How Can I Improve My Resume and LinkedIn Profile?

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Mavathy from The University of Texas at Dallas asks:

“I am currently looking for full-time job opportunities. How can I improve my resume and LinkedIn profile?”

Thanks for your question, Mavathy.  Today’s job market is great as indicated by the lowest unemployment numbers in nearly two decades.  However, this doesn’t mean that it is easy to land a good job.

Today’s job market is extremely competitive, even for entry-level, full-time opportunities.  In fact, statistics indicate that 250 resumes are received for every corporate job opening.  It is important to recognize the competitive nature of the job market.  Once you realize this, you can start putting together your plan to find the right opportunity for you.

To attain any goal, it takes a plan of attack along with lots of consistent effort to achieve the goal and realize the successful outcome for which you are looking.  And, a couple of key components to your plan include having a powerful, value-based resume and LinkedIn profile.

Detailed below are some suggestions on how you can update and improve both your resume and LinkedIn profile to get better results (and more interviews).

Enhance Your LinkedIn Profile and Presence

LinkedIn is one of many tools job seekers need to utilize in their quest to secure employment opportunity.  This business and professional networking site is widely used by businesses to learn more about candidate who’ve already applied or to vet candidates for positions yet to be posted.

LinkedIn boasts over 500 million users and is growing at a rate of two new users every second.  Simply put, you need to be here, and, if you are going to have a presence within the system, it needs to be at its best.  Your goal is to build an up-to-date profile so you’ll need to review your current profile and work to create (or improve) the following profile sections:

Profile Photo – Upload a high-resolution image (your “headshot”), so please don’t use a cropped party picture or selfie.  Have someone else take the photo.  Make sure to dress appropriately (and professionally) to best represent you as you start your career in your chosen field.  The headshot photo should have your face taking up over half of the allotted space, so showoff your nice smile and look your best.

Headline – The LinkedIn default is to include your current job title.  I don’t advise using the default setting as your job title may not capture what you do and what you are best at doing.  Put together a skills-based headline featuring your top skills relevant to your field.

Summary – Quite a number of students I meet with “mail it in” with their summary and either have no summary or a couple of lines saying nothing.  This section allows users to summarize their value, while highlighting their creativity and personality.  Include some content highlighting your interest in your chosen field, key relevant skills, and how someone can contact you at a minimum.

Experience – Include your summer jobs and key internships within this section.  Build a brief overview of what you did while within the specific role, then bullet some of your key achievements.  This will help build your case that you’ve produced results in the past and will continue to do so in future roles.

Education – Make sure to include all of your college degree pursuits, especially highlighting degrees you’ve earned.  Consider adding your GPA if it is over 3.5.  Additionally, you can upload content too so include a key project that you completed as it could help you show the high quality work that you complete.

Skills – The system allows you to include up to 50 skills within this section.  You may not need 50 at this stage of your career, however, you will as you advance within your field.  One of the more valuable aspects of this section is that your connections can endorse your skills.  This is powerful as it is someone else validating that you have and are good at a particular skill.

Recommendations – As you grow your network, you can request recommendations from  former colleagues, managers, vendors, clients and more.  These recommendations can carry great value with prospective employers as it can give them a clearer picture of your work quality, key skills, and more.

Other suggestions: (1) Customize your LinkedIn URL.  You can create a customized URL by going to your profile and first clicking Edit Public Profile & URL.  A new tab will open and at the top right of the page, you’ll see Edit URL.  You can click the edit pencil and customize the URL to include your name. (2) Turn on your career interests to let recruiters know you are targeting new employment opportunity.

While LinkedIn is an awesome tool, it only offers value if you use it.  Spend time in the system learning the various functionality that it offers.  Connect with decision makers, grow your network, join groups, participate in discussions, and much more.

Resume Improvement Suggestions

It sounds like you are engaged in an active job search so it is imperative that your resume is at its absolute best to clearly outline your value proposition to prospective employers.  Remember that the goal of your resume is to land you more interviews.

Also, it is important to know that employers evaluate resumes considering whether the candidate is worthy of an interview.  More simply said, they are reviewing if the candidate possesses the skills, experience, education, and successes relevant to their specific hiring need.  It is that simple.  As a result, you’ll want to make it easy for a prospective employer to determine that you possess what it is that they desire in a candidate.

