I'm a Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC) and Founder of ForwardThink Career Coaching. I help job seekers and career-transitioning professionals find satisfying work that they're not only passionate about, but that leverages their top skills and abilities. I work with clients from the beginning stages of career exploration through the job offer, tailoring my services to the..
There you are — putting hours into creating your LinkedIn profile because you know what a vital tool it is for standing out as a job seeker.
But just having this electronic resume isn’t enough. What most members don’t realize is that LinkedIn has its own form of SEO — search engine optimization.
Profiles that contain all the right elements will rank higher in recruiters’ search results, leading to more visibility and therefore more job opportunities.
So how do you ensure your LinkedIn profile gets found by recruiters?
While LinkedIn won’t disclose their specific search algorithm, they’ve mentioned these 5 tips on their official blog:
LinkedIn Profile Tip #1 – Have a Profile Photo
They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so start strong by having a professional-looking photo. But don’t just do it for vanity’s sake — members with a profile photo receive up to 21 times more profile views and 9 times more connection requests.
Now not any photo will do. Many photos you’d consider throwing up on Instagram or Facebook just don’t make the cut on LinkedIn, especially if you’re doing a job search.
Here are some tips:
• Frame the photo from the shoulders up
• Look directly at the camera and smile
• Wear workplace attire (business or business casual, depending on your industry)
• Use good lighting and a simple background
LinkedIn Profile Tip #2 – Include a Location
It seems like a no-brainer to list the city or town where you’re based, but LinkedIn members who only list their country pay a price. Including your specific location allows you to show up in recruiters’ searches 23 times more often!
The unfortunate truth is that employers are biased toward candidates who are currently working. Therefore, LinkedIn members with current positions are discovered up to 16 times more often in search results.
What do you do if you’re not currently employed?
If at all possible, include any relevant consulting or pro-bono work as a present position. You’ll just want to ensure that your title is alignment with opportunities you’re targeting, as to not throw off title-based or keyword search results.
LinkedIn Profile Tip #4 – Include Relevant Skills
When recruiters source on LinkedIn, they’re typing in a string of keywords or skill sets into the search field. If you have those skills on your profile, you’re more likely to show up in their results.
In fact, LinkedIn members with more than 5 skills in the Skills & Endorsement section are 27 times more likely to be discovered in recruiters’ searches.
But don’t just limit those skills to that one section, make sure they’re included throughout your profile: your title, summary, work experience, recommendations, etc.
LinkedIn Profile Tip #5 – Reaching “All-Star” Status
As you fill out your profile, LinkedIn will show you a meter of your progress. You’ll want to complete all the main sections so that you achieve All-Star status. This will allow your profile to be much more visible.
Summing It Up
Now these 5 tips aren’t the ONLY things that will help your profile get seen by recruiters. Having a large network and being regularly active on LinkedIn will give you an added boost as well.
It’s important to note that ranking high in recruiters’ search results is only half the battle. You still need to prove that you’re an excellent fit for the role they’re considering you for. After all, they’ll be evaluating your full LinkedIn profile, resume, interview skills, etc.
So make sure to dedicate some hours to those areas as well. That way you’ll be putting your best foot forward when recruiters do reach out to you!
There usually comes a time at a job when the lyrics “Should I Stay or Should I Go” start looping in your brain.
Of course no job is perfect. (That’s why they gotta pay ya!) But if the sound of your alarm clock each morning fills you with utter misery, it might mean you should start exploring new opportunities pronto.
Take a look at this list below. If the majority of these signs ring true for you, consider it a wake-up call…
Sign #1 – You dread Mondays…well, every day
If you feel that same awful pit in your stomach on Sunday night (and frankly, every weeknight), something just isn’t right. Going to work each morning might not cause you to leap out of bed in excitement, but constant dread is a clear indicator that your current job is doing you wrong.
Sign #2 – You’re not being challenged and your skills are flatlining
Maybe the first year or two in this role involved a steep learning curve where you were learning new skills left and right. But if you can now do this job in your sleep and you aren’t expanding your skills and experience, this position definitely has a shelf life.
