Looking for a new job, and developing long-term career prospects, is vastly different than it was even a few years ago – and one of the most critical driving factors is the increased reliance upon online application forms and professional social networking websites. Consider the process of applying for a job as it used to be and how it is now. It seems that the time when you would print out a resume copy and mail it to a potential employer is long gone, or is at least an infrequent occurrence, and that is mainly due to the use of electronic submissions and the potential to apply for some positions by email.
Along with these changes in the method of submitting a resume are strategies used by employers to investigate potential new hires. It is widespread now for employers to check the digital footprint of a candidate, which includes viewing all available social media profiles. While candidates should always be careful about what is posted on these public types of websites, there is one professional networking website that can be leveraged by anyone as a means of enhancing their career development or job search – and that is the use of a LinkedIn profile. The converse is true as well. If someone is actively developing their career and does not have a LinkedIn profile, or has a pattern that is poorly designed, it can result in a missed opportunity.
The Power and Potential of a LinkedIn Profile
If you do not have a LinkedIn profile now, the most crucial point to understand is that it can have much higher potential than listing all of your jobs – both previous and current. There is an overview section that allows you to provide a summary of your professional highlights, skills, accomplishments, and transferrable abilities. You can also list projects, publications, educational achievements, professional interests, and professional groups. When a profile is created, there are organized sections that are easy to review, and the parts can be arranged to suit your professional preferences. A LinkedIn profile creates a visual representation of your career, and it can establish a positive (or negative) professional image of you to potential employers.
The power of a LinkedIn profile comes from its ability to not only generate interest in you as a potential candidate; it can attract the attention of recruiters – even if you have not submitted a resume to the company they represent. It is becoming commonplace now for recruiters to search LinkedIn based upon interests and keywords, and find potential candidates to contact about open and upcoming positions. What strengthens the power and potential of the profile is that it confirms what you have listed on your resume. There is a general perception that while a person may enhance their resume, they are more likely not to do this with a publicly accessible online profile. Of course, this is not to state that a LinkedIn profile guarantees accuracy; however, it helps to promote posting up-to-date and accurate information.
Potential Pitfalls and Problems for a LinkedIn Profile
There are obvious problems that can arise with the use of a LinkedIn profile, and those issues are similar to what I see when I review existing resumes – and includes poorly written sentences and paragraphs, along with errors in spelling and grammar. Also, many resumes are written as job descriptions, and when that same approach is used to create a profile, it can be easily overlooked. This is why I take a skill set based approach to resume writing, and I recommend the same strategy be used for creating a profile, especially since this is going to influence your potential career prospects.
Other problems are related to leaving out essential sections, creating an underwhelming overview or summary, listing jobs and employment dates that do not coincide with the resume, and not considering the impact of the profile picture that has been used (or not included) when setting it up. Every professional profile should have a professional and current photo included. However, the wrong picture, or one that is inappropriate, can portray the false image and lessen the likelihood an employer will view it is a positive manner. Consider how you would present yourself to a potential employer. What clothing would you choose to wear, and would you be particular in your style of dress? The answer is most likely yes, and that is the approach you should take with a professional profile.
The Need for Professional Assistance
I have met few people that seek out assistance with their professional profile. Putting in the minimal amount of thought and effort used to be acceptable, but now it necessary to be aware of the many tools that can be used to promote yourself and help develop new career opportunities. People often turn to a resume writer when they are not receiving the results they hoped for while searching for a job. The same will eventually become true for professional profiles as people understand the power and potential these profiles hold. If you are searching for a job or thinking long-term about your career, you should find a writer who can help you develop both career tools. A professional who has writing experience can help build a resume and profile with an impact. For example, my work as an educator, career specialist, and social media strategist has allowed me to help many people with their resumes and profiles successfully.
You will also find that a well-developed profile can fulfill another new option. I have found that many online application forms can now be completed through access to your LinkedIn profile if you choose and allow that option. Not only can that save you time when working with these online forms, but it can also confirm what you have listed on your resume. The most important aspect of a professional profile to remember is that it represents you in the same manner that a resume does – potential employers can view it before you are asked for an interview. If your profile is viewed from a positive perspective, it will likely increase the possibility of your profile being considered further. A negative perception can also eliminate the possibility of being found, even if you are highly qualified. This is a reminder that the development of long-term career prospects requires utilizing all available tools and paying meticulous attention to the details and quality of everything that represents you to potential employers.