Reasonably Spiffy with Room for Improvement – Part 3: Experience

04/04/2016
Paint and brushes

Are you Experienced?

One of the things I love about LinkedIn is the freedom to paint the portrait of exactly who you are as a professional. For some, that is too much freedom. It requires that you know who you are as a professional. And are able to express that succinctly.

The topic this week is the experience section for each of your positions. Very few LinkedIn users leverage this section well. It is an excellent opportunity to prove what you can do for an individual client or an organization.

When I am working with clients, I always ask where they want to be in 5 – 10 years. You need to start communicating where you are going now, so you can attract the right opportunities. (more self awareness required)

It is so easy to anchor our experience in our accomplishments from the past. I would suggest that you think about pointing to where you are headed. If you are transitioning out of marketing and into project management, focus on the skills you used in marketing that align with project management.

In other words, describe what you did in marketing, but with a project management spin on it. Make it easy for people to see where you are going and why you have the right skills to back that up. Employers and Clients want to see easy evidence.

Many profile experience sections read like a laundry list of duties. Not very engaging or informative. Think about what the results were from the way you delivered your accomplishments. What problems did you solve? Where did you go above and beyond? Did you create systems to help day to day operations occur more smoothly?

Statistics are great if you have them. “Increased efficiency by 11% by initiating streamlined reporting system” Decreased cost… Improved ROI… Boosted sales by X $… Developed new business…

When I look at a client’s experience section, I see a lot of narrative. Many people scan the experience section so quickly and narrative is a big turn off. No one wants to work that hard to pull out the highlights.

Bulleted lists allow the viewer to easily scan for the keywords and skills they are looking for. Lists of clients can tell the viewer a lot about the type and caliber of work you do. And of course, photos and media help tell your story better than any accomplishment statement.

I have been a youth group leader since I was 22. But when I posted a photo of the students I worked with, the light bulb finally turned on for many of my connections. “Oh! you work with kids!” Until they saw the photo, they didn’t really connect all the dots. The photo sealed the deal.

It is very easy for the reader to scan, come to conclusions and understand what you did if they can picture you in the role.

Visuals also boost the relationship building quality of your profile. People begin to form an idea of your professional personality, whether you are warm and personable or not. The kind of person they would like to work with, or not.

Other media you can link to your experience includes: a document, PowerPoint presentation, company or personal website or landing page, video, photos and more. Test it out first. The image that accompanies the media may not be very impressive. Go for something that backs up your claims. You may have to play around with it a bit.

Another feature that adds credibility to your experience is recommendations. There is a lot of confusion about the difference between endorsements and recommendations.

Endorsements are linked to the skills you list in the ‘Skills’ section. LinkedIn prompts others to ‘endorse’ you for those skills. It is a red flag to potential clients or employers if you do not have endorsements. The endorsements themselves are fairly meaningless. I have been endorsed for skills by people that can not possibly speak to the quality of my work. They have never met me, and have certainly not worked with me. It’s nice – but meaningless.

Recommendations, on the other hand, carry a great deal of weight. Anyone in your primary network can give you a recommendation and it is a reflection on their credibility and reputation. I care about my reputation; I do not recommend people I am unsure about.

Here is the short list for painting the portrait of you professionally with experience:

  1. Three to five bullet points of the highest level skills you demonstrated with an accomplishment statement to back it up
  2. Two media links to demonstrate your ability and add evidence
  3. One or two recommendations for each work experience, especially the most recent.
  4. A list of well recognized clients, or your top specialties.

Keep in mind, most people don’t ‘read’ your profile. A couple second scan at best is all you get. Visuals are easy to digest and say a lot. Go for simple and Good Enough!

Have a great week!

Angela Dunz is a Public Speaker, Workshop Facilitator and LinkedIn Consultant and Strategist. She can be reached at dunzangela@gmail.com

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Cowgirl Creative Coaching
Cowgirl Creative Coaching