Should you write ‘Seeking new opportunities’ in your LinkedIn headline?

Should you write ‘Seeking new opportunities’ in your LinkedIn headline?

When you are openly job-searching, LinkedIn is a fantastic platform to set out your stall. Your network is there and recruiters too, actively searching for talent in your field. It makes sense to claim your profile and use it to your advantage.

A key element of your LinkedIn profile is your headline, which appears in search results alongside your name, photo, location, and industry. At its best, this 120-character descriptive field will entice the reader to visit your profile and find out more. At it’s worst, it will tell them nothing, or nothing of interest, causing them to scroll on by.

Obviously, you should make the most of the opportunity your headline presents to nail your first impression but, when you are openly job-seeking, should you use it to indicate your availability for opportunities?

Some LinkedIn members do use their headline to state exactly this. They use phrases like:

>> Looking for / open to / available for / seeking / considering new opportunities / roles

>> Actively seeking work / employment / a new role / the next challenge

>> Currently in transition

>> Exploring new options

>> Looking for work / a new role / a job

>> Available for work / employment / permanent and contract opportunities

Let me present some arguments for and against this approach.

In support of this tactic:

>> If you don’t tell your network and recruiters you are available, how will they know?

>> Some recruiters do search for active candidates who are ‘seeking’ or ‘available’ along with relevant keywords as a way to source available talent.

On the other hand:

>> Using these phrases eats into your 120-character headline allocation, space you can use to present keywords or to share the benefit you can deliver, if hired.

>> Such wording can make you appear vulnerable and even desperate, especially if your ‘actively seeking’ headline hangs around LinkedIn for a while.

As I see it, the main problem with these phrases is that in isolation, without any context, they just aren’t meaningful to your target reader. They convey nothing, other than the fact you don’t currently have a job. You may think that your summary and experience sections give the required context but, remember, they don’t show up in search results and, unless your headline hooks your target, these sections will never get seen.

Going back to the stall analogy, it’s the equivalent of having ‘Buy here!’, ‘Buy now!’ signs all over your produce. ‘Available today!’, the placards might say. But what are they selling? Wouldn’t a more effective sales tactic be to focus on the quality of the offering? ‘Mouth-watering juicy peaches!’ ‘Sweet cherries here!’ Rather than focusing on your employment status (Unemployed/Available), shouldn’t you use this space to sell your value proposition to your next employer?

To be effective, these words should be paired with phrasing that tells who you are, where you are heading, and what you plan to do there. The following 120-character headlines combine both, telling the reader more about the candidate and what they want to do:

PRINCE2 Project Manager Seeking New Challenge | Keen to Support Timely, Quality Delivery of IT Transformation Programmes

Executive MBA Graduate, XYZ Business School | Seeking a Challenging Internship with a Leading Financial Services Company

These formulas may help to get you started:

>> (add target role title) ready to (add benefit you deliver) for (company or client descriptor)

>> (add target role title) now ready for my next (add functions / skills) role

>> (add target role title) who (solves what problem) for (who) | Seeking new opportunities

>> Career Target: (add target role title) | (add keywords)

Of course, you don’t have to advertise your availability in a headline. You could opt to use every one of those 120 characters to promote your offering.

Alternatives to announcing your job search in your headline

A call-to-action in your summary

An alternative (or supplement) to the ‘availability’ headline is to add a line to your summary, indicating your readiness for new opportunities. This could be along the lines of:

I would be interested to connect if you are a career changer in need of an interview-winning CV. Call me on (add number) to find out more.

Your current position

When your last bona fide role has well and truly ended, you may feel the need to add a new role to LinkedIn, to maintain your ‘all-star’ profile status and/or to communicate your availability.

If your last job ended recently, you could simply add an end date and leave your recent employment history as that, without raising too many eyebrows. Being in-between jobs is part of life, it happens. However, as time progresses you may wish to fill the gap.

You can add a current job entry to LinkedIn even when you haven’t secured the next role as such.

If you are freelancing, working on a consultancy basis, or completing a series of short-term contracts whilst job-seeking, you can group recent experiences under a single role entry. Assuming that your work reflects your target, use the space to highlight your suitability for your target job, using relevant keywords and demonstrating the kind of results you hope to deliver in a more permanent role.

