Hi, this is Jeff Altman and welcome to webtalkradio.net. When I think of Linkedin, I don’t just think of a social network for business. I tend to think of the most important vehicle that professionals/ nonprofessional labor has in order to find work. You see to me, the person who gets ahead isn’t always the smartest. They don’t always work the hardest, although those are great qualities to have. I tend to think of the person who gets ahead as the one who remains alert to opportunity. Sometimes that’s internal to work in an organization, but more often it’s external. Today we’re going to talk to David Perry who’s the headhunter for Perry-Martel International.
He’s negotiated more than 200 million in salaries and completed more than a thousand recruiting projects on three continents. He has a bachelor’s from McGill and is the author or co-author of five books, including his most recent, gorilla hunting for job hunters 3.0. David, Welcome to Job Search Radio.
Good morning, Jeff. Thanks very much for having me. Pleased to be here.
You’re very welcome and I’m thrilled to have you on the show. You know, like I was saying. People need to be alert to opportunities and that translates to me as not just simply when they might need to find a job but just being open to other opportunities while they might still be happy in an organization. That requires being found, and Linkedin is probably the most important place to be found by recruiters, both corporate and third party. Yet people make a lot of mistakes working with Linkedin. I’m sure you see that all the time.
What sort of things do you see that people do wrong with their Linkedin profiles and how they use Linkedin?
Oh, that’s a great question. Let me preface it by saying, no one should ever go into a job search before they do one thing. And the one thing they need to do is start with absolute clarity. When it comes to Linkedin, what I mean by that is, it is limitless what you can put into Linkedin. Really, the mere fact that you can change a tire on a car - does anybody really care? Maybe they do if you’re looking for a mechanic’s job.
So here’s the point. You’ve got all this information about yourself. If you start with clarity about the type of job you want to do or the type of organization you want to work for then you fill your profile with information that relates to that. So it makes you easy to be found by a recruiter using the keyword search for the types of opportunities that you’d be interested in.
You and I both know, all jobs are temporary now. Everyone’s gonna change every 18 to 24 months. It might be inside a company, but more than likely it’s going outside a company. So because all jobs are temporary, you need a billboard on the information highway and Linkedin is that.
So with that said, when you think about the mistakes people make, I’m gonna translate as being not getting clear about what you might be open to or what you might be looking for in your next organization and thus not making your profile keyword rich enough around those particular attributes that you want to draw people to. Would that be a correct summary?
Absolutely. Absolutely. I wish I’d said it that well myself.
And you provided a lot of texture. What other mistakes might people make when they construct their profiles?
Well even people that start with clarity and understand what they want to be found for, the first place people normally go wrong - and it’s so funny that people do this wrong - is a bad picture. And what I mean by a bad picture is, it’s a picture of you in a group of people. No one’s going to be able to pick you up because they don’t know who you are. Or it’s a picture of you standing somewhere so that on the screen, you’re about a quarter inch tall.
When you do a picture, you want it to be a professional photo. You want to have a nice smile on, you want to be engaging. People like people that smile. People like people that look engaging and interesting, not like a slob on a bad hair day. The reason this is important is that even though it’s technology, the person that’s looking at your Linkedin profile is the most important thing first: they’ve got to like you. And that’s a gut-level decision they make, like it or not, based on your appearance. So get a great photo, have a well-lit - you know, potentially have a photographer take it. But make sure it’s a well-lit photo, you’re smiling, you’re dressed professionally or you’re dressed in a manner that people can see you in that role.
If you’re a mechanic, you’re dressed like a mechanic. If you’re a CEO, wear the appropriate attire. That’s where most people go wrong, right out the gate. You want number two?
I just want to add onto that one and simply say that the tuxedo shop for guys and the ballroom dress for women isn’t the direction I would go.
You know what? I forget that, and you’re absolutely correct. That’s not natural. That’s not you at work. You’re so absolutely right because I’ve seen a couple of those lately and it did make me laugh.
