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Personal Branding & Marketing

How Do I Get Started on LinkedIn?


After years of being asked to join LinkedIn, I've finally done it. Any suggestions on how to get started?  C. L.

Great question. As LinkedIn is a full service networking site, there are many ways to use it -- from making new professional connections through LinkedIn groups and Q &A discussions to finding jobs and requesting referrals.

If you're new to LinkedIn, the first thing you should do is make sure you've got an amazing profile that employers can find. Studies show that up to 86% of employers using social media to find candidates for jobs use LinkedIn so I recommend you have the best profile possible.

Bonus: LinkedIn is one of the 15 most accessed sites online as tracked by, so any information you post on the site and make public will help you be found by major search engines -- and prospective employers.

Here's a quick list of easy steps you can use to optimize LinkedIn that I created over at Let me know if you find this to be helpful -- and good luck!

Managing Your Career 2.0: On Giving Up To Get It Right

I'm a big fan of the A& E show Hoarders, a program that looks "inside the lives of people whose inability to part with their belongings is so out of control that they are on the verge of a personal crisis." 2837613821_7bcbd65cf1_m
If I sit down to watch it, I invariably stand up and beginning throwing things away--or start making a list of what can go.

This month's post for the Career Collective focuses on spring cleaning for job search--and letting go of things that no longer work for you.

My take today: One of the most powerful things you can let go of is the quest to be perfect. Most of us--myself included--aren't capable of doing everything well. There are some things we do really well, and there are some things that--try as we might--just aren't our forte. Sometimes, the things that are more difficult for us to do--and that we don't enjoy--are the things we should give up.

Here are two examples from people I've had the good fortune to work with:

  • A Teacher who got promoted to be an Assistant Principal but who discovered that office politics and paperwork weren't for her. She didn't like working in a different capacity with former colleagues. She had a good mentor, she just didn't want to move forward. She returned to teaching--and she's much happier.
  • A Marketing Professional who was on a track to become a Vice President of Creative Services at a Fortune 50 (a role 90% of her colleagues craved). She discovered she enjoyed executing on ideas more than she liked creating them--and switched tracks to focusing on Operations.

For these women, the pursuit of happiness meant taking the "road less traveled" professionally. It was a move "against the grain" for careers long set as goals, and yet--the decision not to pursue the path originally decided upon was ultimately more fulfilling.

The decision on what to give up doesn't always require one to forfeit a career path.

I once worked for an Engineering School Dean who believed on focusing your strengths--and spending very little time to correct weaknesses. His job required that he give multiple speeches a year to diverse constituencies. And so he developed one amazing talk which he adapted slightly to meet the needs of audiences. One talk for a Dean responsible for the leadership of an entire school. But the talk was so good that those of us who heard it--are unlikely to ever forget it. He was hired away to run a much larger university.

My mom started a new career at 50 when her work interests changed. She gave up a coveted job to start her own small business.

David Broder, who died today, and was frequently referred to as one of the greatest journalists of our time--gave up filing and throwing things away. A Washington Post tribute says that his desk was "so messy that at times there was barely enough room for him to slip through the door and sit in front of his computer." I've been reading his work since I was 20, and I'm glad he spent his time elsewhere.

What's in your way? And what will you throw out in order to keep moving forward?

Drawing by Lori Hutchinson


Here are the links to posts on this topic from my wise colleagues at Career Collective--read 'em and reap!

Career Advice Not Worth Taking Part II: Should You Say You're Always Flexible?

This is the second in a three part series inspired by an e-book of career advice that prescribed answers to interviewing questions. 5460819092_c52c547692

Here, I take a look at the Q & A given by the e-book's authors, and suggest an alternative response:

Question: What type of work environment do you prefer?

Suggested Answer: Always answer “I am flexible.”

My take: Only answer that you are flexible if YOU REALLY ARE. Because when you are hired, you will work 40+ hours a week in this environment, and if it isn’t a good environment for you—you shouldn’t do it.

Any interview is a two-way street: You pick the employer, and the employer picks you. The interview is your opportunity to find out more about the work environment and to see if it is a good fit for you.

You should know what type of work environment you work best in—do you prefer to work with just one or two colleagues, or with ten? Do you like it when others share your interests—or do you prefer to play a unique role in a team. Were you the coxswain as opposed to a rower on the crew team. Or a goalie on the soccer team instead of a forward?

Would you like to work in an environment in which the "only constant is change" or do you like to know what to expect on a Monday morning?

You should know what you offer first, and answer the question honestly--but in a way which also takes into account the needs of the employer.

Here’s a quick way to do this: Take the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) and study up on what others who fall into the same personality type (category) do—and don’t do. (You can even follow-up by checking out the book, Do What You Are, which goes into great detail on this.)

Then develop an answer in advance which is genuine. For example, if you thrive on scheduling and getting things done in advance you might say:

For example, "I can perform well under stress when called to do so, but my general M.O. is to plan so I don't have to. In my last job, my goal was to complete large assigned projects at least three business days in advance to allow time for error or things that come up. This strategy helped my team meet deadlines--and meant I never had to pull an "all-nighter."

That's my answer. What's your take: How would you answer this one?

Photo by John Crowley

Career Advice Not Worth Taking: Does a Pat Answer to How You Deal With Stress Work?

Several weeks ago, I learned of a free new career e-book for new grads from a technical recruiting firm. I worked in university career offices for eight years before starting my business, so I couldn’t wait to see what they had to say. 5460821586_4e011d7150

  • Good advice on the need for a mentor. Check.
  • Proactive practices to scout for opportunities from social media to interviewing 101. Check.
  • Sound strategies on doing your homework before applying for a job. Check.

The Guide was filled with good advice, until I got to the section on going “Beyond Interviewing 101” which had prescribed answers for each question.

Over the next three days, I'll be sharing these Questions & Answers with you--the suggested advice along with my take. Here's the first:

Question: How do you handle stress and pressure?

Suggested Answer: The best answer would be saying “I actually work better under pressure” and giving an example.


My take:

This is the answer that the recruiting firm who wrote the e-book wants to hear from the candidates that they are trying to recruit. They are spoonfeeding it to you. So if you interview with them, this is the answer that they are looking for.

I don't recommend this approach.

I think the answer to this question should be balanced with candor: Talk about how flexible you are--or how you approach your work--within the context of what the employer needs.

1. How you REALLY handle stress and pressure and

2. How the employer NEEDS you to handle stress and pressure.

There are some jobs where you MUST work under pressure: Think live tv or videostreaming, stock trading, the ER, other positions that require you to perform “in the moment.”

But for many jobs employers NEED for the environment to be as stress-free as possible: Here are a few examples: therapeutic horseback riding facilities, spas, quality assurance for companies who cannot operate without FDA approval.

Most jobs are in between. Many employers don’t appreciate procrastination—or situations that lead to stress and pressure. Also something to consider.

How would you answer this question? And how would you assess what's important to the hiring organization?

Till next time,


Photo by John Crowley