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: https://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: https://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: https://midcareerminute.com/about/

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

How to Hide a Contact’s Activity on Your LinkedIn Newsfeed

Did you know you can hide a contact’s activity on your LinkedIn newsfeed?

I didn’t either, until I met with some LinkedIn folks last year.

Sure, you want to stay connected with your contacts. But some connections like to post a lot of updates. (Meanwhile, what is “a lot?” I post to LinkedIn several times a week, so I could be deemed “a lot.” It’s all subjective, isn’t it? So this post should really help.)

Related post: How to Hide Your LinkedIn Contacts from the General Public

The problem is, you still want to stay connected.

You don’t want to un-friend them overtly, right?

The solution? THE HIDE BUTTON!

Here’s how:

Click the “Home” button on your LinkedIn profile.

This is your newsfeed; information pumped to you from your connections, companies you follow, etc.

Hover over a status update and you’ll see the word “hide” appear in the right corner of the contact’s update frame.

Click “hide” (if you dare), and watch their updates disappear from your newsfeed.

The beauty? You’ve not deleted the offending obsessive status updater from your list of contacts. Instead, you’ve cleaned up your newsfeed from too many posts from the same person.

The downside is that you won’t see ANY of that contact’s updates unless you visit his or her profile page directly. A shame, because many prolific posters can offer lots of insightful newsfeed items. Plus, I’m not sure how to un-hide contacts (there must be a way), so be certain that hiding them is what you want to do.

If you know about “un-hiding” contacts, or have other related tips, share them here!

Until next time!

Jared Redick

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

LinkedIn Checklist: 10 Tweaks for Control Freaks (Part 2)

the traffic lights on white backgroundA week ago, I posted Part 1 of my ten tips for better controlling your LinkedIn profile.

Here’s Part 2:

Control Tweak #6:  Customize your public profile (Settings > Profile > Edit your public profile)

LinkedIn lets you “control how you appear when people search for you on Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc.”

Thank you, LinkedIn.

One of the complexities of having a public profile on LinkedIn is that part of our credit worthiness comes from our career history. It stands to reason that some random individual with illegal intentions could use your LinkedIn profile — and other smatterings of data about you across the Internet — to create a profile in your name, and yes, even apply for and decimate your credit worthiness.

For this reason, I don’t allow LinkedIn to show my past positions publicly, and indeed, you may have other edits once you see the deep levels of customization LinkedIn offers.

Remember that information you’ve listed on your profile will still be fully visible to your connections, which gives good reason to know the people to whom  you are connected. Although even LinkedIn seems to be encouraging that we cast a much broader net these days.

While you’re on the page in question, scroll down and be sure you’ve customized your public profile.

Related post: How to Customize Your LinkedIn URL

Control Tweak #7: Edit your name, location and industry (Settings > Profile > Helpful Links)

I’d ignored this for several years, when in 2009 I took a training by Jason Alba ( author of “I’m on LinkedIn, Now What?”) and he recommended that I change my profile headline from “Principal” to “Executive Resume Writer.”

The effectiveness of my profile changed within moments as Google inexplicably re-indexed my appearance in search, not to mention the value of searches inside the LinkedIn ecosystem.

After all, who types in “Principal” when searching for an executive resume writer?

:facepalm:

The same can be true for one’s industry. My profile’s performance increased dramatically when I changed from “writing and editing” to “professional training and coaching,” which more appropriately defines my work.

As an executive résumé writer, I want people to be able to reach me. I use my LinkedIn profile often, and I’m accessible. If I returned to retained executive search, however, I’d write my summary in third person, formal tone of voice, and lock down my accessibility. I might even stop posting status updates.

Decide the best approach for you, and set up your own profile to match your position and purpose on LinkedIn. Continue reading