciously. We may not all be gaining the maximum leverage from our personal brand, but we all have one.
The strength of social media lies in the opportunity to decide exactly what we want our personal brand to represent and to market it relentlessly to a global audience. So what basics can you apply to the profiles out there that represent your window to a world of opportunity.
Your profile is your elevator pitch. It’s your 10 second (if you are lucky) opportunity to make a lasting impression. Start with a decent up to date photograph, preferably with you smiling! You don’t have to be grinning from ear to ear, but at least look like you are someone with whom you can engage. In the same way that your CV is a catalyst to a conversation, so is your social media profile.
Choose your photograph seriously, it will say a lot about you. Think about the audience you want to look at the photo and the image you want to portray. In Speedo’s on the beach may be fine for the family album but for the Headhunter looking for the next CEO of MegaCorp Plc, its unlikely this will be well received.
You should start with a statement that defines what you are about as a person, not a job title. Incorporate your passions, values and ambitions. Be honest with yourself, this will help to ensure consistency in all your messages. Remember this profile should be like a really good look in the mirror and what you see staring back at your you should feel extremely confident about. If you don‘t, then you have work to do. Don’t stop until you feel ready to take on the world.
Start with the end in mind? What is the outcome that you want your profile to achieve? Then what statement will help you to achieve it?
Your profile should be achievements focused. These were my actions, these were the results and this was the impact on the organisation I was working for. If you can quantify those achievements, make them tangible with some numbers, then all the better. It needs to scream out if you hire me then this the value I bring.
You should view your profile as if it were the most critical, life changing pitch you were ever to make. Cobbling something together in five minutes and never updating it won’t achieve the desired outcome. Approach it as if it were a presentation to the biggest client you will ever land. Dusting off the standard company presentation in such a scenario will never be enough, you have to be prepared to go the extra mile. The same must be said of your online profiles if you really want them to work in the job search. It should absolutely reflect your values, personality and talents. If you don’t feel it absolutely achieves this, don’t go live.
Gone are the days when first impressions were based on a CV and that first handshake before the interview is underway. That first impression starts the day you post your first profile, article, comment, picture, whatever it may be online. Once something is on the web, it’s always on the web. Make sure you feel intensely proud of it.