So what’s number two? What’s the second mistake that you tend to pick up on?
Number two is, you’re boring. And what I mean by boring is you’re dull. Right out of the gate. For example, you and I do a lot of project-manager sales guys. So as a recruiter when I do a keyword search in Linkedin, I get a whole list of people that match that keyword profile and what I’ll see is name and next to that will be their tagline which is their tagline, which is the piece of text that is right next to your photo. And the thing
That’s that big definition of real estate underneath your name that kind of describes who you are, right?
Absolutely. So what will a project manager put? He’ll put ‘project manager’. That’s very good, except so did every other project manager. So how do you differentiate yourself?
I’m looking for a project manager in New York and I do a search, I’m going to get like four or five thousand results and for a recruiter, how can he tell if you’re any better than anybody else because it’s just a list that says name, project manager; name, project manager all the way down the list.
Well if you take your tagline, which is that part just after your name as you said, and you put something compelling like a question: you know, ‘ask me how I saved my employer $100,000’ or ‘ask me how I finished a project in one third of the time’. Those kinds of questions are compelling because they actually look at the results that someone would be looking for someone to produce if they were a project manager. And if you put that into your title or your tagline, all of a sudden of all the other project managers, yours says ‘ask me how I did boom.’ And you stick out like a sore thumb or in this case, you stick out like a four-leaf clover.
That kind of reminds me of an interview that I did for a previous show with a gentleman named Hal Klegman who told me that the biggest mistake people make with their resumés is that they say a lot about job descriptions instead of accomplishments, and defining accomplishments by metrics like ‘earned such and such,’ ‘saved such and such’, ‘increased or decreased’ as a way of defining the success that you had in the organization, not just simply talking about role and responsibilities.
Correct. And every recruiter knows what a project manager does. You don’t have to tell us what you responsibilities and duties were. Because that’s just saying ‘hey, you’re an idiot. You don’t know what I do.’ Tell us what you accomplished. It’s like your resumé. You know, you go for an interview as a project and nobody has ever asked you, ‘So, what were your duties and responsibilities as a project manager’. It doesn’t happen.
They’re interested in what you did for that employer to push the cause forward. We both know, employers are all interested in only three things: can you make me money, can you save me money, can you increase my efficiency. That’s it. Until they actually get to know you and meet you, they don’t care about anything else. So you have to deliver the WIIFM: what’s in it for me. For employers, it’s ‘what’s in it for you’. So tell them what’s in it for them in the summary of your Linkedin profile by using the accomplishments that you know they’re going to be interested in because they’re relevant to the job you’re looking for .
That’s great, David. I want to cover one or two more mistakes that people make with their profiles if you have that, and then talk about a profile that we discussed last week where you helped this CEO really beef up his search and get great results. Let me just pause and come back to mistakes. What else do you see that people don’t do correctly?
Well, they don’t take advantage of all of the different types of file formats that you can use inside Linkedin. For example, when we were kids and I’m 53 so I’ve been doing it since kindergarden, right? The most interesting part of my day for me and everybody else in the class was show and tell. Right? So show and tell. You can use rich media. It’s called rich media. You can add photos and videos and weblinks in your Linkedin profile. And very few people do that. It’s a bland, boring job description of what they’re responsible for.
Throw that out. Use accomplishments and add some photos, if you’ve got them, that are relevant. Photos of a project that you did photos of a product you worked on, whatever.
Videos: same sort of thing. If you’re a writer, you can add a white paper. All of these things add depth and texture to who you are as an individual. All Linkedin really is is a first interview. And recruiters will go and look at a Linkedin profile well before they’ll call them in for a first interview. So if you consider Linkedin your first interview, what is it that you would like an interviewer to know about you that would make them want to meet you and find out more.
So if you look at Linkedin as the movie trailer for your life and career, one of the most interesting themes from your career that you could put into your movie trailer, if you looked at your Linkedin profile that way: think about that. What would be most interesting for your employer and go and get that kind of material and weave it into your profile.
