I’ve spoken to a few people recently who are worried about using services like LinkedIn because they are embarrassed about their work history. They don’t want to admit to prospective employers that they took a job way below their qualifications just because the rent needed paying. They also don’t want to admit that they kept those jobs because it was some sort of security, even though it was doing nothing for their career path. Other similar people might be looking to make a career change, but don’t want to admit that they’re new to their chosen field.
But seriously, don’t worry about it. Most people have jobs like that in their history – and sometimes that actually reflects well in the employer’s eyes.
Resume writing online can be tricky, because you need to impress the right people at the right time while maintaining honesty. LinkedIn is a great way to showcase both what you have done and what you can do. You just have to look at it the right way and to carefully design your profile to show the right parts of a professional resume at the right time.
I researched many online resumes to try to ascertain what made some look so impressive and others so drab. I found that the most impressive resumes were the ones with the least clutter. They basically had a good summary and showed future directions.
Remember that the better you are at something, the less you need to mention other skills. For instance, people who had done really well with a particular entrepreneurial activity rarely bothered to mention the jobs they had before it. I mean, why would they?
Make sure your headline epitomises what you want to do. If you’ve never done it before, don’t be afraid to be a little candid: Say “Freelance writer and Aspiring Novelist” if that’s what you want to do.
The “Summary” section is a place for you to mention everything you really want people to know about your resume and plans for the future. Think of your dream job: What would you like the head of that company to know about you? Maybe consider an actual job specification similar to one you would like: What would you write in a cover letter? This is your summary! Tell people what you want to do, what you’re really good at and give a few key examples of things you’ve done which will help you get the job. Craft it well, because this is the primary thing you want people to read. Also, if you can subtly explain away any of the anomalies with a quick interesting statement about what you have been doing, then do that!
Fill out the rest of your profile with all the same jobs you would mention in a resume you would submit for your dream job. Also add any jobs that are impressive, but not necessarily relevant, and jobs which you worked at for a long time (to show you weren’t unemployed).
List your blog and Twitter profile if they are well-written and relevant to your future work plans. Add the applications for blogs and Twitter. Look at other available applications, like Slideshare, and see if you can showcase any other skills well by using these tools.
Remove the clutter in your public profile – Keep your best information in your summary.
Here’s the gold nugget in this online resume advice. With LinkedIn, there’s an option to show a public resume. In “Edit My Profile”, look on the right for “Edit Public Profile Settings”. For your public profile, you have the option to turn on/off many sub-sections of your full profile. Use it to de-clutter your public profile so that only the very best information is shown to someone taking a first glance at your resume.
Take off your past positions, education, awards, interests, details for current positions and anything else that makes it too cluttered. Ensure that anything important you would like people to know from those sections is clearly stated in your summary. Keep your picture, headline, summary, current positions (if you’re working). Keep your groups if you can be bothered to ensure that only the most relevant groups feature on your profile (you set this up on a per-group basis).
Now, check out your public profile. Tweak until you think it’s the perfect page to show the recruiter for your dream job.
Also, think ahead when using LinkedIn. Don’t just connect to colleagues – connect with family, friends and acquaintances too. These connections help when you want to approach someone for a job (or to help other people get a job). And pay it forward! Write references for people you have worked with. Write character references for people you studied with. Some of these people may decide to write a reference for you too. Then you’ll be ready to apply for your dream job – or if you’re really lucky they might find you!
Image Credit: SocialIsBetter