Ed Garcia, PMI Houston President
Greetings PMI Houston,
First and foremost, I hope you and your family are safe. We start this Spring season with a vibrant outlook as vaccine delivery is increasing across our area. I hear many stories of individuals having virtual meeting fatigue. Who can relate here? I am in that state as well, but we will emerge through this together.
Our Board members have set our PMI Houston 2021 strategy to strengthen our foundation and collaboration as we work through the pandemic challenges we all face. This togetherness will strengthen our growth of service, so you are empowered with the right tools for success. To ensure you are following with the latest virtual meeting and prep courses, be sure to keep on top of the calendar of events here: PMI Houston - Meetings.
As more facilities begin to open and public safety increases, we will also evaluate our gatherings for meetings and networking. For PMI Houston members, be on the lookout for more networking events. And if you are not a member, head to this location to sign up: PMI Houston - JoinPMIH. When you are ready to give back and volunteer, you can view our opportunities at this location PMI Houston - Get Involved.
President, PMI Houston
Top Tactics to Leverage Your LinkedIn Profile for Career Growth
Erin Urban, LSSBB, CPDC, PMI Houston Contributor
Only the very foolish ignore the number one online professional platform in the world. LinkedIn is expected to grow by 42% in 2021 from a staggering number of around 760 million users worldwide. It’s not shocking then, that 95% of recruiters actively use LinkedIn daily to source, vet, and contact potential job candidates. The question you should be asking yourself is, how you can leverage your LinkedIn profile for career growth!
Interestingly, I have personally been recruited through LinkedIn for multiple jobs years ago and landed two 6-figure roles via the platform. Clients I coach also achieve great results with just a few minor tweaks to their profile. I want to share the top tactics to leverage your LinkedIn profile and stand out to recruiters!
Target the Roles You Want
Whenever I work with anyone on developing their resume or online profile, I ask for examples of their target ideal roles. There is no point in focusing your content on jobs you don’t want. Even before the big boom on LinkedIn, having a clearly expressed target for your documents was critical. Nothing has changed there. If anything it is every MORE important now!
Targeting your ideal roles does several things:
It allows you to develop relevant career contributions in your profile.
You will discover what key skills and requirements are most important for the jobs you want.
A targeted profile attracts recruiters because you will rank higher in their searches.
You will be more relevant and therefore stand out to recruiters right away.
Decision-makers and hiring managers will see how you will make an impact on the job.
What I see in most profiles is either no content at all, very thin content with no target, or random content that doesn’t tell a story. Most people don’t bother to leverage the job descriptions from the roles they want to model their online profile. Tell a story with your profile! Your profile must show clear supporting content based on where you want to go, not just where you have been.
Powerful and Potent Profile Keywords
You already know that keywords are key to leveraging your LinkedIn profile. How to successfully utilize keywords to elevate your views is less understood. If you want to attract the right recruiters for the right jobs, having the correct keywords (and skills) in your LinkedIn profile is essential.
Even if you aren’t looking for other opportunities, it doesn’t hurt to have an easily searchable profile that clearly communicates your expertise. The good news is, by using your ideal roles you can determine what keywords and skills matter most.
There are three main focus areas that must include keywords that are pertinent to your industry or profession: your About, Experience, and Skills & Endorsements section. Endorsements alone have very little impact on your profile rankings or your candidacy for a job. It is, however, important to have the relevant skills listed.
You can also add relevant keywords in any of the additional sections available for your LinkedIn profile. Additional sections include Projects, Volunteer work, Publications, Course Work, etc. If you worked on projects, you can include a short synopsis of the project with associated keywords. If you’ve done Volunteer work – you can add a short description with keywords there as well.
Feel free to add the same keywords in multiple areas as appropriate. Having skills and expertise listed in your About section, under the applicable job Experience as well as under your Skills section will only help you. It is also useful to note that your Headline is the highest-ranking keyword area according to LinkedIn’s algorithm.
Your Headline Tells a Story
Most LinkedIn profile headlines typically express someone’s current job title. That is just fine if that is the only thing you want to say about yourself. Don’t lose the opportunity to articulate your personal brand, what you are known for, or what you can do for a potential employer. An accomplished career transition is about marketing and branding yourself. You are SELLING your expertise and skills!
Answer these questions: “Why would someone want to talk to you?” What makes you different, unique or what special skills do you have? What do you want the hiring manager to know about you that is relevant to your target jobs? What outcomes or impact can you deliver?
Your answers become your headline and branding statement. Don’t forget your certifications in your headline as appropriate. However, if you have half a dozen certifications, only pick a few of your top credentials for the headline. You don’t want to lose people in a sea of acronyms.
Branding Statement LinkedIn Headline Examples:
“Leader in Operational Excellence | LSSBB | Proven Successful Change Agent”
“Top Performer in Growing Market Share | Expert in Client Relationship Development”
“Leading IT Healthcare Innovations | Telehealth and Digital Health Expert”
“Expert Relocation Specialist | Top Producing Realtor | CHMS | ABR”
On the flip side, I have seen some individuals use headlines to their detriment. Please stay away from political statements or anything that might not send the right message to the reader. Edgy and controversial isn’t the best way to market yourself on a professional platform.
Make a Great First Impression
Once you have attracted views to your profile, you want to make a great impression immediately. Your profile photo is the most important top tactic to leverage your LinkedIn profile and increase the chances that a viewer will want to read more. Not having a profile photo, having an unprofessional photo, or looking unapproachable are all common mistakes guaranteed to turn people away.
Be Relevant. Your profile picture must be relevant to your target position or industry. For example, if you want to be a crane operator don’t wear a suit. A tie isn’t necessary for every position. A phone camera savvy friend can take a decent picture of you for LinkedIn. However, if you are going for an executive role, spend the money and have a professional photo taken.
