LinkedIn's Experience Section Has a New Look! Multiple Job Titles at the Same Company!

At 3:12 p.m. today, August 2, 2018, I popped by my LinkedIn profile and nearly spilled my iced tea all over my keyboard.

Behold!

Forgive my pitiful highlighting and drawing skills. This is BIG NEWS! At last! 

Forgive my pitiful highlighting and drawing skills. This is BIG NEWS! At last! 

I haven't taken time to investigate, just a moment to grab a screenshot of my Experience Section so folks can see now what it is I'm rejoicing about. This feature has been years ... years ... YEARS in the making and I'm so geeked I could jump from the rafters. (Except it's too hot. And I don't have rafters.)

Could it be that the workarounds my clients and I have endured for eons are a thing of the past?

To understand my joy, let's rewind to 2012.

In early-2012 (or was it late-2011?), LinkedIn approached me saying I was on their short-list of people to interview about things they could do to make LinkedIn a better user experience.

Not sure how I got on that list, but I surely had a long list of features, and indeed, the one-hour interview with two developers and a consultant (perhaps a mildly interesting TV sitcom title) turned into a three-hour pseudo-career advising session. All three wrote furiously in their notebooks, but their questions and their scribbles seemed more in response to career development concepts than feature improvements. 

Anyway, one of the most important improvements I saw for "a new LinkedIn experience" was the LinkedIn user's ability to tuck multiple job titles under the same company entry. As it stood, the company name field and job title field were a one-to-one experience, which mean creating a completely new company entry for every job title.

Subpar experience, particularly because doing so created the at-a-glance impression that the profile owner was a job hopper. A kiss-of-death term concept in recruiting that has only recently begun to be more acceptable as the gig economy rushes toward us. 

Indeed, most of my clients hold more than one job title at the same company, with a few outliers having held as many as 16 job titles at the same company over 15-20 years! 

When LinkedIn released its bold new UI in late-2012, we finally got to include ... wah-waaah ... corporate logos. Which kind of inched the needle toward a better sense of at-a-glance career cohesion, but still looked a trifling mess when you listed every last job in a row.

It had the impression that these fresh-faced developers hadn't been in the workforce long enough to realize the complexities around staying at a company for more than a minute. 

I'll admit I was kind of delighted that a "Projects Section" had been included. An idea that wasn't executed how I'd envisioned it, but I kind of loved it anyway and still use that section to highlight some of my speaking and training engagements.

Enough history. Let's celebrate the moment.

Also, it has taken me far too long to write this blog post. So enough blathering about the backstory. Let's all move into everything this could mean to tidying up our LinkedIn profiles and truly demonstrating our stories as they truly happened. 

I'll be letting my clients know about the good news, and working with incoming clients to tinker with the new feature. 

Anyone have experience with LinkedIn's new Experience Section? More than a fabulous look, it's an important way to demonstrate career stability and value. 

Now let's see if LinkedIn will finally fold into a future release the other 2.75 hours of suggestions I gave them! #notholdingmybreath #thankyoulinkedin #atyourmercy #themoreyouknow 

If You're Passionate About Concise Writing, Add This Word Flip to Your Bag of Tricks

One of my biggest challenges as a résumé writer is word economy. 

Working mostly with executives and senior professionals, I struggle to tell a 20-30 year story on 2-3 pages. And that's with half of the first page dedicated to a person's 10,000-foot professional brand.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that I could consistently draw on a simple trick to save space.

In short, any time you run into the word "of," see if you can flip the words on either side of "of" while keeping the original meaning intact.

It won't always work, as you'll see below, but it's worth considering every time you see the word "of" in your writing.

Photo by  Quino Al  on  Unsplash

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

Examples that work:

SOLID: Economy of words
BETTER: Word economy

SOLID: Development of a new category
BETTER: New category development

SOLID: Managed an organization of 430 people
BETTER: Managed a 430-person organization

SOLID: Cash flow analysis of our clients
BETTER: Clients' cash flow analysis

SOLID: Levels of responsibility and reporting
BETTER: Responsibility and reporting levels

SOLID: Multiple rounds of layoffs
BETTER: Multiple layoff rounds

SOLID: Acquisition of U.S. Bank & Trust
BETTER: U.S. Bank & Trust acquisition

Examples that don't work:

YES: United States of America
NO: American United States

YES: Library of Congress
NO: Congress Library

YES: Economy of scale
NO: Scale economy

Funny aside:

As I noodled on a title for this post, I thought about flipping the last part. This means "Add This to Your Bag of Tricks" would become "Add This to Your Trick Bag." 

Alas, that's another example of a flip that doesn't quite work.

