Career Choices We Make to Be Better Moms

Career Choices We Make to Be Better Moms

When was the first time you consciously said yes or no to a career path or job because you knew you wanted to be a mom?

The first time I distinctly remember making a career choice based on my desire to be a mom was in late 2004 (I was 26). Newly engaged, I started to think about what my life would look like as a mom and a wife.

At the time I had a job I enjoyed working for a boss I loved; however, I knew that to remain happy I needed to continue to move up the ladder. In my current role as Front Office & Guest Services Manager, my destination job was as General Manager of a hotel.

All the GMs that I knew were men, but that hadn’t previously entered into my calculations. I’d started in my first hotel job at 18 and by age 22 I’d already created and managed a Guest Services department of Bellmen and Valets, most of whom were older than me and all of whom were male.

I’d chosen hotel life, because I am a “people first” kind of person; I loved the hands on management of staff, and I loved facilitating an environment in which our guests knew they were important, valued and welcome in “our home.”

Book links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links!

What Makes a Family Friendly WorkPlace?

Not long after I’d put on my engagement ring; I received a call from my Night Auditor. They’d had a fire alarm and some issues closing accounts. At 1 AM I found myself crawling out of bed in the cold of Colorado winter night (thankfully no snow) to head into the hotel and get things sorted out.

By the time we finished up it was 4 AM and I had to be back at 7AM to greet a group of British Tourists, so I stayed a work (a perk of hotels is beds are easy to find). The more time I spent with my fiance and his 9 to 5 job, and suddenly the flexibility and perks of hotel life that I’d loved as a young single, didn’t seem to me like a good job for a mom and wife.

For better or worse, I quit, heading back to school to get a masters degree and with hopes I’d figure out another path. Instead, I faced a good 6 years of indecision followed by several more years of figuring it all out, restarting and stopping several careers, and getting divorced. along the way.

If only I’d known what I know now back then, I probably would have actually been quite happy to stay at the hotel. In this it wasn’t my job that was out of alignment, but my ideas about what family life should look like.

Core Values are Crucial

On one hand, I was smart to listen to my gut, when she told me that certain things were not aligned with my values. On the flipside, what I didn’t know was that many of my values were societal “I shoulds” and not actually my personal core values.

Another mistake I made, is that I thought I had to figure this all out on my own; had I sat down and had an honest chat with my GM (the proud dad of three kids) I might of started to understand my internal conflicts in a different light, but I didn’t.

Ultimately, I made big decisions based on what I thought I should be doing, verses on what I valued.

KNOWING YOUR STRENGTHS HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS

Not only was I operating on miss-aligned values, I didn’t actually understand why I was good at certain things and why other things were always a push, nor did I understand what I really wanted out of a job, which was flexibility.

Like many “smart” people, I attribute my success to my smarts and hard work, not the subtleties of the different activities.  And, when I got bored at work, I immediately started to lose interest.

I’d been successful in the hotel biz, because my core strengths are strategy, adaptability, and communication. I have high empathy and appreciate a job well done. I am also high on input and learning, which means I need to variety (good in a hotel), and the opportunity to continually learn (hence my rapid movement from PBX operator to management).

What I needed in a job was that ability to continually grow, learn and contribute to strategy, while also honoring my personal needs for healthy living (fitness), and family time. If I’d been honest with my GM about these things, I am sure we could have figured out how to make it work. He was that kind of guy.

Determine Your Clifton Strengths 2.0 (Buy a new book or Kindle to get the code to take the online test)

Job Crafting: Understand and Voice Your NEEDs

If you are a woman that is already a mom or has the possibility of someday being a mom on her horizon here are a few things you can do to save yourself a lot of discomfort and indecision.

First, get clear on your values, your strengths, your needs and your interests. Instead of finding a *new* job or career, maybe you can figure out how to craft your current path meet you in the middle.

The first step to doing this clarifying your strengths, and values, so you can articulate where you want to go and what you need — essentially be clear about your hopes for the future.