Sign #3 – You feel constant tension with your boss and/or co-workers
While you shouldn’t expect to be BFFs with everyone you work with, you deserve to work in an environment where there’s some level of camaraderie, support and mutual respect.
Feeling like your boss and colleagues don’t like you or worse — are out to get you — can really take a toll. So you might want to start researching companies that have a more welcoming, collaborative vibe.
Sign #4 – You’ve been passed over for a promotion again and again
You’ve put in your time and have taken on challenging project after challenging project. Yet someone else in your department keeps getting promoted. If you feel like your ideas aren’t getting heard or your hard work rewarded, it’s time to brush off that resume and look elsewhere!
Sign #5 – You’re phoning it in — not doing your best work
Conversely, if you’re so bored, frustrated or checked out that you’re starting to seriously slack off, it might be best to say hello to a new job before this one says goodbye to you.
Sign #6 – You think back to your original career goals, and this job is all wrong
It’s easy to go down a certain career path for years (even decades!) before facing the hard truth that your decisions have led you astray. Instead of beating yourself up or resigning yourself to career dissatisfaction, start taking steps to make a career transition into a profession that lights you up.
Sign #7 – Your favorite people keep leaving (or are being let go)
Sometimes the best thing about a job is wonderful co-workers. After all, you likely spend more time with them than family and friends. And they can turn a ho-hum job into a positive experience.
But if they keep quitting or are getting fired, it’s a sure sign that upper management isn’t trying to hold onto their best employees. So you may want to take the hint and see your way out as well.
Sign #8 – You’re experiencing chronic stress, and it’s taking a toll on your health
All jobs can stressful and overwhelming at times. No way around it! But if the long hours and unreasonable pressure you’re dealing with are making you utterly sick (physically or mentally), it’s time to make a change ASAP. No job should compromise your long-term health.
Sign #9 – You’re experiencing or witnessing harassment, discrimination or unethical behavior
Sometimes work environments can be undesirable or unpleasant. But other times you see or experience things that are downright unethical or even illegal! Toxic environments don’t tend to improve, so while you may need to consult a lawyer in certain situations, know that finding a better opportunity should be your #1 priority.
A few things to consider…
While these 9 reasons for looking for another job range from mild to quite serious, I would avoid (if at all possible) quitting your job on a whim. Studies show that recruiters and hiring managers favor employed candidates. Also, looking for a job while you still have a job allows you to be selective (and not feel desperate). And it gives you more leverage in salary negotiations.
That said, if you feel you absolutely must quit your job due to comprised health or another serious matter, have a job search plan in place and (ideally) a financial cushion in case your search takes longer than expected.
Whichever path you choose, with a serious game plan and a little bit of chutzpah, you’ll be well on your way for finding a plum new professional home!
If you’ve been asking yourself this question, trust me, you’re not alone! Job seekers know how important soft skills are in the workplace and even see soft skills included on job descriptions. So they wonder if they should add them to their resume.
My short answer is…no.
But first, let me give a little more background on soft skills…
They are those critical, but somewhat general, skills such as:
The trouble is, these skills apply to practically every profession. It doesn’t matter if you’re an accountant, lawyer, digital marketer, teacher or software engineer — employers expect you to possess these skills. (It doesn’t mean everyone does, but that’s the hope.)
So just listing them out on your resume in no way differentiates you from other candidates. Most recruiters consider them resume filler.
You might think, “But they were listed as requirements on the job description! Aren’t I supposed to include keywords from the job description on my resume??”
And yes, I’ve had clients recently show me job descriptions where almost all of the required qualifications were written in form of soft skills. It can be so frustrating since it makes it hard to know what the employer is truly looking for in a candidate.
So here are 3 tips for tackling this issue:
Skills Tip #1
Look at other sections of the job description, such as the position overview and duties/responsibilities to find the required hard skills, so that you can include those on your resume.
Skills Tip #2
If a job description is really brief, vague, and basically gives you nothing to go on, it might be an indicator that it’s not a quality opportunity. (Fake job listings do exist, my friends!) So focus on ones that clearly spell out the duties and requirements of the role.
All of this is not to say that soft skills aren’t important. They are! But find ways to demonstrate your soft skills within your accomplishments, both on your resume and in an interview setting.
