Monday, January 23, 2012

Focusing Your LinkedIn Profile for Multiple Careers, Interests, and Job Hunting

Dealing with LinkedIn Multiple Personalities

Four Solutions

Life is complicated and so are people and careers. You can argue that it was simpler when one worked for one company all week for 40 years and then retired at 65. You got a gold watch and a pension. Life was good. (Maybe.)

Today, when the social contract between workers and employers has been shredded, stomped-on and burned to ashes, when pensions are replaced by 401(k)’s (or 403(b)’s) or retirement plans just don’t exist, and when most employees stay with an employer for 2 to 3 years and when most employers are looking for temps and part-time workers, things ARE more complicated. As a result, many people now like to advertise their multiple careers, career changes, hobbies turned businesses, consulting gigs, blogs, freelance work and, when necessary, they may be looking for multiple jobs. (This doesn’t even touch on those of us with multiple personality disorder.)

But LinkedIn, bless their networked hearts, insists in their User Agreement, that you can have one profile and one profile only. And this is one of the rules that they actually enforce!

Very recently, Viveka von Rosen, CEO of Linked Into Business, and known on Twitter by the handle @LinkedInExpert wrote a great blog post on the subject, “7 Ways to Deal with Multiple Businesses on LinkedIn.” (Yes, you should read it!)

Viveka also hosted a session of #LinkedInChat (on 1/17/2012) where the same issue was the main part of the discussion.

So how do people balancing multiple careers, new careers, encore careers, consulting businesses, flea market sales, dog sitting sidelines, freelancers and job hunters all fit everything into a single profile?

(This is entirely separate from the issue of people who, intentionally or by accident, set up more than one profile. Almost any day of the year, there’s somebody asking the question, “How can I consolidate two – or more – profiles into one. We’ll have to deal with that in a different blog post.)

Viveka herself brought up Solution No. 1: Focus on one thing at a time. Focus intensely on what you want to accomplish in the next six months: whether it’s your career, your freelance work, your consulting, or you job hunt. Then adjust your profile accordingly.

Some of things you may want to do:
  • Make sure your headline reflects your choice (use your 120 characters well). You don’t have to list everything. Focus. 
  • Your Summary should use your keywords for search purposes. You have 2000 characters here, so edit carefully. 
  • Your Experience section (that stuff “below the fold” in your profile, if you know the newspaper reference), no longer has to be listed chronologically. So move up the sections that emphasize the things you are focusing on (a specific career, service, job search target). 
  • Make sure your search terms (or SEO terms) reflect your focus. 
  • Use recommendations that match that focus. (You can hide and show specific recommendations.) 
  • Your LinkedIn profile does not have to be a complete résumé, nor does it have to reflect your entire life. 
  • Use the new Skills section to add skills – which are actually keywords people can use to find you. 
  • As Viveka says, “Use your LinkedIn Real estate!” The character counts for different sections: “Summary 2000, Specialties 500, Interests 750, Contact Me 2000.” 
  • If you have Honors and Awards, there are new sections for that. If you have volunteer experience, add that, too. 
  • If you are fluent in more than one language, you can have your profile in more than one language, too.
So if you like to train Labrador Retrievers but need to focus on finding a job as a COO, focus on the chief operating officer job search for now and retrieve the Retrievers later.

Solution No. 2

List your different careers / personalities and describe them concisely. If your different careers are somewhat related, this might be easier. For example, this might be a better solution if you are an off-Broadway actor at night and a voice-over artist by day. They are different careers, but one complements the other.
  • Match your history to the different careers. Group related job experiences together. They do not need to be chronological. 
  • Use keywords for both. 
  • Use add-on tools to showcase both, either individually or together

For example, use Presentations to explain your different careers, interests, history. is great for sharing work samples from within your profile. You have places for links to Twitter and three other links to blogs, online résumés, and other social media.

Solution No. 3

Use different social media for different fields.
  • Use LinkedIn for your “professional” focus. 
  • Use Facebook or Google+ personal pages (or business pages) for your alternate careers or interests, say for your Flea Market Antiques sideline. 
  • Create a business web page for your individualized greeting card line and Facebook for your professional oboe career (to use a real example). 
  • Use links to your different online sites to refer people to your other interests.

There is a danger here in fragmenting your social media exposure. If you want to create a unified SM appearance, this would not be the best choice.

Solution No. 4 for Job Hunters

Job hunters may need to be especially creative and careful, especially if you are looking for more than one type of job opening. Say you are doing freelance work and consulting while you are also looking for a full-time job in a similar or non-related career. Plus you are doing volunteer work and networking to find jobs and clients.

A full-time employer doesn’t want to hire you just for a full-time 40-hour-a-week job anymore. They want to pay you for 40 hours and expect you to be available for phone calls, “paper” work, and online telecommuting for another 20 to 30 hours a week. So, if they know you’ll be working every weekend at flea markets, or training dogs, or playing jazz gigs at night, they might not consider you a good prospect for their job. This may not be fair, but if you encounter this, then you should reconsider using Solution No. 1 above.

But even employers know life is complicated. Use your experience in multiple careers to show your ability to meet deadlines, juggle multiple tasks, and prioritize your schedule.

For example, my previous career as an orchestral bassoonist might not seem to have a lot of relevancy with a new career in nonprofit fundraising. Yet, I can discuss the fact that my musical career involved in long periods of self-directed reed making and practice followed by rehearsals taking minutely-detailed supervision under conductor/supervisors while working smoothly with a large team of co-workers. All this while intensely focused on meeting serious deadlines. (You can’t stand up in front of an audience and say, “Sorry, I didn’t get to practice as much as I wanted this week, but if you come back on Monday night, I can give you a highly polished performance.”)

Consider not posting résumés on your LinkedIn profile (with the Box application, or with
links to your online résumés). Instead, create a Marketing Statement, which might look similar to a résumé, but features a list of your 50 top employer prospects. (This might be a good place to use a task-based résumé format instead of a chronological format, too.)

Use this marketing statement to:
  • Get recommendations for contacts in these specific companies.
  • Get introductions to leaders in that field. 
  • Find other smaller/larger/regional employers who would complement your list, to expand your job search. 
  • Find similar employers in alternate geographic locations.
You can create marketing statements for more than one job area. For example, if you are an accountant with experience in corporate taxes and also serve on nonprofit boards – you could have one marketing statement (and list of target companies) for a tax accounting position, and another for a non-profit chief accounting position with experience in filling out IRS 990 forms.

So, when life is complicated, use that varied experience creatively to stand out from other job hunters, freelancers, consultants, gurus and workers on LinkedIn and elsewhere.

Tags: LinkedIn, profiles, job hunting, hiring, life