In my case, looking back, when it comes to working in a hotel, even as the General Manager, the job is terribly flexible and actually a pretty awesome job for a family person (mom or dad). In reality, I likely would have been very happy in the role for a time (or a long-time), but I gave it up because I didn’t actually understand what I wanted or needed.

What do you value? Time? Healthy Food? Being together?

I should-ed all over myself!

Stop Should-ing on Yourself

One of the beauties of life is that for the most part we actually have a lot of discretion to choose what we do and when. Sure, we may say I ‘HAVE’ to get X done by tomorrow, but really we chose to get X done because we value the outcome or the outcome is directly linked to something we value.

That said, often when we get stuck or that dreaded anxiousness or pressure in our chest when we think of something we need to do, it’s often because it’s something that we think we *need* to do to be a good employee, a good friend, a good mom, a good human, but it’s not really something we value.

The question is, do we really value the activity and the outcome?

Perhaps you just said YES to baking 120 cupcakes for the bakesale at your kids school, because you couldn’t say “no” and you think that is what “good” moms do. Now you feel an insane pressure, because you also have a report to do for work, need to take the dog to the vet and who knows what else.

You suddenly spiral into insane evil mom, snapping at her kids, honking at the cars around you and generally feeling like the world is caving in on you. There is so much going on and it’s all out of your control.

What would happen if you stepped back, outside of yourself and looked at this a couple different ways?

OPTIONS

What are your options?

  1. You could call up the school and say you can’t deliver on the cupcakes.
  2. You could go buy 120 cupcakes and save yourself some time.
  3. You could call up your boss, explain that you are excited to bake 120 cupcakes for your kids school, ask for a 24-hour extension and promise to bring cupcakes to the office.
  4. You could call up the vet and see if you can reschedule/drop off the dog earlier or ask a neighbor to help.
  5. You could take a deep breath and say, I love baking (so I said yes), I’ve got my report mostly finished, I only need to do X, Y and Z.
  6. There are probably some other options I didn’t list.

Values

The point is, if you can step back from your situation and identify how your values line up with your life. Go through your day and your life and see where you can replace “I should” with I value” or where you can replace “I have to” with “I choose to.”

I shoulds are what OTHER people value, not you. I HAVE TO is a phrase that removes your personal agency.

If you can happily swap in “I value” or “I choose to” you are on the right track. If you cannot — you’ve just made a super important insight into what in your life may be holding you back. Knowing what you value makes it a heck of a lot easier to say no without guilt and to set your boundaries.

If you want to do more work on values. Deep work on values, I suggest working with a coach or reading Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfection. Personally, I’ve benefited from both!

Strengths

Another big part of this puzzle is your strengths.

Many things that people ask us to do or that we think are easy to do, somehow tie back into our natural talents and strengths.

Maybe you always get asked to bake, because people know you love to bake, you enjoy baking, and you are GOOD at it. Maybe it’s EASY for you and you value good, healthy, from scratch cooking.

Maybe you always get asked to write reports, because you write good reports. You understand all the components, you make them easy to read, you structure things correctly, but you hate it.

Maybe you actually despise writing reports, but you value clear communication and a job done well, so you follow directions and you just happen to be a good writer. Maybe it takes you five times as long to write a report as it would for you to write a creative essay.

Maybe you hate the idea of someone else buying store bought cupcakes, but in reality your peace of mind and your ability to focus on the report for work is of more importance. Will the kids really care where the cupcakes came from? Or will they care more about the money the cupcakes raised to do X?

If you understand your strengths, you can start to understand why you excel in certain areas, and how even a strength in one area, can bolster your success in another. Integrate your strengths with your values and you start to see why some things bring you joy and others ulcers.

With my clients I use the Clifton Strengths 2.0. You need to buy a new book or Kindle to get the code to take the online test.

Gratitude

Another super powerful trick is to work your gratitude practice into the application of your values and strengths.

→ Maybe you can find more joy in writing a report if you understand that you value clear communication and you see that you can write good reports.

