Fix Your Online Profile And Get That Interview

job application

Want to lose the interest of the hiring manager you’re trying to impress? Apply to that job with a boring or incomplete profile.

“Before they even think of interviewing you, employers can find out a lot about you,” says resume guru Susan Guarneri. Regardless of industry, big and small companies alike are turning to the Internet to find the best candidate for the job.

Related: Does your resume pass the 6-second test? Get a FREE assessment.

It doesn’t matter if you’re using a stand-alone site such as LinkedIn or a Facebook plugin app like BeKnown, employers are looking for you online. “This is especially true in a smaller company with a smaller HR department,” Susan says. “It makes their job easier.”

If HR is turning to Google before calling you in for an interview, you need to make sure what you have online reflects how great you really are as a professional. The best way to do that? With a well-written, complete profile.

For example, users at LinkedIn with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities online than those with incomplete profiles.

That makes good sense: Once your profile is completed, it not only comes up in a Google search with everything an employer might want to know about you and your best polished face forward, but it lets users see you in search results.

In other words, you need to be there. This applies to stay-at-home moms going back to work “someday” and young professionals polishing their resumes alike. No matter where you are in your career, you need an online professional profile today. And there are four things your professional profile needs to be successful:

  • A career focus
  • A photograph that actually reflects your career focus
  • A catchy headline
  • A completed profile

A Career Focus

Leave those nightmares about what you want to do when you grow up at home. This is not about what you want for the rest of your life, it is about what you want next.

Related: The Military Spouse Employment Manual

Just liked your mom taught you to dress for the job you want, not the job you have, your whole professional profile is about showing your best face forward for the next job you want.

Before you start your online profile, there are things you need to identify. “You need to understand what your career focus is. What are you going after?” Susan asked.

The answer to this question is key, so don’t be shy. Dreaming about a job at Google? Wishing for a future as an oncology nurse? What would you do if there were no obstacles in your way? Would it have anything to do with what you do now, or would it be completely different?

“Remember the paradigm has changed about careers,” Susan reminded me. “Nobody expects you to get locked into a career for the rest of your life. What you need for LinkedIn is your career focus, so you’re focusing on that next job. Either 10 years from now, 15, even five. It’s just marketing you for that next job.”

So think about what really you want to do next. Your LinkedIn or BeKnown profile is going to read like a super modern, flashy cover letter for that job. This is your place to show the people you want to hire you all those wonderful things you can’t fit on a one-page cover letter. What about you makes you so perfect for that dream job?

Keep your career focus in mind while you build out your profile, and you will find that your profile is as goal-oriented, directed and impressive as your big dream is.

A Really Great Photograph

I’ll confess that for over a year, I have had a wedding portrait as my profile picture. To be fair, my husband isn’t in the photo. And to be even more fair, it is the only picture taken of just me in years in which I am not working, looking stressed out, or looking so completely ridiculous I would never want the world to see.

That picture -- one of those really wedding-y ones where I’m clearly in my white gown and it is clearly the big day -- was the best I could do on the fly.

“Not good,” Susan said. “You need to look professional.” She’s right, and so do you. So grab a friend, a camera and a decent top, because your profile needs a great shot.

“Keep in mind your driving factor is your career focus,” Susan advised. So if you’re looking for a job in sewing and design, you might want to don something you have made yourself. Looking for a job at a hospital? Your scrubs could be your best friend.

“If your career focus is to be an accountant at Fortune 500 company, you’d have a very corporate look to your headshot to look like you fit into that culture,” Susan advised.

Think about where you want to work. What do they wear to work? What do they look like? Take a minute to dress for the job you want -- and snap a good photograph of you doing so. This way, when the HR officer handling your application looks at your profile, you look just like you are ready to fit in. A picture is worth a thousand words, so make sure yours says: “Hire me.”

A Catchy Headline

Nike has “Just Do It.” Nokia has “Connecting People.” Everyone in business has a tagline, and when you are looking for a job in today’s market, that means you, too. “Your tagline needs to reflect the career focus you’re going for and also speak to your personal brand,” said Susan.

Uh-oh. I have a brand?

It turns out we all do, and our tagline is the best place to sell that brand -- the brand of you. By default, LinkedIn will list your current job title in your headline, but it is your job to change that to something that best reflects you.

Before you try to come up with the perfect headline, take a few minutes to answer the following questions. Pretend you are answering these questions on Twitter: Keep them short, sweet, and succinct.

What makes you so special?

What do you offer your next employer no one else does?

What key words highlight you or your job experience?

When you have those answers written down, start to play with them. How can you turn these things into a headline? Your headline needs to reflect your value -- how great you are and exactly why they should hire you -- and also be memorable.

If you are stumped, try looking at Susan’s headline. It is a perfect example of doing all of these things right. More examples here.

A Completed Profile

After all that, this seems like we are just stating the obvious, right? Not so much. We were guilty of glossing over the details in our profiles too ... and all the military spouses we talked to agreed they were also. The good news is that completing your profile is pretty easy and quick. So carve an hour out of your day to sit down and do the following:

Be descriptive. In accounts receivable? Front-desk reception? Find a way to make that interesting. There are parts of your job you love, and something about what you are doing right now has helped you figure out where you want to go next.

Find a way to make that catchy and interesting. Do not overlook your peripheral skills -- multimedia mastery, digital design, being a real people person. These are a great things to demonstrate in your profile.

Skip “attention to detail” and “goal-oriented” -- everyone in a job search is going to say that -- and think about the characteristics and skills you know you have that will actually help you out in that next job.

Link, link, link! Link to your former company’s or academic department’s websites whenever you can. If you have your own website you can link to, do so. The more appropriate links, the better. These make your profile three-dimensional and give real bones to the experiences you have been touting. (Just make sure you check those links before they go live. The last thing you want is a dead link.)

Be specific. When you list your responsibilities at previous jobs, do not just tick off your daily to-do list like a tired list of chores. Select and sell the skills you mastered or projects you completed that tell a future employer why you will be so good at that job you want.

Make sure that when your ideal employer is looking at your experiences, they see how you are a perfect fit for them today and not just reading a boring list of what you did yesterday.

Once you have your profile complete, a photograph that really reflects you and your goals, and a headline that sells you and your career focus, it is time to move on to how to make your profile work for you. With our guide for how to use your professional profile to get noticed and less than five minutes every week, you will soon be leveraging your military spouse status in your favor, finding contacts that will help you find jobs, and creating the kind of professional content that will impress any employer.

Related: For the latest veteran jobs postings around the country, visit the Job Search section.

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