LinkedIn is the social platform for business networking, and if you are part of the business world, you really must have a LinkedIn profile. Many companies are even asking for your LinkedIn URL as part of the application process. So, on today’s episode, we are going to cover my top tips about using LinkedIn.
If you think you don’t need LinkedIn since you aren’t currently looking for a job, you are wrong. LinkedIn is not just for finding a job. It is a business networking platform. You should constantly be networking. You never know when you are going to need something from your network, and so it is very important that you maintain a constant presence on LinkedIn.
I covered this point in more detail in Episode 21 when I talked about my philosophy that every day is an interview. Keeping your network warm at all times will help you solve lots of different business problems – not just your employment status.
So, my first tip for LinkedIn is to stop thinking of it as a site for job searching and start thinking of it as a network platform.
Closely related to that – your LinkedIn profile should not be an exact copy of your resume or CV. Your resume or CV is a chronological list of the positions you’ve held and the accomplishments in each of those roles. There is an aspect of this in your profile, but your profile is much wider than that.
People will be looking at your LinkedIn profile for many reasons other than because they want to interview you for a job. Your LinkedIn profile is an overview of your business experience as well as a peek inside where you aspire to take your career. It should help someone understand what makes you unique. Many people have been project managers at IBM, but each one of them has a unique strength and approach to how they did the job. Your resume or CV isn’t going to communicate that. Your LinkedIn profile can.
Now let’s get into some of the tactics about LinkedIn:
This is the one sentence description that shows up below your name.
This should not be your job title at your company name.
It should not be Project Manager at IBM.
That is a description from your resume that describes your current role. It isn’t who you are. It isn’t the skill that makes you marketable. It is a current title for a current role. Your headline should describe your skillset and, although it should not be a lie, it should also be somewhat aspirational.
Our IBM project manager could say “I help large companies manage large projects effectively.’
Or, “I manage multi-million dollar technology projects.’
This section should sound like you are talking to someone at a bar about your skills. Many people confuse this with the ‘objective’ section of a resume. This section should be in 1st person and should expand on your headline.
Our IBM project manager might have the following in his About section:
I’m a project manager in my bones. Everything I get involved with is a project in my eyes. I look at complex objectives and immediately think about the timeline, the budget, and the best way to organize the project plan. Although I can turn a trip to the grocery store into a project, my sweet spot is multi-million dollar technology projects that typically have a 12 to 18 month timeline and impact companies at the enterprise level. My secondary skillset of change management is a strength as well because every successful project can point to a successful change management plan.
The About Section gives the reader some insight into the person that reading bullet points on a resume doesn’t.
Some other things good About sections do:
This is the closest thing to your resume, although it still shouldn’t be an exact copy. This is where you will list your positions. The difference from your resume is that you still want to summarize this more than you would a resume. Talk about your accomplishments more than your specific job responsibilities.
Our PM would say:
“Successfully managed the implementation of Salesforce.com for a 2000 person organization where the previous solution was multiple spreadsheets. In my role as the lead project manager, I ensured the project was delivered within the time and budget expectations of the project sponsor while also achieving a 75% adoption rate within 3 months of go-live.”
If you go to Edit profile, you will see in the top right corner a button to edit your profile URL. You should edit this so that it is your name. If your name has already been taken then work on it until you come up with something that is easy to communicate to others.
Update your Profile Regularly
There are lots of ways you can update it without having changed jobs. Put a reminder on your calendar for every four months to review and update it with anything new. For example, I recently took a process that had been monthly looking backward and made it weekly. This means we are able to more quickly react to the information and be proactive when we use to be reactive to information that came too late. I didn’t change jobs, but I updated my profile to reflect this accomplishment because it has made a significant impact for my company.
Finally, I will just point out that your LinkedIn profile is a marketing tool for your career. You never want to lie about your accomplishments, but you do want to market them so that your strengths and accomplishments are at the forefront and in the spotlight. Take some time to really ensure that your profile pops. If you feel like you could use some help with yours, I’m happy to coach you through the process and help you create a profile that will set you apart. Learn more at www.pmocoaching.com/LinkedInProfile.
A job search is a stressful time for people. Even if you have a job, it is stressful. If you don’t have a job and the bills are looming, there is another level of stress – a bit of urgency added to the mix. On today’s episode, we are going to talk about managing your mental state during a job search. These are practical tips about actions you should be taking, or skills you should be focusing on during your job search. Although a good dose of positive attitude or positive self-talk may also be necessary during this time, I’m going to let other podcasts give you those. I want to give you some actionable business skills that will help you though the process.