Tighter sentences for everyone! P.S. Where else but this post could I have used a picture of a jet ski mid-flip? 

Should You Call Yourself a "Thought Leader" on LinkedIn?

Imagine that Miss USA had a LinkedIn profile. Now imagine that somewhere in that profile she included the phrase, "I’m beautiful." Why? Because she believed it was a keyword or phrase by which others would find a beauty queen.

Now imagine that the late Steve Jobs had a LinkedIn profile, and somewhere in his profile he said, "I'm an innovator." Why? Because he had a hunch that someone might enter “innovator” into LinkedIn’s Advanced Search tool to find someone like him.

Do either of the above scenarios sound right? 

These people simply are those things, and to say so—out loud or in writing—might leave the reader to conclude that person's arrogance or question their professional judgement. The reader might even rightfully question the claim’s veracity.

I even raise an eyebrow when someone in finance makes a point of saying they are ethical. Really? The fact that one is explicitly stating such a hopefully obvious point makes me question its truth. Especially if one is a CFA or a CPA or has a FINRA license. The notion of ethics is embedded in the very make up of those designations.

I mention it because a phrase my clients frequently want layered into their stories has increasingly become some form of:"I am a thought leader."

When clients ask me about its inclusion, I share with them the examples above and then we decide how we can "show" instead of "tell" the reader that they are thought leaders.

The challenges with explicitly saying you are a thought leader:

  • If you have to say it, then you probably aren't. (It's never too late to start.)
  • If you say it, you might come across in a way that contradicts your carefully curated brand.
  • If you say it, you may one day have to defend the claim.

Ways to frame thought leadership when you are a thought leader:

  • Through another lens. For instance, you can discuss your team's thought leadership, which then shines favorably back onto you.
  • Through the eyes of others. Ask others to explicitly use/discuss/mention the phrase in a LinkedIn Recommendation. Only if you are truly a thought leader, of course. No need to make your friend squirm. (This LinkedIn post will help them with the task of writing your LinkedIn Recommendation.)
  • Through various LinkedIn profile sections. LinkedIn offers a way to present yourself as a thought leader via  "Publications," "Projects," "Patents," and other credibility-confirming sections.

More showing. Less telling.

Why the Writing Process is a Great Tool for Decision-making

A CTO client of mine recently referenced another writer with whom he was working on a twenty-page RFP. 

"Of course I have to rewrite about half of it, like always," he lamented. My client is a good writer himself, so my immediate reaction was, "Oh, that other writer must suck. Too bad for them." 

Then I took a beat and realized the odds were high that if my client—a leader in a well-respected company—was hiring a writer, the other writer was likely vetted. And hence, a good writer. 

Whether my client realized it, he wasn't referring to grammar, punctuation, and order; rather his remarks pointed to the tough decisions inherent to arranging words on a page. 

Taking and explaining a position so others will join your vision ... be convinced ... believe in you ... is hard work, and seeing words come back "wrong" is often the very exercise needed to make corrections so you can get the message right.  

Words spoken slip by like vapor. They can range from hyperbolic to self-conscious, and during conversation a listener can roll their eyes, stop listening, or ignore what is said. The listener can even unwittingly embrace words that seem substantial but aren't. 

But words written—at least with lasting authority—must be defensible and balanced. 

That's what I mean when I tell people that I view the writing process as a tool for professional discovery. Not to mention a tool for interview or public speaking prep. Writing can even help resolve internal questions or conflicts around career choices.  

When you're forced to answer questions under the bright light of reality, you face yourself warts and all. Ninety eight percent of the people with whom I've worked over the years have had self-confronting, a-ha moments on the road to presenting clear and coherent stories.

Perhaps that's why some later report that the writing process was like therapy. The work isn't based on therapeutic principles and I'm not a therapist. But the work required to get clarity seems to force the subject (client) to confront themselves in a clearer way than talking along. Writing is decision-making, forward-facing self-reflection, and "deciding what one stands for" all at once. 

If you write for, or on behalf of, others, embrace this tricky space. Don't take offense when your subject doesn't instantly love your work. Be ready to guide them through your reasoning, or better yet, include them in the entire process. It's their story, after all, and they will someday need to defend it. If you find that you need to improve as a writer, push yourself to grow. Using the writing process as a tool for decision-making inherently sets us up to be both teacher and student. 

If you're working with a writer, get comfortable with the ambiguity and uncertainty that accompanies good, clear, and unobscured writing. Every decision along the way—major or minor—is essential to turning your word soup story into a clearly-branded message. 

Want to Live Long and Prosper? Ten Tips

screenshot from uscf.edu/news

screenshot from uscf.edu/news

This is a don't miss post from UCSF if you're interested in living long.

And happily!