Even if you are not currently in any kind of employment, you can add a new entry under experience to explain your current status. Avoid lengthy explanations that highlight the negative or words like unemployed or redundant, for example. Instead, use your current position to increase your LinkedIn searchability. Use the space to pitch your offering in terms of your target.

In your title field, you could use one of the following approaches:

>> Seeking (add role title)

>> Career Target: (add role title)

>> Aspiring (add role title)

>> Freelance (add role title)

>> (add role title) in transition

>> Seeking a position with a (add descriptor of target company)

In your company name field, you could use one of the following approaches:

>> Freelance

>> Self-Employed

>> Seeking New Opportunities

Beware of filling both company name and title fields in with ‘seeking new opportunities’. If you forget to amend your headline, LinkedIn would then autofill it with ‘seeking opportunities at seeking opportunities’ – not terribly inspiring. In fact, make sure not to present an auto-filled LinkedIn headline, it isn’t the best use of this premium space.

I’d recommend keeping a tab on how long your placeholder job entry remains. Adjust your privacy settings to avoid LinkedIn publically congratulating you on your one-year work anniversary at ‘Seeking new opportunities’, for example.

Over to you

Whether you share your employment status in your LinkedIn headline is a personal choice, and you have to do what feels right to you. Whatever you decide, make the most of this 120-character opportunity to share who you are, where you are heading, and the benefit you can deliver once in that role. Your headline can project you forward, showcasing you for your next role when it has yet to materialise.

How to up-level your All-Star LinkedIn profile

How to up-level your All-Star LinkedIn profile

Reaching ‘All-Star’ status on LinkedIn does warrant a moment of reflection and satisfaction at what you have achieved. However, don’t rest on your laurels too long, you may get left behind. This week’s blog shares four tips to take your LinkedIn profile from All-Star to the next level (even though it doesn’t technically exist!).

LinkedIn profile strength

Before we get to the good stuff, let’s take a moment to understand LinkedIn’s profile strength levels. The Profile Strength gauge appears on the right side of your profile, and will indicate one of five levels of profile strength. Lowest to highest, they are:


As you complete your LinkedIn profile and add more content, you’ll notice that your profile strength will increase.


All-Star indicates the top level of profile strength, although the white gap at the top of the blue ‘profile strength’ circle suggests an element of incompleteness. This white gap reflects the fact that there is always room for improvement.


Achieving ‘All-Star’ status

According to the site in January 2016, for LinkedIn to consider your profile complete, it requires you to add:

Your industry and location
An up-to-date current position (with a description)
Two past positions
Your education
Your skills (minimum of 3)
A profile photo
At least 50 connections

What next, after All-Star?

As LinkedIn is not a ‘once-and-done’ task, I’d recommend always evolving your profile to reflect your changing skills, experience, and status. Here are four tips to up-level your all-star LinkedIn profile:

#1 Complete as many LinkedIn sections as possible

Challenge yourself to complete as many sections as possible with relevant content that supports your career target. This will ensure you give current and future connections the fullest possible understanding of your offering, skills, and experience.

Sections include: Headline, Summary, Experience, Projects, Honors & Awards, Education, Courses, Skills & Endorsements, Recommendations, Language, Volunteering Experience/Opportunities, Test Scores, Patents, Publications, Certifications, Organizations, Supported Organizations, Interests, Posts, Personal Details, Additional Info, Groups, Following.

#2 Revisit and revise your LinkedIn profile to reflect your evolving offering

It’s a good idea to revisit and revise your profile on a regular basis. Your LinkedIn profile must evolve to reflect your here and now, unless you want your entire future career to be based on how you saw yourself at the time of your first content upload.

Sanity check that your content reflects the current professional you and facilitates your current and future career goals. If nothing else, take a look at your Headline and Summary to make sure they remain appropriate and relevant. Of course, add new Experience, Projects, Skills, and Honors & Awards as you get them. Also, be open to editing older work history when you have something new or more relevant to say. Learn more about editing your career back story here.