Let me start by saying that a job search is a time that requires a high level of emotional intelligence. We talk about emotional intelligence a lot on this podcast because I believe it is a fundamental factor in success. Emotional Intelligence is defined as: the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Its always important, but even more so during a job search.
First of all, you are under a lot of stress and stress will uncover any weakness you may have when it comes to the building blocks of emotional intelligence. Second, a job search can put you in a very vulnerable spot. If you’ve just been laid off or made redundant, you may also be dealing with feelings of betrayal or grief. If you lost your job for performance reasons, you are likely dealing with confidence issues. And, if you’ve made the decision to look for a new job while still employed, you may be dealing with stress that your current manager may find out, or feeling that you may being letting your current team down. You may also lose motivation to keep working for your current job. I know that I go through a stage of disengagement from my current job once I’ve decided it is time for me to move on.
So, for many different reasons, a job search is a time of high stress, which can be really challenging for even the most emotionally intelligent. Because of this, I think it is important to have a set of skills that you remind yourself about regularly during the time of a job search.
So, let’s dig in. Here are some tools that can help you maintain your mindset during a job search:
Set Appropriate Expectations
Every employee of the hiring company has an edge on you because a company is likely to fill a position with an internal candidate if they can. An internal candidate who is a known quantity, even if they don’t have the exact experience is hard for any hiring manager to pass up. Another thing you have working against you is networks. Any candidate who has a connection at the hiring company has an edge over you. You recognize both of these things are true when you look at it from the company’s side. As an employee, you would expect your employer to give an internal candidate or a candidate referred from an employee preferential treatment over someone off the street that nobody has any experience with. But, when you are that candidate, you don’t think about it that way. You look at the job description and your skills, identify a match and figure ‘why wouldn’t they hire me?”
Think about what you need to do to keep you mindset from letting the rejection turn into an excuse for inaction. When you get a rejection, what are you going to tell yourself about it? Thinking about this before you need it will help you separate the head from the heart when the time comes. For example, one of the things I tell myself is, “they must have had a referral from an employee that was a good fit.” Do I know it is true? No. But, it is not only possible, it is likely and if it is true, there is nothing I could have done differently that would have gotten me the job.
Look at it from the Hiring Manager’s Perspective
People with high emotional intelligence have the ability to see things from several perspectives. This skill is important when looking for a job because if you can see the job from the perspective of the hiring manager, you may be better able to position yourself for the job.
First, keep in mind that hiring is, for most managers, a painful activity that requires a lot of their time during what is usually a stressful time for them. They’ve likely just had someone vacate the role unexpectedly, they are having to pull double duty while they fill the role – or someone on their team is having to fill in. They want to get the role filled as quickly as possible, but at most companies, the process for getting jobs posted and candidates identified is usually frustrating. Interviewing takes a lot of time out of your day job. They need to find the right candidate because everyone they hire ultimately reflects on them.
So, when you are preparing for the interview, think about these things. Bring empathy to the conversation. Think about how you can make the process as painless as possible for the hiring manager. Think about how you would feel under the stress and realize that they are likely coming to your interaction in something less than the best version of themselves. Where possible, become someone who is helping them solve a problem.
I fully believe that an interview is as much about you ensuring that the job and company is right for you as it is about the company figuring out if you are right for them. Too many people approach an interview as if they are the commodity in the equation.
Of course, there are times where your situation or the economic situation dictates that you can’t be very picky when it comes to your next job. Sometimes a paycheck is more important than a job that is going to fulfill you. I get that, and recognize that you don’t always have the luxury of putting yourself on equal footing with the hiring manager.
But, when you are not in that situation, you need to remember that it is just as important for you to be interviewing the hiring manager as it is for them to be interviewing you. Of course you are selling yourself – your skills, your assets, your ability to get the job done. But, this isn’t a on-way street. If you are going to work for and with the people you are interviewing with, you need to be assessing them as well.
Activate Your Network
Lots of jobs get filled because of referrals. Your network is going to be critical during your job search. You are going to need to set aside time to reach out to people in your network and let them know that you are looking and what you are looking for.
I also find it helps to remind them that they may know someone in their network who has a position to fill. By reminding them of this, you are not only activating your network, you are activating their network. For example, you may be in finance. Someone in your network may be in education. It would seem like they couldn’t help you because they are in such an unrelated field. But, what if their next door neighbor is the head of Accounts Payable at a local company? You just never know what connections people might make. But, I find that you have to trigger people to think about their network. Just to tell your friend in education you are looking for a job isn’t enough. He may think ‘that’s nice, but my school isn’t currently hiring for any finance roles.” But, tell him that you are looking and though he might have someone in his network that is looking to fill a finance role and he’ll think of his next door neighbor, and bring it up on Saturday when they are both out mowing the lawn.
