This article is a recipe for how to reach your ideal job goal in the shortest amount of time.
In this article we will cover:
- What Goes in a Resume
- Job Targeting
- Performance Profiles
- Writing to Bots
- Do I really *need* a resume?
- Career Coaches & Resume Writers
What Goes in a Resume
You may be an expert in your field, newly graduated, full of amazing ideas or the top sales professional on your team, you know how to get your job done, but you still don’t know what to put in your resume.
If this is you — you are not alone. I get messages all the time: “Help me! I don’t know what to put in my resume! What should I write in my resume? How do I highlight my achievements? What should I put for my skills? What? What? What?
If you find yourself, panicked, and at a loss the first thing you might do is to write down a few lists:
List 1: Your Values — what do you value and how does this show up in your work? Are you timely? A stickler for details? Do you think out of the box? Do you listen deeply? What do you VALUE?
To learn more about your values do this exercise on Core Values.In the tool box look Core Values & Via Character Survey
List 2: Your Strengths — what do you really rock? What do you do really well? What kinds of problems do people come to you with? What can you do that is easy for you and hard for other people? What are your STRENGTHS?
To learn more about your Strengths take the Strengths Finder 2.0Amazon affiliate link: make sure to buy a new book/kindle for online test code.
List 3: Your Interests — what do you enjoy? What are you doing when you find that perfect mix of challenge and pleasure? What activities let you get caught in a state of flow? What kind of problems do you love to research, solve or explore? What are your INTERESTS?
List 4: Your Needs — these might be financial (your salary and benefits), they might be your work environment (office, flexible, remote, requires travel, etc.), they might be intellectual or physical. What do you NEED from your job?
Not sure about your needs? Do this Wheel of Life Exercise.
Now find 3 to 5 ideal job postings on the Internet, go ahead and print them off and highlight all the skills, experiences, qualifications, tasks, job requirements and benefits that show up in the job descriptions. Circle the ones that also show up on one of your lists above.
Sketch out Your Resume
Your resume will have approximately 5 different sections:
- Performance Profile
- Key Skills & Experiences/Key Accomplishments
- Work Experience
Your Performance Profile (see below) will match your values, strengths, unique skills, achievements and needs/interests to that of the employer.
Your Key Skills & Experiences functions to confirm for the employer that you can do all the required tasks have the necessary knowledge, the soft skills, the hard skills, the language skills or the technologies to get the job done.
Your Work Experience will demonstrate what you enjoy, what you have done, where you’ve learned or accomplished something crucial; and how this has played out in your previous and current employment.
If you’ve only got volunteer work or school projects, go ahead and list those instead, figure out what ties into your job search and highlight those details. Name the section “Relevant Experience” instead of “Work Experience.”
Your Education/Certifications shows that you’ve got the technical requirements for the job. Often the “education” requirement can be replaced by “equivalent work experience.” Legal Certifications tend to be less flexible (licenses, etcetera), but you may get away with showing you are studying/preparing to get them by X date.
Recent graduates list education right after the performance profile, experienced employees list it at the end of the resume.
Technologies and Interests: some resumes list hobbies and interests, or additional technologies, which is technically a waste of space UNLESS your hobbies and interests, or technologies relate directly back to the job you seek.
A clever way to use this section is to incorporate technologies or subject matter areas listed in a job description that you are still earning or to show the breadth of your experience, but which you do not feel comfortable listing under your “key skills and experiences.”
When deciding which accomplishment stories, which metrics, which achievements, which skills and experiences to include on your resume, ask yourself: Is this relevant to the job I seek? Is this something that is required? Is this something that I enjoy doing and want to do more of? If the answer is yes, work it into your resume.
Just because you CAN or DID do something doesn’t mean it is relevant or wise to include it on your resume. Think of what an employer NEEDs to know to hire you: What kind of person do they need? What skills? What personality strengths? Make sure you answer these questions and don’t worry about leaving out details that are irrelevant.
How to write a resume based on the job description:
Many job seekers want to cry when they learn that you most likely will not get hired by submitting the same resume to every job application.
Unfortunately, when 200+ resumes often get submitted to many job postings, the best way to ensure your resume gets pulled is not only to write a killer resume but then to also tailor it to each and every individual job description.
There are a few short-cuts that you can take to make this process easier and less painful.
The first time you write your resume, write it so that it targets your top three job postings. This will help to ensure that you get the most important requirements, skills, and experiences in your resume and that it is well formatted for the work you seek. And you can use it to apply to each of these three jobs.
Use my favorite resume scanning tool CVScan to re-match your resume to each job description. Your goal is to have a minimum 80% match; when I write resumes for clients I aim for greater than a 90% match.
When using CVScan take and copy both your current resume and the new job listing into the online application. Make note of the words and phrases CVScan highlights as red; when you update your resume to match the new job description, make sure to get these words into the first half of your resume. Rescan.
When applying for jobs, write the job title EXACTLY as named in the job posting on the top of your resume above your performance profile. This will assure the bot and the hiring human that you actually want the job for which you’ve just submitted an application.
