Career certifications: Why they are important to career professionals


Continuous learning is important in any field, but especially so in the career industry.  We are the folks who need to “walk the talk” about growing professionally by developing ourselves too. 

Gaining certifications adds to your knowledge base and your credibility as an expert.  It also keeps you current and cutting edge.  With today’s technology explosion, it is more important than ever to know how social media sites can affect your clients but even the foundational certification areas can be useful (such as coaching, résumé writing, etc.).   

Finding certification programs can be overwhelming right from the start.  Besides the fact that so many certifications exist in the broad area of career management (such as career coaching, employee development, and branding) and job search assistance (such as interviewing, résumé writing and using social media), there are also a variety of training providers of varied size and reputation.   

I’m happy to start the conversation but this topic is bigger than one can fit in a blog post, so here are some ways to learn more about career certifications:

  • Attend the 45th Annual Middle Atlantic Career Counseling Association conference on December 2-4, 2015 (learn more here) and visit my breakout session, Making Change Happen by Growing Yourself Professionally on Thursday, December 3rd from 3:15-4:15pm   
  • To learn more about the ins and outs of earning certifications in our industry, please visit this article on the site of the National Career Development Association (NCDA): Grow Professionally by Earning Career Certifications by Paula Brand originally appeared in NCDA’s web magazine, Career Convergence at  Copyright ©March 2015.  


The Truth about LinkedIn’s Recruiter Corporate:  Tips and Tricks for being found on LinkedIn using the FAVAR Method

In my last blog post, I introduced you to the FAVAR™ Method of LinkedIn Profile Creation, outlined the main thrust of it and shared a few tips for using it effectively.   As a refresher, the FAVAR Method is used to create LinkedIn profiles that will be easily found using Recruiter Corporate (a paid version of LinkedIn that recruiters often use to evaluate candidates).  In this post, I will share more insights and tips about FAVAR and Recruiter Corporate.  Apply this knowledge to be sought out by recruiters. The most surprising things I learned about Recruiter Corporate:

  • Recruiters can’t see everyone’s profile! I figured that paying about $8,000 a year for this product would provide access to anyone’s profile.  Not so.  If you are not connected to the recruiter in some way, they may not be able to see your full profile.  Recruiters are provided “unlocks” which allow them to see a full “out of network” profile.  However, they only get a small number of these each month and use them sparingly.  This is why it’s best to have as large a network as possible.  With a larger network, you are more likely to be connected in some way to the recruiter.
  • Recruiters can’t see all content within profiles (even when they are connected to the person). Many sections are not displayed in Recruiter Corporate (such as images, videos, projects, GPA, endorsements, honors and awards).  Because of this limitation, recruiters often log into the basic version of LinkedIn to see full details about a potential candidate.  It is important to note that even though the recruiter may not be able to see every section, the data in those fields still affects search results.  For both of these reasons, it is still best to complete your profile as much as possible!
  • In Recruiter Corporate, your network relationship to the recruiter appears to have no relevance on advanced search results. The outcomes are based on how close the profile matches the search criteria, not how closely you are connected to the person running the search. 
  • In the snapshot profile, your degree information does not appear in Recruiter Corporate, only the school name is displayed. Therefore, consider adding college information, even if you didn’t finish your degree.   


New tricks I learned from the FAVAR Method:

  • The zip code trick: If you do not live within your target area, add a zip code to your profile that is in between your town and the target location.  For example, if I live in Annapolis but I am open to opportunities in Washington DC, I should enter a zip code of a town in between the two locations.  This would help my profile to be included in a recruiter’s search of both areas.
  • With some major metropolitan areas, you are able to select the geographic area that is displayed on your profile. If given an option, always display the major market (Washington, DC vs. Annapolis) to come up in more searches.  
  • Do you have a first name that can be spelled in different ways (Jon vs. John) or a last name that is often misspelled? Help recruiters find you by adding alternations of your name in the summary.   Branding expert William Arruda’s LinkedIn profile ( provides an example of this.  Near the bottom of his summary it says “AKA/Common misspellings:  Bill Arruda, William Aruda.”  This allows him to be found in keyword searches by name, even when someone might not have the correct spelling.   You can also add the alternate spelling in the first name field, to cover your bases. 
  • The first 50-100 characters in your summary section are essential because they are displayed to the recruiter as a snippet under your profile snapshot. Give serious thought to those first few words.  It’s a good idea to use job functions/titles that are likely to be used in a keyword search (such as Career Counselor or Career Coach) by a recruiter.   Also, consider adding your name and contact information here because the recruiter does not see your name in the snapshot if they are not connected to you and only first degree connections can easily see your contact information.

