10 Tips For Writing Your Online Profile

by Beverly Harvey

With online social networking playing such an important part in job search, it is crucial to create a professional profile or bio on a few of the social networking sites that recruiters are using to find candidates. There are several different types of sites offering networking opportunities. The primary social networking sites appropriate for senior executives include LinkedIn.com, eCademy.com and Xing.com. There are also membership sites such as ExecuNet.com, RiteSite.com, TheLadders.com, ExecutiveRegistery.com, Netshare.com, CareerJournal.com, and others that also allow you to post a profile for networking purposes. Then there are the more casual, conversational sites such as Facebook.com, Twitter.com, Flickr.com, MySpace.com, Orkut.com and approximately 300 others.

Before creating and posting your profile, review each site to reveal the culture and tone of the site and determine the appropriate approach and amount of information you will want to share. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are much more conversational than the others and you’ll want to adjust your writing style. Some sites have fill-in-the-box screens and they step you through the process. Others offer recommendations for categories you can include, and others are completely free form.

Whichever sites you choose, follow these tips for greatest effectiveness.

Be consistent with your name: To eliminate any confusion to recruiters or potential employers, be consistent with the name you use online, particularly for job search purposes. Your online name should match your name on your resume.

Write in first party: When writing in first party, be careful not to start every sentence with “I” and “my.” Write your profile as if you were writing a cover letter … slightly more conversational than your resume … but with limited use of personal pronouns.

Reverse chronological order: Begin your profile with your most recent experience. Often times traditional bios begin with where you were born or graduated and progress to current day, however, your online profile should only cover your recent background. Going back more than ten years is not advised, unless you need to include earlier experience to support a position you’re currently pursuing.

Write professionally: This may be your “first impression” with a recruiter or potential employer. If the option is available, create a powerful headline or tag line that captures the reader’s attention and compels the reader to want to know more about you. Your profile summary should be an “executive snapshot” with basic information regarding type of experience, industry focus, types of companies, global cultural familiarity, languages, and other areas of expertise.

Value proposition: Demonstrate your experience in solving specific problems. Include three to five examples of how you deliver value to the employers’ bottom line.

Your expertise: Be specific about your expertise. You do not want to look like a generalist; most companies are looking for executives with deeply niched expertise. They are looking for the “perfect fit.”

Your executive brand: Include your innate qualities that differentiate you from others. Mention what you are renowned for, or what you are a stand for, or are an evangelist for. Your brand must project a clear and marketable value proposition, an authentic and unique promise of value.

Jargon: Using common industry jargon is fine, but be careful about using company-specific jargon that no one else will understand. It’s a turnoff and some people may feel intimidated.

Check your spelling: Most online networking sites do not have spell checkers. As an executive, it is imperative to have an error-free profile.

Double check your spelling: Recruiters search for candidates by keywords. If you have misspelled the word they are searching on, your profile will not come up in their results.

Complete your profile: Many sites have some type of gauge that displays the percentage of the completeness of your profile based on the number of categories you complete. According to LinkedIn, users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to find opportunities through their site.

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