Note the difference in these titles:
PERFORMANCE PROFILE: Business Analyst
PERFORMANCE PROFILE: Business Process Analyst
PERFORMANCE PROFILE: IS Business Analyst/Relationship Manager
PERFORMANCE PROFILE: Test Analyst
Let’s say you submit an application for the Relationship Manager position above with a resume titled “Test Analyst,” maybe the skills required for these jobs are similar, but quality assurance tests are different from customer relationships and the hiring manager will immediately doubt your fit.
Take 30 seconds to update your resume and make sure the correct job title is on the resume header.
The first thing that often happens once you start applying to multiple jobs and customizing your resume to each one, is that you quickly lose track of which resume went where. This can result in an embarrassing conversation down the road.
To avoid this do two things: Save each resume using your Last Name or Initials plus the company name and the date you applied.
For example: Rakoto.HR Costco.15.04.2019
And then use a spreadsheet that tracks each job, resume title, date applied and any notes. Here is a link to an excellent online job tracking spreadsheet (no need to reinvent the wheel).
If you are looking to learn how to write a resume objective or how to write a resume professional summary, I recommend that you start thinking instead about your “performance profile.” Who are you as a professional and what do you offer an employer?
Your Performance Profile is easily the most important part of your resume. Your performance profile is a proactive and future-forward replacement of the “objective” and sometimes called a “professional” or “power” summary section.
Your “performance profile” tells an employer what you can do, it speaks to your values and your strengths, it aligns your goals with that of your employer and ties your past achievements into your future accomplishments. It shows how you will perform on the job.
Every kickass resume starts with a performance profile. Every. Single. One.
The performance profile is built upon a solid professional narrative. It is versatile, you can use it for your LinkedIn summary, as an elevator pitch and when you are networking! Write it once, but then modify the language slightly to match the keywords and phrases that show up in each individual job posting.
Your performance profile should be uniquely yours. It should not sound like a job description; you can even write it in the first person. Resumes that incorporate the first person are what we call “human-voiced resumes” and when done well they are highly effective.
If you are new to the “human-voiced resume” consider writing your performance profile in first person and the remainder of your resume in the third person.
Some recruiters advise against human voiced resumes and prefer robotic sounding text; my take on this is that if the recruiter wants to hire a robot, he should employ a robot; if he wants to hire a human, hire a human! I’ve used human-voiced resumes with clients since 2014 and since 2004 for myself!
Digital Marketing Executive Sample
With a growing passion for mission-driven technologies; I continue to value data inspired, and human-driven product design. In this, I anticipate working with a diverse set of high-level thinkers to collaborate and creatively solve business and user problems. Leveraging my experience to guide teams to generate brilliant and disruptive digital experiences around an organization’s core mission — the end goal — facilitating brands’ seamless and positive integration into people’s lives.
Software Developer Sample
Personable Senior Developer with twenty plus years of progressive experience, I delight in stuff that works. Committed to continuous professional development and learning: the pleasure is in doing the work, and in seeing the results. I enjoy collaborating with end users and maintaining open lines of communication with all stakeholders. Adept with requirements, solutions, coding, and communicating meaningful results, I am particularly enjoy testing and quality assurance.
Customer Relationship & Sales Manager
As a charismatic and results-oriented sales professional, I delight in solving customer problems with the best product or service. An early adopter of anything tech, I am on top of current trends and I anticipate continuing to deepen my knowledge. I understand the importance of listening skills and customer empathy in finding innovative solutions. I look forward to contributing to a positive team atmosphere.
How to write a resume that will impress a bot
This isn’t actually a joke. Nearly all resumes get scanned by ATS (Automatic Tracking Software) before going to an actual human being. You need to write a resume that impresses both the bot and the human.
One of the most important reasons NOT to use a cutesy or unique or stylish or trendy resume template is that many of these templates are NOT bot-friendly. For the same reason, avoid using your mad design skills to create image boxes and fixed tables or include another image on your resume.
These things cannot be read by the BOT!
To write a bot-friendly resume you should do the following:
- Create your resume in a format that allows all of your text to be read in the order of appearance on your page and in a single cohesive text box; for this reason avoid putting your name and contact info in a Header, instead create your first-page header in the body of your document. Multiple text boxes on a single page can result in gibberish and missed text when scanned.
- Print off or copy the text of 3 to 5 job listings; now highlight the keywords and phrases used in each description and make sure to use these in your resume. Your jargon should match the jargon the bot is scanning for! This is a crucial reason you need to modify your resume for EACH job.
- The keywords, activities, and requirements listed in a specific job description should appear in the first half the resume. If you want to create interest with synonyms and other technical terms, do so in the second half of your resume. Bots weight the first part of your resume.
- If specific certificates or educational requirements are a must in the job description, make sure you list your education using the same language in the job description.
If you don’t believe me or someone has told you otherwise (so many resume writers are PIMPING Canva resumes), here is another article that discusses how ATS software reads (or doesn’t read) your resume. If you want to get hired you gotta pay attention to these details!