Final words about the summary section:

The summary section is critical to your profile and it’s the only section that can affect all five steps of the FAVAR Method (Findability, Attractability, Viewability, Applicability and Reachability).   Don’t skip this section!  It can be useful in many ways and it’s one of the few that gives you flexibility to write anything you want (within the space limit of 2000 characters).   

I hope you put this information to good use to make your profile more easily found for the right opportunities!  For more information about the FAVAR Method and other useful LinkedIn resources, go to

Note:  This is a modified version of a similar article I wrote.  It originally appeared in Volume 37 Number 3, May-June (2015) edition of the Career Planning & Adult Development Newsletter.

Introducing The FAVAR Method and how it can help your clients

    Have you heard of The FAVAR Method™?  It is a systematic way to build your profile on LinkedIn for maximum effectiveness.   According to its creator, “The FAVAR Method of LinkedIn Profile Creation is a strategic and tactical approach to writing LinkedIn Profiles so that the Profile is found for appropriate opportunities; then able to be viewed and evaluated, resulting in the individual being easily contacted.”

I recently learned about Dan Stiffler of MaxOutLI and his FAVAR Method through the Career Thought Leaders, Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark.  I spend a lot of time learning about LinkedIn but his webinar series caught my eye because it is from a recruiter’s perspective and it gives a unique view from someone who uses LinkedIn every day to find candidates.  As a recruiter, he seriously uses a paid version of LinkedIn through their “app” called Recruiter Corporate and much of his information comes from knowing the ins and outs of this app.  However, like most recruiters, he is also forced to use the basic version due to limitations of the paid version, so the concepts he shares are useful for multiple LinkedIn platforms. 

The mission of MaxoutLI is to help people be successful in advancing their careers by using LinkedIn wisely.  Dan was motivated to create this method because he saw a lot of information being shared about LinkedIn but none of it seemed to address the key issue of getting a profile through the many steps of the selection process.  He decided to provide a central resource to share his heavily researched method.  The main website ( offers many resources (free and paid) to assist in this effort.

As Dan points out, the job seeker doesn’t have to come up as the number one result in a search, they just have to stay in the game at each step of elimination.  In Recruiter Corporate, search results display the top 1000 people and it doesn’t really matter if you show up as 2nd or 10th. Your client’s real goal is to end up in the final group to be contacted.  Using the FAVAR Method ensures that they will “survive and advance” to the next round in each phase of the selection process.

The premise of everything in the FAVAR Method lies in its name.  FAVAR (pronounced like favor) is an acronym for the five steps in the search process that are native to all LinkedIn account types.   Below gives a description of each letter and a few tips to maximize your use of LinkedIn.  As with many aspects of career advising, this advice may need to be tailored to the person’s situation.  Not every piece of advice will be appropriate for every circumstance. 

FINDABILITY – Relates to being found by recruiters on LinkedIn.  The five most important aspects are:  location, title, company and industry, along with keywords to add relevance.

  • Research the appropriate keywords for your industry and profession and naturally weave them into your profile. Repeating keywords in various sections is good but don’t just pack them in without any context. 
  • The more places you use the right key words, the more likely you will be found for them.
  • Complete your profile! Searches rely on the data you provide.  There are no penalties by LinkedIn for including too much information.  That said; make sure the material shared is relevant and not too overwhelming. 

ATTRACTABILITY – Does the Snapshot (top of your profile) generate interest for the right opportunities?  Does it encourage the recruiter to read your full profile?  The snapshot is going to create the first impression of you and the recruiter will make a quick decision whether or not to keep reading. 

  • Give serious thought to the words in your headline (think keywords). In most cases, using your current title and employer name is not going to provide the best branding for your client.
  • Use an attractive headshot that is appropriate for your industry. Dan recommends hiring a professional.  I don’t think you have to pay someone but it must be a good photo (not a selfie, not from your beach vacation, etc.).
  • Dan says that not having a profile picture won’t eliminate you from an opportunity if there is enough other information but we both agree that a profile with a picture is more compelling than one without.
  • Geographically speaking, always display the major market (i.e. Washington DC or Baltimore, vs. Annapolis) to attract more opportunities.

