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Return to Work with Skills, Not Smiles

If you are in life stage: Itching to Work Again Posted February 8th, 2015
By Kathryn Sollmann

During one of my many daily tours through Linkedin (a place where any woman looking to return to work should be, too), I noticed a headline: “Personable and Organized Woman Returning to Workforce”.

That headline stopped me cold. (The headline, you probably know, is like the title of your Linkedin profile—the first thing that potential employers or recruiters see ID-10081459when you come up in a search.) I’m guessing that the personable and organized woman, as nice and tidy as she may be, is not getting interviews every week.

That’s not just careless conjecture. I once created a business to help women return to the workforce, so I’ve spoken to many employers and many women embarking on that path. Too often, time out of the workforce wears down confidence and causes women to focus on soft attributes, not hard core skills. As a result, Linkedin, resumes and cover letters become job search sales tools that are lukewarm at best.

A job search far and wide will never uncover a Manager of Personality and Organization. A personable nature, organization, reliability, punctuality, team player prowess and all similar “I brake for animals” attributes are expected in all employees and do not give you a job search edge.

What employers want to know is that you’re a whiz at accounting, a persuasive writer, a keen negotiator—and in which industries and situations you’ve excelled. Your Linkedin headline should encapsulate not only who you are but the skills you have to offer—not the fact that you’re really nice to be around.

I’ve written many articles about how to write your Linkedin profile and use the powerful networking site to your strategic advantage. (In the search box in the upper righthand corner of this page just type “Linkedin” and you’ll have enough reference material to fill an afternoon.)

As a first step, though, look at your Linkedin headline and make sure you’re selling yourself as a product that does valuable things. I’ve talked about focusing on skills, but also be sure you’re not just advertising a job title. Think of yourself as a jar of peanut butter that has to really catch the attention of busy consumers. A label that just says “Peanut Butter” (or “Advertising Professional” on a Linkedin profile) won’t land in a shopper’s cart.

If you’re looking to go back to advertising, you’d more likely be found in Linkedin searches and get the attention of employers and recruiters with a headline like:

10 Yrs CPG Agency & Corp Advertising Copywriter; Beverage & Car Accts; Developed Winning Slogans for Coke & Toyota

So be creative and promotional. You have 120 characters to sell skills and accomplishments in your Linkedin headline. Make every word count. —KAS

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