career support

6 Tips for the Executive LinkedIn Profile

Opinions are like LinkedIn profiles, everyone has one. Some are just better than others. At Precision Talent Solutions, we think about this from the perspective of senior leadership / executives in the Overseas Contracting industry. Just as these industries (OCONUS defense, aid & development, energy, security, & infrastructure) are truly unique compared to “normal jobs”, the way that career-minded professionals present themselves and how recruiters search for talent is also very specific to these industries.

What’s in a name?

We generally cannot change our name or what we are called, but there is more than just a name. If you have special qualifications that help define you as a top talent, one trick is you can add that to your name (ie. Jake Frazer, MBA). Don’t overdo it (ie. Jake Frazer, MBA, PMP, MBTI, 16PF…), but including critical qualifications in your name make those accomplishments more visible and help with keyword searches. If you were in the military and think your rank is relevant to your civilian career, you can include that (ie. USMC retired).

A Picture Says a Thousand Words

What you choose to show in your profile picture says a lot about you. How is your judgement? How serious are you? Do you want to be seen as a field or corporate professional? Does it really need to be memorable for the wrong reasons?

  • Be Seen! - First, you need a picture. Not a logo. Not a Cav unit guidon. A picture of you which reflects your personality. All the research says that LinkedIn profiles without a picture get far less views and engagement than profiles with a picture.
  • Be “you”! - Use a picture that speaks to your career theme. If you want to be seen as an executive, take the time to get a professional headshot. If you are a field person, consider a good picture of you in that setting. Avoid cropped party pics or pictures with family/pets (this is not facebook). If you are no longer in the military, don’t use your DA photo. There are even some sites that help you get feedback on things like professionalism, likeability, competence
  • Picture Proofs - There are plenty of other places in your profile where pictures can be used. Your banner is part of your profile and can be a subtle part of your brand. You can add pictures of yourself on the project or receiving an award. This is a great way to complement your narrative and provide “proofs” of what you are telling in your Experience section (just like in a proposal, for you BD/Capture types).

Headliners read between the lines

Don’t be innocuous. Most other managers and potential candidates in this space are “Leaders, team builders, visionaries, strategists, etc. etc. etc.”. This is one of the most visible areas of your profile, so let it speak to who you are and the type of roles in which you are interested. Do be specific. Try something powerful and exact (Senior Program Manager and Reliability Engineer for DoD Operations & Maintenance in the Middle East). Words have meaning! You have 120 characters in this section…make it count! And, if you are open to new opportunities, don’t put it here, especially if you are currently employed!

Your summary statement

  • This section is open for you to express yourself however you want. This section can represent your entire career, your personal philosophy, or your near term goal. It depends on your situation. If you are actively looking for a job, it is fine to state exactly what you are looking for. If you are positioning yourself passively, this is a good chance to tell “who” you are…your Experience section will tell “what” you do.
  • Keywords are Key: Focus on keywords that you want to stand out (countries, industries, key activities).
  • Use bullets where possible to make it easily scannable with a quick read. Find the right fit between detail and brevity (you have 2,000 characters here but should not need it all).
  • If you want to be seen as a people person, speak in the first person “I” instead of third person “he”. Titles (and Experience) do matter We like to think we can live in the world where titles don’t matter, but they do when recruiters or hiring managers are looking for talent.
  • You did what? - Make sure your title means something to someone outside of your organization or even your industry. We are in an acronym heavy industry, so avoid alphabet soup titles which may be lost of those interested in finding you (DPM-S on FMS IDIQ providing ADAG for ROK MoD).
  • Yes, Sir! - If you retired from the military at a rank which is relevant to your civilian career aspirations, it is fine to include your actual rank in your Experience section so people can find you if they are “looking for a retired Colonel”. Also include years in service instead of forcing people to do the math.
  • Unemployed is ok - If you have a gap in work (which is not uncommon in our industry of work hard, play hard), there is no need to make a big deal of it. Certainly don’t put down “unemployed” or “home renovations”. If you are currently unemployed but not actually consulting, just put the end date of your last job along with the most senior title achieved. Good recruiters will read that as you being available. If you are actually consulting, this shows you are busy but also open to opportunities.
  • Location, Location, Location - In our industry (more than most), part of your relevancy for job opportunities is where you have worked. As you list out Experience, you can free text countries into each job to make sure you get “credit” for where you worked. Don’t just put the address of the corporate HQ, unless that is where you worked.
  • Climb the Ladder - If you had multiple titles with a single company over a span of time (especially if it was earlier in your career), put down the most senior title achieved and speak to the progression in the description. You don’t have to make a separate Experience entry for every job within the same company, especially if you have worked for several companies.

Radio Check…Are you there?

Whether you are actively looking for a job, passively maintaining your options, or networking for business opportunities, you should make sure your contact info is accessible without having to Connect (this is an extra step and seen as risky by recruiters in case there is no response). There are three places where you can put your personal email address: in “Contact Info” at top, you can free text it in your Summary, and/or under “Advice for Contacting” in “Additional Info”. No matter the level of your job search, you are on LinkedIn to network. So be contactable. If you are actively searching, consider using all three places. Don’t miss an opportunity because you added the extra step of making someone Connect first.

  • Buzz Words: If you are to be found from people outside your network, it will likely happen through keyword searches. Make a list of the things that you have done which are unique (Sole Source, Startup, FMS, etc.), specific agencies where you have deep experience (you can should abuse your acronyms here…LOGCAP, TACOM, DLA, etc), unique qualifications which you may possess (like TS/SCI security clearance!), and countries where you have or would like to work. Make sure these are in your profile. Easiest place is to put them in your Summary section.
  • We are only human: Include some fun stuff that will make it easy for others to relate to you…maybe you are a big West Point fan, you have a cause where you volunteer, or you published some articles. Provide something to make you stand out and makes you memorable (in a good way).