VIEWABILITY –   How many people can see your full profile easily?  What can you do to make your profile viewable by the most people? 

  • The larger your network, the more easily you can be found and your profile viewed!
  • Even with the paid subscription to Recruiter Corporate, a recruiter cannot see every profile in LinkedIn. If you are out of network with the recruiter, it will be harder for them to view your profile and contact you.
  • Make a real effort to increase the number of first degree connections to maximize the full potential of LinkedIn. Set a goal of gaining a certain number of contacts each week/month. 

APPLICABILITY – Is the information in your profile compelling enough to be contacted for the types of employment you seek?  Focusing on this area will help you attract “appropriate” opportunities.

  • Utilize the right keywords to be found. If you use the wrong words, you will attract the wrong opportunities.
  • Use the summary to showcase your personality as well as your skills. The recruiter will read this to see if you are a good fit for the work culture. 
  • Use first person in your summary to make it warm and friendly.
  • Graphic images such as videos and presentations are not visible on Recruiter Corporate but they are still valuable for visual appeal on your profile when viewed in the basic version.

REACHABILITY – Is your contact information easy to find?  How difficult would it be to contact you outside of LinkedIn?

  • Provide more than one way to make contact. Add your phone number along with your e-mail. 
  • Do not put your contact information in the field for your name or headline. This is against LinkedIn policy.
  • Remember that in the basic version, your contact e-mail will only be displayed to your first degree connections.
  • To make it easier for everyone to contact you, include your contact information in multiple places in your profile. Besides the required field for e-mail, also include it in the beginning of your summary and in the section titled “Advice for contacting you.”

It’s helpful to think of the FAVAR method as a funnel, starting at the top with Findability and ending with Reachability.  At each level, you have the power to keep the attention of the recruiter with the goal of having them reach out to you as the final step.   Use this method to help your client make the cut.  If you are interested in learning more about the FAVAR Method, go to

Note:  This is a modified version of a similar article I wrote.  It originally appeared in Volume 37 Number 2, March-April (2015) edition of the Career Planning & Adult Development Newsletter.

US DOL awards nearly $170 Million in Ready to Work Grants

Exciting things are taking place to help the long term unemployed (LTU) in our country.  The momentum has continued since my last blog post.  On Oct. 15, the US Department of Labor (DOL) awarded almost 170 million dollars to 20 states and Puerto Rico to help long term job seekers.  These Ready to Work grants are a culmination of efforts that started in January when President Obama made a pledge to help Americans get back to work and those efforts have been strengthened by actions from DOL.  To see a list of the award recipients, click here.

There are three key features of the winning programs.  First, they provide employer engagement and paths to high demand occupations.  Second, the services are tailored to the LTU.  Third, some of the programs incorporate occupational training and on-the-job training.

Employer involvement is important aspect of this campaign to help the LTU.  Starting in January, leading corporations joined this movement and later shared their best practices for hiring long term unemployed job seekers.  To date, 80 employers have signed onto this effort including 20 members of the Fortune 50.  Even the OPM is getting involved to implement better hiring practices of the LTU within the federal government. On January 31, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum to enhance safeguards to ensure federal hiring is treating people who have become unemployed, due to no fault of their own, fairly when applying for federal jobs.

Along with this progress, the lapsed legislation of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) was finally addressed after many years of neglect, when the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was signed by President Obama on July 22, 2014.

Many of these actions above have already helped lower the unemployment rate for the LTU.  The Ready to Work grants are one more way to lower this number.  Congratulations to all of the awarded programs.   Make them count, spend the money wisely and create national models to help our country get back to work!

P.S.  If you want to read more about this topic, here is a Fact Sheet on efforts to help the LTU –

P.P.S.  This initiative has produced some resources to help employers and job seekers.  To see them, click on the Resources tab above on the main menu bar.

Working together to create “Opportunity for All” one step at a time

Paula Brand with DOL Secretary Thomas Perez and Acting Assistant Secretary Eric Selznow

Paula Brand with DOL Secretary Thomas Perez and Acting Assistant Secretary Eric Selznow

It is an exciting time to be in the arena of workforce development.  Our field is expanding, more people are realizing its importance and the federal government is taking action affecting our industry and those we serve.   For 2014, the White House and the Department of Labor (DOL) have announced an ambitious but much needed focus on improving our economy by helping the long-term unemployed, improving workforce training programs, and raising the minimum wage.