When I think of that, David, I think of the summary area as a beautiful spot on the Linkedin profile to really demonstrate that. I know recently, I made some changes to my profile in order to bring in more video there, to be clear about the kind of searches I’ve done, where they’ve been geographically, to give people a way to contact me and a few more things that really distinguish me from the typical search professional that they might find me on Linkedin and it’s right there. It’s the first field but I know few people really take advantage of all that Linkedin provides them with in order to really promote themselves effectively for a reader.
Correct. I actually noted that and now I’m going to go compare my profile to your profile and pick up some pointers. There’s a great example. Why do people insist on inventing things from scratch? And what I mean by that is a lot of people get stuck on their Linkedin profile because they just don’t know what to say. They don’t know what’s interesting. Instead of getting stuck, why don’t they take the title of the position they’re looking for, put it into Linkedin search box, and see who comes up first. Ooo! Why do they come first? Because they have designed their profile to come up first. Just like a google search. You know, 50 pizza outlets well one of them’s going to come up first because they’ve done their search engine optimization correctly. And that sounds like it’s hard but it’s not. So when people get stuck, what they really need to do is go and take a look at other people’s profiles and see how they’ve constructed them and construct them in a similar manner.
One of the things that people can realize in addition to that is that there are signals that you get along the way, if you pay attention to them, that your profile just isn’t working for you. That is the notice that Linkedin sends to you about the numbers of people and who has looked at your profile. If you’re getting one or two hits a week or a month, there’s something wrong with your profile and you got to fix it.
And to add to that, Jeff, if you’re getting people looking at your profile that have nothing to do with the industry that you’re trying to target, then you’ve done something wrong and you’ve got to step back and analyze that. The easiest way to do that is to throw the title of job you’re looking for in and see what the other person’s doing.
And I’m going to pile on and say if you’ve got lots of people looking at your profile and no one contacting you, there’s a message in that too.
You know what? I should have thought of that. You’re absolutely right again. That’s a bigger problem because you’re saying something that’s turning people off or you’re not saying something that’s making them want to follow through or you’re making their life impossible, and what I mean is somebody sets up their Linkedin profile and they make it impossible for you to contact them. You either have to be a first Linkedin contact or you have to go through the whole rigmarole to contact them this way or this way. If you’re looking for a job, you want someone to find you’ great. That’s a great first step.
Next, you’ve got to get them to contact you. So I always tell people put your name, your phone number, and it can be a phone that you just rent for job search if you want to. You put your name, phone number, and email address that you want to be connected at the top end of your profile, in your summary so it makes it easy. Not that recruiters are lazy, but when you do a search for project managers in New York you’re going to get, I don’t know, 750,000, and you want to be the one that will get called. And you know that most recruiters go through and take the easy road, and by the easy road I mean, ‘oh, you look qualified and you have a phone number. I’m going to call them first. You gotta get the call.
You mentioned having the job search phone number. One of the tools I love is google voice. Voice.google.com I believe is the address or google.com/voice, and google will provide you with a phone nubmer that you can direct to connect with any other phone number that you have. So if you don’t want to be contacted after the search is over, which personally I think is a mistake but that’s a different conversation, you still have one phone number instead of having them contact you at you home, contact you at the office, call you on the mobile while you’re commuting. One number that will track you to wherever you are that will also forward a text to you if you like, that will translate any voicemail message that’s left for you. It’s a great little tool. Free, by the way.
Yeah, isn’t it great?
I love it. I happen to use it myself. When we spoke previously, you told me about this corporate or divisional CEO, as I recall, who just wasn’t getting responses with his Linkedin profile and you mentioned that you had really helped this person improve their game on Linkedin pretty dramatically and increase his number of connections by several thousand over a short period of time. Could you talk about some of the techniques that you used to really increase their capabilities around Linkedin?
Absolutely, and it was pretty simple. It was a guy that I met that I got to know fairly well. He became a friend. And he decided for whatever reason he wanted to be more engaged with Linkedin because he wanted to look at other things. So he sat down one night over the dinner table at my house and looked at his profile which frankly sucked.