For example, discovering and rectifying errors on vendor invoices demonstrates your attention to detail. And winning a new account through your sales presentation proves you’re an effective communicator.
So when it comes to soft skills, show, don’t just tell. And incorporating hard skills from the job description onto your resume is always your best bet. That way employers can quickly see how you might be different from and better than the competition.
When you’re spending untold hours each week job searching, you never want to think that you might actually be sabotaging your efforts. But in working with clients, I’ve seen many of them fall into the same bad patterns. Without even realizing it, they’re spending too much time doing the wrong things in their search.
Be honest, are you guilty of some of these unhelpful job search habits? (No shame if you are! But there’s a better way.)
#1 – You’re Casting Too Wide a Net
It’s totally logical to think that the more types of jobs you’re open to, the greater your likelihood of landing one. But if you search too broadly, your branding (as a candidate) will seem all over the place.
Instead of showcasing your most relevant skills, your resume and LinkedIn profile will scream, “Look! I can do EVERYTHING!” This will l undoubtedly confuse potential employers who will be more inclined to focus on candidates who demonstrate their fit for the specific role at hand.
So make sure you’re zoning in on one or two related job titles at a time and create a resume and LinkedIn profile to support that.
#2 – You’re Sending Off the Same Resume for Every Job Application
Even if you’re focused on a specific position — let’s say Account Manager, for example, you still don’t get to fire off the same resume for every Account Manager role you come across. (Aww, I wish it were that easy…)
That’s because using the same resume for every application may prevent it from making it through the applicant tracking system. The ATS is scanning for specific keywords (based on the job description), and if you don’t have enough of them included on your resume, it might get lost in the proverbial black hole.
So take the time to customize each resume to the job description, paying close attention to those relevant keywords. Yes, it’s a pain. And yes, it makes a huge difference!
In a previous blog post I talked about stepping away from your computer and getting out and networking with people. And that’s definitely a critical component of your job search. But you can also network online using the best networking tool of them all — LinkedIn!
Since you’re anywhere from 5-15 times more likely to be hired as a referral (according to Jobvite), building relationships with employees at companies you’re interested in can be a powerful way to get your foot in the door.
Online and offline networking with a targeted list of people should make up 50% of your job search strategy. (That means taking a break from those job boards.)
#4 – You’re Trying To Do It All By Yourself
Job searching alone can feel utterly confusing, isolating…and just plain no fun! You may find yourself constantly questioning whether your resume or LinkedIn profile are making the right impression. And scrolling through endless job postings may cause general malaise. Also, it’s hard to prepare those tough interview questions when you’re a one (wo)man show.
So, join a job search community, get help from a career coach (like me!), or at the very least talk with others about your job search so that you can get the guidance and feedback you need.
Wrapping it Up
As you can see, you could be sabotaging your job search without even realizing it. But by taking some key actions, such as: getting laser focused, using a customized resume for each role, leveraging your network, and getting support, you could nab that great job even quicker.
Here we are in the beginning of 2019, and…well…you might feel like you’re in a bit of a post-holiday funk. The Christmas tree has been taken down, the champagne glasses have been put away, the weather’s been wacky…and there are those dang New Year’s resolutions.
Those resolutions, that seemed so ambitious and exciting at the clink of a “Happy New Year” toast, now seem completely overwhelming and undoable.
The main problem with resolutions is that we often choose ones that are too broad or vague (get healthy, make more money) or, conversely, ones that are so rigid, we know we’ll never adhere to (cut out ALL sugar, meditate for 1 hour daily).
So when it comes to finding a stellar new job in 2019, we want to make sure we’re choosing resolutions that are specific and actionable. Saying “I resolve to find a new job” just won’t cut it. (Not to mention, it feels so uninspiring.)
Here are 4 Job Search New Year’s Resolutions that will get your engines started and keep you cruising the next few months:
#1 – I Resolve to Create a Job Search Plan of Attack
When clients come to me, they usually think a job search starts with updating their resume and LinkedIn profile — and then clicking APPLY on job board postings.