It was especially energizing for me to be a small part of this movement to help the long-term unemployed.   At the beginning of 2014, I was asked to attend a meeting held by the DOL Secretary Thomas Perez along with Employment and Training Administration (ETA) Officials Eric Selznow, Acting Assistant Secretary and Ben Seigel, Senior Policy Advisor.  The invited guests were a few dedicated job club leaders and a group of long-term job seekers.  The purpose:  to start a dialogue discussing the challenges and potential solutions for the long-term unemployed.

Walking through the long and tall corridors of DOL and waiting for the meeting to start were somewhat intimidating but once it began, the warmth felt by the administration was heartfelt and I was impressed with the genuine concern and sincerity from DOL Secretary Perez.   Hearing the personal stories and struggles of each talented and motivated job seeker was very emotional.  One man who was diagnosed and battled cancer while being long-term unemployed said that by far, being unemployed had more negative impact on his life than the cancer.  While I was saddened to hear this, I was not shocked.  As a career advisor I have seen the effects of unemployment.  Not only does it attack your self-confidence and cause financial strain but the process of finding decent employment in this job market can really take a toll on your soul.   Thanks to these folks for telling their compelling stories.  I know it was hard to share with a room full of strangers but the impact was huge and led to positive action.

As a career and workforce professional, I must take a brief moment to challenge the opinions out there that the long-term unemployed are unmotivated and happy to be receiving unemployment insurance.  There are many honest and hard-working job seekers and there are a variety reasons why it might take someone a long time to become re-employed.  Sometimes people need to change careers, which is a much longer process than just finding a job.  Sometimes the health of the person or a close family member takes necessary but critical time away from the job search.  Below are a couple of posts emphasizing the point that the long term unemployed are not lazy and expecting a handout.  They want to contribute to our economy; they just need to be given a chance.   Eric’s Selnzow’s blog post about our January 8th meeting shared that it is often not a lack of motivation and effort creating the length of unemployment.   Also, John Fugazzie wrote a moving article about the recent efforts from DOL and the White House while continuing to dispel the myths surrounding this group of job seekers.

Then, on January 31, only a few weeks after our DOL visit, President Obama stood in the East Room of the White House and announced new partnerships with companies to improve hiring practices that are singling out people in this “long term unemployed” category.  For more information, here is a fact sheet on this effort Here is a list of best practices and the names of companies already on board.  If you run a company and want to sign on, click here to do so.

Building upon this momentum, in February the Department of Labor announced a Ready to Work Partnership initiative to competitively award around $150 million (in revenues from the H-B1 visa program) to high performing workforce organizations for providing a variety of training and services to get people back to work.

Activities surrounding this topic are continuing.  On May 6th, many of the same group headed to Boston for a conference at MIT addressing long term unemployment and solutions.  And just last week some former colleagues of mine went to the White House to speak with DOL Secretary Perez, Eric Selnzow, Ben Seigel and others to continue this conversation.  Thanks to DOL and the White House for keeping this conversation going and taking action steps to help the long-term unemployed.

There are two lesser known champions who have made great efforts to help job seekers behind the scenes, Ben Seigel and John Fuggazie.  Kudos to Ben Seigel for his efforts for organizing the January 8th meeting that started the ball rolling.  In recent years, he has been dedicated to bringing this issue to the forefront at the highest levels of our government.   Also, many thanks to John Fugazzie, an inspirational leader for job seekers who tirelessly promoted the case for extending unemployment benefits.   John created Neighbors-helping-Neighbors USA, Inc. a free, volunteer-led job search support and networking group targeted to adults who are actively looking for work. He writes a regular column for AOL.  Click here  to see his article about the January 8th meeting with DOL Secretary Perez.  Thanks to everyone who is helping in this effort.   It is an important one!

Related posts:

White House Blog post on helping the long-term unemployed:

National Economic Council Report addressing the negative effects of long-term unemployment:

DOL meeting on January 8, 2014

DOL meeting on January 8, 2014

Forum with DOL Sect. Perez and long term job seekers

Forum with DOL Sect. Perez and long term job seekers

Dear LinkedIn, Help Us Help You!