How to format a resume and get noticed
Writing a resume is hard. It sucks to dive in and dig deep, recalling all the things in our past and figuring out what is the most important or crucial items to list on our resume.
Our biggest fear is that we will come across sounding boring, robotic and just not-good-enough. Selecting a sexy resume template seems like an easy and clever fix to the resume doldrums, but I assure it is NOT.
Writing a resume is uncomfortable, so it’s really easy to lost searching out the perfect format. All the online templates created by apps like CANVA make it easy to put too much emphasis on the formatting and forget that it’s the content that really counts.
Yes, your resume needs to be readable and easy on the eyes, but unless you work in graphic design, you are not being hired for your design skills, the content of your resume is more important than a sexy template. And, as we discussed in the previous section you need to address the BOT!
To get hired, spend most of your time working to ensure the content of your resume is relevant, interesting, and that it tells a positive story about what you can do. Use your words and your experiences to stand out, not some fancy type and trendy color combos.
Your resume should look good, but it is the story it tells that people will remember and that will get you hired.
If you’ve got 6 hours, put 3 of them into writing your Performance Profile, 2 into writing the resume content and 1 into making sure the format looks good and that the grammar is correct.
Design DOES Matter: Top Formatting Mistakes to Avoid
That said, the design does matter. For this reason, I’ve shared a few simple, clean templates that you can download and use or modify.
The easiest to make mistakes involve fonts, colors, spacing, borders and the use of image boxes, some tables, and columns (often used with skill ranking systems).
Let’s look at these in detail.
Type Font and Font Color:
If you use an application to create your resume, choose common fonts, such as Arial, Verdana, Times New Roman or Helvetica. These fonts are common because they can be read by all types and ages of computer systems.
Article on type fonts: If you don’t believe me, go to MIT for proof!
You and your hiring manager will likely NOT be using the same type of computer or software; so, to make sure your resume can be read use a common type font and save your resume as a PDF.
When you select your font color (and your backgrounds) take time to think about what it will look like printed in Greyscale. You might format your resume to be bright and cheery, but trust me, a recruiter who prints off 100s of resumes a day won’t be investing in using her color ink to print YOUR resume.
If you want to add variety to your resume, you can use shades of blue or grey fonts that won’t change a lot on different systems. Beware of greens and red or orange as what looks pretty on your screen might look like puke or poop on another. Trust me, I’ve seen it!
Lastly, make sure your resume still looks good and is readable if printed in black and white!
Spacing & Borders
Resumes need to be readable and spacing issues can be awkward. Keep your borders reasonable (don’t go under ¾ inches (0.75) or 1.5 cm on the sides or ½ inch (0.5) or 0.5 cm on the top and bottom.
Double check that line spacing, period spacing (one), page pagination, and all that jazz is consistent and looks good. If you use block formatting make sure that awkward spaces don’t appear in your blocks.
If your resume goes onto two or three pages (for those of you in very technical fields or with 15+ years of experience) make sure your name and the page number are in the header of the additional pages.
In general, avoid using a border on your resume; different systems produce different results and it might be that your border gets off centered or moves over your header text or drops onto an additional unnecessary page.
Image Boxes, Tables & Columns
Image boxes cannot be read by ATS systems period. Don’t use any part of your resume from your name to any details in an image box or logo. The information will be lost.
If you use MSWord, GoogleDocs or Pages to create a hidden table to list skills this is a good way to get extra content in your resume. Do this.
If you use a design template like Canva to create a table it is HIGHLY likely that all or part of your table may be missed by ATS software. Don’t do it!
Hitting Save As > PDF.
As with everything the best way to ensure your PDF lands in the format that you sent it in, is to save it as a PDF. All current versions of Word, Pages and GoogleDocs Allo
Resumes & Linkedin: Are Resumes Still Important?
With the advent of online portfolios, LinkedIn and other forms of social proof, sometimes a resume may seem like overkill; however, resumes ARE not DEAD.
Regardless of the sad number of dead trees involved, if I’ve got to compare 20 or 200 hundred candidates and share them with my colleagues, it’s a heck of a lot easier to share a stack of printed resumes than 200 links, which may all have different amounts of information and load time.
Write a resume that stands out and have it at the ready, ready to share if someone asks for it in both print and PDF form. And then have another version in Word, GoogleDocs or Pages that you can quickly modify to fit a particular job posting.
Luck comes from preparation, if you are not prepared, you’ll never be lucky!
Career Coaches & Resume Writers: Are they worth it?
The number one reason you might hire a resume writer and or career coach is to reach your goal in the shortest amount of time.
The second reason you might hire a resume writer and or career coach is to find work that meets not your minimum requirements but your ideal wish list.
And the BEST reason to hire a career coach and resume writer is to learn the skills and self-knowledge that will ensure you are on the right path for long-term career satisfaction and success.
Resume writing and job search skills are life-skills, the earlier you learn them, the better off you will be!
