Job hunting: is it a wasteland?

I just saw “Mad Max: Fury Road” (George Miller / Village Roadshow Pictures, 2015) for the first time yesterday. (I know, it hit theaters forever ago, but I never took the chance to go see it in the theater.) It reminded me of some people’s job search when they call our office.

 

Often times, these job seekers have been looking for a job for months with little success, leaving many to wonder if, in fact, there are any jobs at all.  The job market for them feels like the apocalyptic wasteland, where they race with the competition for the best prospects.  It seems like only the strongest, smartest, or most ruthless survive the furious chase.

 

Granted, they aren’t wearing distressed leather jackets, driving supped up V8 engines, and spearing each other’s vehicles with bombs, but the mentality has some striking similarities:

 

1.      The market crash and the Great Recession is still fresh in people’s minds, giving them a survivor’s mentality

Many job seekers are still scared from the brutal unemployment rates and overall hiring landscape after the market crashed. Many people were forced to learn new professions just to keep their heads above water, all while dreading the possibility of getting laid off. A survivor’s mentality permeated the population. Some, such as myself, worked for temp agencies or had to take odd jobs in order to pay for simple things like food or a roof over their head.

 

Like huddled groups of War Boys, many Millennials took up residence with multiple roommates just because they couldn’t afford their own place, or worse, had to move back in with their parents. Meanwhile, older generations of the American workforce were under constant threat of a layoff just because of changing market conditions.

By my words and deeds, I totally qualify for this job 

(© Village Roadshow Pictures, 2015)

 

As the lone job hunter, I felt like the job boards such as CareerBuilder.com and Indeed.com transformed into a vast wasteland where no jobs existed, with an occasional oasis of opportunity springing up just to be closed within a matter of days.   Even though the market has greatly recovered these days, people still remember being in that position. These are the hardened survivors of the wasteland. Plus, we still see the proverbial roving gangs of revheads swooping in to take the best jobs, hoarding and distributing them to their network like a coveted resource.

 

2.      Self-Sufficiency is paramount

If you can’t take care of yourself out in the wasteland, you will quickly be trampled over by someone that can. The same is true in job hunting. Granted, you are not ever truly alone in real life and can use services such as ours to help you, but you can’t take those resources for granted.

 

Ultimately, you are responsible for getting the job you want, no one else. If you are not motivated and self-starting when it comes to looking for a job, you will find yourself in a very similar situation that faces a wasteland wanderer every day. If they are not doing everything in their power to survive, they quickly fall by the wayside and are consumed by the harsh sands.

(© Village Roadshow Pictures, 2015)

If you don’t keep yourself moving with a proactive job search strategy, you will likely miss out on the best opportunities.  This goes beyond just looking at the employment websites.  Even today, it is necessary to research companies, reach out to key managers, network within your industry, and contact recruiters to find the best jobs.

 

3.      Have the right tools and keep them maintained

 

In any apocalyptic film, the protagonist always has some kind of tool, car, weapon or some other advantage in the wasteland. For Mad Max, it was his Interceptor. Furiosa had the War Rig. For countless others, it was simply their intelligence, skills, or even the simple will to live that gave them a distinct advantage.

I mean, just imagine having to repair this monster war rig while on the run from gangs of psychopaths

(© Village Roadshow Pictures, 2015)

For you, your tools include your resume, LinkedIn Profile, cover letters, and references. You want to be sure to maintain these resources and make sure they are always up to date with your current work history and relevant key words for your field. Without them, your resume is often never seen by a real person and is screened out by computer programs.

 

Most people will invest the time to create a strong resume at the beginning of their job search. However, it must be maintained as well.  If you aren’t getting many interviews or if the interviews don’t reflect your true target jobs, you need to revise your tools.  Generally speaking, give it about 30 – 45 days to evaluate the effectiveness of your resume and LinkedIn profile.  This allows for enough time for the HR hiring cycle to complete.

  1. In Conclusion: Your Redemption

The real message behind “Mad Max: Fury Road” is not the chase, the explosions, or even reaching Valhalla: it is redemption.  By the end of the movie, our heroes turn away from the wasteland to risk going against the odds to open up opportunities not only for themselves, but for the entire population under Immortan Joe’s control.  When you approach your own job search with courage, solid tools, determination, and a strong, supportive network, you too can reap the shiny and chrome rewards of your own job search.