I speak for many: I am one of many Career Professionals who promote LinkedIn every day to job seekers, career changers and anyone interested in taking a proactive role in managing their career. I will use the term “we” from this point on and will go out on a limb and speak for all career professionals because I have not found one yet who disagrees with me on this (and I know hundreds of them).

The jury is in: Based on many blog posts, comments in LinkedIn groups and in-person collegial discussions, it’s clear that many of us are frustrated with continually being caught off guard by sudden changes to the site. While it is understandable that LinkedIn must make smart business decisions that cause changes to the site, being more transparent and proactive in sharing information regarding the changes would benefit us, LinkedIn and its members.

Must changes be so surprising? Believe me, with the many changes in the world of work, our industry knows very well that the only constant in life is change. We are not saying don’t change, we’re just saying, please consistently warn us when it is about to happen or at least make it easy for us to know when it has taken place. We have been able to adapt to LinkedIn changes but it can be challenging, depending on the scale of the change. Some changes are small (like changing how to remove a contact) but many are big (like removing entire sections such as the pages providing details on specific Skills & Expertise or Signal). In some cases these changes are announced publicly (usually on the LinkedIn blog) but in other cases, it is done without much notification, if any at all. Sometimes the changes are so abrupt that the LinkedIn Help Center hasn’t event caught up and shows incorrect and old instructions. In other cases, we are in the middle of a live presentation using LinkedIn when we find out a major feature has totally disappeared without warning (this happened to me). I know people who have been prepared with PowerPoint slides for an early morning presentation only to have had the prepared screen shots become outdated overnight. In many cases, the only way to find out about a change is from online posts and verbal dialogues by angered LinkedIn members and trainers.

Let’s try to make it better: Is there a way to involve career professionals with LinkedIn changes in a more meaningful way? I am aware that in past years, LinkedIn created special training and support for journalists and I wonder if it has considered doing something similar for career practitioners. In both cases, these groups provide extended publicity for LinkedIn. That publicity can be good or bad, depending on how these groups interact with and experience LinkedIn. Why not take a preemptive approach with career professionals to help LinkedIn garner more positive marketing and improve LinkedIn members’ experience? If this would be of interest to LinkedIn, I would happy to help in that effort.

This could be a win-win! I truly believe we have valuable insights that would make LinkedIn a better product and that you are missing out on utilizing our expertise. Here are some ways we could be useful to LinkedIn. First, as avid users, we often notice glitches before anyone else. If we had a more effective way to share these with your company, you might be able to catch unintended consequences faster. I’m sure if asked, many of us would even be willing to preview, test and provide feedback on new features. Second, as teachers and evangelizers of LinkedIn, we interact with members and potential users every day. We hear feedback that you never will. We can provide front line opinions on features that people find useful, valuable or annoying. This could help LinkedIn avoid trouble by discarding or adding features that devalue members’ experience with LinkedIn. Finally, we can help others feel less intimidated about using LinkedIn. When we are in the middle of a presentation and jarred by a new change, it reinforces to the audience that it can be hard to keep up with all of the changes. This discourages people from being interested in using the site more often and perpetuates the argument that it’s too much to keep up with so why bother joining or using LinkedIn at all.

Call to act: If you are a career professional who agrees with this point of view, please share this post with others, especially anyone at LinkedIn who might be open to this idea and feel free to reach out to me. If you work for LinkedIn, I would be happy to continue this conversation. Please contact me to discuss ways that we can help LinkedIn succeed.

LinkedIn: Should a job seeker pay for an upgraded version?

My spring was filled with many LinkedIn activities that kept me too busy to blog until now. It started with a LinkedIn workshop with my colleague Shahrzad Arasteh (We do this every few months in Annapolis. The next LinkedIn workshop is on the morning of Saturday, July 13 and we will definitely be sharing information on the recent changes to LinkedIn). In April, I was honored to speak at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for their 7th Annual Fellow’s Retreat for the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Disease (NIAID). And finally, I was asked to write a journal article about LinkedIn for the summer issue of a career counseling journal.



Paula Brand speaking at NIAID’s 7th Annual Fellow’s Retreat

Of the many times I teach about LinkedIn, there is one question that comes up the most. This post is devoted to that question: Should I pay to upgrade my LinkedIn Account? The answer depends on your purpose, but for the most part I would say no. If you are a recruiter: yes it’s worth every penny. If you are a business owner marketing your products: this can be a great way to reach potential customers. If you are a job seeker, I say save your money and read on.

