Previously I wrote about the LinkedIn Summary section and how it should contribute to your branding. Today we’ll look at the Experience section of the LinkedIn profile.
When asked which section of your resume is most important, most people will say the work history. This section must clearly describe your duties in a brief job scope, followed by bullets that highlight your quantified accomplishments. How much you were able to increase profits, reduce costs, save time, enhance procedures, etc.
Your work history is the meat of your resume. Some attest that the same holds true for your LinkedIn profile. I recently saw a poll that asked what people thought was the most important part of the LinkedIn profile, the title, summary, work history, or applications feature. A resounding number of people considered the work history section to be one of the most important sections.
Let’s step back and consider the major differences between the resume and the LinkedIn profile. The resume must be tailored for a particular position. The LinkedIn profile will not. (It is, however, inaccurate to call your LinkedIn profile a stagnant document because you will update it regularly with the update feature; however, the work history will generally remain the same.)
You have two options when creating your LinkedIn work history.
The first option is to keep it brief and list three or four accomplishments. Choose what you consider to be your top accomplishments at each position, and describe them with quantifiable results. Remember, numbers, dollars, and percentages speak loud and clear. This approach is similar to an accomplishment-based resume.
Benefit: Your resume will describe the duties you performed and, most importantly, the accomplishments you had at each company. You will not be repeating the same information that’s on your resume. Think of the facts, just the facts. It will make the employers ask for more if they haven’t seen your resume.
The second option is to pour your soul into your LinkedIn work history and present it as a complete profile of your work history. This means you will describe as many duties and accomplishments as possible.
Benefit: If employers are searching through LinkedIn for talent and not calling for resumes yet, they will get a good sense of what you’re capable of doing. This being the case, you will rely on employers to sift through the content and glean what is most important to them.
The question you must ask yourself, “Will I better brand myself by only mentioning my most outstanding accomplishments in my LinkedIn work history, or should I dump the whole unadulterated story into it?” Further, at this point in your short career, can you substantiate a long work history that reveals all, or would a more poignant story draw an employer’s attention?
From an expert: Chris Perry, founder of CareerRocketeer.com and MBAHighway.com, summarizes the work history in his book, Linked up: The Ultimate LinkedIn Job Search Guide: “Include as much of your current and past work history as appropriate for your desired career path. Highlight your key accomplishments from each position and quantify as many as possible to enhance your value proposition. Also, optimize your descriptions with keywords and phrases.”
Note Chris’ mention of keywords and phrases. No matter which way you decide to present your work history, make certain there occupational-related words. The expert says you can use Indeed.com or other job boards to identify the keywords.
My opinion is to keep the work history brief and tell your story in the summary section. Does this mean the summary holds more weight, or is more important than the work history? Certainly not. It simply means that you are presenting a fine three-course meal, rather than an endless buffet.
I’m thinking of resumes I see which are comprised only of accomplishments—I call them accomplishment resumes. They effectively bait the employer to invite the job seeker in for an interview, where questions about their duties can be asked. It’s up to you as to which way to go with your work history. No matter what you decide, make sure you have strong accomplishments to brand yourself.
Bob McIntosh is a career trainer at the Career Center of Lowell, where he leads more than 20 workshops on the career search. He is often the person jobseekers and staff go to for advice on the job search. Bob has gained a reputation as the LinkedIn expert in and around the career center. As well, he critiques resumes and conducts mock interviews. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. These he considers to be his greatest accomplishments. Please visit his blog and connect with him on LinkedIn.