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Monday, July 29, 2013

It's All Relevant

Or, at least, that's what we have to tell ourselves about our life experiences, otherwise we head down a dangerous road of deciding certain years were wasted and damning ourselves for being human. I was thinking about this yesterday, during a conversation with a client, who had had some truly amazing adventures in the Former Soviet Union, but was currently expressing serious hesitation about the wisdom of mentioning that period on LinkedIn, saying..."But wasn't it all too long ago?"

 Welp, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be where I am, doing the things I'm able to, and planning my future if it wasn't for the things I did more than 5 minutes ago, i.e. my first job after graduating college. Who knew having furious anchors throw their sandwiches me, and having to call the Kremlin every morning to discreetly ask if Yeltsin was still alive, would present me with so many life lessons? (I need to trademark that sh*t and get on a t-shirt right. Now!)  So, my response to the client was: "It's up to you to present this experience in a way that potential employers can immediately "get" its relevancy." (That made the client roll her eyes, since she was hoping for the easy answer. So was Luke Skywalker and he ended up with his old man cutting his arm off, realizing he had made out with his sister.)

 Not that age-discrimination isn't a real issue. Only in America, would we simultaneously talk about "life experience," and yet seriously want to hire twenty-somethings for executive positions. Then these same companies are shocked, shocked that the kids come to work in flip-flops and blue nail polish and ask aloud who Yoko Ono is. (I have personally witnessed this. Since the person asking the question was a good-looking boy, I kinda brushed aside my outrage...and scruples. Oh well.)

I still stand by my answer. All experience can be relevant for your LinkedIn profile, and thus, by extension, your job-hunt IF you present it in a succinct, intelligible and relevant manner that makes readers of your profile and resume immediately understand what you've done, what you know, and how that knowledge can benefit their company.  So yes, you're going to have to:
1. Invest some time figuring out exactly what type of job you want in what industry;
2. Figure out what skills, education and accomplishments that industry values;
3. Identify the skills, education, experience and contacts you already have that are comparable and relevant;
4. Create a LinkedIn profile and resume that demonstrates your skills, education and accomplishments in a manner intelligible and relevant to said industry.

So, for example, if--dear God--I wanted to punish myself and return to network news, I'd have to completely rewrite my LinkedIn profile as to as focus on the networks I worked for, the jobs I held, the skills I learned ("Whining." "Threatening writers who miss deadlines." "Screaming at field producers." "Hanging up on moronic reporters who ask yet another stupid question while I'm attempting to meet my deadline." ). Thus, I'd build a profile which I could then show to my friends/acquaintances/ deadly rivals in TV news and use to get an interview. On the other hand, I'd gloss over, as much as possible, this period of being self-employed, since I know that it makes corporates antsy. I'd mention this business only as it serves to reinforce the "messages" I'm telling about myself in order to get hired; messages of self-reliance, initiative, intelligence, determination.

My point being, everything can be relevant...if you know what type of job you're after, and what that job entails, and what the industry values. (This, of course, is different from people who despite being in their 40s and 50s, seriously list, on LinkedIn, the jobs they held in high school, selling ice cream or working at a pretzel stand at the mall. I know I'm all about personal responsibility, but these are the people to blame for me going out on a Tuesday and having six margaritas on an empty stomach.)

 Want some help getting your LinkedIn profile relevant and timely and useful? Of course you do! Email me, and like my Facebook page, "Carlotaworldwide Creativity Yenta," for a free consultation.



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