Anyone can open a basic account for free. All of the techniques and features I share in workshops are based on the free account. There are benefits of upgrading but for most of us, they are unnecessary. The main advantages of upgrading are the ability to send InMails (InMails allow you to send a message to anyone in the LinkedIn community, regardless of having any other connection to them) and more powerful search options to find people. There are other smaller benefits but those are the big ones.

You could wait to be offered a free trial of the upgrade. I regularly get solicited for a free month of the various upgrade services packages. At times, I have been tempted to test these out. However, the deal is that you must agree to be automatically billed, and then you will be given the discount after the fact. Also, you will have to go through the task of cancelling if you don’t want to continue. I don’t like those types of arrangements so I have begged off for now.

The bottom line is that if you are in job search, there are plenty of things you can do on LinkedIn that cost you nothing and there are probably more urgent needs for your hard earned money. For free, you can:

1) Create a keyword rich profile that will attract recruiters and HR professionals.
2) Join and interact in groups to position yourself as a subject matter expert.
3) Connect with people in your field to network into the hidden job market.
4) Search for jobs posted only on LinkedIn.
5) Research your target companies on LinkedIn to gain insights, to prepare for an interview and to learn more about the culture of an organization.

Most job seekers need to spend their money on more pressing needs. So before you decide to shell out the money to upgrade thinking that this will be the silver bullet to get yourself hired (by the way there is no silver bullet for landing a job – it takes hard work and a lot of networking!) ask yourself how much you are taking advantage of all of the free features you can use today without breaking your bank account.

LinkedIn changes: 8 tips to keep you up to date with this ever-evolving website

There have been so many changes with LinkedIn over the past six months, you may have had trouble keeping up. If that’s the case, read below to get a summary of what’s new and what’s gone within the LinkedIn system. The most visible change was creating a new “simplified” look for profiles which were rolled out to the millions of LinkedIn members over many months. Less obvious changes include the removal of some features and the addition of new kinds. Let’s jump in!


1) The Answers feature is gone. As of January 31, 2012, LinkedIn has removed Answers. This feature allowed LinkedIn members to seek advice from all LinkedIn users but more importantly, it allowed experts to shine. Thought leaders would answers questions and strive to be rated as the Best Answer, providing a spotlight on their expertise. One way around the loss of Answers is to ask and answer questions within your Groups. Though not as powerful, because Answers provided a much larger audience (every LinkedIn member), Groups provides a more limited but targeted audience. There are some other ways to work around this loss, provided by a blog post from Linked Strategies Group LLC . If you had ever used Answers, you might wonder where the information went. This post by Jason Alba explains that the history of previous Answers has disappeared.

2) Most apps have gone away, sadly Events is no more. A few still remain (such as Slideshare and Boxnet) but most have gone away. The omission I mourned was the loss of the Events app. Though some said they wouldn’t miss it, I think it was a great loss. Some people agree with me. Here is a post by Julius Solaris from Events Manager blog. Events allowed you to showcase conferences you had attended or would be attending, thereby displaying your commitment to your field. It allowed people to seek out others going to the same event, which encouraged taking on line networking to the personal level. If you were organizing an event, it allowed you to promote it (though I agree most people did not maximize this angle). LinkedIn suggested using Eventbrite and Meetup as replacements but these are inferior alternatives. Though both sites are useful for organizing events, they lack the ability to showcase where you will be going and where you have been right on your profile. For more information, here is a useful blog post by Jason Alba on the apps that went away.

3) Snapshot changes. In trying to create a more “simplified” profile design, LinkedIn has hidden some of the information that used to show up in your snapshot (the top area of information next to your picture). In this area, you must now click on Contact Info in order to see someone’s e-mail, Twitter handle or websites and only employer names show but not job titles. Websites can still be added and customized but most were dropped in the profile changeover so you should make sure yours still shows if you had any websites listed pre-changeover. One thing that is not hidden is your profile picture. In fact, the picture is now much bigger so keep this in mind. You may need to change or edit your previous picture to create the best possible impression. Also the font of your headline (the line right below your name) is bigger too.