→ Maybe you can say “no” to baking 120 cupcakes and be grateful that someone else said yes, even if their cupcakes won’t be as good as yours.

→ Maybe you can do both and not be stressed, if you recognize that you made a CHOICE that is aligned with your values and your strengths; and that you are super grateful to have work you love and kids to bake cupcakes for….

The Magic of Gratitude

Gratitude gets a lot of play in the media, because there really is something to the “science of gratitude.” However, genuine gratitude is a real challenge to muster up when we feel we “should be grateful” and yet all we feel is the pressure of the “shoulds” and “have tos.”

Which leads to another distinction — there is a big difference between “being grateful” and “practicing gratitude.” I can sit here all day and say I am “grateful for this and grateful for that.” I am grateful I have food when others don’t, I am grateful I have a new car, I am grateful, I am grateful…

Having and practicing gratitude goes above and beyond the words. It’s a visceral experience in which are hearts are full and we get there by being clear on what we need, what we value, and in stopping to slow down and savor.

Practicing gratitude can look like slowing down as we walk down the front path, enjoying the warmth of sunshine, and the opportunity to take cupcakes to our kid’s school fundraiser. Recognizing that we made a choice and that we love contributing to something good.

Practicing gratitude can also be as simple as stopping to smile, say hello, holding open the door for someone carrying a plate of cupcakes. In this moment you can be grateful that you had an opportunity to for a moment, ease someone else’s path with a smile and a kind gesture.

My passion is helping moms to say ‘Goodbye” to stress and “Hello” to a more fullfilling life!

Three Good Things

Before I go to bed at night, I personally really love the practice of gratitude that asks me to think of three good things that I contributed to during the day. These “things” can be big or tiny, the key is that I think of how I participated in the good.

Maybe I helped my daughter draw shoes on her princess. Maybe I thank the technician for a job well-done. Maybe I took some time for myself to enjoy my coffee in the sun or to do a yoga class.

My two favorite side-effects of doing gratitude this way is that by thinking about how I contributed to what I am grateful for, is that it really sticks with me and gives vibe of positivity before bed. What’s more, when I wake up in the morning and I start to think about my day, one of the first things that pops into my mind, is the good from yesterday.

It’s like the magic elixir I need to start my day off with a smile!

The Original Book on Three Good Things and why it works.

What does this have to do with CHOICES we Make to BE Moms?

EVERYTHING!

Think about where you are today and where you want to be in 3, 5 or 10 years. What are you currently doing that is lined up with your values? What might you want to change? What might you want to keep the same?

Where do you feel stuck because of a miss-alignment of values and or strengths? Where do you have alignment that could benefit from the practice of gratitude?

How could you craft the job you have today, to better match the life you choose to live as a mother?

How can you use this new self knowledge, to find deeper meaning and a sense of satisfaction and purpose in your life today?

What Next

Now, if you discover that in spite of clarifying your values, and your strengths, that even when you practice gratitude, your particular job or line of work, remains out of alignment?

Another great survey is the Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. If you find you *know* what you should be doing, but you have trouble taking action, understanding your tendencies may help you to complete the picture.

I am a “Obliger.” What are you?

Values, strengths, needs, gratitude, tendencies. Wow that is a lot. But what it makes is a foundation.

A solid foundation to explore what you want to build.

If you are not happy at work, you’ve got a good foundation to talk to your boss (even if that is YOU) about what you need in a job to be happy and about where you would like to go. Ideally, you can come into this meeting with a few constructive ideas to change your current work to better match your needs.

If you are happy with work, but want to be more intentional about your future, you again have built a solid foundation to set your vision.  

Maybe you read this piece not really knowing where you are or what is out of sync in your life. If that’s the case, maybe knowing your values and strengths has reminded you of a dream that you’d set aside, or decided wasn’t for you. Maybe now you want to bring this dream back to life or create a new one for the future.

