Five Simple Ways to Make the Most of Your LinkedIn Profile

October 22nd, 2013

Consider these four steps to make sure your LinkedIn profile represents you well during your job search and beyond.

1. Make sure your profile is complete and accurate.
This may sound like simple advice, but LinkedIn has so many ways to showcase your background that most people only take advantage of a few. Here is a checklist of things that any profile should include:

  • Professional photo
  • Summary of qualifications
  • Complete job history including dates and brief job descriptions (2-3 sentences each)
  • Education summary
  • Groups (see below)
  • Recommendations (see below)
  • Skills and expertise

Assume that your LinkedIn profile is taking the place of your resume. Research has shown that people are more honest on LinkedIn than on resumes (because the internet is so public), and therefore more and more employers are starting online. The benefit to job seekers is that showcasing your expertise is no longer an 8.5×11 affair. You have the space. Use it.

2. Add connections.
LinkedIn excels at connecting people. Say you hear about a job opening at your dream company. A quick LinkedIn search will tell you if you know anyone who knows anyone who could put in a good word for you. You will have the most luck in this if your network includes over 500 people.

To build your network, click to view your connections, and then select the name of someone you know well. Then scroll through their connections for familiar faces. When you spot one, hover your mouse over their name until a button pops up to “connect.”

You can continue to build your network with every person you meet. It should be standard practice, after every meeting, dinner, seminar, or conference to immediately look up new acquaintances on LinkedIn and send them an invitation to connect. Keep in mind, when you send the invitation, LinkedIn will provide you with a standard form letter – it is well worth it to take a moment to personalize that note, reminding your new friend when and how you met.

3. Join groups.
Groups are a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of your industry. What are people talking about? Who changed companies? How do new regulations affect you? To find the right groups for you, simply set the search bar at the top of the page to “groups” and type in a key word or phrase such as “engineering,” “media relations,” or “hospitality jobs.”

Some people shy away from groups because they can generate a large number of emails, but you can easily manage your email settings under the “communications” tab of your account settings. Click on “set the frequency of emails” and chose the option that works best for you. Receiving a weekly digest is a great way to keep informed without getting overwhelmed.

4. Get recommendations.
Recommendations on your LinkedIn profile have come to take the place of reference letters. With a few simple clicks you can ask a connection of yours to sing your praises for all the world to see.

You should ask for recommendations upon leaving a job, and after completing a project within your company. Scroll down to recommendations and click the little pencil icon to edit. Then click on “Ask for recommendations.” From there you can send a message to any contacts you choose, asking for a few words on your behalf.

Of course, it is always good form to personally call or email current or former bosses and coworkers ahead of time to ask if they would be willing to give you an endorsement. Another hint: offer to write the recommendation for them, so that they can just cut and paste it into LinkedIn. People are busy, and the easier you make this on them, the more recommendations you will receive.

5. Post updates.
LinkedIn is not Facebook. LinkedIn is meant to act as a professional resource, and so many people wonder why they need to post updates at all. The truth is that the occasional post serves to show that you are active in the LinkedIn community, which in turn signifies that your profile is up to date.

Updating once a week is sufficient, and posts should be kept within the realm of the professional. Cute cats and baby pictures are well and good on Facebook, but here it’s better to announce a new certification, share information about a new online resource, or congratulate a friend on a new gig. Keep it short and simple.

Used effectively, LinkedIn can be a tremendous resource to both job seekers and those who are happy in their current position. It only takes a short time to complete your profile. In the long run, you will be happy you made the effort.

Industry Employment Trends

October 15th, 2013

When setting out on a job hunt, it can be helpful to know which industries are growing, and which are experiencing downturns. While we cannot change our entire skill set to suit a shifting landscape, we can tailor our resumes to focus on the skills that lend themselves to industries in need of fresh faces.