4) Influencers and company pages. One major new feature is Influencers which allows you to Follow people, much like Twitter. LinkedIn started out with 150 people deemed as influential (think Richard Branson, Deepak Chopra, President Obama, etc.) and more are being added regularly. Company pages are not new but have been enhanced. The pages are better designed but still offer the same excellent research information as before. Be sure to use these company pages to see who you know at a company and to do your homework before an interview.


1) Getting a vanity URL. You should still get yourself a “vanity” or personalized URL. This is essentially your internet address that can be used to get to your profile instantly. It’s free and very easy to do. To learn more about why you should do this and how, go to my previous blog post about getting a vanity URL.

2) Complete your profile. You should complete your profile as much as possible. Only adding your name and current title is not enough. You should have more than one job (preferably a few), a picture (this will increase the chances of people accepting your invitations and viewing your profile) and a summary (to give a professional but friendly “big picture” view of who you are). There are many other sections you can complete including education, certifications, languages and projects. The more you share, the more likely people will find you.

3) Connect and share. You should still network with others and use this platform to share useful information with others. Making LinkedIn connections (you should at least have 50) and sharing information with others is still one of the best uses of LinkedIn. Adding connections increases your sphere of influence, increases your ability to connect with others beyond your inner circle and displays your level of “connectedness.” To share, you can post activity updates to let others know what you are doing and post articles with timely information. Activity posts are more prominent in the new design of your profile and now the last few posts appear just below your snapshot. Use this to your advantage by posting more often.

4) Endorsements are here to stay. The endorsements feature appeared in September 2012. It allows your connections to “endorse” the keywords in your Skills and Expertise section. It was controversial at first and continues to be. On the down side, many people dislike the facebook feel of a popularity contest, question those who endorse strangers and think that the ease of which one can endorse lessens the value of it. On the upside, you can use the feature to your advantage by having colleagues endorse you for skills you want to promote. As a result you can be found by others based on your areas of expertise. Recruiters and talent scouts continue to use this keyword rich section to find those with the aptitude they seek. Here is a recent article by Patricia Kitchen that shares some ways to make the most out of LinkedIn endorsements.

So there you have it. You are now caught up on the most major changes with LinkedIn over the past six months. There are a few other minor changes I’ve noticed, but I didn’t mention them because I am hoping they are glitches that will soon be fixed by LinkedIn. Based on past experience, I am sure more changes are coming so maybe I’ll have to write another post like this in six more months? For now, please use this information to help you make the best use of LinkedIn and share any feedback. Which of these changes do you like? Which are driving you crazy?

The White House encourages you to join a job club (and so do I)

I would like to devote this blog to a recent personal experience, which was both an unexpected surprise and an enjoyable event in my career path. I was honored to be invited to speak as a panelist at the White House Job Clubs Forum on Sept 20, 2012.   This once in a lifetime event came as a result of my involvement with job clubs in my area (I run a local job club through the Arnold Station Career Center and I assist job clubs in Anne Arundel County, MD).   I hope by sharing this information, you might be encouraged to get involved in a job club near you. Job clubs offer support, networking and excellent resources for job seekers. They also help employers connect to qualified candidates. Most powerfully, they create an environment where members become contributors.

Visiting the Eisenhower Executive Office Building was a very unique experience. The intricate architecture and design was amazing from the outside all the way into the Indian Treaty Room where the event was held. Hope and excitement were in the air at the start and followed throughout the event. Administration officials shared Obama’s support for the job clubs initiative. One of the highlights was hearing Labor Secretary Hilda Solis’s words of encouragement to job club supporters and recognition of the power of job clubs.

The information and camaraderie were excellent. It was a great way to share information and make connections with others contributing to the job club movement. Panelists shared their learned experiences in running job clubs and the success clubs have shown in preparing people to get back to work. Topics included: the development of job clubs within faith-based communities, job club efforts within the workforce development system and model programs for the future of job clubs.

As I listened to the speakers throughout the day, I was reminded of the many ways job clubs touch peoples’ lives. There were accounts of employers working together with job clubs to fill positions. There were stories of tireless leaders who give their time to assist job seekers. There were chronicles of people who gained employment through a job club connection as well as those who stayed on to help the job club, after becoming re-employed. All of the speakers demonstrated that job clubs have the power to change people’s lives.

