During the Q & A part of my Resume Revolution Webinar, a participant asked me how he should make his Linkedin profile applicable for multiple job types.
It can be challenging for candidates to present multiple subject matter expertises. The trickiest question is how to handle this on Linkedin and social network profiles.
Candidate D.G. asked:
“What is a technique to use on Linkedin if you are searching for or you are open to several job types”
A Linkedin profile is static and can’t be customized for a specific reader. While you can change your profile, you can only publish a single version at any one time. This presents a problem to some job seekers who are looking for more than on specific type of job.
I generally don’t recommend that candidates spread their focus to three widely different types of jobs that they could be considered for. As employers/recruiters today focus their search to interview candidates with specific skills (determining generalist skills during the interview), broadening your personal brand too much can be detrimental to a job search campaign. I’ve worked with many clients who had searched unsuccessfully for 9-12+ months because they branded themselves too broadly, listing skills relating to the many jobs they could do, rather than focusing on what they can do better than anyone else.
I find that it depends on how close the possible job are that the candidate is trying to brand themselves. For instance, if a candidate is trying to brand themselves for a sales position, marketing position, and strategy position in the same industry – this can be accomplished on the same Linkedin profile. These three types of jobs are close enough that a candidate could generalize skills to brand themselves as a fit for these three types of jobs (assuming the candidate already had this type of experience and has the industry experience).
However, a candidate who is trying to brand themselves for an accounting position, a strategy position, and a brand management job will likely find that these jobs require experience/skills that are so different that a general branding may not serve them well – making them look like a jack-of-all trades, master of none.
By it’s very nature, an effective Linkedin profile will be more general than your resume, so it can demonstrate consistency with many customized resume versions. In addition, an effective Linkedin profile is much less detailed than a resume – readers spend even less time gaining a first impression from a profile than they do from the 15 seconds they spend on your resume.
Overall, I find that the most important decision is the tradeoff a candidate must consider between subject matter expertise vs specialization. Where will the candidate gain more opportunities … by being more “findable” for a single subject expertise, or by broadening their social brand by describing skills and experience as more of a generalist?
Consider how broadening social brand effects the major purposes of a Linkedin profile for the job seeker, and which of these purposes are more important to you:
- Being findable by employers/recruiters: Specialization helps findability, while generalization reduces your ability to be found in searches. If your major goal from Linkedin is build an inbound pipeline of contacts from recruiters/employers, generalizing your profile probably won’t help.
- Pre-conversation research: When you ask new contacts to schedule conversations, coffee meetings, informational interviews, or even accept your Linkedin invitation, most will look you up on Linkedin. Doing pre-conversation research gives your new contacts an idea of who you are, what your experience has been, or how you could help their company/contacts/themselves. If pre-conversation research is your major goal on Linkedin and you’re interested in multiple types of positions, making your social brand more general might make sense.
- Pre-hire validation: Most employers today validate finalists via Linkedin and Google searches prior to making an offer. It’s critical for candidates to make sure that your profile doesn’t significantly contradict what your resume and interview communication. If pre-hire validation is your major goal, some generalization can work, but too much generalization risks giving pre-offer readers a contradictory impression of your background.
I advise my clients to be very careful about branding themselves too broadly, that broad and general branding is a candidate strategy that’s one of the biggest causes of job search frustration today. If a candidate feels they absolutely have to broaden their search to more than one type of job today, I recommend broadening to no more than two close jobs. I haven’t seen a candidate yet who can effectively describe themselves as the perfect fit for three separate jobs on the same document – it’s tough enough to describe yourself as the perfect fit for a single job, let alone three.
Readers – Look carefully at your Linkedin profile. How many job types are you trying to communicating that you’re a perfect fit to fill?-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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