(© Village Roadshow Pictures, 2015)

What a lovely day!

Picking the best picture for your social media

Photofeeler.com offers peer reviews of your social media pictures

Photofeeler.com offers peer reviews of your social media pictures

Your picture: on social media sites like LinkedIn, profiles with a picture gain a significantly higher amount of views.  However, that picture can be either the kiss of death or the start of a professional relationship.  With so much riding on this first impression, how can you be sure that your picture is conveying the right image?

www.PhotoFeeler.com is a website that allows users to upload a photo and gain insight from other users on key components on their first impression, specifically on competency, likability and influential factors.  You can do a quick, free test by earning credits by voting on other people’s photos as well.  Each picture you review earns you credits, which you can then use towards your own evaluations.

Common picture mistakes

I know that as a career coach, I cringe when I see people with a LinkedIn profile with a bad picture.  Some of the most common offenders are:

  • Poor picture quality, either in resolution or lighting
  • Bad framing – a full body shot of someone standing on a mountain trail doesn’t allow me to see the face
  • Wrong clothing choice – it’s not a good idea to use something too casual or a stuffy wedding reception photo
  • Group pictures – in this case, no one can really tell who is the right person for the profile
  • Extreme close-ups – these can make the viewer uncomfortable as a good portion of the face is hidden
  • Selfies – rarely are these the best choice, especially if it’s the mirror version or “duck face”
  • Disembodied limbs – if the other person is cropped out but there arm is still around the subject’s shoulder, that comes across as very unprofessional

Invest in your pictures

In most cases, spending a little money to get a professional headshot done is well worth the investments.  Many photographers can do this for $75 – $100.  Just make sure you get the digital rights so that you can use them online without paying royalties later on.

Tapping the Hidden Jobs on Linkedin

It’s no secret: LinkedIn has become a powerful tool for job seekers.  It is easier than ever to find decision-makers and other valuable contacts through active networking.  There are even jobs posted on the site.

The Jobs Tab

At the top of the webpage, there is a tab marked “Jobs.”  These are jobs that recruiters have paid to post on LinkedIn, just like CareerBuilder.com or Monster.com.  They are more powerful, however, as when you apply the recruiter receives your full LinkedIn profile – including all of your recommendations and endorsements.  In fact, many recruiters won’t consider candidates with less than 3 recommendations.

 

Job Postings in LinkedIn Groups

Recruiters are able to post jobs directly into groups.  However, only the paid advertisements get posted in the “Jobs” section of each group. For example, this screen shot of the 5280 Linked Group indicates where to find this…

 

LI jobs tab

 

Recruiters are able to re-post their paid advertisements in the Groups with a few simple clicks.  These are listed in the Group’s Job section as “Jobs:”

LI Jobs in groups

So where do you find the jobs that people are posting for free?

 The “Hidden” Jobs on LinkedIn

If you look in the Jobs section of most groups, there is a subcategory called “Job Discussions.”  This is where other group members post the jobs for free.  However, the posting only lasts for 14 days and then it will be automatically removed.

LI Job Discussions

 

 

Often times, a recruiter will post a job in the Job Discussions category to see if he will get a response.  That way, he can test the waters and try to snag a quality candidate without having to pay for the job posting.

Group members often post jobs in this area, passing on job leads that they may find on employment websites or even individual company websites.

The group Job Discussions can display many more job leads than the paid job postings.  For example, the 5280 Linked group, a Denver-based networking group of more than 30,000 members, currently shows seven job postings in the “Jobs” part of the group.  However, the “Job Discussions” reveals three more job postings.  And remember, they are all current postings – any job posted in this section is under 14 days old.  Depending on the group, you may see well over 20 of these hidden jobs on any given day.

 

Getting involved in groups is one of the best ways to make connections on LinkedIn.  Thanks to the Job Discussions, groups are also a great way to find jobs in your area of interest.