How to Pick a Career Coach or Resume Writer
First, I’d check out their LinkedIn profile and recommendations. Just because someone has a website and even testimonials doesn’t make them legit. In this day and age, it’s difficult to “hoax” your LinkedIn.
If your ideal coach or resume writer has nailed her LinkedIn, she can likely help you too. If she’s got reviews (and recent ones) that is also a good sign.
Referrals are another great way to find good writers and coaches, so if you’ve got friends that have just found new jobs, inquire if they got any help!
Writing a good resume takes time and thought. Any service that offers you a 24-hour resume return and for CHEAP is likely just going to play with your formatting and keywords. There is no way that anyone can get to know you and write an effective resume in that amount of time.
Career Coaching also takes time, so anyone promising you a quick fix, may not know what he or she is doing. Take the time and invest in your future. $200 or $500 spent today, is nothing when you consider how much it may increase your future income.
I recently coached a young man expat for an interview with an American company. One of the subjects I coached him on was salary; thanks to my coaching he got more than double the salary he’d been thinking of asking for…which means my hourly fee of $125 had about a 320x return!
Can I buy a book instead?
If you want to BUY a book instead of hiring a professional the only book that I can recommend is Knock’em Dead Resumes (Amazon affiliate link). The best thing about this book is that he walks you through a detailed process of questioning and identification, very similar to what I do with my clients.
If you put the time into this book and do as the author says, you’ll get a good resume. If you find yourself or you don’t have the patience to follow all his steps, you might be better off hiring help!
What about Templates?
Yes, I get that you want to take the guessing out of formatting your resume. A top resume search term is “Fast & Reliable Templates,” but the trick is that there is no simple formula.
Many resume templates are super attractive, but for the most part, they are difficult to manipulate and customize for specific jobs and many, such as templates created in CANVA often cannot be read by ATS bots.
If you REALLY want a pretty resume, then do a traditional resume for submitting to jobs online and a general “pretty” one to print off and keep on hand for in-person networking.
You can also use a pretty PDF template if you know for certain that your resume is going directly into a hiring manager’s inbox. Just remember to respect the font and color recommendations I discussed above.
Two Templates Just for YOU
Basic One Page Chronological Resume — modify as you see fit!
Functional Resume for a Career Pivot or to hide a GAP — modify as you see fit!
Some Tips for Specific Concerns:
- How to write a resume as a freelancer: write a resume that supports targeting your ideal client and that highlights the skills you wish to focus on; if you’ve pivoted fields, make sure you’ve got a narrative that backs you up.
- How to write a resume as a consultant: this will vary depending on your field, but focus on keeping it relevant and using accomplishment stories. Don’t just use action verbs or power words; show people what you do and what you are like to work with.
- How to write a resume as a stay at home mom: Focus on your strengths and values; don’t discredit volunteer work, describe what you’ve done, learned, managed (going above and beyond titles) over the last few years. Use the language that shows up in job descriptions and show both your drive, your motivation and your understanding of what needs to get done. Your performance profile is your ticket to success — create an image of the professional you can be before they read the rest of the resume!
- How to write a resume before graduation (and after): Make sure you align your values with those of your ideal employer. Instead of talking about “my goals” or what “I hope to get” show how your goals, skills, drive, ambition will allow you do succeed in a role and solve the employer’s problem — honor your goals but write to the employer’s.
Your resume is one of the most important investments you can make in your future. You may feel uncomfortable and even annoyed that you’ve got to dig deep and do a good job, but if you want a job you love, you need to put some love into your resume!
Shortcuts and quick fixes, too much of a focus on design and not enough focus on your content will just send you barking up the wrong tree or getting ZERO call backs. Be intentional and thoughtful with your design, making sure that your resume is READABLE by all!
Who is on LinkedIn? Pretty much anyone who matters! Prof Scott Galloway @profgalloway
A Dynamic Personal Brand
LinkedIn is an invaluable relationship building tool and it is your platform as a professional to define and brand yourself. I like to call LinkedIn the “new resume,” but it is so much more than a resume. LinkedIn puts the power in your court — don’t let strangers from the crowd define you — take your professional profile into your own hands and define yourself.
LinkedIn is also a dynamic calling card. A one-stop shop to highlight your interests, demonstrate your expertise and leverage your contacts. If you do not want to bother with a personal website, LinkedIn is a perfect substitute. It is easy to update, easy to read and if you customize your URL, it is easy to share your profile.
Everyone from the CEO of Microsoft to recent graduates to your local foodie should be on LinkedIn. Whether you are an employee or a CEO, a business owner or a student, you need to be on LinkedIn.
11 Guaranteed Ways to Effectively Power-Up LinkedIn
Is your LinkedIn profile incomplete? Do you even have a profile? Or does one of the below statements sound like you?
- Why should I bother with LinkedIn? Who needs another social media profile?
- I copy and pasted my resume to LinkedIn, isn’t that good enough?
- My profile is complete, but how can I get the attention I need without sounding braggadocious?