Whatever you want to do, the underlying message in this piece is that it is TOTALLY POSSIBLE for YOU as a mom to craft a job and a life that fits what you need and value. Once you’ve got your solid foundation laid, you can explore building whatever you want in this life!

Reality for Mothers in our World Today

As women we do live, as they say, in the best of times and the worst of times. Doors and opportunities continue to open to us and to our daughters that couldn’t be enjoyed by previous generations. At the same time, we deal with new stresses, new pressures, feelings of isolation and the belief that we have to do it all and do it alone.

The truth is that no one has to do it alone and all humans belong. And that in sharing our challenges, we can find a sense of relief and sisterhood.

If you can honor your strengths and values, if you can be vulnerable enough to share your dreams and your challenges, you open the door for another woman to do the same, and in it all we can share our burdens and build a new future that honors our values and respects our choices as women and as mothers.

As a career coach, I lean on the field of positive psychology and human flourishing, to help my clients flourish. What’s more, I know that each woman that I help, takes her joy and flourishing out into her community, creating that beautiful butterfly effect that truly has the power to change the world.

So ladies, whether you chose to be a mom or not, do what you value, know your strengths, and understand your choices.

Be powerful.

When was the first time you consciously said yes or no to a career path or job because you knew you wanted to be a mom?

The first time I distinctly remember making a career choice based on my desire to be a mom was in late 2004 (I was 26). Newly engaged, I started to think about what my life would look like as a mom and a wife.

At the time I had a job I enjoyed working for a boss I loved; however, I knew that to remain happy I needed to continue to move up the ladder. In my current role as Front Office & Guest Services Manager, my destination job was as General Manager of a hotel.

All the GMs that I knew were men, but that hadn’t previously entered into my calculations. I’d started in my first hotel job at 18 and by age 22 I’d already created and managed a Guest Services department of Bellmen and Valets, most of whom were older than me and all of whom were male.

I’d chosen hotel life, because I am a “people first” kind of person; I loved the hands on management of staff, and I loved facilitating an environment in which our guests knew they were important, valued and welcome in “our home.”

What Makes a Family Friendly WorkPlace?

Not long after I’d put on my engagement ring; I received a call from my Night Auditor. They’d had a fire alarm and some issues closing accounts. At 1 AM I found myself crawling out of bed in the cold of Colorado winter night (thankfully no snow) to head into the hotel and get things sorted out.

By the time we finished up it was 4 AM and I had to be back at 7AM to greet a group of British Tourists, so I stayed a work (a perk of hotels is beds are easy to find). The more time I spent with my fiance and his 9 to 5 job, and suddenly the flexibility and perks of hotel life that I’d loved as a young single, didn’t seem to me like a good job for a mom and wife.

For better or worse, I quit, heading back to school to get a masters degree and with hopes I’d figure out another path. Instead, I faced a good 6 years of indecision followed by several more years of figuring it all out, restarting and stopping several careers, and getting divorced. along the way.

If only I’d known what I know now back then, I probably would have actually been quite happy to stay at the hotel. In this it wasn’t my job that was out of alignment, but my ideas about what family life should look like.

Core Values are Crucial

On one hand, I was smart to listen to my gut, when she told me that certain things were not aligned with my values. On the flipside, what I didn’t know was that many of my values were societal “I shoulds” and not actually my personal core values.

Another mistake I made, is that I thought I had to figure this all out on my own; had I sat down and had an honest chat with my GM (the proud dad of three kids) I might of started to understand my internal conflicts in a different light, but I didn’t.

Ultimately, I made big decisions based on what I thought I should be doing, verses on what I valued.

KNOWING YOUR STRENGTHS HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS

Not only was I operating on miss-aligned values, I didn’t actually understand why I was good at certain things and why other things were always a push, nor did I understand what I really wanted out of a job, which was flexibility.

Like many “smart” people, I attribute my success to my smarts and hard work, not the subtleties of the different activities.  And, when I got bored at work, I immediately started to lose interest.

