Professional LinkedIn Profile Setup: Part One

What is LinkedIn and Who Uses it?

If you are a professional, a recent graduate, a student or a recruiter of any active company, LinkedIn is the social media platform to learn about and use to improve your hiring and job seeking potential. LinkedIn is a professional network that launched in 2003 and targets the business community. The website allows colleagues and professional connections to network online, search for jobs and share ideas and products.

Since there are millions of members and companies represented on the platform, professionals can establish and grow a network of people they know, have known and want to know, while displaying their professional strengths and successes. Like Facebook, people can connect with their past classmates, coworkers and business colleagues and even build a web of connections with industry oriented groups and associations. Similar to Facebook, basic membership on LinkedIn is free, but those seeking a more premium membership can upgrade for a monthly fee. There is a steady stream of content which can be shared, liked and commented on and users can add articles that are based on their areas of expertise or their industry.

Click here for a video of tips for LinkedIn 2018

In this blog post, I will discuss the steps to take to set up the first impression portion of your LinkedIn profile to get noticed and get connected. Below is a list of steps breaking down various sections of a LinkedIn profile and how you too can establish your profile professionally and quickly. In the interest of saving time and boredom, I will keep each step in a list format with a succinct description of each step. I have also included a few other visual elements to help you scroll through and get started creating your own outstanding profile. If you’re ready, grab your coffee, dust off your resume or get some pen and paper to list your accomplishments and let’s begin.

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Aesthetics

Though many people focus on their professional headshot and work experience, a lot of LinkedIn profiles lack the aesthetics to stand out from the sea of accounts. One way to change this situation in your favor is to make your background call people’s attention.

The Background

Hidden behind the professional headshot is a prime piece of customizable real estate known as the background. While it’s a great idea to put an image into your profile background, there are a few things you must know before selecting this important graphic.

  • Select the right image size, the current recommended size for a LinkedIn background is 1584×396 pixels, but since your profile will be viewed on many different screens, including i-pads and mobile devices, the best tip I’ve seen is to use about 1000×120 pixels and closer to the top of the image as the bottom gets cropped.
  • Create your own image,  Canva.com is a  free resource for graphic design that is easy to use and has preset templates for social media backgrounds among other functions. A word to the wise, use a clear picture that showcases your industry or brand identity. Choose a graphic that is creative and interesting while being relevant to your profile. You can download free images at https://www.pexels.com.
  • Decide what your background will do for your profile: Your background can be used to display your brand logo, company or professional slogan, advertise your wins and your results in numbers. Decide what you want your background to do and then use the space to reflect that. In the image below, the red circle shows a slogan or tagline placed on top of an eye-catching photo.

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The Headshot or Professional Photo

There are some studies that posit that it takes less than a second for someone to decide if they like and trust you based on a photo. So how do you ensure that more people decide they like you than not, based on just a still shot? Luckily, whether you’re a selfie specialist or a socially awkward smiler, there are tips to help you take a better headshot and even studies that discuss putting color in the background of your headshot and the psychological reactions.

  • Spring for a professional photo shoot: A professional photographer, especially one with experience capturing images geared toward social media platforms will make your life much easier. Use Groupon searches to find deals or work with student photographers to arrange a professional indoor and outdoor shoot, get digital copies of your favorite poses and ensure you get head to shoulder portraits. Check out this article on the impact of color in the headshot background for an increase in business.
  • When taking your own photo, use best practices: Consider your smile your first line of defense, smile brightly, showing some teeth(don’t go all goofy here,) look directly into the camera like you would look someone in the eye you are meeting face to face. Wear clothing that represents your role or the position you’re seeking, and avoid sunglasses, full body shots(unless you model or are into the fitness industry) and zoomed in “face only” shots. I love this article on how to be more trustworthy, #2 is really surprising.