#3 Seek (more) LinkedIn Recommendations

Featuring recommendations on your LinkedIn profile is a great way to convey what others in your professional network think of you. They act as a kind of case study of a particular relationship, outlining the circumstances of your mutual connection and the reputation you have earned within that relationship. A recommendation speaks volumes about a person’s character, and carries more weight than what the individual may write about themselves.

Even if you already have a few recommendations, there is always room for more current or relevant examples. Keeping your current career target firmly in mind, seek LinkedIn recommendations from peers at all levels to build and enhance your reputation; don’t feel compelled to just ask people you report to. Consider asking contacts from inside or outside your current organisation, from previous employers, business partners, suppliers, client organisations, educational institutions, or even conferences or events attended. I believe that displaying a diverse array of recommendations puts you at an advantage, showing that you are a great person to work with regardless of the relationship or scenario.

When you update your LinkedIn profile with a recommendation, your connections, and the connections of the person recommending you, will be notified of the update in their newsfeed. It’s the virtual equivalent of the person taking you to a premium, closed networking event with all of their contacts, patting you on the back and announcing to the room that you are in their circle of trust.

#4 Write a LinkedIn Post (or two)

If you aren’t already using LinkedIn Publisher, you are missing a huge opportunity to build credibility and visibility on LinkedIn and online. LinkedIn states that ‘publishing allows you to further establish your professional identity by expressing your opinions and sharing your experiences’. If you are wondering how popular the publishing platform really is, LinkedIn reported one million long-form posts had been written on LinkedIn Publisher by February 2015.

LinkedIn’s Publisher function allows you to publish your own insights on industry trends and events. Start with one post, but also consider a series of LinkedIn posts to enhance your credibility.

When you publish a long-form post, it becomes part of your professional profile, and is shared with your network connections and followers. Posts are searchable within LinkedIn and off the platform, so if you optimise your content with relevant keywords, it can show up in external searches. As an added bonus, LinkedIn members who are not connections can opt to follow you from your post, and will be updated when you next publish on LinkedIn.

Search for ‘Tips for Writing Long-Form Posts on LinkedIn’ to discover LinkedIn’s tips on writing long-form posts. Whether you are a complete beginner or seasoned blogger, these tips are certain to help.


All-star or not, consider your LinkedIn profile as an ever-evolving masterpiece. There will always something to add, something to enhance, something to edit. Make it work hard for the you you are now, not the you you were then.


A Career Change Story

A Career Change Story

This week, I interviewed someone very close to me about her career change. I’m delighted to share her answers, along with some points to take-away, and I hope these will inspire you on your career change journey.

What career are you changing from and to, and why?

Although not a direct career choice, I have been a public law solicitor with the same London local authority for more years than I care to remember. I have enjoyed the status, salary, stimulus, and professional camaraderie, and even the hard work and monumental legal studies.

Yet, my true passion is wine. For years, I have been consumed by discerning wine choice and drinking, never-ending wine education, wine tasting, visiting world wine regions, charity wine evenings, and taking wine exams. Last January, I obtained my WSET Diploma in wine (equivalent to a degree), culminating in my graduation ceremony at London’s Guildhall. I may now use the letters AIWS and wear the small, oval red lapel diploma badge. My next big challenge? Breaking into the on-trade or off-trade wine sector through a role in hotel/hospitality, or as a sommelier, wine merchant, supermarket wine buyer, wine educator, vineyard manager, or even wine producer.


It takes courage to ditch a financially-secure and established career and plunge into an unfamiliar job sector, but when you truly know your passion, it’s worth pursuing it.

When did you get your lucky break?

After years of irregular internet searching for that illusive wine job, one day while out shopping I was seduced by the purple façade and wine on display at a newly opened local wine merchant. Lured inside, I chatted to the Australian owner who poured me a glass of Torrontes (Argentinian signature white grape and wine) and I promised to email my CV (panic – I needed to revamp this into a wine CV), with a view to working Saturdays as an intern wine sales assistant. Although unpaid, the reward would be tasting the wines and taking home bottles to evaluate and appreciate. I soon emailed a credible wine CV, thanks to Giraffe CVs, securing this valuable work experience to kick-start my wine career. I worked Saturdays in the wine merchants for two years, learning about the off-trade, regional wines, wine producers, fine wines and champagnes, and wine suppliers, all the while studying for my wine diploma with the Wine and Spirit Trust in Bermondsey, London.