He was a vice president of construction for somebody, so his tagline was ‘vice president of construction.’ I said, how many vice presidents of construction do you think there are in your town and I said you know, you don’t stand out. So what we did was we recrafted his tagline. That was the first thing we did. And we recrafted his tagline from ‘vice president of construction’ to ‘vice president, commercial development. Ask me how I turned a swamp into a billion dollars’.
What a great attention-getter.
Oh, yeah. He had twelve connections. So I should him how to try and connect with people but we started with the title, ‘ask me how I turned a swamp into a billion dollars’ and then we went down and we wrote a profile. And let me read you the opening paragraph. ‘To remain a bullet-proof market leader in an intense, competitive, and highly volatile global market, companies need optimized transformation at their root level across all areas of the company. It’s a zero game. Be bullet-proof or be eliminated.’
Some people will look at that and they’ll go, ‘what are you talking about.’ And you know, that’s good because they don’t need to talk to him. He doesn’t need to talk to them. And the people who read that and go ‘wow’, and a lot of people did, are senior executives in the real estate industry all over the world.
Within a week he was up to 500 connections. And these are connections where he took a very narrow focus. He read every single connect to request with him and he only accepted it if they were senior executives or a head hunter in his particular space. He was at 3,000 by the end of the month. He had a very high quality, very targeted Linkedin face. And he took it from there. He didn’t talk about what his duties were, he talked about what he’d done. And he’d done things all over the world.
He ended up with interesting offers from India, Spain, many of them here in the United States. One in Mexico, one in Brazil. All for senior executives either in construction or in real estate and he’s accepted a job a couple weeks ago, and he’s accepted the president of the western division of a 25 billion dollar real estate conglomerate. And the most interesting thing: he’s currently VP construction of a - call it 50 million dollar company. But he’s built companies from the ground up, the one that’s largest is 250 million. And now, he’s going to be this president of a western division of a 25 billion dollar real estate company.
Here’s a wonderful lesson for our listeners, I think, to ensure a lot of intent to deal with the little picture in their Linkedin profile: the details of role responsibilities, accomplishments, if they’re an IT it might include the technologies that they’ve used and that’s all fine, well and good. But your person dealt at a bigger level. I’m sure they included some of that stuff in their profile to ensure that they keywords came up for them when people were searching and thus, the kind of message that they communicated really stood out by comparison to others. You also have to include the big picture of what your accomplishments were in order to really stand out from all the others that you’re competing with.
Correct. Couldn’t have said it better myself. And he didn’t do keyword stuffing, which nobody wants to do, but he made sure that the types of things that CEOs or recruiters that were looking for at his level would be seen in his profile. Like he used ROI, an abbreviation, or ‘return on investment’. Very few people, even executives, ever talk about return on investment. This guy did. He talks about C-level management suite. A recruiter is going to type in ‘C-level executive’. So all of the keywords that a recruiter or an executive search professional or a CEO or the owners of a real estate or a construction company would likely use, and we had to give this some real thought - we need a list of all this - were naturally woven into the profile.
Now here’s what’s interesting. A lot of people will go to the trouble of putting together all of the keywords they think someone’s going to search on, and then they’ll just make a bulleted list and put it in their summary. And that’s clever. But really, it doesn’t tell anyone anything about you or your abilities, other than that you’re pretty clever or somebody did this keyword stuffing for you. To actually take the keywords that you want to be found for and craft sentences and entire paragraphs around that to give it some depth is well worth it, but difficult.
When I was talking to him last week, his base salary, just the base, which is well into six figures, has been tripled. And his upside has gone from low six figures to low seven figures. So it might have gone up from $175,000 to a base of $450,000 now and an upside of just slightly over a million within the first 18 to 24 months. That’s a substantial change.