Content

The Headline

Your LinkedIn headline is the most important piece of information you can provide future employers. Some people use the 120 characters to attract recruiters, interested business connections and even get offered positions. Remember this is a networking platform and a great headline is your calling card or virtual handshake, so make it strong. Use industry or job-specific keywords to rank in searches by recruiters and companies. If you have the ability then get creative here. But,  if not, make your position clear and value obvious to those you serve. Below is an example I saved from a Google search showing the creative use of the headline space by a recruiter.

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The Summary Section

I’ll be honest, this section takes a lot of focus and tweaking, so expect that you will spend time on it.  LinkedIn gives you about 220 characters before the read more cut off (mobile is less than half), so make it exciting enough for your readers to continue reading. Your summary shouldn’t read like a boring rendition of all your resumes. Use the first sentence or two to focus on your target audience ( employers, companies, associations, and businesses), and highlight your unique value proposition. Here are some steps to filling out the summary section.

  • Use a conversational tone:  I believe the rule of thumb for most content and copy should be-talk to one person. Pick your ideal boss, client or colleague and describe why you’re passionate about the job you have or the one you want. Without bragging, put your best achievements on stage and show how they can help the people you target.
  • Establish Credibility:  Use your experiences and achievements to describe your strengths and who you are. Let your audience know why they should listen to you and what you have to offer.
  • Tell them what you do then tell them what to do next: Outline a problem, and show how you solve it. Paint a picture of the hardship your audience feels when not using you, your service or your solution, and then show them how your unique approach will benefit them. Then lead them to contact you, buy your product, order your service or hire you. Have a clear call to action  that tells them what you want -close the deal.
  • Make it compelling and concise-I read somewhere that LinkedIn allows a  2000 character limit but try to stay under that. Use bullet points and short sentences to make the reading easy and leave white space to give the eyes a rest. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this section, this is a work in progress, so make sure you’re editing your summary until it makes you feel good. To demonstrate this I have included a photo of my LinkedIn profile to show you how I applied these tips and made my summary more compelling and crisp. I must admit, I had to do a bit of cleanup on my profile as well and have been doing that for the past seven months or so. Check out my summary section below, including the links and photos of my brand.  This article has some creative ways to write your best LinkedIn summary.

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Once you have completed these steps to set up your best and most noticeable LinkedIn Profile, you will be ready to move on to part two, the experiences and skill section which gets you the real connections.

Remember, connecting online is very similar to connecting in real life, only faster. Take the time to update your professional profile and then branch out and add some connections you might know or want to know and feel confident that your profile will make a great first impression.

Until next time, happy job hunting, and much success to you. And if you need help putting together your LinkedIn Profile, do not despair, just hop over to my SERVICES page for prices on writing packages and contact me for a la carte rates.

Nada

Creating a Productive Work From Home Schedule

Daily Routines for Productivity

Choosing to be a remote worker means being responsible for your own schedules and having no one to tell you what you need to accomplish and how. But, that also means you are left on your own to figure out all the scheduling, deadlines and due dates of any project you take on. What are you supposed to be doing and for how long? Who determines when you’ve done enough and what if you are doing the wrong things? Additionally, there is often so much distraction at home, cleaning to be done, children to attend to, bills and repairs, it’s all unsettling trying to get anything done. So, what does a productive schedule look like and how do you get started?

As a writer, I tend to enjoy a slow start in which I can capture the lingerings of ideas and observations from the day before. So I need not be rushed. While my routine has grown out of years of trial and error and terrorizing myself through self-sabotaging thoughts and practices. I would not trade the experiences because they brought me to this point.

My current daily routine is a mismatch of what a few successful entrepreneurs that I admire practice and experience growth from.  These practices have helped me develop behaviors which resonate with my future goals and dreams.

Here’s my routine in a simplified nutshell. 

Production in a day is getting one major task, in each category of my to-do list completed. A significantly productive day is when I get past the “must dos” and into the “fluff”, the things I’d like to get done.  So for example, on the list below, I  currently have 5 areas I must hit for peak production: Homeschool (HS) Business(BIZ), Writing(WRT), Learning/Job(JOB) and finally Life(LIFE). All tasks are listed in priority sequence, followed by action steps and fluff. So, my to do or GSD daily lists often look something like the one below, written in my journal and in a Google Doc:

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Planning and Daily Execution

Life, business, families, school, and work all require space in our busy schedules. When you work from home, you run the risk of getting caught up in activities that, while they may make your home more comfortable or your family happier, will not increase your income.