For instance, in August 2013, there were 20% more job postings in the transportation industry as there were the year before. In the same time frame, opportunities in manufacturing fell by 5%. If you have previously worked in an industry that is currently offering fewer job openings, it may be time to consider which skills are transferable.

Here’s a look at hiring trends as of August 2013. Percentages represent increases/decreases in number of job postings since August of 2012.

Healthcare -17%
Human Resources -10%
Information Technology -10%
Manufacturing -5%
Education -5%
Media 0%
Real Estate 0%
Financial Services and Banking 3%
Construction 4%
Accounting 6%
Retail 12%
Transportation 20%
Hospitality 34%

It’s worth noting that in August of 2012, the education sector was up 22% from 2011. Likewise, transportation was down 18%.

Trends can be volatile, so it is important not to select your career path based on upward swings. If you feel passionately about information technology, we would never suggest you pursue a career in construction simply because it has slightly more hiring opportunities right now. However, it would be worth your while to seek out a temporary position in construction where your technology skills could be of use.

Taking such a job would allow you to maintain your income, while broadening your skill set. Then, when trends shift, you will have more to offer a potential employer in your desired industry, and you won’t be left having to explain any gaps in your employment.

Hitting the Target with Career Goals

September 24th, 2013

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”-Lewis Carroll.

The importance of career planning

In order to hit the career goals target you must have a target! Most employees give more time to planning their next meal than they do their careers. Don’t let your career wander down a road without direction. Living paycheck to paycheck or gratefully settling behind a career desk isn’t career planning.

While it’s true there are many aspects of your career that are out of your control, there are areas you can control and these should be the targets of your planning.

Divide and conquer

S.M.A.R.T and S.M.AR.T.E.R mnemonics were created for project management but are applicable to career planning and can assist you to divide and conquer to meet your goals. Your goals should be:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Attainable
  • R – Relevant
  • T – Time-bound
  • E – Evaluate
  • R – Reevaluate

Expanding on S.M.A.R.T.E.R, career growth should be not only specific and measurable but documentable. Write them down.

List your long term goals and your short term goals and the trackable steps to accomplish each of them along with a timeline for completion of each trackable step. Evaluate and reevaluate often. Change happens and your goals should be adjusted accordingly.

Measuring career growth

How is career growth measured? Career Grapher suggests these four ways:

1. Financial Measure

2. Learning/competencies Measure

3. Job complexity Measure

4. Job Satisfaction/Happiness Measure

Remember that the measurement of career growth is personal and your yardstick shouldn’t be the same as anyone else’s if you want to achieve career satisfaction and happiness.

The most difficult part of targeting career goals is staying committed to your road map. Don’t allow long lapses between your evaluation sessions in order to stay prepared for the changes and challenges of your career, and you will arrive at your destination.

We at Olympic Staffing Services look forward to the opportunity to chat with you about your employment goals. Contact one of our seasoned team of staffing professionals to learn more about what Olympic Staffing can offer you.

 

 

Job Search Fail-What Is Your Next Step?

September 17th, 2013

If you’re not having success in your job search it’s time to reevaluate your strategies. Begin with the basics. Have someone you trust inspect your interview attire and role play the interview scenario.

Don’t overlook your résumé. Review our résumé tips here. Per ERE.net, the average time spent perusing your résumé is 5-7 seconds, leaving no margin for error.

Job or a career?

Unless you’ve got a significant nest egg, it’s important to decide if you are willing to take a job while you wait for a career opening. A lower paying position outside your career interest can bring in the funds while you continue to job search. Do your best in every job and exploit every opportunity to learn and grow-even at an entry level job. Networking is all about who you know, not necessarily what you know. That non-career job may open doors to an opportunity because of who you connected with in a positive way.

Don’t sit around and wait

Doing nothing creates deadly gaps in your résumé. A part-time, temporary, or seasonal position with your targeted company or in your career puts you in on the inside. This is a choice place to be, giving you access to employment openings and providing valuable contacts inside the company.

