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Preparing to reenter the job market: get a head start!

Posted on 08/05/2020

1. Focus intently on your job, while you are still employed

Admittedly, this is easier said than done. But with layoffs and furloughs sharply escalating, now is not the time to ease up at work.

It’s now critical to demonstrate your productivity, especially if you work remotely. Respond promptly to emails from colleagues. Show up for virtual meetings on time and well-prepared. Stay on top of deadlines and deliverables.

(If possible, offer to lighten the workload for a co-worker who is sick or caring for a loved one due to the pandemic.)

2. Consider getting relevant certifications and training

Skills are going to be in higher demand with the impending recession, thus making jobs even more competitive. One sure way to stay ahead of the curve and at the epicenter of hiring is to look into online courses, distance learning, and industry certifications.  As a professional, you want to set yourself apart from other candidates by being the best-prepared candidate for your industry. Certifications are a great way to set yourself apart from the competition! If you haven’t earned a certification in the last several years, think about what certifications will be relevant to your next career move.  They showcase a certain skill level that can beat out the biggest competition. They also help you build valuable skills that will prove the claims stated on your resume and show that you possess the dedication and willingness to better yourself and your career.

3. Update your resume

The trick to creating a resume you can send to anyone is to tailor it to a target—be that a given industry, a dream role, or a chance to display your creativity. When you update it, make sure you're effectively demonstrating your talents and brand.

Reassess your career profile and branding statement to align with your job search moving forward. Add an end date on your most recent job to show you’re no longer employed (i.e. 2016 – 2020). Write the job description for your most recent role in past tense (i.e. managed > manage) Reflect on your past experience and include highlights, projects, or quantifiable achievements. Indicate on your cover letter the context of your layoff due to the company’s economic downturn

4. Spruce up your LinkedIn page

The LinkedIn profile page is the foundation for your personal branding. Use this time when you’re between jobs to find new ways to build your personal brand.

Here are 17 profile features you should check and update for 2020. Some of them are very quick wins, some of them may take a little bit of time – but all of them are very worthwhile. They will help to give you the LinkedIn profile and personal brand that you deserve.

1. Choose the right profile picture for LinkedIn

Your profile picture is your calling card on LinkedIn – it’s how people are introduced to you and (visual beings that we are) it governs their impressions from the start. There are some great posts explaining how to pick the right profile picture on LinkedIn – but here are some quick tips to start with: make sure the picture is recent and looks like you, make up your face takes up around 60% of it (long-distance shots don’t stand out), wear what you would like to wear to work, and smile with your eyes!

2. Add a background photo

Your background photo is the second visual element at the top of your profile page. It grabs people’s attention, sets the context and shows a little more about what matters to you. More than anything, the right background photo helps your page stand out, engage attention and stay memorable.

3. Make your headline more than just a job title

There’s no rule that says the description at the top of your profile page has to be just a job title. Use the headline field to say a bit more about how you see your role, why you do what you do, and what makes you tick.

4. Turn your summary into your story

The first thing to say about your LinkedIn summary is – make sure you have one! It’s amazing how many people still leave this field blank when creating their LinkedIn profile. Your summary is your chance to tell your own story – so don’t just use it to list your skills or the job titles you’ve had. Try to bring to life why those skills matter – and the difference they can make to the people you work with. Don’t be afraid to invest some time, try a few drafts, and run your summary past people you know. This is your most personal piece of content marketing – and it’s worth the effort.

5. Declare war on buzzwords

Buzzwords are adjectives that are used so often in LinkedIn headlines and summaries that they become almost completely meaningless. Our regular rankings of the most over-used buzzwords include terms like ‘specialized’, ‘leadership’, ‘focused’, ‘strategic’, ‘experienced’, ‘passionate’, ‘expert’, ‘creative’, ‘innovative’ and ‘certified’. Using these words won’t convince people that you have these qualities. You need to demonstrate them as well – both in the way you describe yourself, and in the way you use LinkedIn profile features to showcase your skills and accomplishments.

6. Grow your network

One of the easiest and yet most relevant ways to grow your LinkedIn network is to synch your profile with your email address book. This enables LinkedIn to suggest people you could connect with. It’s amazing how effective this can be at surfacing relevant people for you to reach out to – and no connection requests are sent without your permission, so you can vet all of the potential connections. Beyond this, get into the habit of following up meetings and conversations with LinkedIn connection requests – it’s a great way of keeping your network vibrant and up to date.