- I hate how I look in pictures, do I really need to put up a profile picture?
Yes, you need to invest a bit of effort into your profile, but for many people, once you have a vision for your profile, all you need to do is to keep things up-to-date and to be consistent in your actions, and your network will grow in a positive direction. If you want to actively use LinkedIn to find leads or develop your reputation as an influencer, I will cover those steps in another article.
7 Different Reasons People are On LinkedIn:
- To find a new job or a first job.
- To find a job at the next level, a new challenge.
- To find freelance clients or B2B sales partners.
- To market their company’s services or products.
- To recruit new talent or place talent.
- To provide a human face and personal story behind a successful start-up or company.
- To grow their authority as an expert or influencer.
11 Key Steps
In this article, I discuss 11 key steps that are proven to maximize your LinkedIn profile and make your time on LinkedIn worth the investment.
Depending on your professional goals you may want to take your LinkedIn experience farther, but to build yourself a solid foundation start with these 11 steps.
- Identify your Target Audience (Define your purpose)
- Select a Profile Picture & Background Image
- Learn Basic Keyword SEO (Spying 101)
- Headline Optimization
- Write a Compelling Professional Summary
- Develop a Narrative (use your experience to support your goals)
- Maximize Skills & Endorsements
- Recommendations and Relationships
- Rich Media (Videos, PDFs, etc.)
- Extras: Education, Awards, Volunteer, Groups
- All-Star Rating
Optimize Your Presence on LinkedIn.
Snag that All-star rating!
Is your LinkedIn profile incomplete?
Are you afraid that your colleagues will think you are bragging if you list your accomplishments?
Do feel uncomfortable talking about what you do? Or what you want to do?
You are not alone.
LinkedIn @Work studies consistently find that only 35% of people feel comfortable talking about their professional achievements. And yet 87% of recruiters want to see an interesting summary on your profile!
If you are looking for proven and efficient tips to help you set-up or tidy-up and maintain an effective profile in less than an hour, this guide is for you. I’ll also let you know what you don’t need to do.
LinkedIn is more than a traditional resume that simply recounts your employment history in static form. LinkedIn is a dynamic space to promote what you can do or hope to do in the future. Use it to find clients, a new job or market your business.
LinkedIn is your personal branding platform.
The vital sections of your LinkedIn profile include the Photo, the Headline, a personalized URL and the Summary. Your experience, of course, supports these vital sections, as do your recommendations and skill endorsements.
LinkedIn is a very user-friendly and effective professional tool, but only if you use it correctly. Sure you can upload a video, but if it is a terrible video, why bother? Only take on what you can showcase effectively and efficiently. Setting up an All-star profile on LinkedIn does not have to be a huge time-sink!
Follow these simple tips, and you will be the owner of an efficient and complete LinkedIn profile.
BOOM! It’s almost like magic!
You do not need to hire a professional photographer, but your photo picture does need to be professional.
The first mistake is often to ignore the photo. We skip the picture, we upload an old photo, or we use something unprofessional. All three are a big “no-no.” That said, you don’t need to get hung up on getting the perfect photo — just get a photo that is professional and approachable.
Ideally, your face and nose should be looking slightly towards the center of the screen, so you appear friendly and approachable to viewers. If you are looking to the left (away), you may appear distant and closed off. A gentle or genuine smile or a simple neutral look is best. Avoid sultry or goofy (unless of course, those looks fit your industry). A selfie is okay, but it’s best if you can get a friend or family member to snap a headshot with a neutral background.
Do it now. Brush your hair. Apply some lip gloss (or not!). Put on a professional top. Snap-it. Crop-it. Post-it. Done.
This is where you create the job title you wish to have, not necessarily your current job, but what you want to do!
After your photo, the Headline is the second place people will look when perusing your LinkedIn profile and it is vital that your “headline” is clear and concise. This is your brand statement! It can also be a slogan if your business has one that is short and sweet. The headline is limited to 120 characters and optimized for 40 to 80 characters; unless you upload on mobile and then you can have a longer headline.
However, we will not start with how to write a headline, first, let’s work through your summary and experience, we will come back to this key component soon. I promise!
Your Personal URL
Many people don’t realize that LinkedIn provides the option to have a customized URL that you can then put on business cards, your resume, your website or your email signature. When you first create your profile you are assigned an URL that consists of your name and some random numbers and characters. Delete the characters and see if you can just validate the URL with your name. If you have a common name, this may not be possible. If this is the case, add an initial or try reversing the order of your first and last name. You can also add modifiers, such as “consultant” or your business name; however, don’t get too crazy, as it may not be possible or practical to revise your URL in the future!
How to personalize your URL:
- From your main Profile page select “edit your public profile.” Generally, this is found in the right column of your profile. Recently LinkedIn implemented numerous formatting changes, so if you don’t see it immediately, keep looking!
- Towards the right side of your “Public Profile,” you should see a box that says “Edit My Public Profile Link.”
- Click the Edit icon (pencil) next to your URL and edit away!