But without a clear plan, it’s easy to fall into what I call being a “reactive job seeker” — passively responding to job opportunities that seem half-way decent (but have probably already gotten a ton of applications).
A better approach is to take stock of what you’ve liked and disliked about current and past positions and companies in order to determine SPECIFICALLY what you want in your next role and company.
From there, it’s helpful to write out an ideal job description as well as a list of 15-30 target companies whose mission/product/service speaks to you.
Up to 80% of jobs aren’t posted online, so start building relationships with people at those companies in order to find out about possible opportunities that are in the works. (More on that in #3).
#2 – I Resolve to Celebrate (and Document) My Accomplishments
Job seekers often feel intimidated throwing their hat into the ring for a job opening because they worry they won’t measure up as a candidate.
They reluctantly apply, but then their worst fears are confirmed when they hear nothing back.
But what I find is that, it’s not an issue of lacking the right skills and experience to do the job, but instead not conveying that expertise in a compelling way.
Job seekers routinely undersell themselves by listing vague, general duties on their resume and LinkedIn profile instead of creating quantifiable accomplishment statements that paint a clear picture of positive outcomes.
The truth is, in your current and past positions, you’ve done some impressive stuff! You’ve probably solved complex problems…and these achievements need to be CELEBRATED.
And they also need to be written down.
So think about ways you might have increased revenue, or cut costs, or streamlined a system, or oversaw a project from start to finish. What strategies, methodologies, and technologies did you use? What were the results? Can you put it into numbers?
Even if you’re not starting a job search right away, start writing these accomplishments down now. Look over previous performance evaluations and search through emails, project proposals and reports. Know the details.
Not only will this process help you make concrete improvements to your resume and LinkedIn profile, but you’ll start feeling more confident as a professional. And that confidence will shine through as you network and interview.
#3 – I Resolve to Make LinkedIn My Friend
Oh LinkedIn…the forgotten social media platform. It certainly isn’t as fun or sexy as Facebook or Instagram. It’s a bit stodgy and buttoned up (and not exactly the most user friendly *cough cough).
But what’s amazing about LinkedIn is that it’s really one massive database of professionals and companies — ripe with research and networking opportunties.
Unfortunately, most job seekers only use it to post an online resume (and an oft-incomplete one at that).
As I alluded to in Resolution #1, you can use LinkedIn to research companies of interest and see how you’re connected to employees there. If you know someone in common, you can request an introduction directly on the platform.
If not, you can send the employee a personalized connection request to start a meaningful dialogue.
LinkedIn is also a great place to join and contribute to industry-related groups, where you can showcase your subject matter expertise.
Being regularly active and visible on LinkedIn will allow you to strategically expand your network and get noticed by potential employers.
#4 – I Resolve to Take Rejection in Stride
Ok, I know…we don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions with the word “rejection” in them. But when it comes to a job search, rejection unfortunately comes with the territory.
Sometimes it’s sending off that perfect resume and cover letter and not hearing back. Or reaching out to an employee at your favorite company and getting radio silence. Or receiving a “thank you but no thank you” email after you SWORE you nailed that interview.
I think the most painful part of rejection is the unknown. Why didn’t they respond? Why didn’t they make me an offer? What did I do wrong???
The unfortunate truth is that you’ll probably never know for sure. You can do everything right and still not get the job. It’s a tough pill to swallow but a necessary one.
So keep your efforts up, stay strategic, get help when you can, and know that rejection happens to every single one of us. It’s really a patience and persistence game, so grit your teeth and don’t give up.
Well there you have it. Hopefully these 4 New Year’s resolutions will keep you focused and on track to landing that fantastic job very, very soon.
You may have heard about informational interviews but never really understood what they were exactly…or how to conduct one.
Essentially, informational interviews are conversations you arrange with someone who’s either in a profession you’re interested in pursuing or works at a company you’d like to learn more about.
They can take place over the phone, over coffee, or even over an extended email exchange.
Informational interviews differ from regular interviews in that there’s no specific job at stake. They’re more casual in nature…and you’re the one asking most of the questions.
These interviews are an excellent way to gather information that’ll help you make the right decision in your career…and possibly lead to a plum opportunity.