I’d been successful in the hotel biz, because my core strengths are strategy, adaptability, and communication. I have high empathy and appreciate a job well done. I am also high on input and learning, which means I need to variety (good in a hotel), and the opportunity to continually learn (hence my rapid movement from PBX operator to management).

What I needed in a job was that ability to continually grow, learn and contribute to strategy, while also honoring my personal needs for healthy living (fitness), and family time. If I’d been honest with my GM about these things, I am sure we could have figured out how to make it work. He was that kind of guy.

Determine Your Clifton Strengths 2.0 (Buy a new book or Kindle to get the code to take the online test)

Job Crafting: Understand and Voice Your NEEDs

If you are a woman that is already a mom or has the possibility of someday being a mom on her horizon here are a few things you can do to save yourself a lot of discomfort and indecision.

First, get clear on your values, your strengths, your needs and your interests. Instead of finding a *new* job or career, maybe you can figure out how to craft your current path meet you in the middle.

The first step to doing this clarifying your strengths, and values, so you can articulate where you want to go and what you need — essentially be clear about your hopes for the future.

In my case, looking back, when it comes to working in a hotel, even as the General Manager, the job is terribly flexible and actually a pretty awesome job for a family person (mom or dad). In reality, I likely would have been very happy in the role for a time (or a long-time), but I gave it up because I didn’t actually understand what I wanted or needed.

I should-ed all over myself!

Stop Should-ing on Yourself

One of the beauties of life is that for the most part we actually have a lot of discretion to choose what we do and when. Sure, we may say I ‘HAVE’ to get X done by tomorrow, but really we chose to get X done because we value the outcome or the outcome is directly linked to something we value.

That said, often when we get stuck or that dreaded anxiousness or pressure in our chest when we think of something we need to do, it’s often because it’s something that we think we *need* to do to be a good employee, a good friend, a good mom, a good human, but it’s not really something we value.

The question is, do we really value the activity and the outcome?

Perhaps you just said YES to baking 120 cupcakes for the bakesale at your kids school, because you couldn’t say “no” and you think that is what “good” moms do. Now you feel an insane pressure, because you also have a report to do for work, need to take the dog to the vet and who knows what else.

You suddenly spiral into insane evil mom, snapping at her kids, honking at the cars around you and generally feeling like the world is caving in on you. There is so much going on and it’s all out of your control.

What would happen if you stepped back, outside of yourself and looked at this a couple different ways?

OPTIONS

What are your options?

  1. You could call up the school and say you can’t deliver on the cupcakes.
  2. You could go buy 120 cupcakes and save yourself some time.
  3. You could call up your boss, explain that you are excited to bake 120 cupcakes for your kids school, ask for a 24-hour extension and promise to bring cupcakes to the office.
  4. You could call up the vet and see if you can reschedule/drop off the dog earlier or ask a neighbor to help.
  5. You could take a deep breath and say, I love baking (so I said yes), I’ve got my report mostly finished, I only need to do X, Y and Z.
  6. There are probably some other options I didn’t list.

Values

The point is, if you can step back from your situation and identify how your values line up with your life. Go through your day and your life and see where you can replace “I should” with I value” or where you can replace “I have to” with “I choose to.”

I shoulds are what OTHER people value, not you. I HAVE TO is a phrase that removes your personal agency.

If you can happily swap in “I value” or “I choose to” you are on the right track. If you cannot — you’ve just made a super important insight into what in your life may be holding you back. Knowing what you value makes it a heck of a lot easier to say no without guilt and to set your boundaries.

If you want to do more work on values. Deep work on values, I suggest working with a coach or reading Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfection. Personally, I’ve benefited from both!

Strengths

Another big part of this puzzle is your strengths.

Many things that people ask us to do or that we think are easy to do, somehow tie back into our natural talents and strengths.

Maybe you always get asked to bake, because people know you love to bake, you enjoy baking, and you are GOOD at it. Maybe it’s EASY for you and you value good, healthy, from scratch cooking.