Here are my non-expert, learned-from-experience steps that I take to put my work from home plans into action.

Guard your time.

To ensure you are being efficient while working from a home office, you must value your time by following through with your plans. I have found, through experience over the years, that you must vehemently protect your time from moochers like your friends on their days off and your parents who don’t understand how you could be employed and sitting home all day in pajamas.

After years of unannounced visits and requests for favors that start with the dreaded and most annoying words: “are you busy” or what are you doing?” I have learned to turn off my phone during office hours and restrict people’s access to me, especially those who don’t understand the value of my time.

Keep a strict office schedule.

Due to the nature of remote work, adult conversations and friendships tend to be sparse, and loneliness can often set in. When I first started working from home, I’d schedule my office hours around my outings. If I had somewhere to be I’d work twice as long the day before or through the weekend to stay on top of things. Now, I do the reverse, I keep strict office hours that are uninterrupted as if I had left the house for work. I instruct my boys that when my office door is closed, I am either making videos, writing and needing to concentrate or on a call. I make no exceptions, not even for unannounced out of town visitors or friends and family members I have not seen in a while. The truth is, after years of exceptions, I have found that the only way I can remain focused and clear on my journey is just to be a bit bullheaded, disciplined and unapologetic. This is my livelihood after all.

Plan your overall goal, then break it into specific steps. 

I plan many aspects of my life, it soothes me when I feel overwhelmed and gives me a sense of control. However, I sometimes have an issue with seeing the big picture or keeping it in focus long enough to hold on to what steps I need to take next. Therefore, I put a lot of thought into the endeavors I attempt and projects I initiate and I make notes to track and organize my thoughts. In order to do that, I use a six-step process to break each goal down into actionable steps and then work towards each objective, milestone, and goal that way.

  1. Clearly define your goal.
  2. Create a milestone timeline.
  3. Make a task/objective list including due dates
  4. List people, tools, resources needed to accomplish each task
  5. Create a to do or get sh*t done list
  6. Do, check and update the list with relevant notes and reminders

Goals-steps

 

 

What does the schedule of an online entrepreneur look like?

Finally, let’s talk about consistent practices that become routine. How do you take your coffee? Do you have cream and sugar? Milk and sugar? Or straight black? I take mine double-double, the Tim Hortons term for two servings of cream and sugar each. Up until I was 18, I didn’t even drink coffee. Now, I have one within 2 hours of waking each day. I do that because it’s routine. A routine, in its simplest form, is a practice repeated until it becomes part of your daily activities. When I don’t have coffee I am slower, unfocused and crabby. With caffeine, things feel right again. That’s the way routines work.

 “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

While I cannot speak for other work at home entrepreneurs and employees, I can say that having a schedule helps me to structure and organize my life and accomplish my goals. No schedule and routine should be so set in stone that any adjustment cripples your progress, but it is wise to honor your scheduled time so others will learn to take your time more seriously, or at least, learn to stay away when you work because you are a terror if not.

When I am super productive and I have no outside meetings or extracurricular, my daily schedule is some version of the image below. Of course, the only things that are consistent each year are my categories, but as my goals change, so do my routines. When my kids were much younger and needed more adult supervision for their educational career, my objectives were more based on homeschool activities. As I am currently in the process of creating an online business, the majority of my learning and office hours go into working on my business and learning to master entrepreneurship and writing. And to be honest, I have not voluntarily stopped working after 11pm unless I have to 😉

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Resources for scheduling:

To-do list maker and organizer

Blog on applying the 7 habits of effective people daily.

Optimize Your Daily Schedule

 

I trust this post will help you put together your ideal and customized schedule. Yes, work at home can give you the freedom to work when you want and for how long. But it can also cause you to become afraid and paranoid about your lack of productivity and send you into an overwork, burnout, regret cycle that I know all too well.