Stick to Nature. Take a photo in front of greenery, in an aesthetically appealing surrounding or background. Greenery, for example, sends a subconscious message that you are open to change, flexible, potentially innovative, and interested in growth. Pay attention to your background and make sure it doesn’t detract from your smiling face. Lines, busy patterns, or clutter behind you is distracting to the viewer.
Be Current. Choose a profile photo from the last several years. Unless you are basically unchanged from previous years (some people age well), do not post the photo from 20 years ago. Be professionally yourself. Don’t make your future hiring manager guess who you are when you show up for the interview.
Your About section is your professional introduction and another top tactic to leverage your LinkedIn profile to encourage connections and messages for new opportunities. Your Headline is your billboard and your About section is your elevator pitch. Fair warning: if you are currently employed, you don’t want to be too ‘salesy’.
The About section is an opportunity to introduce yourself and your brand by articulating your highlight career contributions, skills, and expertise based on your target career path. A compelling LinkedIn headline followed by a clear statement about your unique capabilities is the key to receiving more connections for the roles you want.
When creating your about section, I recommend the Goldilocks Principle: “Not too long and not too short”.
Stick to the point. Attention spans are nanoseconds long. Your resume will only get 3-5 seconds. What makes you think that your Profile is destined for a long read? No more than three short paragraphs of content is plenty.
Don’t add fluff. HR Specialists and recruiters would be millionaires if they could get a dollar for every time they saw the word ‘detail-oriented’. Please don’t use fluff words or boast unnecessarily. “Awesome performers” or “superstars” do not get bonus LinkedIn profile points. Stick to the facts and be brief.
List your expertise. Outline your professional skills below your Summary statement separated by commas, dashes, vertical slashes, or similar. Make sure you insert a space between the symbol and your keywords (except commas) so algorithms can recognize the word.
Top Tactics to Leverage Your LinkedIn Profile
For those serious about career growth and leveraging their LinkedIn profile to get new opportunities, you don’t want to lurk on LinkedIn or ‘build it and ignore it’. Ranking high in search results matters if you want to get noticed by recruiters.
Be Active on LinkedIn. LinkedIn rewards people who actually use the platform. Post, comment, and share content. Do more than just ‘like’ a post. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and share great information with other professionals.
Connect to People. LinkedIn is a networking platform so use it! Search for and connect with professionals in your career growth target that will help you achieve your goals or make other great connections. You will be surprised how easy it actually is to expand your network.
Be Open to Work. Use the #opentowork feature that kicked off in the Spring of 2020 to rank even higher in recruiter searches. If you are currently employed, select ‘recruiters only’ to avoid tipping off your company that you are seeking. You can choose up to 5 locations and 5 job titles to show up in more searches.
Take your profile from “So what?” to “Let’s call them!” by following these simple techniques. Don’t underestimate the power of your professional LinkedIn profile. Using these top tactics to leverage your LinkedIn profile could make the difference between you getting an opportunity to shine or getting passed by.
Project Management Toastmasters Clubs
Tips and Discussions from Harold Eaton, PMI Houston Contributor
"Those who tell the stories rule the world” – Native American Proverb
From Toastmaster International's "90 Tips From 90 Years"
62. Limit caffeine. Too much caffeine can make you shaky during your speech. Try to limit your caffeine intake the day of and night before your speaking engagement.
Learning to Evaluate Everybody
Toastmasters believe the best way to improve at anything is to “practice with feedback”. The feedback part of the Toastmasters Loop comes from the evaluations received on the prepared speeches. Another factor that comes into play is “learning by teaching”, which comes from doing the evaluations. Anyone who has taught can tell you that one of the best ways to learn anything is to teach it to someone else. Once we have identified what works for others, we are far more likely to put it into practice for ourselves.
Micro Business, Macro Results
Regardless of the size of your business, few things matter like communication. You may want to polish your skills in the following areas:
- For many, the challenge is to listen to hear, not just to respond (Active listening makes others feel valued, reduces mistakes, and produces better feedback to the speaker.
- Stephen Covey listed habit 5 of his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” as “Seek First to Understand, Then To Be Understood”. There was a reason for this.
- When you present facts and figures, what is often missing is emotion. To connect, you need to tell your story in a compelling, memorable way. Grabbing the listener's attention, gets the audience excited about what you have to offer.
- A business presentation needs to be well defined, organized, and structured, but most importantly it must focus on the interests of the audience, or it is pointless at best.
- Appealing to your audience’s interests is the best way to convince the client.
- For a small business owner to get the most out of Toastmasters, they may want to:
- Join a club focused on small business owners
- Make use of club speeches to practice, rehearse & refine your presentation skills
- Focus on your weaknesses. Find roles that help you work on and polish your skills.
- Networking is invaluable, the more folks you engage with the more contacts you develop
- Gain visibility by joining a local speaker’s bureau to demonstrate your expertise
Creating Connections and Reconnecting
Many can identify with the following observation. “When you share life stories and encouraging remarks with others . . . , the people in the clubs are not just members, they are extended family”. (Angie Palmer, DTM)
“Learning to Evaluate Everybody” Excerpted from the March 2021 Toastmasters Magazine article by Megan Preston Meyer
“Micro Business, Macro Results” Excerpted from the March 2021 Toastmasters Magazine article by Lynne Strang, DTM
You can learn more about telling your stories at a Project Management Toastmasters Club! Project Management Toastmasters clubs are open to all, but members are predominately professional project managers. Houston Area Project Management Toastmasters Clubs are sponsored by PMI Houston and aligned with the goals of PMI International. Certified PMPs receive Professional Development Units (PDUs) for participation.
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