Your lucky break could come when you least expect it, so be ready with a credible and tailored CV that reflects your relevant skills, experience, and motivation for the job in question.

How did you build further experience?

Although I enjoyed my time at the wine merchants, I came to realise that wine retail was not for me. I wanted to try my hand as a sommelier in an upmarket hotel, where I could immerse myself in a huge wine cellar with hundreds of fine and expensive wines, and learn how to deliver amazing hospitality to guests. I wanted to emulate the brilliant service experiences, which I can recall as a guest in a hotel or fine dining restaurant, knowing how this service enhanced the food and wine experience.

Having thoroughly researched the role of sommelier, a couple of years ago I responded to an online job advert for a junior sommelier at a boutique wine hotel. I didn’t hear anything for a while, and the silence brought up fresh doubts about whether I really wanted to leave my secure, long-term role as a solicitor. After much thought, I contacted the hotel and asked to speak to the head sommelier, making an appointment to meet with him one Friday evening, prising him away from his busy work schedule. We agreed that I would work evenings and weekends on a part-time basis, allowing me to maintain my day job. I was willing and enthusiastic to work unpaid in order to obtain this valuable experience. After a couple of weeks’ hospitality sector culture shock and the steep learning curve of hard, physical, fast service work, I was given a zero-hours contract to sign, with copious company policies and workplace information to memorise.

My three months at the hotel, working under the valued guidance of the head sommelier, was far from easy. The long evenings working in the fine dining restaurant/bistro after my legal day job, running to and from the cellar via a dark narrow staircase, and cleaning up at the end of wine service, were exhausting. My expectation of the glamourous sommelier role advising guests and diners about choosing wonderful wines was modified by all the extra menial duties, such as the emptying of bins full of empty bottles into the huge glass receptors. I left the role to concentrate on my final course module and exam for the wine diploma.


Be gutsy about pursuing your goal. It’s unlikely that emailing your CV in response to an advertised role will be enough. Take the bull by the horns, and contact the hiring manager directly, explaining who you are and what you can do.

What happened next?

So to continue my fledgling wine experience in the hotel hospitality sector, in September, I emailed my CV to Gerrard Basset, a formidable figure in the world of wine. The only person who has obtained Master Sommelier of the World (2010), Master of Wine, and a Wine MBA, he is also the president of WSET, and the man who personally presented me with my wine diploma at the Guildhall London. Gerrard and his wife own and run Hotel Terravina, a cosy, fine dining wine hotel in the New Forest, where I celebrated my birthday with friends, last year. He encouraged me to email him dates for doing a one-week stage at the hotel, which I completed in early December.


Identify those who can help you with your new career, and find opportunities to develop the relationship. A confident yet polite approach can open unexpected doors.

How did you find your next experience?

I arrived on a Sunday evening and was met by the head sommelier, who I would be shadowing that week. What a fun first hour! I was invited to watch the dramatic performance of the Sabrage, a guest experience that involved slicing the neck of a chilled champagne bottle with a long, curved sword/sabre. It looked magnificent on the garden veranda as the head sommelier expertly demonstrated the swift sword action, skimming up to the thin neck of the bottle and the cork catapulting into the garden.

The head sommelier had planned an interesting week for me, and I learned many aspects of the sommelier role that I had not covered during my previous experience. The wine service element actually only represents 20% of the role. I experienced the office and paperwork; ordering and checking deliveries; stocktaking of wine, spirits, and glassware; cellar work; cleanliness and care of the different glassware and equipment; meticulous wine service; the bar (I had to taste all the wines by the glass from the Enomatic wine dispenser!); wine tastings; and wine education. I was anxious not to put a foot wrong, but inevitably made a few, luckily not disastrous, mistakes. My role was not as autonomous as before, but this hotel was even more prestigious, with meticulous standards, so I was happy to shadow and observe.


Once you have secured a placement, throw yourself into it and learn and experience everything you can. The next step is to capture that experience on your CV and use it to secure your next position.

How will you progress your career change?