For help applying this post to your current job search or other writing or remote work assistance, connect with Nada by clicking on this LINK, or on Facebook messenger, or by joining the Wordcrafters mailing list.

 

Wishing you success,

Nada

Remote Job Search Tips

What is a Remote Job?

A remote job is performed out of office and is often referred to as virtual employment, telecommuting, home based, work at home are other terms you will find on job search boards. Knowing these terms will help you know where to apply and the language of the work at home culture.

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Why work at home?

People want to work remotely for many reasons. Many army spouses, caregivers, homeschoolers and working single parents want a way to work from their homes. For me, it was the time flexibility to work around homeschooling my children and enjoying what I did so it was easy to carve out the time to do it. For others, it might be to avoid commuting or paying for childcare or just being away from the family for long stretches each day. Whatever the reason, remote work allows for flexibility and work-life balance when managed well.

Benefits of Remote Work

While the watercooler gossip might be juicy, it can often be distracting and lessen productivity. According to Forbes.com America loses almost 2 billion dollars in revenue due to low productivity.  Aside from the obvious advantage to the environment, lessening your carbon footprint and improving health, here is a list of benefits associated with working from home or complete telecommuting opportunities.

Employees experience:

  • Increased productivity- no commute and time wasted in traffic
  • Less tension( Commute, Office politics, Distractions)
  • Set your own schedule so more engaged
  • More work-life balance so happier
  • Coworking spaces are a thing

Employers experience:

  • Employers pay a premium for office space and all the resources they consume ( less office space and stuff)
  • Productivity  increases: fewer distractions, fewer interruptions, tend to work longer hours-Lower turnover rate for employers
  • Reduce carbon footprints and be more socially responsible
  • Location free recruiting allows employers to pick the best employees without the barriers.

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Strategies for finding home based jobs.

There are many options for finding a remote job, however, there are different strategies for finding these jobs. Online searches on places like LinkedIn, Monster, Flexjobs.com as well as freelancer.com and tutoring agency are just a few of the places you can start looking. People feel emotional or daunted by job search because they donèt know where to find remote work. 90 % of US workers want more job flexibility and some would even take a pay cut just to be able to work from home. And according to a Flexjobs article, 43% of US workers now work remotely, so this is not a fad.

One of the main concerns I hear from people is what if the job opportunity is a scam, how can you tell. Well, over the 15 years that I have been working from home, I can’t say I have been scammed and it’s not because I was super cautious. According to my research, many mega companies such as IBM, AT&T, Rogers Cable, Wells Fargo and other currently hire remote workers.  Many positions at your company can be done from home as well, so check work at home job boards to see what is being offered. To be certain when choosing telecommuting jobs to try these strategies that have worked for me in the past:

  1. Strategy 1: Pitch your current boss. ( How to pitch?-before, during and after).
  2. Strategy 2: Sign up for the most reputable company websites. There are numerous blog posts dissecting opportunities that are considered a scam or a scheme. And there are other blogs with many followers that review these opportunities and give tips on the best ones to choose.
  3. Strategy 3: I’ve heard the advice that you should never pay for a job, I disagree to an extent. There are membership sites like Flexjobs and LinkedIn that go through the process of finding and vetting potential employers, so applicants can securely choose who they want to work with. Paying to have access to a number of employers, in my opinion, is much better than sitting around having no options. Having said that, I believe it imperative I add a warning here and the reason I agree partially with the above statement:

*! Beware The people who insist on personal or financial information as a part of their hiring process. You should never have to give that information out unless you are paying for a service directly or if the finance department contacts you after you have signed a contract.

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Flexible Hours versus Telecommuting

Another thing you should know before you begin your search is that flexible work hours and remote work are similar but not the same. Work flexibility has to do with scheduling and availability, for example, you may be asked to take a floating schedule at your job that varies from time to time. Or you may do shift work which requires flexibility and time management. Virtual work on the other hand is work that is performed away from the office and may require a flexible schedule for international meetings, conference calls and events.