Below are a few things to review (and update) to ensure your resume is selling you as best it can:

  • Contact Information – Include your name, phone number, e-mail address, and location at a minimum. If you have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile, then I suggest that you include your profile URL in this section.  If you have a portfolio or other online site featuring work samples, you can include the link here.
  • Targeted Job Title – Underneath your contact information, detail the targeted job title (title of the job to which you are applying). For example, if you are applying for a job titled, Sales Executive, then put Sales Executive.  The employer will know clearly that your resume is for their specific position.  Again, don’t hope an employer figures out why they are reading your resume because they won’t.
  • Summary/Profile – Summarize your ability to be successful within the targeted role by creating a short summary/profile statement. This can be in a paragraph format and between two to four lines in length and appears under the targeted job title.  For example, for me, if I were applying for another career coach position, then I might put something like: “Highly skilled, award winning career coach with over 10 years’ experience accompanied by a passion to partner with clients guiding them to achieve employment goals.  Multi-credentialed coach with industry recognized certifications as Certified Resume Writer, Career Coach, Employment Interview Coach, Motivational and Empowerment Coach, Global Career Development Facilitator, and Certified Workforce Professional”.
  • Skills – Highlight the relevant skills you possess that match the employer’s specific needs. For example, if you were targeting a sales position, then you might include skills like:  Consultative Sales, Territory Management, Sales Presentations, Negotiations, etc.  You can also highlight your software expertise if it is relevant to the targeted job.
  • Experience – Include your jobs, internships, and other relevant experience in this section. Make sure to detail the employer name, location (city and state), job title, and employment dates.
  • Use “Good Content Formula” – Use a bulleted format for the job details to make it easier to read. Also, use the “good content formula”, which is:  strong action verb + task (what you did) + result (what did the work result in? what performance improvements resulted?).  You’ll want to highlight what your impact was within the role.  Did you help improve the company’s performance measures?  If so, by how much?  Example 1: Tutored 8th grade student in geometry using teacher curriculum, which resulted in student grade improving from C to B+ during school year. Example 2:  Increased sales revenues by 25% ($150k) year over year by aggressively re-establishing contact with dormant accounts.
  • Leadership/Volunteer Initiatives – Include campus activities, clubs, especially those where you held a leadership role. Also, highlight current and/or recent volunteer initiatives in this section.
  • Carefully Proofread Your Resume Document – Proofread your resume document carefully and have others you trust do the same. Sometimes spell check misses usage errors (i.e. “Manager” misspelled as “manger”).  The resume should be a perfect document (error-free).

Think of your job search as your own personal sales and marketing campaign.  You are the product so you need to know all of the features, values, and benefits you can offer to a prospective employer.  Personally, I don’t like the term “job search”, as it sounds like you are lifting up rocks to “find” something.  Mentally reposition the search while thinking of it as a campaign.  You are connecting with people, especially prospective employers and decision makers to highlight your value proposition (what you can do for them) detailing how you can solve their problems.  Also, you will sell to the buyer – in this case, the hiring manager.  This is the person who has the power to hire you.  Focus your efforts primarily on the hiring manager.

To support this campaign, you need a great personal marketing document, your resume.  It needs to be the best it can possibly be to build your case that you are a candidate worthy of an interview.

Contact Your Career Center for Guidance

Most colleges and universities offer career preparation services to current students at no additional cost.  Simply put, students and alumni should leverage their career center as it is a valuable resource.  College career centers are staffed with knowledgeable, skilled, and credentialed professionals who can provide assistance in a variety of areas including resume review, interview skills training, job search strategy, and more.  Your university’s career center can likely provide some further insight into your job search goal to help you include additional strategies within your personal marketing campaign (job search).  Furthermore, your career center will likely have a job site exclusively for current students and recent alumni featuring jobs and internships posted with the institution. Set up an appointment soon.

Putting It All Together

Build a strong case for yourself that you are a candidate worthy of an interview for each position to which you apply.  You can accomplish this goal more often if you build a value, results-based resume and LinkedIn profile.  Put the majority of your focus to highlight your successes within these two important marketing pieces.  Employers are looking to hire candidate who can be successful within their specific role.  Past successes are an indicator of future performance so show that you can do the job successfully.  You’ve got this, Mavathy!

Good luck and best wishes!

Here’s to your success,

Bob Nealon



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About the Author

Robert Nealon

For almost 10 years, Bob Nealon has been a South Florida-based career coach, focused on training and coaching college students and professional-level clients to achieve success in their employment search campaign and careers. He has trained over 5,000 clients with strategies on how to best compete in today’s ultra-competitive market to land the job and advance their career. Currently, he is a career coach at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from Indiana University, a master’s degree in Sports Administration from Indiana State University and is a multi-credentialed career coach holding industry certifications as a Certified Professional Career Coach, Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Employment Interview Professional, Certified Empowerment and Motivational Coach, Global Career Development Facilitator, and Florida Certified Workforce Professional. He is an active member of Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, Center for Credentialing and Education, Florida Association of Colleges and Employers, National Association of Colleges and Employers, and National Career Development Association. Connect with Bob via LinkedIn and Twitter.

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