Dear Sam: Do I have to use LinkedIn during my job search? I am worried that my current employer will get wind that I am entertaining new opportunities. I want to be conservative, but I also want to maximize my opportunities.
Dear Perplexed: Many of my clients face this exact dilemma. My advice is always the same: You cannot afford not to be on LinkedIn. Being on LinkedIn does not in and of itself tell others that you are conducting a job search. Any professional who wishes to leverage his or her network for any professional purpose should be on LinkedIn. Because LinkedIn is a key recruitment tool for headhunters and employers, you would almost be viewed as behind the times if you did not have a profile.
Before you update your LinkedIn profile with the wonderful contents of your résumé, consider changing your security settings. Did you know you can turn off your activity broadcasts? By doing so, no one will be notified that you have just updated your profile. Turning off your broadcasts ensures that your network does not see your constant updates while you get your profile exactly as you want it to be.
Also check out other security settings so you can conduct your LinkedIn research as anonymously as possible. There is a setting you can change that makes you invisible to others when looking at profiles. This could be important as you may be benchmarking your candidacy against others in your field and industry, so making yourself anonymous helps maintain your privacy. I believe you can conduct a discreet search while still making sure you have a powerful, up-to-date LinkedIn profile. Best of luck to you.
Dear Sam: I want your input on adding some personality to my résumé. What are your thoughts on including a headshot, adding color and conveying some of who I am as a person outside of work?
Dear Nathan: Adding personality to your résumé is a great idea and can definitely differentiate you from the crowd. How you do that, however, has to be professional, conservative and appropriate.
If your image is key to success in your field, then by all means include a headshot. I have done this on a handful of résumés for artists, dancers and models. On a couple of occasions, I included a headshot for candidates in sales and those desiring to work for a professional sports team where image is important. Beyond those circumstances, however, I question the need for a headshot. Remember, you can upload your headshot to a LinkedIn profile where hiring managers can see what you look like.
As far as adding color, I’m all for that. Again, be conservative and professional in your selections, but feel free to use color psychology on your résumé.
Regarding personal details, you must tread carefully. Who you are as a person — hobbies, interests, marital status, number of children, etc. — is better left presented when your professional candidacy has opened the door for an interview.
There are always exceptions to this rule. For instance, I once had a client who wanted to work only in the camping department for a sporting goods store, so we presented everything about who he was as a person in order to convey his passion for the field in which he wanted to work.
Beyond that situation, be sure your personal details are adding value to your professional candidacy and not clouding the picture with too much information. Best of luck.
Samantha Nolan is a certified professional résumé writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a leading résumé-writing firm. Do you have a résumé or job-search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about Sam’s résumé-writing services, visit www.ladybug-design.com or call (614) 570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).
Do you have a question for Dear Sam? Please write to email@example.com. Samantha Nolan is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer with a graduate degree in Marketing and Communication and owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service résumé writing firm.
For more information, call 614-570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG or visit www.ladybug-design.com.