Here are 3 reasons why they’re so powerful:
Reason #1 – Informational interviews can help you decide if a career path is right for you
If you’re thinking about making a career change or are a recent grad, no amount of online research on a profession compares to speaking with one or several people who are doing that exact thing.
They can give you the lowdown on all aspects of their occupation, both positive and negative.
They can also give you insight into how to get started in that field as well as which skills you’d most need to acquire or leverage.
Reason #2 – Informational interviews can provide you valuable information on a company
If you’re not making a career change but are wanting to find a similar role at a new company, arranging informational interviews with a couple employees at that company can help you determine if it’s the right fit.
Once again, no one has a better scoop on an organization than the people working there. They can speak to the company culture, the dynamics of their department, and what the higher ups look for in a candidate.
You may even learn about opportunities that aren’t currently posted online, thereby tapping the hidden job market.
Reason #3 – Informational interviews can lead to real interviews…and potentially job offers
The saying “it’s not about what you know but who you know” couldn’t be more true when it comes to job searching. According to Jobvite, you’re 5 times more likely to be hired as a referral than as an unknown applicant.
It makes perfect sense! Employers would rather hire a candidate who someone they know can vouch for. That’s why most mid size and large companies offer employee referral bonuses to encourage their staff to send qualified applicants their way.
So by doing informational interviews and building meaningful relationships, you can increase your chances of being invited in for an actual interview.
How do you find the right people to conduct informational interviews with?
I think it’s best to start by asking friends and family if they know people who are either in your desired career or are working at a company of interest — and see if they can introduce you. LinkedIn makes it easy to see how you’re connected to prospects and request an introduction.
But if you’re not having luck with this route, you can do own LinkedIn research by job title and company and send personalized connection requests to the appropriate people. From there you can get the conversation going.
Regardless of your approach, know that informational interviews can be a game changer when it comes to starting out in a new field or getting your foot in the door at a stellar company.
Ahhhh, the weekend. After a long week of slogging away at a less-than-stellar job, you finally get two glorious days to relax! I mean, weekends are all about spending time with friends and family, running errands, and catching up on all your favorite shows, right?
Well, the unfortunate truth is that if you’re looking for a job while working full-time, the weekend is a crucial opportunity to delve into that job search.
But I get it, it feels unfair. Everyone around you is taking a load off and enjoying themselves. And you’re there…working.
So how the heck do you stay focused and do a weekend job search without feeling distracted, aimless and, well…bitter? Here are a few tips:
Weekend Job Search Tip #1 – Remember this Situation is Temporary
A job search can seem endless. It can feel like a second job — because, well, right now it is. When you’re not working, you’re working on your job search. And while you are working, you’re thinking about your job search. This can be crazy-making!
But take heart…if you’re job searching the right way, this feeling of double duty won’t last long. You’ll nab that great job, and your weekends will be yours again. (Cue the fruity cocktails!) But for now, you need to remind yourself this is only temporary — so roll up your sleeves, and make this thing happen!
Weekend Job Search Tip #2 – Find the Best Environment to Get Work Done
When everyone around you is in weekend mode, it can be hard to separate yourself from all the merry-making. Your friends and family might also (unintentionally) sabotage your efforts by trying to convince you join the fun.
So, you may need to physically remove yourself by grabbing your laptop and heading to a quiet cafe or library. This might mean handing off childcare duties or chores to another family member for a few hours in order to get some work accomplished. It might not be easy or ideal, but once again, if you’re dedicated to your job search, this is only temporary.
At this point you might be asking, if I’m not currently working, do I still have to dedicate my weekend to my job search? Don’t I get weekends off?
Well, that depends on how much you’re getting done during the week, of course. Weekends can be a great time to do volunteer work in your community and attend events that have networking potential.
The key is finding time when you work at your best. Is it early in the morning or late at night? Do you need total silence or some background noise. Can you work for several hours at a stretch or need to take several breaks to stay motivated? It’s all about finding that efficiency sweet spot.
Weekend Job Search Tip #3 – Don’t Waste Your Time on Meaningless Job Search Activities
You’ve got two short days to make the most of your job search. But it’s easy to spend too much time on comfortable tasks that feel productive while avoiding all the hard stuff that can actually move the needle.
