Just as Facebook has become our default social lubricant, LinkedIn is the global standard to connect with other professionals. Almost all of my friends who have changed jobs in the past year, have been hired for their current job via LinkedIn.
Nevertheless, they all have an embarrassing LinkedIn profile. Yes, these very same persons who know how to use computers, who have invested hundreds of hours on Facebook, who have summarized everything they are within the 160 characters that the Twitter profile allows, who have understood the social network dynamics, are advertising themselves to the workplace with a vague attempt of transcribing their résumé.
It’s only natural. LinkedIn is a social network for work contacts. So logically, the LinkedIn profiles have the structure and appearance of a résumé sheet. And thus, the first temptation is to empty out our résumé in LinkedIn.
But the reality is that your LinkedIn profile is your best chance to advertise yourself for free. It’s a banner that you can strategically place where all the headhunters pass by. Or as I prefer to look at it: a low-maintenance cage trap.
Over three years ago, Guy Kawasaki reviewed this issue. Kay Luo, Director of Corporate Communications at LinkedIn, helped him to restyle his profile.
The most important lesson that we can extract from restyling Guy’s profile, is how he restructured his summary:
Evangelism at Apple, new product development and introduction. Love ice hockey
My personal mantra is “empower entrepreneurs.” When all is said and done, I’m a marketing guy. I established my professional reputation as a software evangelist at Apple back in the 80s. Now I lead a peripatetic (peripathetic?) existence: blogger…
- Doesn’t mention college degrees.
- Is written in the first person.
- Can be read and said in less than a minute.
These three elements create a winning profile. Imagine we’ve just met, I have a problem and you think you have the solution. I ask you what you do and you suddenly change to the third person and throw in my face your college background. I couldn’t care less about your college background. The question is what you do, not the hoops you had to go through to get there. The answer to that question is the summary. If I want to read more about you, I will read the rest of your résumé. But if you present your degrees first-hand, I will probably conclude that you are a degree collector, and I will keep looking for someone who actually wants to work.
Writing a résumé is an essential skill that every professional should have. But the world has changed since the last time the “rules” to write a résumé were established. Your LinkedIn profile needs to start with a sales phrase. A headline. The 15-second pitch that I mention here.
This summary needs to be written so that it can be read by a human being, like a story, if possible. Think of the militant informality of your Facebook profile, combine it with the seriousness level that you are comfortable with at your ideal job, and you will have an idea of how your LinkedIn profile should be.
After the summary, you go can to the facts, talk about your experience and education. And don’t forget the photo.
It doesn’t matter if it sounds ridiculous the first time, you can go on adjusting it little by little. I guarantee that at the end you will have a résumé worth reading and without a doubt, one that stands out from the bunch.
How’s your LinkedIn profile? What are you waiting for? Come on! Stop wasting time on Facebook and do something for your future. It’ll only take 30 minutes of your life!