On Monday, a dear friend and I spent five hours chatting at a Fremont Panera about our respective businesses 

It's an every-six-weeks-or-so habit we established nearly a decade agoalternating visits between San Francisco and Fremont, California.

She mentioned Dr. Ephraim Engleman, a 104-year-old rheumatologist, recently passed, who a few years ago recorded a video sharing his "secrets of longevity." I followed the link she sent and it's worthy of a gander if you hope to live long and prosper. And you appreciate centenarian wisdom and wry humor!

For those who don't care to watch the video, here's a distillation. My commentary is in italics.

  1. Select parents with the proper genes. (Where's my wincing emoji when I need it?)
  2. Choose the right spouse. Having children is optional.
  3. Enjoy your work, but don't retire voluntarily.
  4. Exercise is overrated, do a little but not too much. (Can't agree, but I haven't lived to 104 either! On second thought, maybe I fall into the "a little" camp....)
  5. Avoid diets, vitamins, organic foods, fish oils, and other so-called nutrients. Don't weigh yourself. (Guilty. Entirely. Again with the "not agreeing," but zero personal proof)
  6. Keep your mind active. Poker, checkers, music, crossword puzzles.
  7. Avoid travel by air. (Okay, he's definitely a comedian.)
  8. Do not fall.
  9. Avoid illnesses like heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and arthritis.
  10. Be happy, lucky, keep young, and keep breathing. 

For everyone else, the video is below. A stirring tribute to his humor and 104-year-earned wisdom.

Meanwhile, UCSF's post from September has delightful photos of Dr. Engleman's early years at Stanford and his wedding day, among others. 

I can't help thinking about Dr. Engleman would have big ol' chuckle at The Atlantic's mid-life slump article I highlighted in November.

Ah, life. 

 

The MBA: Overrated?

A July 2015 BusinessInsider.com article recycled through my Twitter feed last week, and I almost didn't catch it, but I'm glad I did. 

I work with MBAs all the time. Newly minted. Mid-career. Senior MBAs. They're all smart people, and pretty great to boot. But probably half struggle in the same ways the rest of us struggle, asking, "What's my value in the world?" and "What do I want to do next?" (It's not lost on me that this is partly because of the nature of my work. I will naturally meet people who are questioning.)

A big part of discovering an answer to those questions, though, involves stepping out from behind the numbers and being human, which is why "6 career moves that are worth more than an MBA" by BusinessInsider.com struck a chord with me. Really interesting, and seemingly random insights (all six of them) are all tied into a single article that actually makes a lot of sense. The "become a master storyteller" resonated with me, as you might imagine.

Above is a sneak peek. Click the photo to read the entire article.  

 

Fun Friday: Are You Half Extrovert, Half Introvert? You Might Be an Ambivert!

At last! My absolute comfort onstage and at parties with friends aligns with my need to visit a Bay Area trail every Monday to escape the madness.

I first learned about the new "ambivert" designation over lunch this week from a fellow apparent ambivert. Janet and I concurred that we've never felt right about identifying exclusively as introverts or extroverts, although both concepts have been attached to both of us, individually, depending on the environment.

In her August 12, 2015 CNN.com article, "Are you an ambivert?" Jessica Singal not only points to the newly emerging identification of this overdue concept, but also suggests a variety of famous faces who might share the trait.

Take a sneak peek below, then click the graphic to swing by Singal's illuminating article. 

The Only Networking Question You May Ever Need to Break the Awkwardness

Okay, this one requires a thousand crying-laughing emojis. 

A résumé writer colleague, Irene Marshall, who has become a dear friend over the years, has a talent for meeting people. During a casual conversation last night, she shared a story that I believe contributes majorly to her success as an executive résumé writer and career coach.

When she finds herself in a first-time encounter, she finds a moment to ask: "So why did you become [insert job title].?" (Notice the "why," not the "how.")

The beauty of the question is in the answer. Isn't it always?

Irene says she's learned all sorts of things about people over the years. From the physical therapist who broke her back as a child after a diving accident and dedicated her life to healing others to the tutor who started his life with a learning disorder.  

But the story that takes the absolute cake is Irene's dermatologist.

Irene: "So why did you become a dermatologist?"

Dermatologist: "Well, I wanted a job in medicine where I could talk to my patients."

Irene (thinking:) "That makes sense, I'm sitting here talking to you."

Dermatologist: "But my husband is also a doctor and he wanted a job where he doesn't have to talk to patients.

Irene: "What does he do?"

Dermatologist: "He's an anesthesiologist."

I mean. For real?

Ah yes, friends. Tuck that question away for the next time you find yourself in a slightly (or entirely) awkward social situation. 

You might just end up splitting your pants with laughter!