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The LinkedIn Summary – Do You Need It?

Do you have a LinkedIn account?  If not, you should make one right now! There are 11 million Canadian users. These are both employees and employers, which makes LinkedIn one of the best places to connect with like minded professionals. It is a great place to network and share experiences and look for a job or look for an employee. The LinkedIn Professional Profile allows you to highlight the key achievements of your professional life. It's like a resume on steroids. There isn't a future employer out there who doesn't check out your LinkedIn Profile after receiving your resume. Your resume is a 2 to 3-page document to catch the employers' eye. The LinkedIn Profile, if done correctly, will move you to the interview stage.

Let's take a look at the LinkedIn Summary, it is just one small part of your Profile page, but it can pack a big punch if done right.

The LinkedIn Summary - The 2000-word Elevator Speech

Next to your picture, this is the first thing everyone sees. It's like a "Coles notes" of your professional life. You are allowed to write 2000 words - all about you. Make them count.

Start off with an upbeat opening paragraph. Be personal. Your resume is a list of dates, positions, companies and point form notes. The Summary is the story of your professional life, make it interesting. You want to let people know who you are, not just be a list of duties and responsibilities.

You have 2000 words. That's a lot of talking about yourself! 2000 words using a 10 pt font is almost 6 pages. If you are going to use all 2000 words, then make sure you make it interesting. Break it up into different paragraphs, highlight some key points or skills. Watch out for run on sentences and paragraphs and be careful about using too much "I did", “I do", “I am", specifically when starting new sentences. Yes, this summary is all about you, but there are more entertaining ways to talk about yourself than "I I I I I". After you write it go back and edit it, if there are too many I's then try to replace them with "my" or reorganize your sentence so that the I is in the middle of the sentence rather than at the beginning. This is your first impression, proofread it just like that final philosophy exam you took to get your degree.

List your Achievements. 

This is not the time to talk about your job duties and responsibilities. Talk about your achievements. Highlight your promotions, surpassing sales quotas, improving a reporting system - how did you make a difference and improved the operation of your company?

Highlight your Leadership Skills. 

Taking your valuable hands-on skills to the next level and adding in your mentoring and leadership skills show an all-around employee. Maybe your job right now doesn't give you the opportunity to do that, then add in your volunteer work. "During the past year I organized a team of 10 people to participate in the Walk for Cancer and helped raise $10,000 through different fundraising events". Coaching, Girl Guide Leader, on a Board of Directors for a Volunteer Organization - all of these show a part of your character that doesn't come across in your resume.

Don't use overused sayings in your Summary. You know what they are, if you have a craving to put in comments like: self motivated, hard working, team player, can work independently - don't. Use some of the other 1 million words in the English language.

Remember, this is a Professional Summary. Your ultimate goal on LinkedIn is to further your career, whether that is finding the next career move or finding that star employee to bring on board. When writing your summary, keep in mind who your target audience is. Is it a Recruiter, is it in a specific industry? Try and highlight times in your professional life that will promote your chances of being noticed by the right audience. You want to get back into the financial industry but haven't been working in it for a while, you can still put down "Over 5 years financial services industry experience working in .....".

Specialties. 

A successful end to your Summary is to list your specialties. This can be done as a list: Content Marketing, managing and hosting webinars, team leadership, email campaigns, building communities, Java, HTML.

LinkedIn is a wonderful way to advance your career, to increase sales, and to network. It is a professional community, use it wisely and you may get some great tips, form some lasting relationships and receive some great career advice!


Are You Using the Right People for Your References?

"Employment references are professionals who can comment on your personal character, work ethic, past work experiences and abilities to perform specific duties."

It's important to have your references prepped and ready to go as you move into the job hunting, career change stage of your life. Being given a job offer and then scampering around trying to find appropriate references and their contact information won't give a good impression to your new bosses. You don't have to hand in your references until you are asked for them which is usually at the verbal job offer stage, but they should be all ready to go.  

"Almost 60% of employers claim that they have had to withdraw an offer of employment after receiving poor references about successful applicants. " - monster.com

Who to Use for Your Professional Reference?

The first choice would always be your current supervisor. This is an easy choice if your partner has just been transferred to another city and you are relocating. A little more difficult if you are looking for a new job because you want a change, specifically of boss. Your reference doesn't have to be a "manager", it could be a more "senior" co-worker who is working with you on your current project. If your reference is from a previous position then a supervisor/manager would be the best choice.  

Start off by making a list of people you have worked with in the past and had a good relationship with. List the projects you worked on that were completed successfully and who your supervisor and co-workers were. Check out your previous performance reviews, which supervisors were complimentary towards you. If there are individuals on this list who can also relate to the new position you are applying for - great.  

Get Back in Touch

Thank goodness for LinkedIn, it has made keeping in touch with previous co-workers much easier. But finding them on LinkedIn isn't enough. You need to actually call these individuals and ask them if they remember you and if they will give you a reference. If you have lost touch, you want to reconnect and build your relationship back up.  

When you are talking to them explain the position you are applying for. Reconnect about old projects you worked on together. Give them a heads up when you get to the job offer stage, so they can be expecting the call. We all deal with telemarketers and the last thing you want is your reference thinking your potential employer is a telemarketer and hanging up on them.  

Include on your list their name, company, position and a day and night time contact number. Ask them if there is a time preference for receiving a phone call. This list should look professional, a white clean 8 x 11 piece of paper, not names on little post-its.

Prepare Your References with What Information Can Be Provided About You 

References will be called so make sure they are prepared. Large companies use reference services to do their reference checks. Companies who use Recruiters will sometimes have the recruiting company do the reference checks or the actual hiring managers will call. Either way there are only certain things they can ask in a reference check. Make sure your reference is going to give you glowing comments about the following questions:

  • Length of employment?
  • Previous job title?
  • Brief details of responsibility?
  • Overall performance?
  • Time-keeping and attendance?
  • Reason for leaving?
  • Would you re-hire this employee?
  • Keep in Touch

Follow up with your references after you start your job with a big thank you and remember to stay in touch. You never know when you may need a reference again. Or you may want to go and work for them in the future.  

Keep Your Reference List Up to Date

New references from your most current jobs, volunteer or community experience should keep getting added to your reference list with up-to-date contact information. But that doesn't mean you lose track of your older references. Network, Network, Network! You never know when you may be able to help someone from your past or they may be able to help you.