The other thing you need to remember about your network is that you are not the center of their lives. They may remember you are looking for a week or two, but eventually, they will forget. They’ve gotten on with life and the fact that your job search is a really big deal for you doesn’t mean it is top of mind for them. If your job search goes on for a while, your mindset can start to take a turn toward the negative and you can start to feel like your network has let you down. In order to keep your mindset positive, remember that you may need to remind people that you are looking. Don’t be a pest about it – but, just because they didn’t know about anything at the time you originally reached out doesn’t mean they won’t know about something now.
If you want to be recognized as an employee who positively contributes to your organization, one of the things you need to understand about your company is the basic financial metrics that drive it. But, that is only one reason to familiarize yourself with the finances.
By understanding the financial metrics that drive your company, you will have better insight into the reason decisions get made the way they do and potentially even be better able to look into the future and anticipate change that may be coming.
To some extent a company’s culture is driven by the finances that underlay the business. For example, does your company make its revenue by selling something that is relatively low priced to many, many people? Or, does your company sell something relatively high priced and rely on only a few sales per year?
In the first case, you have something like Walmart. Millions of small transactions per year to millions of different customers each year. Compare that to something like an architecture firm that specializes in building airports. High price tag, and I imagine only 1 or 2 customers per year even come available.
All of the underlying decisions, strategies, and processes for these two organizations stem from how they make their revenue. So, if you want to understand your company better, you need to understand where the revenue comes from.
This applies to the cost side of your business as well. What makes up the cost structure of your business? Do you have costs associated with raw materials? How volatile are the costs of those materials? Or, are the majority of the costs related to labor? For example, software companies and professional services organizations have very little costs outside of the people who work there. If you work for an accounting firm and revenue decreases by 25%, the only real way to get savings to offset the lost of revenue is by letting people go.
The last thing I want cover in this episode is margin. Margin is defined as revenue minus costs. You can think of it as profit.
Understanding the margin that your company achieves will also help you better understand the drivers of your business. There isn’t 1 answer about what a good margin is. For example, grocery stores operate on a 1-2% margin, and that is considered good. Professional Services organizations operate on a 30% (ish) percent margin.
By understanding the level of margin, you better understand the size of the tightrope your leadership team is walking when they make financial decisions.
Investigate your company’s financials. Get familiar with the drivers of your revenue and costs. Understand the landscape that makes up the financial health of your company. Understand how it impacts you. Understand how it impacts your leadership team and the decisions they are faced with.
If you’d like to get a guide to the questions we cover in the episode, sign up for our newsletter here.
Strategy is something that is traditionally left to the C-Suite or other executives. This is a podcast for those who are early in their career or are not interested in leadership positions, so you may think that strategy isn’t important for you to understand. But – you are the CEO of your career, so you do need to understand it. And, one of the things that you should think about is whether or not your company has a strategy that will make it viable in the long run.
What I want to do in this episode is give you another criterion to consider about whether the job you have or are looking at taking in the future is a good fit for you – it is called the inflection point.
The inflection point is a point in the future where the fundamentals of the business are going to change.
Meaning, everything the current business is built on becomes obsolete and a whole new set of rules apply.
A good strategy will
You want to work for a company that gets this.
In addition, you, as an employee, should be able to recognize and accept change that may come if your company is in the middle of executing a strategy to change the fundamentals of the business. Prepare yourself for changes that may come by assessing:
We all have times when we get into a funk – something in our life isn’t where we want it to be – our job, our marriage, or community involvement. When the funk is about your job, we sometimes call it the Sunday Night Blues.
So, how do you get out of the funk? The goal is to become unstuck.
Step 1: Recognize that you are feeling stuck
Getting stuck usually happens little by little, and you don’t always recognize that you are feeling stuck.
Step 2: Focus on the objective of getting unstuck
Tell yourself that getting unstuck is possible. Say it out loud. It helps with your mindset.
Step 3: Figure out what is causing you to be stuck
You may need to dig deep. The reason may not be obvious at first.
Step 4: Take Action
Use your unconscious mind to help you solve the problem.
Don’t wait until you know the answer to start moving in the right direction.
Sign up for our free weekly newsletter to get the guide that supports this episode.
At some point in every career, we reach a point where we are good at what we do, and it doesn’t really challenge us anymore. And, at different points in your career, you may be good at certain things and still learning others.
A lot of people fall into the trap of not actively managing this process. It is important to be conscientious of where you have mastered your role and where you still have room to grow.
Understanding where you are in your overall career growth will help you plan a way forward. You can start by understanding what Todd Henry calls the aspiration gap.
Aspiration Gap: The difference between the work that you want to create and the work that you are capable of creating at this moment.