Job clubs are helping others make connections and access resources, moving people toward jobs and offering the support needed during a job search. They have always been around, but until now, they have not had the national recognition they received at this event.   My hope is that this occurrence will create many ripples that will further this movement because job clubs are an important part of getting through these difficult economic times. Across the nation, they are helping people get back to work by providing support, hope and humanity to the un/underemployed. If you are in job search, I challenge you to attend a job club in your area.

Useful Links:

To find a local job club near you, go to:

To find out more about job clubs, go to the Department of Labor Center for Faith Based Neighborhood Partnerships homepage:

Kudos to Ben Seigel for organizing the event. His efforts are a great benefit to job clubs across America. He blogged and provided a nice summary of the event:

Everything I needed to know about career management I learned from my parents

At this time in between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day I would like to honor my parents who have always been loving, dedicated and supportive. By teaching me to be a good person, my parents indirectly taught me how to be a good job seeker and career manager.   Many of the lessons I learned at a young age are still applicable now. They are especially important in job search and in managing an effective career. I would like to share the top six skills my parents developed in me and I suggest you practice these in your job search and career management.

Integrity and respect:   Both of my parents have great character and taught me that your reputation must not be taken for granted.   Integrity is essential – do what you say you will do and keep your word. Treat others with respect and your reputation will speak for itself. Our family members were always treated equally and with reverence. Likewise, we were taught to treat all respectfully. Treating others with respect will take you far in your job search and in your career.   For example, in job search never be rude to the receptionist. You may not realize it but this person has more power than you think. If you treat this person with disrespect, your résumé is likely to end up in the trash. After interviewing, the hiring manager may ask the receptionist how you behaved in the waiting room. The answer may determine if you proceed in the selection process.

Take risks: My father was an entrepreneur before it was a trendy thing to do. He was gutsy and started a business while my Mom wasn’t working and they had six children to feed — nothing like ensuring success through necessity. But seriously, my Father worked very hard to establish his business. He saw an opportunity, took a chance, worked hard and it paid off.   He created one of the first Executive Recruitment firms in the world, which began as Battalia & Associates and has evolved into the successful business of Amrop Winston Battalia . Entrepreneurship is not for everyone but it can be a great path for some. Are you avoiding it because you have done the research and know it’s not a good fit or are you just afraid to move forward?

Work hard even when no one is watching: Both of my parents are extremely hard workers and that has certainly been passed on to me. They illustrated that hard work pays off and expected each family member to pull their weight around our house.   As a result, I learned to “earn my keep” and carried this with me to other places. As an example, I was often invited to friends’ homes for dinner and I frequently offered to do the dishes.   It gave me pleasure to see the parents’ pleased reactions and satisfied my urge to be helpful.   Not surprisingly, I was often invited back!   In your work and job search, if you work hard and excel at what you do, you will develop a reputation for these qualities.

It’s never too late to start:  After raising six children, my Mom went back to school at the age of 34 to get her Bachelors Degree. After finishing, she decided to keep going and attended law school. Right after passing the New York Bar Exam, she started working at a local firm, became a partner and today is running this successful law practice. This taught me that it’s never too late to start a new career and to pursue your dreams.

Be active in your community:   Besides always being active in PTAs and community initiatives, my Mother started an organization called ICARE to help people find stable housing. In short, when she sees a need, she fulfills it. She has also served our town as Supervisor, Judge and even ran in a Congressional primary.   My Father has been equally active in the community. He is currently a volunteer with the Senior Core of Retired Executives (SCORE) but he has served in many other roles and volunteered on numerous boards over the years. He even traveled to Zimbabwe to share his knowledge and help an entrepreneur start a recruiting firm. Volunteering can be an important part of a job search. It’s an excellent way to share your skills and to learn new ones. Remember the more you give, the more you get.

Build and nurture your network: Because they were so involved in their communities, my parents naturally created a strong network. Both of them still know who to call upon for a certain skill or expertise and they freely share resources with others. They understand the power of connections and they strive to create a network of people and resources that can be utilized to help others. Of course, they also know that networking in not a one way street and that the best way to obtain assistance is to offer help to others first.

Show appreciation:  My parents always stressed the importance of thanking people. We had to write thank you notes to our grandparents and others after receiving any gift. I have embraced this habit and always impress it upon job seekers. As I say, people always remember those who thanked them (and those that didn’t).

On that note, I would like to end with a message of gratitude. I thank my Mom and Dad for teaching me these important skills that I will never forget!   I hope these tips help you as you move forward in your career journey.