Interested in more helpful job search tips? Check out my book, How to Get a Job without Going Crazy on Amazon or on my website: https://personaltouchcareerservices.com/books

Handling Different Interviewer Styles

skeptical interviewer

Do you know how to deal with the crazy interviewer?

There is plenty of advice online on how to deal with the professional interviewer.  However, job seekers often face an interviewer who may not actually be trained in the art of interviewing.  In that case, they may need to adjust to wildly different interviewer styles.

You could be subjected to a veritable stress test, just to see how you react.  Or the interviewer just might be as nervous as you are.  In any case, anticipating these various styles and knowing how to deal with them can help you ace even the worst interview situation.

  1. Friendly and Personable

Don’t be fooled!  By being open and nice, the interviewer is putting you at ease and getting your guard down.  In truth, she is evaluating everything you say.  Candidates will reveal more than they ever intended in a relaxed atmosphere.  Ever come out of an interview convinced you’re hired because you “really connected” – only to be shocked when you didn’t get the job?  You got taken in by the Friendly Style.

  • Survival Tactic: Don’t get too comfortable. Stay on your toes and keep your goals in mind.
  1. Nervous and Uncomfortable

This is not an act!  Not all hiring managers are smooth and polished. They can be intimidated by the interview process as well.  If he tends to ramble on about the job and forget to ask questions, he’s stumbling through it.  Likewise, his questions may be very terse and limited.

  • Survival Tactic: Take the lead. Offer to tell him about your experience and skills.  Be proactive with your questions.  Ask him what he did or didn’t like about the last person in the job, or what his expectations are going forward.
  1. The Skeptic

Here’s the grumpy interviewer.  Everything about her manner is reserved and distant.  Arms crossed, she doesn’t seem to believe anything you’re saying.  Why?  She’s expecting you to sell her on your abilities.

  • Survival Tactic: Drop the touchy-feely answers and use solid examples of your past accomplishments. Maintain your good humor and self-confidence – remember, she’s doing it on purpose to rattle you.
  1. The Bored and the Boring

This guy is so withdrawn his mind is in the other room.  You could be his fourth interview of the day, or coming in just after lunch when productivity lags.  Everything says he’s just not into you (yawn.)  But be careful; don’t mistake an introvert for boredom.

  • Survival Tactic: Be concise and get to the point. Show your own enthusiasm for the job.  Ask him about himself.  People like to talk about themselves, and this could draw him into your conversation.
  1. By The Book

She has her list of questions and she’s sticking to them no matter what.  She might be using her prepared questions to hide her own introverted nature.  Her position in the company can give a clue as to her motive.  For example, if she’s from the HR department or someone’s assistant, she’s running you through the screening process.  A manager who uses this tactic is a process-driven person, methodical in everything she does.

  • Survival Tactic: Answer questions fully. Expand your answers to include good examples, but don’t ramble on.  This is an efficient person and expects people to get to the point.  Stay on her agenda and let her follow her methodology.
  1. Surreal

Not too long ago, an interviewing fad hit the internet: throw bizarre questions at candidates to see how they think.  “How many quarters does it take to reach the top of the Empire State Building?”  “If you lined up hamsters nose to tail, how many would it take to reach the moon?”  “How would you sort a bucket of golf balls?”  All this goofiness was supposed to give insight into your problem-solving skills.  In practice, it’s just weird.

  • Survival Tactic: Think before you answer. The actual answer doesn’t matter – it’s how you get there that does.
  1. Highly Technical

If you are going after a very technical job, be prepared for this.  You may encounter very specific and detailed questions to test your knowledge.  It could even be done in conjunction with timed and graded skills tests. However, no matter how grueling the test, people do get hired; just because a test is tough doesn’t mean you lost the opportunity.

One engineer I know interviewed all the new PhD candidates for a Research & Design company.  He grilled them on specific formulas and principles for over an hour.  If an applicant didn’t know the exact definition and application of entropy, he would get marked down – and saw the marks being made on his resume. (In physics, entropy is an exact mathematical equation, not the dictionary definition.)  Candidates left the office feeling like they just took the worst college exam of their lives, and certainly the most grueling interview they would ever encounter.