Be honest, are you guilty of any of these?
> Firing off the same resume and cover letter — or worse, NO cover letter — to hundreds of job postings each week, because it feels so quick and efficient.
> Constantly playing around with the font style, font size, text color, and formatting on your resume, because if you could just get that right, you KNOW the interviews would start pouring in.
> Asking your close friends and family to tell you if they “hear of anything” and then getting frustrated when they come up short.
If any of these sound like you, it’s time to rethink your job search strategy. Here are some ways to make greater strides in your search:
— Instead of just applying for jobs online willy nilly, spend the bulk of your time on LinkedIn: optimizing your profile, expanding your network, and researching companies in order to come up with a short list that you feel most excited about.
— If you do apply for a job online, try to apply within the first 3 days it’s posted and make sure you meet at least 80% of the requirements, otherwise you might be throwing your application into a black hole. Tailoring your resume and cover letter to the job description is key.
So…while it may feel like a major bummer to spend your weekend job searching, you’ll thank yourself down that line when you get that fantastic offer.
And I’m by no means trying to imply that you shouldn’t take any time for yourself. We all need a little downtime to relieve stress and self reflect. So work that into your weekend or a weeknight as well. It’s all a balancing act!
You there…yes YOU…peering out from behind your laptop. I have a feeling you’ve tunneled down an Indeed/LinkedIn/ZipRecruiter/Glassdoor rabbit hole, am I right?
Don’t be ashamed. Those online job boards can ensnare even the most vigilant job seeker. They seduce you with their endless job postings, making you feel amazingly productive with each click of the APPLY button.
But don’t be fooled! A true job hunt can’t be entirely successful from a laptop alone. Sometimes you have to get out in the big bad world and actually talk to people. Or do some job searching IRL (as the kids say).
So here are some strategies for taking your job hunt offline and learning about potential opportunities:
In-person networking events can take many forms. Some are more traditional, taking place in large conference halls and organized by industry. Others might be small, casual, and completely non-career related.
Meetup.com is a great resource for finding a wide variety of groups and events. You can search by location and browse by an array of types: career & business, social, outdoors & adventure, food & drink, hobbies & crafts, etc.
Depending on where you live, there may be multiple events happening each day, exposing you to people across various industries.
Alumni & Chamber of Commerce Events
It’s easy to forget what powerful resources your alumni association and local Chamber of Commerce can be. Even if your alma mater is in a different location, check with your alumni association to see if there’s a local chapter. It just might be holding an upcoming event. And talking about the glory days of college is an instant conversation starter.
Your local Chamber of Commerce may also schedule industry mixers from time to time. They’re a great way to network with like-minded professionals in your field.
While more career-focused networking events can be really helpful, don’t think that has to be your only option. Because if you think about it, any type of social gathering is a potential networking event. This could be a friend’s dinner party, a neighbor’s BBQ or a nephew’s baseball game. Any opportunity to meet and interact with new people can have positive outcomes.
Volunteering in your community can be a true multiplier. Not only does it allow you to experience a different environment, meet new people, and potentially learn new skills, but you get the satisfaction of doing some good in the world. Volunteermatch.org and idealist.org are two great sites to find local volunteering opportunities.
A Few Things to Note…
Regardless of the type of event you attend, it’s smart to bring personal business cards that include your contact info and LinkedIn URL. Exchanging business cards can allow you to follow up and stay in touch with your new contacts.
Also, don’t worry if walking into a large room full of strangers gives you sweaty palms and marble mouth. You definitely don’t have to be an expert conversationalist to reap the benefits of these events. I find that putting the focus on the other person and asking them questions can take the pressure off.
But be prepared to answer that inevitable, “So, what do you do?” No need to delve into your entire work history, but it’s completely kosher to let them know the kinds of opportunities you’re targeting as well as any specific companies you’re hoping to get to know better. You never know who these fellow event attendees may know and could introduce you to!
So don’t let that silly laptop stand between you and some powerful networking opportunities. Putting in actual face time can be a real game changer in your job hunt.