Remote Job Resume and cover letter sculpting

Most people feel that they have no remote experience to add to their resume. However, if you ever worked on projects with people in another office, traveled for your job, taken a conference call from home or any such activity, then you have worked remotely.

Check for keywords and use them in your cover letter and resume. Also, use them in summary to highlight related experiences (state you are looking for remote jobs and show how your passion ties back to helping the remote employer). Boost your soft skills, remote employees crave key traits: self-manager, freelancer, strong communicator, problem solver, highly organized are all potentially successful keywords for remote workers. Think about all the gigs( summer jobs, babysitting, paper route) and find any remote communication and management experience.Chances are you have more remote experiences than you believe.

To figure out the keywords your future employer is using, research jobs that you are interested in and look at the descriptions, highlight adjectives, skills and experiences being sought. Do you have any experience that matches? List all the work you have done, skills amassed over the years, experiences that shaped your character and remote work instances. Next list all the times you brought work home, found a solution while sipping lemon tea at your computer or so find the instances in which you worked autonomously. Most things will become clearer when written down.

Your cover letter should include the best of your best attributes and how they apply to remote work. What is your future employer looking for? Someone who has the ability to do the job,  someone who can function on their own without the need to be micromanaged. Someone assertive enough to ask for direction and capable enough to follow them. They want someone with integrity who gets the job done on time and makes no excuses. These are the attributes you highlight in your cover letter.

Show how you completed projects as a team lead or how you were often left to run the daily schedule on your own. Highlight projects you completed for people in a freelance capacity and show how capable you are of working on your own. I learned this one the hard way, communicate problems. Whether there is a problem or a need for more information, speak up and communicate clearly and professionally. Include how you were detail oriented, or took charge in a crisis, share the details of what you did and how you solved it-spotlight the moments of success.

This world demands a tech-savvy and teachable employee who is able to problem solve and troubleshoot technology.Video conferencing tools, workflow tools, communicating and collaborating on teams among many other things you will need to be able to learn and operate.

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Popular Remote Fields -Flexjobs top 100 companies.

The  Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that one-quarter of all Americans reported to working from home in 2015. A look at the Flexjobs list of top 100 companies for 2018 shows the five fastest growing remote careers are virtual administration, client services, tutoring, therapy and government. It also showed that the 20 most common job titles this year are:

20 Most Common Work-from-Home Job Titles”

  1. Accountant
  2. Program Manager
  3. Teacher / Faculty
  4. Writer
  5. Consultant
  6. Engineer
  7. Project Manager
  8. Business Development Manager
  9. Account Manager / Account Executive
  10. Tutor
  11. Developer
  12. Customer Service Representative
  13. Sales Representative
  14. Analyst
  15. Editor
  16. Nurse
  17. Medical Coder
  18. Territory Sales Manager
  19. Case Manager
  20. Internet/Social Media Evaluator

https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/20-most-common-work-from-home-job-titles/

To get the full list, check out the Flexjobs blog post at: https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/100-top-companies-with-remote-jobs-in-2018/
Remote Job Search Resources

The workatHomewoman.com

Flexjobs.com/blog

Remote.co

Digital nomad

Barefoot writer

 

 

 

Final thoughts

The reasons someone chooses to work from home are as varied as the people who have them. The daily commute to a cubicle is no longer the best option for many families and employers are taking notice. While there are opportunities for people to get scammed online while looking for work, I believe that if each job seeking does their due dilligence, things will work out in their favor. Don’t let fear of some creepy basement dwelling loser with pancake syrup stains on his shirt, trying to steal your money stop you. There are many ligitimate options for remote work that can bring you added satisfaction and money.
With love,

Nada

Release & Receive : The Letting Go Ritual

 

Have you ever said the words, “that’s just not me” when someone asks you to do or wear something? Or have you said, “that’s so me”, as you look at an incredible act or a very mom thing that you do? Honest;y, I have used those expressions so many times. But, let me let you in on a little secret, I have no idea who I am. Shocking right? I get it. Let me share my identity story with you, the abridged version of course.

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