  • Survival Tactic: Think before you answer. If you’re struggling with an answer, don’t let it rattle you too badly.  Prepare for this interview: study up on key points, skills or processes necessary for your job.
  1. Deliberately Confrontational

Everything about this guy’s attitude just screams “I’m gonna get ya!”  He is dismissive, he cuts you off, he drills into your answers with an air of scorn.  Why?  He wants to see how you act under pressure.  Don’t worry; he may not be like this as a boss, and often times he will be a completely different person on the second interview.  His philosophy is to see you sweat in the interview; that way, he knows you can handle the job.

  • Survival tactic: Don’t give in to the stress or get upset. Concentrate on your breathing, get grounded and get focused.  It will be over soon!

Final Thoughts

In any interview situation, don’t be too hard on yourself.  One manager I knew preferred to hire people who got nervous during the job interview.  In his mind, this showed that the candidate cared about the job.  Just because you may be hyper-critical about your own performance, doesn’t mean that you can’t get the job.  Prepare yourself, take a deep breath, mind your manners and you will do just fine.

3 ways to make your summer job search suck less

Resume TipsMotivation can be hard to come by, especially when trying to hunt down the job you love in the middle of summer when all you really want to do is go out camping, swimming or to your favorite theme park. There are always more fun things to do than sitting in-front of your computer tap-tap-tapping away while your friends are out enjoying their lives.

I’ve done the math; there are exactly one million things I would rather be doing than following up on emails, making phone calls and generally being an adult. Adulting is hard, man! Alas, the days of youth and a three month break from responsibilities are gone. You are a grown person, with important grown-up things to do. Yes, life is hard. Get a helmet.

However, there are plenty of ways to make things better for yourself in such a trying time, such as:

#1: Accept the fact that some employers are on vacation

You are not the only one that has been looking forward to the summer months. HR has put in their time off requests, CEO’s are in the Bahamas and even the janitor has more thrilling things to do than scrub toilets with a zeal normally reserved for a riveting game of watch-the-paint-dry. People want to be out in the world and enjoying it before the leaves turn and the winter once again befalls the land.

In terms of employers, you usually won’t see as many job postings out there. The market becomes over-saturated with other people just like you looking to snag the job you’ve been looking for.

The key here is to be patient. It may take people longer to get back to you than you are used to, and that is ok. Keep sending out those resumes and emails, but be prepared to wait longer for a response. In the meantime you should:

#2: Go out and enjoy yourself

Just because you are looking for a job does not mean you have to become a shut in or a recluse. Go out and have some fun with the summer everyone else is enjoying. Even if you are a bit strapped for cash when it comes to extravagant vacations, there are plenty of free things to do out in the sun while the weather is nice.

Hang out with friends or go on a hike. Heck, even just finding a nice park to hang out at is a good way to refocus. If you are constantly wrapped up in your job search, it can become really discouraging especially when you feel like everyone else is just out having fun.

James Velociraptor

Personally I have taken up the hobby of wrangling dinosaurs and riding them into battle like a majestic steed.

 

#3: Set aside time to work on sending resumes and other aspects of your job search

Simply setting aside a two hour block of time a day to work on sending out resumes or respond to emails is good, however there are other things you can do to make yourself stand out. Instead of just wasting that time looking at various postings on Indeed.com or Monster.com you can work on things like your resume, LinkedIn Profile, networking and researching of your target companies.

If you are not getting any responses at all, it might be time to reevaluate your career documents. Make sure you have those key-words in your resume to get your potential employer’s attention and that your profile is engaging.

Researching the companies you are applying for is another good way to spend this time. Who are they? What is their reputation? Are there any people working there in your network that can recommend you? Is there anyone you can connect with? What is their mission statement? Would this be a company you are going to tolerate, or do they stand for something you believe in?

These kinds of questions are important to answer. If a company meshes well with what you believe already, it will show through when you get called in for interviews.

Keep your chin up, take some time for yourself, and stay motivated. I know it sounds like a lot to take in, but really, it’s only two hours a day to be at the computer; don’t waste it by hanging out on Facebook.