First person, active voice. At the most basic level, think of it as a classic 30-second elevator pitch: Who are you? What are you accomplished at doing? And what is your goal or offering? The summary can be longer than three or four sentences, but only add content that builds out these three concepts. Avoid writing about your past experiences and accomplishments in the summary. Your work history does this on its own.
The Professional Summary goal is to catch profile views and interest with the first 300 characters. You want your target audience to engage above the fold and click through to read your profile.
The summary should:
1) Clearly, and in moderate detail, state what you offer your audience;
2) Define your audience, make sure they know you are talking to them;
3) Tell your audience a bit about how you work and why you are great at what you do;
4) Offer up some of your unique personality and situation;
5) Indicate the action you’d like viewers to take: get in touch and how.
If you are a business owner, consultant or freelance provider, you can include your offerings in the summary, but take the time to ensure that what you share is an effective marketing pitch and not just a listing of skills or products. LinkedIn is a sales profile, so think of your summary as an opportunity to brand and sell yourself. If you are looking to change jobs or transition careers, use words and phrases that highlight your transferable skills. If you have a professional manifesto, start your summary with it!
Keywords & Key Phrases
Don’t be scared by keywords. It is easier than you think to optimize your own profile.
Keywords need to show up in your profile in several locations: your headline; your summary; your work experience; and, your skills. Before writing your profile or even simply cutting and pasting your experience from your resume, spend 10 to 20 minutes online building a keyword list that may be used by LinkedIn’s own Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) in your field.
Make two lists, one that is for job titles and a second for job skills. Start by using LinkedIn Job search to find 3 or 4 job postings that appeal to you. Next move to Google. Jot down at least 15 words and skill-set phrases that are prominent in these job descriptions. Now, rewrite your summary (and even your job title) using these keywords and phrases.
Writing a Headline
Now that you have your keywords, your job title, and you have written an effective summary, it is finally time to focus on your headline.
At the most basic your Headline can be your ideal job title. If you would like to add in a complimentary adjective, such as “accomplished” or “expert” go right ahead! This is not the place to be humble. If you are comfortable with words, feel free to be more creative, as long as the Headline remains searchable for your keywords and job title.
The most effective headlines answer the question of “who am I?” for your target audience by stating “I am an X that solves Y for Z.” This is why sentence headlines are effective, they tell people what you do mixing both action and accomplishment.
Smart and Dedicated Team Leader & Manager | I build Relationships, Teams and Make an Impact | Organizational Development
C-Level Executive Assistant | Personable, dynamic, and a trusted advisor to high-impact executive teams, facilitating operations and event management.
Technical Senior Manager | Software Engineering | Collaborative & Strategic | Innovative & Visionary
I generally recommend that individuals complete their job experience in a paragraph form only adding bullets to highlight key achievements or details. Formatting mistakes are a huge online eyesore and will not be to your benefit. Instead, type your experience in your favorite word-processing software. If you already have a well-constructed resume, don’t hesitate to cut and paste directly, but make sure you have included your keywords from the last section. Spell check it. Edit it. And then copy and paste to LinkedIn.
Don’t take too much time on this part. Unless the job was particularly high level or held for many years, 3 or 4 sentences generally suffices for each position. Later you can go back and fill out your experience. What is important today is that you GET IT DONE. Make sure you correctly type company names so that if the company has a logo uploaded, LinkedIn should automatically pull it into your profile. Be honest. If you are not, your coworkers and past employers will notice in a heartbeat!
If you are not currently employed this may negatively affect your profile rating and move a once “All-star” profile down to an “expert” level. If possible, figure out an honest way to add current experience. Do you volunteer every week? Are you a consultant? Do you run a side-business from home? If not, don’t dismay, this won’t prevent recruiters or hiring managers from finding your profile.
Education, Awards, Volunteer Work
Don’t leave these blank. But also don’t stress about listing every detail right away. To start, list your most significant points of education and maybe a few volunteer jobs or an award. If you have the time and the means, feel free to upload PDFs of any awards or diplomas and link them to your profile.
Everyone should have a minimum of 3 recommendations.
If you are actively job searching or networking, or you work as a consultant, make sure to request “recommendations” from former clients. Actually, everyone on LinkedIn should have asked for and given at least three recommendations. Think of three people you can ask for recommendations from today. Click on “Ask to be Recommended” and select both the position and the company. You can simply use the “autofill” text and hit send, but I prefer to take a few seconds and write a brief personal message. Say something nice about when you worked together and then suggest a few items that you would like the person to mention. Make sure to be both authentic and humble.
Let’s say Big Bird would like a recommendation from Elmo:
I have always enjoyed working with you at the Sesame Street Workshop. Would you please write me a recommendation for my mediation skills? For example: “Big Bird is very approachable and empathetic. He always knows the right thing to say and is the best when it comes to resolving disagreements.”
Thank you in advance for your help, please let me know if you have any questions.