Maybe you always get asked to write reports, because you write good reports. You understand all the components, you make them easy to read, you structure things correctly, but you hate it.

Maybe you actually despise writing reports, but you value clear communication and a job done well, so you follow directions and you just happen to be a good writer. Maybe it takes you five times as long to write a report as it would for you to write a creative essay.

Maybe you hate the idea of someone else buying store bought cupcakes, but in reality your peace of mind and your ability to focus on the report for work is of more importance. Will the kids really care where the cupcakes came from? Or will they care more about the money the cupcakes raised to do X?

If you understand your strengths, you can start to understand why you excel in certain areas, and how even a strength in one area, can bolster your success in another. Integrate your strengths with your values and you start to see why some things bring you joy and others ulcers.

With my clients I use the Clifton Strengths 2.0. You need to buy a new book or Kindle to get the code to take the online test.

Gratitude

Another super powerful trick is to work your gratitude practice into the application of your values and strengths.

→ Maybe you can find more joy in writing a report if you understand that you value clear communication and you see that you can write good reports.

→ Maybe you can say “no” to baking 120 cupcakes and be grateful that someone else said yes, even if their cupcakes won’t be as good as yours.

→ Maybe you can do both and not be stressed, if you recognize that you made a CHOICE that is aligned with your values and your strengths; and that you are super grateful to have work you love and kids to bake cupcakes for….

The Magic of Gratitude

Gratitude gets a lot of play in the media, because there really is something to the “science of gratitude.” However, genuine gratitude is a real challenge to muster up when we feel we “should be grateful” and yet all we feel is the pressure of the “shoulds” and “have tos.”

Which leads to another distinction — there is a big difference between “being grateful” and “practicing gratitude.” I can sit here all day and say I am “grateful for this and grateful for that.” I am grateful I have food when others don’t, I am grateful I have a new car, I am grateful, I am grateful…

Having and practicing gratitude goes above and beyond the words. It’s a visceral experience in which are hearts are full and we get there by being clear on what we need, what we value, and in stopping to slow down and savor.

Practicing gratitude can look like slowing down as we walk down the front path, enjoying the warmth of sunshine, and the opportunity to take cupcakes to our kid’s school fundraiser. Recognizing that we made a choice and that we love contributing to something good.

Practicing gratitude can also be as simple as stopping to smile, say hello, holding open the door for someone carrying a plate of cupcakes. In this moment you can be grateful that you had an opportunity to for a moment, ease someone else’s path with a smile and a kind gesture.

Three Good Things

Before I go to bed at night, I personally really love the practice of gratitude that asks me to think of three good things that I contributed to during the day. These “things” can be big or tiny, the key is that I think of how I participated in the good.

Maybe I helped my daughter draw shoes on her princess. Maybe I thank the technician for a job well-done. Maybe I took some time for myself to enjoy my coffee in the sun or to do a yoga class.

My two favorite side-effects of doing gratitude this way is that by thinking about how I contributed to what I am grateful for, is that it really sticks with me and gives vibe of positivity before bed. What’s more, when I wake up in the morning and I start to think about my day, one of the first things that pops into my mind, is the good from yesterday.

It’s like the magic elixir I need to start my day off with a smile!

The Original Book on Three Good Things and why it works.

What does this have to do with CHOICES we Make to BE Moms?

EVERYTHING!

Think about where you are today and where you want to be in 3, 5 or 10 years. What are you currently doing that is lined up with your values? What might you want to change? What might you want to keep the same?

Where do you feel stuck because of a miss-alignment of values and or strengths? Where do you have alignment that could benefit from the practice of gratitude?

How could you craft the job you have today, to better match the life you choose to live as a mother?

How can you use this new self knowledge, to find deeper meaning and a sense of satisfaction and purpose in your life today?

What Next

Now, if you discover that in spite of clarifying your values, and your strengths, that even when you practice gratitude, your particular job or line of work, remains out of alignment?

Another great survey is the Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. If you find you *know* what you should be doing, but you have trouble taking action, understanding your tendencies may help you to complete the picture.