The 2015 Guide to Private Service Agencies and Educators is here!

guide to private service agencies and educators

CLICK HERE to join our newsletter and get you free copy of the guidebook

After several months of careful editing and revisions, we are finally ready to release the 2015 edition of “The Guide to Private Service Agencies and Educators.”  Featuring over 20 agencies, major schools, and notable educators in the luxury lifestyle management, this guide is a valuable resource to anyone looking for a job in the domestic services industry, from nannies to estate managers and everything in-between.

Best of all, you can get your copy for free!

Just sign up for our free eNewsletter to download this helpful PDF: http://eepurl.com/bgVrJr

Already receiving our eNewsletter? Give us a “like” on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/personaltouchcareerservices

After you sign up for the newsletter, you will receive an email telling you how to download your own copy – plus an extra-special free gift to help you prepare for the tough interview questions.

 

How to instantly increase your LinkedIn network

network connections treeFrustrated with the limited views on LinkedIn profiles?  Want to increase your exposure to second and third degree connections?  How about send emails or invitations to people you don’t know?

The answer is simple: join and get involved in the Groups.

 Join Groups

In particular, look for the large Groups in your area.  By joining these Groups, you have access to most of the other Group members.

When it comes to job searching, be sure to look for one in your geographic area, not just your field of interest.  For example, the Linked to Denver Group owned by Mike O’Neil (author, “Rock the World with Your Online Presence”) has over 30,000 members.  Once you join, you instantly create a Group connection with each and every one of those members.

Extremely large Groups can create connections across the country and even the world.  One of the largest Groups on LinkedIn is the Linked: HR Group, with over 240,000 members.

 Get Involved

Many people allow other Group members to contact them.  While you can send a message or invitation to any Group member that allowed it, make sure you create a meaningful dialogue and customize your message.

Instead of just sending random emails to someone, read what they say in the discussions.  Look at the articles they post and make comments about them.  Start your own discussions and be a part of the Group. It should be an organic relationship, which is encouraged by your positive Group contributions.

It can be difficult to make an impression in large Groups, as the discussions flow quickly.  You don’t need to read everything that is posted.  The main thing is to look for key persons within your target company and then follow the discussions that they post.

 Don’t Get Frustrated

Sometimes your target person may not allow other Group members to contact them.  Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to control another person’s privacy settings. However, even if your early contact attempts are thwarted, you can still follow their discussions.  Just like the Twitter mentality of following people to gain insight into their interests and expertise, LinkedIn Groups are another great source of information.

The key is not getting frustrated if things are not going well at first. Stay persistent and relax. If you try to rush things, you are unlikely to get the responses you want.

 Gah!  Too Much Email!

When you join any Group, you can control how often you receive updates from the Group.  If it is a Group that specifically addresses your industry, you might choose to receive daily updates.  However, if it is a large Group that you joined just to boost your connections, consider a weekly digest instead.

Settings can be changed at any time.  Simply go to the Group’s page and click on the gear icon next to the “Member” button on the right corner of the Group’s page to access your Group settings.

 Increased Search Effectiveness

Another advantage of joining larger Groups is that they instantly increase your network base.  This means that it also increases your exposure during searches, as well as increases the effectiveness of your own searches.

Even with using LinkedIn’s Advanced Search features, the website likes to show you members that are closest to you, especially in terms of connection.  So the 1st Degree Connections are shown highest in the list, then 2nd Degree, then Group Connections, followed by 3rd Degrees and, last, people with no connection to you– if you are allowed to see them at all.  When you join some big Groups, LinkedIn will reveal more members in your searches.  Plus, you will show up in other people’s searches as well, including recruiters and other key players in your industry.

 Open Door

If the Group is not serving your needs, leave it.  Go find another one that is in alignment with your goals and interests.  The great thing about the LinkedIn Groups is that you can be a member of up to 50 different Groups.  And best of all, they are free.

5 ways to destroy your new contract job

Don't smash your chance to make a good impression

Don’t smash your chance to make a good impression

Contract work is new norm for many people.  Do you know the traps to avoid when taking a contract job?

It’s quite common for job seekers to accept contract or temporary jobs with the hopes that they will turn into full-time employment.  Even without the potential of a new job, the contract assignment has become a crucial piece to any employment scenario.