Keep your recommendations fresh. As you finish projects or encounter former clients, make asking for recommendations into a habit. At the same time, don’t just ask any and everyone. Make sure that you had a good working relationship and that the individual will be able to genuinely recommend you! When you are done asking for recommendations, don’t forget to set-aside time another day to offer at least three recommendations to your own contacts. Networking is about relationships. We need to give too, not just take!
Make sure you have identified at least 10 skills. Don’t spend too much time on this part, but don’t ignore it either. Periodically take a look at your skills and endorsements. Make sure the skills that you value the most are listed first. If you find that skills that you don’t wish to advertise are more heavily ranked, delete them or move them to the end.
Join groups. There are groups that you should follow because of their content, consider these places both an opportunity to learn, but also to share your own knowledge and build out your image as an expert in your field. If you are unsure which groups to join, look at profiles of professionals who are similar to you and note the groups they have joined and the profiles that they follow. Avoid any discussions that could become heated or unprofessional.
Did you know you can upload a background image? I wouldn’t worry about this very much. Don’t waste hours looking for something just right. You can get away with simply uploading a clean white background or something attractive such as a city line or nice view. I use a 4:1 ratio or 2000×500 pixels to create my background images.
If you are in a design field or if you have a company logo that can be used to complement your profile this is the place to add it but keep in mind you should only add an image if it IMPROVES your overall profile. Avoid confusing people with overly personalized or clever background images.
Sometimes less is more. You don’t need a video or anything crazy for an All-star profile. However, you need to upload at least one document to your profile to earn an All-star rating.
You can upload creative media to various parts of your profile, but I don’t recommend this for everyone. Are you a musician? Then upload some video of your music. Are you an artist? Upload images of your work. Designer? Add something from your portfolio. If you are a teacher or in a technical field, say a Business Analyst or software engineer, you can add PDFs of certificates or awards.
Not everyone needs to be creative with their media. If you can do a video well and you are confident that it adds to your profile, then go for it, but don’t sweat this section. Just make sure you upload at least one document.
The following are networking steps to take as you have the time. Remember that at the base, LinkedIn is a networking platform. To really make use of your profile, you should spend some time each week on LinkedIn. If you are actively looking for a job or for new clients, I would spend a minimum of 20 minutes per day on LinkedIn.
What to do during these 20 minutes? Be active, so other people see you. Share an article valuable to other people in your field. Like a few interesting things shared by your peers. And, take a look at one section of your profile and make it your “Letter of the Day.” Make sure it is complete and error free.
Even if you are not actively searching for a job, I would schedule time into your calendar at the beginning and end of each week for LinkedIn. This way you have at least two touches and time to respond and think in-between to any comments or messages. Networking is relationship building over time, so be consistent.
LinkedIn WORDS OF WISDOM…
I generally do not recommend accepting friend requests from complete strangers. The strength of LinkedIn is really in knowing your contacts. I occasionally make an exception for recruiters or people that you meet (and admire) professionally online. Networking is about building real relationships, so use common sense and follow your gut!
Great work! Now you have a functional and effective LinkedIn profile. Please share your experiences below! If you have a question or need clarification, don’t hesitate to ask!
If you want an All-star rating, but still don’t have one, review your profile with a fine-tooth comb. Did you complete the skills section? Did you really fill out a complete work history? Do you have a title and a headline? Do you have a current position listed with no end date? Have you uploaded any media?
If you are having problems editing your profile or if the information will not update correctly, you may need to clear your browser history or contact LinkedIn. I once had an error in my profile that wouldn’t go away. I contacted support and they somehow “reset” my page. LinkedIn also has a help section that can walk you through the steps to edit your profile.
If you found yourself stumped by your keywords or content, don’t despair. Contact me!
I help people write effective and appropriate resumes and LinkedIn profiles every day!
Siri, why do I need a resume?
Siri, resumes are confusing!
I’m just trying to help you.
Siri, tell me how to write a resume.
I’m on it…
Into to the Future? Or Back to the Past…?
If you ask Siri for resume help, she will give you a list of resume writing tips stuck in Career Services circa the year I graduated from university in 1999. How can it be that with nearly 15 years of LinkedIn under our belts, ancient resume advice is still permeating the web?
So, how do you write a resume in 2017?
An effective resume targets your intended job market, and it defines what you can offer to your potential employer. A winning resume distinguishes you from your peers and demonstrates to employers what you can do and how you will make a positive impact if they hire you.
My standard template for a winning resume is the following:
- Professional Profile Summary
- Skills & Experience
- Work Experience
- Education (new graduates your education should come second)
- Optional: awards, special recognition or relevant memberships
Your relevant work history might include both paid work and internships or unpaid volunteer work. Your highest level of education and or appropriate job training can both be included if relevant. New job seekers should list education before work experience; experienced job seekers should list education towards the end. Your resume should not contain everything you have ever done nor should it be so chock full of detail that you sound like a robot or that your career objectives get lost in translation.
Keep your resume relevant to the position that you are applying for right now.
Every time you change your work objectives, you must update your resume accordingly. Never send an identical resume to 10 different companies. Customize your resume for EVERY. SINGLE. JOB.
