I know what constitutes a great professional profile, from both sides of the equation; as a 'buyer' through my experience vetting thousands of professional resumes, and more recently as a 'seller' preparing team bios for major consulting proposals.
Whether you're actively seeking a new opportunity or not, it's a good idea to ensure your professional profile (e.g. resume and LinkedIn profile) is crisp, current, and continues to demonstrate where and how you'd like to progress your career. Below are my top three tips for a winning outcome:
1. Know your audience
Create a 'stock' profile with all your experiences. Be clear on who you are and the unique value proposition you bring professionally in a short targeted statement upfront.
Pull out the jargon. The job and project titles used in some organisations may not best represent your skills and experiences, or how these are understood in the broader market.
Amend your resume (and associated documentation e.g. cover letter) for each opportunity. I'll never forget reading a cover letter for a job application addressed to our competitor. Not all your experience needs to be included unless it is relevant however this needs to be balanced with avoiding large gaps in your employment history. Highlight key words in your skills and experiences.
Remember less is often more. Include enough information to cover what’s important and to evoke an invitation for a connection or an interview.
2. Promote your achievements
To truly differentiate yourself, promote your achievements in each of your different career roles; in concrete, quantifiable terms (% sales growth etc). Harvard Business Review talks about the importance of including ‘accomplishment statements’, or how you added value to a role and/ or an organisation. You can highlight these in bullet point form below each summary experience. You might also add further weight to your accomplishments by providing insights into how you overcame major obstacles.
3. Build a strong professional network
A lot of our professional success boils down to building and maintaining winning relationships. The job market is saturated with resumes, online profiles, and cold calls (and now cold LinkedIn invitations). Build a strong professional network to foster your professional brand and to access opportunities and professionals in related fields.
From my days in recruitment, I recall successful candidates who actively networked and were subsequently 'preferred' long before an interview.
Spend time investing in your networks, and not just any relationships; target those who inspire you in your career. With the onset of LinkedIn, leaders and influencers in our chosen fields have never been so readily accessible. Extend a personalised invitation and sign up to follow groups and organisations that pique your interest to gain a better grasp of the current market.
Other great resources:
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.