However, many people are destroying this opportunity within the first two weeks.  In the contract world, these mistakes may not only cost you the immediate job, but other contract work down the road.

 1. Demanding special payment arrangements

Yes, we know that your finances are tight because you’ve been out of work for a while. However, requesting wire transfer payments before you start to work for an employer can raise eyebrows.  When negotiating a contract assignment, be sure to ask how they normally pay their vendors and try to accommodate their established procedures.

If you need to request payment in advance, do so in a professional manner – and only ask for this consideration once.  Always asking for money early plants a negative seed in the employer’s mind – such as questions about why you can’t manage your finances.

 

2. Unreasonable expenses

Even though you are a contractor, try to stay within the company’s guidelines for employee expenses.  For example, if you have to travel for the company, ask beforehand what the per diem rate is for meals and other expenses.  This shows that you are willing to work within their defined limits.

 

  1. Calling in sick

True, you might really be sick, but anytime you give short notice that you won’t be in to work it will be questioned – especially if you are being evaluated in a temporary position.  Find a way to get the work done, even if it means working from home.

 

  1. Skimpy paperwork trail

The IRS has very specific rules to define an employee from an independent contractor.  Keeping your paperwork straight – submitting your own invoices/ expense reports, signed contracts, completed W-9’s – will help the employer keep this relationship well defined.  Plus, if you are pro-active about the necessary paperwork, it is a positive reflection on your own follow-through skills.

 

  1. Scheduling interviews during your work hours

While you may still be looking for a permanent job elsewhere, make sure you do it on your own time.  This may mean scheduling interviews several days in advance so that you can give your contract company plenty of advance notice.  Saying that you “have an appointment” is a legitimate reason to step out for an hour or two, but don’t let the employer know it is to interview with another company.

 

To avoid all of these problems, show your contract employer that they are priority #1. You will be more likely to get a permanent job offer by being professional, attentive and focused on their needs instead of your own.

Winning the interview on first sight

More than ever, it is important for employers to understand who you are during the interview process. When they get a feel for your personality, they can picture you fitting in with their company culture. Clearly, your wardrobe choice at that first interview is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a positive first impression.

The clothes maketh the (wo)man

Fashion is the very first impressions a potential employer gains before you even get the chance to speak. So if you really want to make an impression, make it your clothes relate to you as a person and the job at hand.
Going for a job in journalism? Show up in a Superman costume and strike a pose befitting the Man of Steel himself. Not only will this make you more memorable (a very important factor in getting a job) but you will also present all of the same qualities Superman is famous for, such as honor, raw power and integrity. Not to mention that he was a successful reporter as well.
For business executives, it’s more important to demonstrate a level of class and the ability to rule a company. Most other applicants will do this by showing up in a suit of dark, commanding colors. Why blend in to the crowd? Don a powdered wig and your finest frock coat to show you know how to keep the peasants in their place. Your target company will not only admire your flair, but your ability to command all the respect deserving of the French Monarchy and the Second Estate.

"My credentials? Sir, I will have you know my pedigree includes some of the most influential families of Paris!"

“I will have you know my pedigree includes the bloody queen!”

The possibilities are endless. Just look to your favorite characters in popular culture to find your inspiration.

Act the part

Obviously you don’t want to just show up in some silly get-up for the interview. You would just look odd and the employers would just write you off. It’s important to become the person under the clothes. Superman in appearance only would not command the same level of respect unless your potential employer feels like you are truly the hero they need for their company.
Similarly, if you present yourself as a monarch you should behave as such. Speak in a refined manner, comment on their “pedestrian” attire and question the interviewer’s bloodline to make sure they are of the same quality stock as you. They will have no choice but to pledge fealty to your sovereign.

Pictured: The Board of Directors

Pictured: The Board of Directors

The same applies to any character you try to use. Just think, “How would Star Lord respond to such a question?” “Would Leonardo from the Ninja Turtles really answer the ‘what is your greatest weakness’ question?” If the interview is going poorly, you might want to make sure the window is open so you can sling your Spidey-webs and escape.