This doesn’t just happen at the executive level. This happens at every single level. I’ve done this with my daughters who are on Linkedin. They’re 21, 20, and 18. Instead of getting your regular ten dollar an hour job while they’re off in university, they’re getting $15 - $20 dollars an hour because they are able to articulate their value correctly to their employer to had a solution that these guys could solve.
At the end of the day, you and I both know, nobody gets up on Monday morning and says, ‘oh, I’m going to hire someone today because I have extra money.’ No, they get up on Monday and say, ‘Ugh, it’s Monday and I’ve still got this problem and this problem and this problem. They’re looking for people to be solution providers. And if you come across that way and build it into your Linkedin profile that way, you’ll get phone calls. And by the way, he made it very easy to connect with him.
Beautiful story. And for our listeners, I just want to remind all of you that these are strategies that work whether you are aggressively looking for a job today or are passively open to something in the future which you really need to do. As David said so well, jobs unfortunately in the modern era are temporary, whether they call them permanent or not. These are the least permanent things I’ve ever seen. So you need to put yourself into the position to be found in order to have opportunities present themselves to you. It doesn’t mean you need to respond favorably to everything. But the easiest way to find a job is when you’re not looking for one. Opportunity just gets presented to you that you can go Eenie,Meenie, Miney, Mo. Hey, that one looks pretty good. Let’s go into that one. I know there’s one mistake that job hunters make all the time.
What do you think is one of the biggest mistakes that people make on Linkedin profiles?
The biggest one that I find people make with Linkedin on general is, they never log back on. They get a profile, they put up something.
You’re absolutely right.
I see it all the time. They change jobs and never update their email address. They never provide people a way to reach them once they’re on Linkedin. And it’s bizarre to me.
Some people never send Christmas cards until they’ve lost their jobs and they realize they need to network. As Harvey MacKay said, ‘you need to dig your well before you’re thirsty’. It has to be part of your life. And Linkedin has to be part of your life, even if you only log in once a week or once every two weeks just to make sure things are refreshed and you remember to put your email address and your phone number in your summary. It’s a whole lot easier for recruiters to get a hold of you.
And with recruiters, you have two choices. You can say yes, or you can say no. How much easier can it get? I gotta tell you. It’s a lot easier than trying to get people on the other end of the phone pick up than when you’re looking. So it’s a great show today because you’re adding tremendous value to people’s lives and I hope they take it all very seriously.
And David, thank you so much for making time to be here and talk to our guests. I know you mentioned to me that you have an audio that you’d like to offer to everyone. How can they get a copy of that audio, and what is that audio of?
The audio is a 45-minute presentation with another fellow author being interviewed by another fellow offer on branding and social media. And we go step by step on a whole bunch of points, including the Starbucks coffee cup caper and gorilla resumé and listeners can get that by going to the guerilla marketing for job hunters website, which is simply gm4jh.com. It’s free. No strings attached.
That’s terrific. Thank you for making that available to everyone.
Folks, we’re going to be back next time with more job search advice. I’m Jeff Altman, the big game hunter. If you’re interested in job search coaching from me, you can reach out to me in a variety of ways. One is, I’m a Live Person job search and career coach expert with liveperson.com. You can reach me that way if you have a couple of questions. If you’d like more broad coaching from me through the course of a job search, you can find out more about my coaching program at www.TheBigGameHunter.us
Again, I work one on one in a personal with you in an effort to help you get back to work more quickly because to me, job hunting doesn’t have to be so hard or difficult or painful or take so long. It’s just for most people, you don’t realize that the skills needed to find a job are different from the skills needed to do a job. And that’s where a podcast or my ezine, which by the way you can get a complimentary subscription to my ezine, which is called ‘no bs job search advice’. I publish it weekly with advice for job hunters anywhere in the world. It’s a $499 value that I give away for free and by the way, you can get a complimentary subscription to my website, which is jeffaltman.com. And while there, go exploring. There’s a lot of great content there. So this is Jeff Altman. Hope you found today’s show helpful. I’ll be back next time with more great advice for you. Take care.