Is format important?
The first link Siri shared with me, starts by suggesting that the first thing to do is to “format your text,” so that you can make a good impression. Sure. How your resume LOOKS is important. Recruiters, hiring managers, your future boss needs to be able to READ your resume. But please, don’t start by spending an hour finding the perfect type. Select something easy on the eyes. Something that will save easily as a PDF. Arial, Garamond or Times New Roman are all good. The critical part of your resume is the CONTENT.
The next suggestion Siri gives is to set up your margins. In the last 20 years, I have yet to come across a word processing software that does not have pre-formatted margins. Have you? The key here is not to cram your resume so full that you feel motivated to customize your margins down to practically nothing. Leave your margins at 1-inch and carry on.
Multiple pages: ok or not ok?
Probably at least 50 percent of folks (yes YOU reading this post) should only have a 1-page resume. ONE PAGE. Even people who have had 4 or 5 or even ten jobs can probably fit them (or at least the relevant jobs) on a single page. You don’t have to list every position you have ever held. If you have held a bunch of different jobs, consider listing “relevant” professional experience and leave off “irrelevant” experience.
On the flip side, if you are applying for executive-level jobs or senior level jobs, go ahead and use the full two pages. Just make sure your content counts.
Keep it RELEVANT
Focus on the skills that count for the job you want. If you have multiple skill sets and or you are applying for different jobs, make two or three different resumes. You don’t need to list every accomplishment. And sometimes it is better to highlight the skills or knowledge that allowed you to achieve an achievement, then the specific accomplishment itself.
What about references?
Other advice that pops up towards the top of Siri’s list includes listing “references.” This is terrible advice. You don’t need to list or even mention your references. Most standard applications have a space to fill in references, and if not, your hiring manager will ask you for them. Some jobs don’t even care about references. Real-estate on your resume page is valuable, so don’t waste it on references.
What Siri doesn’t tell you: Do Some Spywork
First, find two or three online job listings for companies that you would like to work for. Identify the language keywords, key phrases, key skills) in the job listings and use these as an outline for your content.
Use LinkedIn or company websites to research the executives, the companies mission and even try to find your potential hiring manager. Then review job listings and your peers’ resumes or LinkedIn profiles for keywords and strategic phrases that you might want to include.
Draft your professional summary (who are you and what do you offer) and re-vamp your work experience. Make sure you use action words that show what you have accomplished. Write in an active voice. And last but not least, proofread, spell check, and ask a friend to do the same. Every time you make a change, double check for errors!
Of the first 10 or so links that Siri shared with me, NONE of them cover what makes a resume STELLAR. None of them tell you how to: “Rock that Resume. Every. Time,”so here are a few additional tips.
Templates that are easy on the eyes
With all the design apps and design software available to us today, it is easy to get caught up in designing the perfect resume. This is dangerous territory. Color prints are still expensive to make. Templates don’t always transfer correctly. Text can easily be lost or fall out of alignment.
When I use resumes, I use a simple and clean format with black text on white. It’s easy to read and easy to understand. I like to loosely base my resumes off of a “Harvard” style format, what you probably envision as a traditional resume.
Below I share two slightly more modern resume templates. One for the recent graduate. One for a more experienced job seeker. Both remain simple suggestions. Clean layouts. Copy these or do something similar. Remember: keep it simple. You don’t need fancy formatting or fancy colors. If you are not a graphic designer in real life, resume creation day is not the time to become one.
EXPERIENCED JOB SEEKER
What do you mean by “professional profile?”
You will notice that I like to start resumes with a “profile.” In the past, this space has been used for a “job objective” or a “professional summary.” I try and stay away from the word “summary” because this space is most effectively used to demonstrate who you are, what you can do, and why you want to do it. It’s not a summary of your skills, but rather a performance profile, highlighting what you offer an employer.
In this section, you will actively paint a picture of the value you offer an employer in a short paragraph in ideally 3 or 4 sentences. This is a space to show your human side, to show your unique brand, and to sell yourself. You can use this same professional profile to start off your LinkedIn Profile. I often write these in first person.
Relevant and Interesting
Your resume should be easy to read, relevant, and interesting. Never list your tasks and responsibilities in simple bullet points without any explanation. This will make you sound like a robot. Instead, if appropriate use “I” statements and talk about your achievements. If you want to write a more traditional third-person resume, start by writing “I statements” and then go through and remove the “I”s.
Show potential employers your strengths and your passions. Bullet points are OK if you want to make your resume easy to read. If you use bullets to make sure you write in complete sentences! Take the time to demonstrate that there is a competent and interesting human behind the paper.
When your resume is done save it in PDF format and ask a friend to read it over one last time.
Do you want to achieve your dreams?
In the world of resumes and job searches, there are always more losers than winners. For every single job offer posted, remember that easily 50 or 100 or more candidates apply! Let me help you write a winning resume, so you can clinch that dream job. I want you to be excited to go to work every morning!