Things to avoid

Obviously, not every character has the same clout in an interview as others. It depends on your target job. For example, Batman would be great for a night shift security position, but not so great for an executive position with a company (wait, why would we hire Batman? He’s just going to spend millions and billions of company dollars on personal gadgetry and top secret projects like a personal car that can drive up buildings. Also, what’s to stop him from suddenly disappearing in the middle of a meeting every time the bat signal pops on?)

"WHERE IS MY DEPARTMENT FUNDING GOING!!!"

“WHERE IS MY DEPARTMENT FUNDING GOING!!!”

Examples of other poor choices include:
• Nearly any villain – except Lex Luthor, who is a brilliant businessman
• Mob bosses
• Obscure characters (they might not know who you are)
• The Hulk (too unstable)
• Star Trek red shirts

 

"What do you mean I didn't get the job?"

“What do you mean I didn’t get the job?”

In the end, a mindful choice can convey more about you to the interviewer. Choose well, young Padiwan.

Poor LinkedIn practices that kill candidates

Watch out for Linkedin mistakesEveryone knows that posting negative comments on LinkedIn is a sure-fire way to scare off employers and recruiters alike. However, many candidates are killing their chances without even knowing it by making these common mistakes on their profiles.

Improper formatting of their name

It’s shocking to see how many people are making this mistake.  Either their name is listed in ALL CAPITALS or no capitals at all – like ‘bob smith.”  The first thing employers see is your name.  This is especially true for the search results, when only your name, headline, job titles, and picture are visible.

Improper formatting is seen as a lack of detail orientation and writing skills.  As almost every job addresses this in some form, be sure to list your name correctly.

Incomplete or inconsistent profiles

Employers now make it a common practice to check a candidate’s LinkedIn profile before contacting them for an interview.  An incomplete profile is a definite red flag.  This doesn’t mean that it needs to have every single option completed, but the basic are essential: summary, work history, skills / endorsements, and recommendations.

Another problem is when the LinkedIn profile varies greatly from the resume.  It’s understandable that key skills and responsibilities may be different on the resume if the job seeker is changing fields.  Similarly, a candidate may not list the exact sales figures in his or her accomplishments to maintain the company’s confidential information.  However, when the actual work history itself is not reflective of the resume, this is a red mark.

Lacking Recommendations

Unlike Endorsements, Recommendations on LinkedIn carry a lot of weight.  These are the candidate’s verifiable, online letters of reference from actual people in their network.  Many recruiters won’t consider a candidate if they have less than three written Recommendations on their profile.

LinkedIn has changed the Recommendations management pages recently, however, the easiest place to find them is from your profile.  Look for the triangle next to the “View Profile As” button. As you roll over that, the menu option to “ask to be recommended” becomes visible.  Just click on that to manage all of your Recommendations.

link for LinkedIn recomendations

Here’s where the link to your Recommendations is hiding

Funky pictures

Your profile picture is vitally important on LinkedIn.  It needs to be a solid headshot, with a simple background and proper lighting.  Many photographers will do headshots like this for $50 – $100, which is a fair price – just make sure to have the digital rights so you can post the pictures online without paying royalties.

It is possible to take a good picture for yourself.  However, selfies, wedding pictures, or cropping out another person so that a disembodied arm encircles your shoulder should be avoided.  Remember, your picture is your brand.  Consider carefully what image you want to portray: does your industry demand the suit, or are you targeting a business casual environment?  How do you want to be perceived?

The most obvious error

I hate to say it, but some people still leave spelling and grammar errors on their LinkedIn profile.  Unfortunately, this is also a common problem when making posts in Groups or adding comments to a discussion.

I remember one time a LinkedIn member started a discussion in a group to get some feedback on why she was having difficulty landing an executive assistant job.  In the post were a number of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.  Even her profile headline wasn’t formatted correctly.  Being a nice person, I sent her a private message that she should watch out for those errors.  She replied, “Well, I was typing fast.”

Unfortunately, executive assistants are expected to type both quickly and accurately.  By posting sloppy content online, she was broadcasting to employers that she didn’t possess the necessary traits for her target job.

Fair warning

Just because LinkedIn seems like a casual environment, in truth, every word you write is an audition for potential employers and recruiters.

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