If you haven’t established a social media presence (and why haven’t you?) now is the time to get this valuable ball rolling. Social media is a valuable reciprocation tool. The more you input the more your network grows. Build your network now so it’s in place when you need it. Review our post How to Network Yourself into Your Next Job.

Top tips to reenergize your job search

  • Create a schedule and daily goals. Commitment and follow through of goals not only gets the work done, but it makes us feel good about ourselves, too.
  • Find an accountability partner to keep you focused and encouraged.
  • Consider taking a class after your job search hours. Not only do you expand your skill-set but education is empowering to your mental well-being.
  • Volunteer. This is an excellent opportunity to help others, learn new skills and network.
  • Be visible online and in person. Don’t miss opportunities to connect at events. Keep your online presence vibrant with relevant posts and comments.

Take control of your job search. Regroup and strategize to turn your future around!

Let Olympic Staffing Services help with your job search.  We don’t simply fill positions—we build relationships, taking the time to understand your unique talents and qualifications. Contact one of our seasoned team of staffing professionals to learn more about what Olympic Staffing can offer you.

Your Résumé: It’s Not About You

May 14th, 2013

A résumé on a potential employer’s desk is a lot like speed dating. Generally, one chance is all you get. Here are some tips to ensure your résumé is the one that lands you the call for an interview.

Common résumé mistakes

Besides the obvious errors such as spelling and grammar, there are several other common résumé missteps. Here are the right steps:

Most résumés are electronic but the rules are the same: use a simple and consistent format with an industry standard font such as Times New Roman 12-point that makes it easy for a reader to scan. Bullets can add to readability and draw the eye for emphasis as well as white space. Before you press send, verify that your résumé will transmit without losing the format, or better yet, convert to pdf.

Avoid cutesy email contact addresses. Your name as your email address is simple and professional.

Don’t fail to include a cover letter. Cover letters are your personal knock on the door. They shouldn’t duplicate your résumé but they should introduce you and hook the employer into checking out your résumé. Your first impression does make a difference. Customize the letter for each employer.

Résumés that don’t reflect your ‘voice’ can be off-putting. Be sure your résumé reflects you individually, using words and phrases you feel comfortable with.

Burying your skill-set is a common problem with résumés. That skill-set can make or break your résumé. Consider putting skills front and center and be sure to specifically target the skills your prospective employer is looking for.

Every single word of your résumé should be aimed at one goal: getting that call back. If a word isn’t necessary, cut it. Wording should include powerful verbs, strong nouns, but avoid clichéd or fluff adjectives.

Go ahead and include embedded hyperlinks to your former employer’s sites. Also include your website or blog or other social media sites IF they are relevant to the position you are seeking or reflect your achievements.

Tailor that résumé to fit the job

Your résumé isn’t just a calling card, think of it as you courting an employer. With that in mind, it is necessary to tailor your résumé to fit each company that receives it.

Keywords are very important. Repeat relevant keywords from the job description of the position you are applying for in your résumé. Most résumés are submitted electronically so use keywords often to ensure your résumé will come up on a search of qualified candidates.

Skill-set. This is worth repeating. Carefully update the skills section of your résumé to reflect the needs of the position.

What do you bring to the table?

When describing your abilities or job history consider this: if your former employers asked you to document what you’ve done for the company to warrant a merit raise, what would you have to say? Utilize that same thought process on your résumé. Instead of duties, let your job history description emphasize what you can do for the prospective employer.  Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. Give them a taste of your potential. You want to encourage a call back.

Another option is a qualifications summary paragraph instead of an objectives paragraph. Keep it succinct and to the point while letting the employer know exactly what you bring to the table.

Like speed dating, a quick glance is all you get from that prospective suitor. Why should they call you?

Your goal is to match your skills with the right company. At Olympic Staffing Services that’s our goal too. Contact us and let’s chat about how we can partner to make that happen.