I am a “Obliger.” What are you?

Values, strengths, needs, gratitude, tendencies. Wow that is a lot. But what it makes is a foundation.

A solid foundation to explore what you want to build.

If you are not happy at work, you’ve got a good foundation to talk to your boss (even if that is YOU) about what you need in a job to be happy and about where you would like to go. Ideally, you can come into this meeting with a few constructive ideas to change your current work to better match your needs.

If you are happy with work, but want to be more intentional about your future, you again have built a solid foundation to set your vision.  

Maybe you read this piece not really knowing where you are or what is out of sync in your life. If that’s the case, maybe knowing your values and strengths has reminded you of a dream that you’d set aside, or decided wasn’t for you. Maybe now you want to bring this dream back to life or create a new one for the future.

Whatever you want to do, the underlying message in this piece is that it is TOTALLY POSSIBLE for YOU as a mom to craft a job and a life that fits what you need and value. Once you’ve got your solid foundation laid, you can explore building whatever you want in this life!

Reality for Mothers in our World Today

As women we do live, as they say, in the best of times and the worst of times. Doors and opportunities continue to open to us and to our daughters that couldn’t be enjoyed by previous generations. At the same time, we deal with new stresses, new pressures, feelings of isolation and the belief that we have to do it all and do it alone.

The truth is that no one has to do it alone and all humans belong. And that in sharing our challenges, we can find a sense of relief and sisterhood.

If you can honor your strengths and values, if you can be vulnerable enough to share your dreams and your challenges, you open the door for another woman to do the same, and in it all we can share our burdens and build a new future that honors our values and respects our choices as women and as mothers.

As a career coach, I lean on the field of positive psychology and human flourishing, to help my clients flourish. What’s more, I know that each woman that I help, takes her joy and flourishing out into her community, creating that beautiful butterfly effect that truly has the power to change the world.

So ladies, whether you chose to be a mom or not, do what you value, know your strengths, and understand your choices.

Be powerful.

Be you.


Be you.

11 Ways You Can Easily Improve Your LinkedIn Profile Today

11 Ways You Can Easily Improve Your LinkedIn Profile Today

​Who is on LinkedIn? Pretty much anyone who matters! Prof Scott Galloway @profgalloway

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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:

  1. To find a new job or a first job.
  2. To find a job at the next level, a new challenge.
  3. To find freelance clients or B2B sales partners.
  4. To market their company’s services or products.
  5. To recruit new talent or place talent.
  6. To provide a human face and personal story behind a successful start-up or company.
  7. 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.

  1. Identify your Target Audience (Define your purpose)
  2. Select a Profile Picture & Background Image
  3. Learn Basic Keyword SEO (Spying 101)
  4. Headline Optimization
  5. Write a Compelling Professional Summary
  6. Develop a Narrative (use your experience to support your goals)
  7. Maximize Skills & Endorsements
  8. Recommendations and Relationships
  9. Rich Media (Videos, PDFs, etc.)
  10. Extras: Education, Awards, Volunteer, Groups
  11. 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!

THE PHOTO

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.

The Headline

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

How to make a custom URL on LinkedIn

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:

  1. 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!
  2. Towards the right side of your “Public Profile,” you should see a box that says “Edit My Public Profile Link.”
  3. Click the Edit icon (pencil) next to your URL and edit away!

Professional Summary

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.

Sample 1:

Smart and Dedicated Team Leader & Manager | I build Relationships, Teams and Make an Impact | Organizational Development

Sample 2:

C-Level Executive Assistant | Personable, dynamic, and a trusted advisor to high-impact executive teams, facilitating operations and event management.

Sample 3:

Technical Senior Manager | Software Engineering | Collaborative & Strategic | Innovative & Visionary

Experience

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.

Recommendations

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:

Dear 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.

Sincerely,

Big Bird

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!

Skills

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.

Groups

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.

Background Image

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.

MEDIA

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.

Going forward

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!