Have you ever sat and wondered why some people have all the luck in their career? How they seem to stumble across the best opportunities and always seem to be moving up? There’s no doubt at all that hard work is extremely important, but sometimes candidates may be holding themselves back without even realizing it.
Often times in our lives, it’s the most obvious and simple fixes that can make all the difference, and the same holds true for our career progression. I can’t promise that every single one of these strategies will be a 5 minute fix, or that any of them will be a “magic pill” which will automatically land you your dream job. However, these are some of the quickest and most effective means by which to separate yourself from the millions of other job seekers on the market, and may be the little bit extra you need to take your job search to the next level.
1. Completely Fill Out Your LinkedIn Profile
Almost every day I as I’m searching through candidate profiles on LinkedIn, I inevitably find myself asking the same question: Would you hand a hiring manager at a company a resume which only lists your job titles, and has no descriptions of your experience within those roles?
Your answer to that question had better be “absolutely not!”. So, given that LinkedIn is such an important resource for job seekers, hiring managers, and general relationship-building in business, why would you give an incomplete and inadequate representation of yourself on such a critical platform?
It’s truly surprising how many members of the LinkedIn community have nothing but their job titles filled out. This includes extraordinarily well-qualified career superstars who could really be passing up some fantastic opportunities. Some people inevitably might say “Ben, I’m not looking for a job right now; I’m perfectly happy where I’m at!”, but you really never know when your next big career jump is around the corner, even if you can’t imagine what that might be at the moment. Don’t you owe it to yourself to at least be aware of something which could benefit you tremendously?
There are a few reasons why it’s so important to fill out your job description details and other LinkedIn profile pieces. The first and most relevant to the recruiting process, is that we recruiters use keyword searches on LinkedIn to find candidates which match the desires of our client hiring managers. We look for specific skills, such as “marketing automation” or “regression testing” to find the exact candidates which could be a match for the role. Chances are, there are literally tens of thousands of candidates with your job title in a large metropolitan area, and if you don’t have these keywords in the detail section of your role, you’re virtually invisible to recruiters. It would be physically impossible for us to review every single profile, even if we wanted to.
The next reason is a little more obvious: If someone comes across your profile organically, such as through your network, don’t you want them to know what your qualifications are? You worked really hard to learn all of these skills, so why let them go unmentioned? What kind of impression do you think it gives people when they see you weren’t even willing to put your best foot forward and copy/paste your job details from your document resume into the little box? Come on now folks, this one is a slam dunk.
There’s a saying in business that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”, and this certainly holds true in many cases for hiring managers who are looking for the best and brightest candidates who stand out from the crowd performance-wise.
In my experience, it always makes an extraordinarily good impression on hiring managers to describe actual positive metrics you were responsible for in your position. The whole idea here is going from general to specific, in a way that lets them know you’re not afraid to get into the nitty gritty about what benefit you provided to your previous employer.
Good examples of these could be as follows: In marketing, describing the revenue you were responsible for generating, the ROI percentage you managed on campaigns, click through percentages on banner ads, etc. Even better are numbers that describe an improvement over a period of time, for example “15.3 % improvement in ROI in 3 months”. For a sales person, it’s always very important to discuss your percentage to quota, and/or the revenue you generated during the time you held the position. If you’re early in your sales career, it could also be very helpful to mention the number of calls or activity points you’re responsible for per day.
Of course, there are a fair number of professions where these numbers are not going to be quite as important, especially within the creative realm such as graphic design or copywriting. However, if there is any way you can introduce numbers into your resume, take any chance you can get. This may come down to mentioning the size of viewership for websites or publications in which your work was published. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
3. Stuff Those Keywords
I mentioned above that recruiters use keyword-based searches to find the right candidates, and this not only applies to LinkedIn but also to other sites like Indeed, as well as staffing agencies’ internal Applicant Tracking Systems such as Zoho.
That being said, it’s extremely important to include the key terms which describe your skill set and experience. As a candidate, you want to give recruiters every possible means by which to find you, and that can take some creative thinking in the way you write your job details as well as other sections of your resume. A key strategy to remember: Ask yourself how a recruiter might search for your specific skill. What terms would they use?
It’s important to list all software you’re familiar with, coding languages you’re fluent in, data analysis techniques you know, etc. Be sure to name the strategies you’re using as well as the software or other tools you use to do your job. Here’s an example which incorporates my previous point about metrics: Planned and executed data-driven retargeting display advertising campaigns using DoubleClick, achieving an average of 2.2% CTR and 12% ROI on $50,000 monthly budget.
Notice that I mentioned the exact type of work that was done, the exact name of the tool which was used, and a tangible measurement of the results and budget metrics.
4. Get A Better Picture
Ladies and gentlemen, I beg of you: Please remove that cropped nightclub picture from your LinkedIn profile. Do you absolutely need to be in a suit and tie, standing in front of an architectural masterpiece, to make the best possible impression? In some career fields this is certainly a good idea, but in the majority of cases absolutely not!
I’m not saying a cropped picture is necessarily a bad idea, but when the background of your picture clearly shows a bar or social venue, it might not cast the best impression. The whole idea here is to capitalize on as many opportunities as possible from this wonderful platform. Why do anything which could ruin that crucial first impression on the next person who could open an important door for you? Remember: This is not Facebook, this is not your social life, this is your career. Put your best foot forward, you never know who you’re going to meet next!