Look for an area where, if you learned a new skill, you could take your career to the next level. This will help you focus in on objectives that make sense for your career at your particular point in your career.
By thinking about where your skills, interests, and strengths can be improved to take your career to the next level, you are giving your career its own unique flavor. Nobody else is going to do your job exactly the same way you do.
Take stock of your current job and where you want to be. What can you do to move yourself toward your goal?
Our worksheet for this week contains a list of questions to help you think through this. If you’d like to receive, it, sign up for our newsletter.
It is a natural cycle to want to improve yourself. The question is—when do you reach the point where you’ve stopped learning and you need to become a freshman again?
When you are an expert—you don’t get a day off.
When you are a freshman:
· You can ask questions that an expert wouldn’t ask for fear of looking stupid
· You can take risks that would look like career suicide for an expert
· You can try things and not worry about failure— because for a freshman, it is about learning
· Use the phrase “I’m no expert here...”
· Use the phrase “Let’s try this and see if it works...”
For your current job or area of expertise:
How can you look at it with a fresh set of eyes?
What experiment can you do to see if it improves your job?
Outside of your current job:
What is something you don’t know much about that you could learn more about?
Being out of balance causes a situation where you are over-emphasizing the pros and cons of one behavior and under-emphasizing the pros and cons of another behavior.
Analytical vs. Intuitive
If you are too reliant on analysis to make decision, you can get into a state of paralysis where you don’t make decisions or move forward because you will always want more data before making a decision.
If you are too reliant on your gut to make decisions, you might make quick decisions without any facts and find that you fail more often than necessary.
Being analytical isn’t bad and being intuitive isn’t bad—as long as you have balance. The important thing is to understand what your tendency is and to learn techniques to help you balance your tendency. If you are over-analytical, learn to recognize when you’ve gotten to a point of paralysis and force yourself to make a decision. If you tend to go with your gut, set some parameters about a minimum amount of analysis that you’ll accept for yourself before making a decision.
How balanced are you? Rate yourself along these spectrums. Are there any that you need to become more balanced in?
Goals are a unique combination of:
Tactics—what do I need to do to accomplish this goal?
Aspiration— what can I accomplish if I put my mind to it?
Faith— I believe that I can accomplish this goal.
Commitment - I’m going to dedicate part of my resources to making this goal happen.
Setting goals require an ability to balance the need to be realistic while also reaching for something you aren’t quite sure how to get to – something that isn’t within your current comfort zone.
Then, once you’ve set that goal – you need to stop focusing on it. Focusing on the goal – on the end state will not propel you from here to there. Instead, you need to start to identify the steps that you are going to take to get you there. What is the next step you can take to move you toward your goal?
There are also some tools that you can use to help you keep on track:
The premise of this episode is that we are all interviewing for our job every day. The problem is that most of us don’t think about that after we get through the honeymoon period. We start off a new job and we are on our best behavior, but over time, we get comfortable in our role and don’t give much thought to the fact that every day counts.
My philosophy is that every day is an interview. This may sound like a pessimistic viewpoint, but it isn’t. I’m not coming at it from a victim’s point of view. I’m coming at it from the take-your-fate-into-your-own-hands point of view. I’m doing what is within my control to ensure that, if I lose my job, I have set myself up to be as successful as possible finding the next job.
My philosophy is made up of 4 parts:
Interviewing for my current job – adding value and establishing relationships across my company so that, when management is deciding about which people to cut, my name shows up at the bottom of the list.
Interviewing for my next job – Every person that you work with at your current job is likely to either move to a new job at another company or move to a new job within your company at some point. You want to make the kind of impression on them that, when they do make the move, they recommend you. That kind of impression happens day-by-day, week-by-week.
Keep your resume up to date – Again, if you lose your job unexpectedly, you are probably not going to be in the best frame of mind. Putting together a resume in that frame of mind is not ideal. It is also difficult to remember all of the things that you’ve accomplished that should be reflected on your resume when you haven’t updated it in a long time. Keep your resume up to date so that it is ready for you as soon as you need it.
For resources about how to do this effectively, check out these 2 episodes:
Episode 9 – Preparing for Your Annual Review
Episode 2 – Time Bound Activities
Network every day – Most jobs are found through acquaintances. By staying active with your network, you will be top of mind when someone knows about a job that needs to be filled, and they think you might be a good fit. If you get laid off unexpectedly, you don’t want to spend time warming up your network. Stay active on linked in. Make a practice of reaching out to people within your network regularly. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just say hi. You just want to remind the person that you are part of their network.
I teach people how to thrive at work. Let's connect on LinkedIn
Listen and subscribe wherever you enjoy your podcasts, including: