Is Your LinkedIn Profile Giving Away Trade Secrets?

one detective man criminal investigations investigating crime in silhouette on white background

Last week, a behemoth Silicon Valley darling required one of my clients to upload his LinkedIn profile instead of submitting a résumé for an open position.

The problem with this method of recruiting is that LinkedIn is a public document. As such, the smartest and most successful candidates won’t list certain confidential content on their profiles.

They will not list all of the many (and important, and rampant) quantitative metrics so important to today’s best résumés.

In a perfect world, a résumé will be inherently richer in detail than its companion LinkedIn profile.

Don’t believe me? Let’s examine what people are placing on their LinkedIn profiles.

For this article, I conducted a simple search for “enterprise sales executive” from my own LinkedIn profile.

One of the first profiles listed reads like this (details scrambled and fictionalized for confidentiality):

  • ABC Company, President’s Club, 2012: (Top 1% of 5,000 Sales Reps, 400% achievement)
  • XYZ Company, Excellence Club, 2011: (Achieved 325% against $8.7 million quota)

That all sounds great, doesn’t it? (And no, I’m not entirely clear what “400% achievement” means, but bear with me.) It sounds good enough to at least reach out to that person. Stat!

Alas. On LinkedIn, this ubiquitous and beloved misconception has some unintended consequences.

First, our subject is letting competitors speculate that at least 5,000 sales reps have a sales quota of $8 million, so they can extrapolate the company’s sales goals. Okay, maybe not eight million each, but even at half of that calculation (5,000 reps x $8 million), it gives information that our subject’s company might not be fond of releasing to a competitor.

Second, notice that our subject stopped listing their stratospheric accomplishments in 2012. It’s a good time to note that they’re still, remarkably perhaps, working at the same company in 2015.

It begs the question: are they now failing? Furthermore, are their potential and/or repeat clients arriving at the negotiating table armed to the teeth because they had the pre-meeting foresight to review our subject’s LinkedIn profile? Realizing that our super successful subject is a selling shark?

I mean, if I were a potential enterprise client exploring this company’s expensive widgets—and I knew this enterprise sales executive was in the top one percent of five thousand sales reps, and not only that, but they effortlessly exceeded their multimillion-dollar quotas for the past five years—I’d arrive at the table ready for battle.

By all that is publishable, this super-duper enterprise sales executive isn’t going to get one by me!

My recommendation.

Okay, so I have to preface my recommendation by saying that I am a major, premium-paying LinkedIn fan. If you’re not a premium member, I believe you should be.

That said, I often swim upstream on this point. I’ve even presented with recruiters with whom I share a mutual fondness and respect, and we openly disagree.

A recruiter recently said, “I agree with Jared on all points. Except the one about redacting certain quantitative details from your LinkedIn profile. I need to see your value.” (You’ll see this repeated all over the interwebs.)

To which I always reply: “Make the recruiter do their job.” I was once a recruiter, so I can say this with conviction. I believe recruiting is an art as much as it is a science, and recruiting first respects everyone’s confidentiality.

I continued and drove home my point to the audience: “You, dear audience members, are ultimately responsible for your own stories. If that unwittingly involves giving away trade secrets—and giving away your secret sauce and professional prowess in a public forum—then you’ve only shot yourself in the foot.”

Again. Recruiters are paid to do a job. Make them do their jobs.

So, all of those caveats and exceptions stated, here are my recommendations:

  • Don’t list confidential information on your résumé. That’s a given. But take it further by not listing details that, when compared alongside other pieces of online / published information, might be amassed to make competitive assumptions about your company. Other companies are busily scraping the web and selling aggregated information. Don’t be a part of it.
  • Refrain from using résumé speak and listing potentially confidential metrics or trade secrets on LinkedIn. Scrub the information and carefully write your LinkedIn profile for public consumption.
  • If you’ve done either of these things, fix immediately. Don’t let another week go by. Sure, web crawlers may have already scraped, archived, and exploited the information you presented unknowingly to the world. But now you know, so begin making amends.
  • If you’re in a supervisory role, audit your employees’ LinkedIn profiles. If they’ve unwittingly revealed confidential, proprietary, or potentially competitive information, don’t blame them. Yet. They knew not what they did. Instead, explain why they need to scrub the heck out of that content, and why. Indeed, the LinkedIn profiles I write that really make me sweat are for companies with strict social media policies. For example, Apple, Inc. employees are basically allowed to say nothing about what they do. Apple again leads the pack, knowing that loose lips sink ships. (Speaking of technology, broadly, not Apple, you can’t imagine the information product developers reveal in LinkedIn groups … bellyaching away and giving away all manner of secret sauce.)

Will you miss out on potential opportunities? Probably. But it’s up to you to understand this incredibly important nuance. LinkedIn is a tool for doing business, and the humble résumé bears the confidential weight of telling your story within the finite realm of job searching. Even then, you don’t want to ever reveal proprietary information about your company. Past, present, or future.

If you’re a recruiter and you’re using “LinkedIn only” as a sole recruiting tool, stop. You’re potentially missing out on the brightest candidates who, indeed, know better than to treat LinkedIn like an online résumé. Respected institutions are apparently starting to miss out on this big picture privacy issue. Don’t be one of them.

Repeat after me:

  • Just because LinkedIn says I can, doesn’t mean I should.
  • LinkedIn is not my online résumé.
  • LinkedIn is a professional platform to do business and communicate my professional (and very public) brand.
  • If a recruiter finds me and thinks they want to talk to me, I will make peace that they must do their job and learn more by calling and/or asking for my résumé.
  • My résumé is the place to self-market myself to a discrete audience.

●●●●●

San Francisco-based executive resume writer and career transition coach, Jared Redick, works with senior leaders at Fortune 50 companies and beyond. He draws on early experience in retained executive search and nearly two decades of resume writing to help stealth job seekers re-imagine the marketable intersection between their background, interests, audience expectations, and career goals.

Jared’s strategic “purpose, content, design” approach to résumé writing helps executives and professionals understand their value, develop their unique professional brand, and position themselves safely online and on paper.

Reach him at info@theresumestudio.com or 415-397-6640. Follow @TheResumeStudio.

Enhancing Your LinkedIn “Skills & Endorsements” Section

Optimize your LinkedIn profile with Skills and Expertise

LinkedIn optimization screenshot from mid-July 2014

In late 2012, LinkedIn Beta tested an insightful way (too difficult to explain here) to see if your profile’s “Skills & Endorsements” section was as robust or optimized as it could be.

Happily, I printed the nine pages of results, because the Beta test has since disappeared.

I used that list of suggested “Skills & Expertise”—-as the section was called at the time—-to add previously unconsidered permutations of my skills. And you’re allowed a list of 50, so there was room to experiment.

Much gnashing of teeth after that feature faded away….

Imagine my surprise as I edited my LinkedIn profile this past week and to the right of my summary floated up the message you see captured in this post: “Optimize your profile to get found.”

Here were my immediate responses:

  • Interview preparation – yes, but not in the traditional sense
  • Job seekers – yes, although they’re “stealth job seekers”
  • Job search process – yes
  • Career planning – yes
  • Job search strategy – yes
  • Career assessment – yes
  • Salary negotiation – no, although I refer out
  • Resume development – yes, but I’d never used that phrase
  • Career exploration  – yes
  • Career coach – yes

As suggested, I integrated several of the phrases into my summary, including “resume development.” Lo-and-behold, a noticeable uptick in traffic.

Oddly, I decided yesterday to officially add those terms to my “Skills & Endorsements” list, and only half (roughly) showed up in the pop-down prompts, which leaves me scratching my head. I entered them anyway.

Take a moment to go into your LinkedIn profile’s edit mode today. Click in the summary section (and perhaps click around a few times, willy nilly) to see if the prompt floats up on the right. Is this just for Premium Members? Is it another test? At least LinkedIn has us talking, which is undoubtedly part of the plan.

Until next time!

Jared

 

Jared Redick helps stealth job seekers re-imagine the marketable intersection between their background, interests, audience expectations, and career goals. His strategic “purpose, content, design” approach to résumé writing helps mid-career professionals transform rusty résumés into barrier breaking documents.

Learn more: http://midcareerminute.com/about/

 

How to Get Your Industry Right on LinkedIn

Gray uncetaintyI recently worked with a head of human resources for a Fortune 50 company who was conducting a passive job search.

In preparing her LinkedIn profile, I noticed that she had listed “telecommunications” as her industry, even though human resources was her practice area.

I suggested that she change her industry to “human resources,” which, by the way, isn’t an industry, but a practice area — and she immediately had interested recruiters calling.

A real challenge

This seemingly insignificant decision is a real conundrum every LinkedIn user faces.

Do I bucket myself in an industry or a practice area?

You could argue that the “industries” section on LinkedIn is truly your industry, and your professional headline, job titles, and skills / endorsements content serves as your discipline.

But then, why is HR an industry? Why is “executive management” or “business development” or “accounting” listed as an industry?

I’m seeing lots of gray.

My suggestion to date has been to consider your options, weight one against the other, make an educated guess, try it out, and be open to futzing with your settings.

If someone is looking for, say, a head of HR, odds are high that they will key in “HR director,” “head of HR,” or “human resources vice president” or some-such as a key search term.

Where it gets dicey

If my client was open to performing HR outside of telecom, she needs to be industry agnostic.

What if my client was an in-house employment attorney? Or someone who wanted to go in-house?

Is her industry the actual industry of interest? Or is it “law practice” or “legal services.”

My own profile

I listed “writing and editing” as my own industry for several years on my own profile (again, industry is a misnomer) and my profile performed well.

In 2010, I noticed that several colleagues used “professional training and coaching,” so I edited my industry and to my surprise traffic picked up exponentially!

My recommendation

If you’re uncertain, know you’re not alone.

LinkedIn’s current drop-down list is incomplete, limiting, and neglected — although, happily, LinkedIn regularly updates the “industries” list.

(RANT: There really should be a drop down menu for “industry” and a drop down menu for “practice area,” n’est ce pas?)

Until LinkedIn updates this flaw, my recommendation is to go with your practice area — or more broadly — to choose the bucket that you think best fits, then mark your calendar and experiment with the other bucket(s) that might work.

See which performs best over a period of several weeks.

This exercise doesn’t replace a well-conceived and written LinkedIn profile. Without that, your bucket may not matter at all.

But it does seem like a critical component of a well-ordered LinkedIn profile, so take the time to figure it out.

Until next time!

Jared

 

Jared Redick helps stealth job seekers re-imagine the marketable intersection between their background, interests, audience expectations, and career goals. His strategic “purpose, content, design” approach to résumé writing helps mid-career professionals transform rusty résumés into barrier breaking documents.

Learn more: http://midcareerminute.com/about/

 

LinkedIn Rolls Out Background Images for Premium Users

Acme coIs anyone else speculating about the perfect background image for their LinkedIn profile?

As much as I kvetch and send cautionary tales about LinkedIn’s evolving (and sometimes nonsensical) offerings, I’m still a huge fan.

So when my profile on the morning of June 4 presented the opportunity to change my background photo, a la Twitter, I started scouring my iPhone files and Flickr account for the perfect photo.

In case you haven’t heard, LinkedIn is rolling out a Twitter-like ability to upload a background photo to your LinkedIn profile.

Premium users can do it now. Others in weeks and months to come.

Here’s LinkedIn’s June 4 announcement, complete with an unbeatable image of an aspirational and beautifully lit  street that any of us might traverse on the way to Sunday brunch: http://blog.linkedin.com/2014/06/04/stand-out-with-the-new-linkedin-premium-experience/

Like it? Love it?

I’ve abandoned my own photo lineup and spent the rest of the evening searching iStockPhoto for inspiration. I might resort to blasé photos of my own office.

Until next time!

Jared

P.S. Looking to update your LinkedIn profile photo? If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, look no further than Corner Office Image and Tonya Perme Photography’s “Social Media Photo Package.”

Jared Redick helps stealth job seekers re-imagine the marketable intersection between their background, interests, audience expectations, and career goals. His strategic “purpose, content, design” approach to résumé writing helps mid-career professionals transform rusty résumés into barrier breaking documents.

Learn more: http://midcareerminute.com/about/

Shifting Careers? Speak to Your Sweet Spot

chocolate truffleOn Saturday, a client and I were wrestling with her LinkedIn profile’s summary.

Sitting across my desk, she grabbed a sheet of paper and a pen.

With seventeen years of really interesting leadership experience in both startup and Fortune 10 companies, she was trying to quickly illustrate what she considers to be her sweet spot.

Turns out, she loves the startup life. To clarify, she loves startup life at roughly second round funding when she has the traction to innovate and really drill some smart roots from which a company can thrive while the team is still nimble enough to be led.

It took her being in a Fortune 10 company and a lot of self-reflection to reach this conclusion, by the way, which is always an authentic part of the journey as an engaged leader.

Ten seconds into her drawing, I could hardly keep my mouth shut, because she’d just sparked a major career development strategy.

You see, we’re in the process of building her boat — as I’ve called it since another client coined the term several years ago — so she’s ready to sail when the right opportunity comes along.

She’s tending to her career brand. She’s cultivating her reputation in the long term so she’s clearly known for what she loves, and by extension, what she does well.

I tried not to interrupt, but finally did: “So let’s tie your drawing back to something we talked about 30 minutes ago. Cultivating your reputation. Why not purposefully write articles and open yourself to speaking engagements that focus on that sweet spot. You’re at point X right now — a large company, steering a massive ship — so it’s not obvious that you prefer being in a startup. So why not use that authority to become a resource — an example — to startups with Series B funding who really need the intellectual and experience firepower you offer.”

I continued: “Title your articles and presentations strategically, so you not only speak to the audience at hand, but so the titles have a life beyond the moment. Then when you list them on your LinkedIn profile, in your executive bio, in your resume, you have this clear specialization — and in time, you open the door wider as a passive candidate. And odds are higher that you’ll be sought for just the right fit.”

Sure, you might be one of the folks we all admire who already knows this strategy. Forbes contributors do. HBR contributors do. They write to their brands, which brings to them even more enjoyable opportunity.

But for others of us, it’s the little tips like this that flip on a switch and we’re on our way. I have a feeling good things are on the horizon for her in a career that’s already pretty stellar.

Do you have a sweet spot that isn’t being fully utilized or realized? It can feel like a Titanic effort to redirect. But the tiniest rudder — the smallest strategic adjustment — will change one’s direction over time. And sooner than you know it, you’ll be in your ideal role looking in the rearview mirror, smiling back at what was once today.

Turn the wheel today. I’m serious. Make a decision and take a step forward, because if you’re like so many of our species, you’ll be the first to under-prioritize yourself.

Until next time!

Jared

Visit: The Resume Studio.com | About Jared
Follow: @TheResumeStudio
Like Us: http://www.facebook.com/theresumestudio
Connect: LinkedIn.com/in/jaredredick
Call: 415-397-6640

How NOT to Thank a New LinkedIn Connection

How to customize your LinkedIn URLA new LinkedIn connection invitation came along a while back. I checked out the profile and felt like it was a legitimate person, not spam.

Although there was no profile picture, the copy was reasonably well thought out. Plus, we shared an industry connection, so I accepted the invitation.

Two days later, my new connection did a lovely thing: she wrote a thank you note.

Except in the body of the eleven word thank you note — which included “Dear Jared,” “Thank you,” and the connection’s name — this otherwise seemingly thoughtful person said quite simply: “Best of luck.”

Best of luck? Really? On what? My business? The reach of my latest tweet or blog post? That I don’t choke on the lunch I’m about to eat?

Work with me here!

If you’re reading this, you might agree that “best of luck” is not the way to thank someone you don’t know for connecting on LinkedIn.

It is, however, a good way to get disconnected as quickly as you’ve connected.

It reminded me of the thank you I received from an industry contact I met in person.

Upon meeting, we had a nice time chatting and decided to connect. But what came next surprised me.

The new connection sent me a “How can I help you?” inbox note. Which is presumably sent to potential new clients.

Clearly, this person was not connecting to me so they could write my resume. I write a mean resume.

And knowing this person, I truly think it was an oversight (probably one of those “OH MY GOD, DID I SEND THAT?” moments), because this person is otherwise conscientious and thoughtful. But it was clear that this person simply copied and pasted canned copy without thinking.

Do you have a standard for approving people you don’t know on LinkedIn?

Do you have a canned response that you send to everyone?

I’m all for optimizing time with pre-prepared copy. It standardizes what you say to the world. It makes it easier to be consistent and thoughtful.

In fact, I have a template where I thank the person for connecting, and if I notice that they haven’t yet secured their customized public URL on LinkedIn, I point them to a blog post about how to do just that.

Related post: How to Customize Your LinkedIn URL.

The tone of my pre-written response is friendly and the content positions my expertise. But I’ve also intentionally written it in a way that forces me to customize the first line.

And I can assure you that “best of luck” is nowhere to be found.

Until next time!

Jared Redick
Visit: The Resume Studio.com | About Jared
Follow: @TheResumeStudio
Like Us: http://www.facebook.com/TheResumeStudio
Connect: LinkedIn.com/in/jaredredick
Call: 415-397-6640

Getting Comfortable With ‘No’

YesNoSometimes a client comes back and says, “They don’t want me!”

To him or her, I say, “Because who you are doesn’t match what they need.”

And that shouldn’t be taken personally.

Imagine if every résumé was so clearly written that you could tell whether you wanted to meet that person within moments.

Forget curbside-appeal and keyword optimization.

A well-designed, keyword-optimized résumé is a matter of course in today’s hiring world.

Résumé writing colleagues and I—not to mention recruiters and executive coaches who refer to us—can attest to that.

No. I’m talking about the details that distinguish you from others.

Niche yourself.

If you have 10-14 years of experience, odds are high that you have specializations that are not only unique to you, but attractive to someone else.

Niching carries the risk that you’ll repel opportunities who aren’t a good fit, of course.

But what’s wrong with that? Repel away!

If it’s not a good fit, why try squeezing a round peg into a square hole?

For many, that’s a perspective shift because we grow up trying to please everybody.

Trying to be who they want us to be. Getting more people to say yes.

People pleasing is fine for a while.

It’s the fulfillment of, say, obligations that don’t fit skill sets, or duties you didn’t know about before you said yes, that can get in the way of delivering on your word.

That can be missing delivery altogether because you should have said no, or delivering on time but with bruises to show for it.

Here’s what you can do.

The more experienced we become, the narrower the opportunities.

We are no longer freshly out of college, blank canvases ready to be groomed.

We have serious marketable skills, and companies are ready to pay for those skills; not for the skills we have yet to learn.

The silver lining—in fact the beauty of that fact—is that it’s this very expertise that helps us command a professional salary.

So….

  • Commit to being comfortable with no. It doesn’t indicate your worth as a human being, it merely means you’re not a fit (or you didn’t take the effort to clearly outline the fit in your résumé or interview).
  • Work hard to find the right fit. It’s easy to give lip service to this idea, and noodling around on job boards might make you feel like you’re doing something. But it’s hard to actually do the work. Mount an all out research and discovery mission using a blend of LinkedIn, Google Alerts, public company records, Hoovers, Google Finance, and Glassdoor.com. Use JibberJobber.com to track your job search progress.
  • Spend 85-90% of your job search effort outside of job boards. The best jobs might not be obvious. In fact, most aren’t. The more seniority you achieve, the less likely that your next position will be obvious.
  • Plan to actively job search one month for every $10K per year that you make. This is a commonly cited concept in the career development world, but not everyone knows it. The higher up you go, the longer it takes to find the right fit.
  • Build your boat. It takes time to craft the right documents, career copy, and personal brand. We’re often the very ones we overlook, however, so committing to the effort of representing and presenting yourself requires willpower and dedication.
  • Be sure your LinkedIn profile is up to snuff. It’s the absolute best to be passively found for the right position. It happens all the time. It’s why roughly fifty percent of LinkedIn’s revenue in 2012 was from Talent Recruit; the expensive deep dive service they sell to recruiters for big bucks. You won’t know if you’re missing out unless you’re out there. Here’s a webinar I presented to CFA Society members (shared with permission) that you may find helpful. All you have to do is register.

Until next time!

Jared Redick
Visit: The Resume Studio.com | About Jared
Follow: @TheResumeStudio
Like Us: http://www.facebook.com/TheResumeStudio
Connect: LinkedIn.com/in/jaredredick
Call: 415-397-6640

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