7. List your relevant skills

It’s one of the quickest of quick wins on LinkedIn – scroll through the list of skills and identify those that are relevant to you. Doing so helps to substantiate the description in your Headline and Summary and provides a platform for others to endorse you. However, the key here is staying relevant. A long list of skills that aren’t really core to who you are and what you do can start to feel unwieldy. Take time for a “spring clean” of your skills list every now and then.

8. Spread the endorsement love

Endorsements from other members substantiate your skills and increase your credibility. How do you get endorsed on LinkedIn? Go through your network and identify connections who you feel genuinely deserve an endorsement from you – that’s often the trigger for people to return the favor. Don’t be afraid to reach out with a polite message asking for endorsement for a few key skills as well. Remember, though, that relevance matters. Reach out to people whose endorsement you would really value.

9. Take a skills assessment

A skills assessment is an online test that enables you to demonstrate the level of your skills, and display a Verified Skills badge on your profile. Data shows that candidates with verified skills are around 30% more likely to be hired for the roles they apply for.  Displaying proof your abilities strengthens your personal brand more generally as well. Displaying the results of your skills assessments is entirely voluntary, and you can retake the tests as often as you like before showing that you’ve passed.

10. Request recommendations

Endorsements give people viewing your profile a quick, visual sense of why people value your work. Recommendations take things a step further. They are personal testimonials written to illustrate the experience of working with you. There’s a handy drop-down menu in the Recommendations section of your profile that makes it easy to reach out to specific contacts and request recommendations. Take the time to think about who you would most value a recommendation from – and personalize your request. It’s worth the extra effort.

11. Showcase your passion for learning

When you complete a course on LinkedIn Learning, you’ll have the opportunity to add a course certificate to your LinkedIn profile. You do this from within the Learning History section of your LinkedIn Learning account.

12. Share media and marketing collateral

The marketing collateral that you produce for your business can add an extra dimension to your own profile as well. Sharing case studies, white papers and other brand content helps to showcase your business, and helps people understand what makes you tick.

13. Get credit for your thought leadership with Publications

The Publications section is one of the most under-used elements in LinkedIn profiles – and that means that you can really stand out from the crowd when you use this feature to draw attention to existing thought-leadership content. Have you helped to write an eBook or a White Paper? Or written a post on your company’s blog? The Publications section links your profile to these assets.

14. Share relevant content from your LinkedIn feed

It’s one thing to have a network of connections on LinkedIn – it’s far better to have an active role in that network, appearing in your connections’ LinkedIn feeds in a way that adds value for them. Sharing relevant content with your network is one of the most accessible ways of doing this. You can make a start by keeping a close eye on your LinkedIn feed, and sharing content that you find genuinely interesting – and that aligns with your point of view.

15. Add comments

Sharing is great – but it’s just the starting point. When you add comments to your shares, you give yourself greater prominence within the feed and start to express why you think a particular piece of content matters. Well-expressed comments also enable you to share a broader range of content. It might be that you don’t agree with a point of view but still find it interesting, for example. A comment that can express that viewpoint starts to establish your opinion and thought leadership. It’s also more likely to draw additional comments, which then raise your profile across LinkedIn. Bear this mind when you’re writing your comment – and make sure you’re saying something you’re happy for people to associate with you.

16. Follow relevant influencers for your industry

Following relevant influencers on LinkedIn helps to put a range of interesting content in your feed, which you can then share with others when you think it adds value. It also helps to give context to your LinkedIn profile, demonstrating your passion for what you do.

17. Publish long-form content – and use it to start conversations

The more you share and comment on content, the more you establish your expertise and thought-leadership credentials on LinkedIn. Publishing long-form posts is the natural next step to take. A great starting point is to monitor the response that you get to your comments and shares. Are there particular subjects and points of view that seem to resonate with your network? Are there comments that you have shared which you feel you could expand on in a post? Evolving your thought leadership in this way keeps it real – and keeps you plugged into the issues your connections are talking about. Be ready for your long-form posts to start new conversations too. Keep an eye on the comments and be ready to respond.

5. Reach Out to Your Network

Engage online and begin networking. Many people will be monitoring job boards and submitting applications right now. That’s why networking is now more important than ever. Reach out to old colleagues and share helpful content online.

Follow the experts and learn from the experiences of others. Job search experts, journalists, leaders, and previously laid off workers are sharing wonderful advice online.  Business and career-minded individuals who have networked over time have been able to expand their professional circles because of the avenue of newer opportunities opened to them through networking. Opportunities like meeting the right clients or even meeting people that are superior to your career path could be a stepping stone that could change your life for the better.

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