I am currently reflecting on my weeks’ experience and the myriad responsibilities involved in being a sommelier. There are lots of advertisements for sommelier jobs but, for now, I plan to carry on building up my experience in the wine sector until I find the right wine job for me.

My experiences have taught me that it is possible to pursue an entirely new career from a passionate interest while retaining your existing role, giving you the courage and motivation to educate yourself and build up a great new CV.


With a second career, give yourself the time and space you need to carve out the right path. Don’t rush headlong into a job that feels wrong. It’s worth giving your choices due consideration before making a leap.


Tips for wannabe career changers

Here are some practical tips to help you convert your career dream into career reality:

Be clear in your own mind what you want from your career. Start to manifest it by telling yourself aloud and, better still, by writing it down. If you are unsure what it is that you want, here are some ways to uncover your inner career desires:

Picture your perfect working day, capturing as many details as possible to bring the scene to life. Get as clear about your aspirations as possible, then work towards every element.

Leverage online career tools, such as the brilliant Plotr. Free to use, Plotr was established to help 11 to 24-year-olds discover and explore careers they’ll love. In fact, this engaging tool is extremely useful for adult career changers, leading to some true light bulb moments.

Conduct your own skills audit, clarifying your strengths and interests to define your target career path. Challenge yourself to write down every skill you can think of, and then group common themes. It should become clear where your strengths lie.

Establish your ‘zone of genius’, a phrase originally coined by psychologist, Gay Hendricks, in his book, The Big Leap. Hendricks said, “In your Zone of Genius, though the time you spend there produces great financial abundance, you do not feel that you are expending effort to produce it. In your Zone of Genius, work doesn’t feel like work.” Note every skill you have under the headings of genius, excellence, OK, poor. The items you list in your zone of genius should become the most important requirements for your next role.

Recognise the potential challenges and obstacles standing between you and your dream career. By facing potential problems and fears, you will be in a better position to seek support and plug any skills gaps. Do you need to find and enrol on some relevant training? Do you need to build your network? Do you need to find out more about a specific industry or role? Do you need more training? More hands-on experience? Is there something you struggle with and you know it is an integral part of your desired career, such as giving presentations or managing a team? Is there anything you can do to boost your confidence in this area? Is there training you can undertake to improve your management skills? Would working with a mentor help you tackle the challenges of a desired role?

Use your end-game picture to set clear, time-defined immediate, medium- and long-term goals. This can help to ensure you are always making the right choices and devoting your energy and resources to an action or path that directly relates to what you want. Frame every decision in terms of the question: “Will this take me closer to my goal or further away from it?”

Once you have defined your goals, take focused and consistent action to bring you closer to your career dream. As you achieve each set of tasks, cross them off and move down the list. You don’t always need to make huge leaps, it’s enough to move forward one step at a time.

Four lessons from my worst job ever

Four lessons from my worst job ever

I’m sure we’ve all had them. The jobs that stick in our minds as being the ‘worst ever’ long after receiving our P45. Bad feeling can develop for any number of reasons – an intense atmosphere, a bully in the workplace, we may feel underpaid or overworked, or just hoodwinked about the scope of the role. Whatever the cause of our discontent, the bad taste in our mouths can linger long after we have moved on. Some jobs do just suck but, remember, there’s always something to be learnt from a negative experience.

Here are four lessons from my worst job ever.

#1 Know what the role is

My worst ever job was a brand new, never-been-done-before role, and turned out to be far more experimental than I’d anticipated. The job was with a well-established and prestigious company, who I naively imagined would have mapped out more of a direction for the role in question. Uh-uh. Wrong. My main beef with my job was that I simply did not have enough to do and, despite all my best efforts, could not fill my time with the allocated workload. As I’ll explain later, I tried and tried to build responsibility, but the scope was actually very narrow and there really was no room to widen it.

In reality, the actual work turned out to involve one task, which wasn’t very challenging and didn’t take very long, leaving long periods where there was simply nothing to do but stare out of the window and twiddle my thumbs. If I were reading this, I’d question the proactivity of the writer – surely, there must have been something else to do? Did you look hard enough? Unfortunately, yes I did, and no, there wasn’t. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a ‘doer’, so you can imagine this lack of work drove me insane. One other girl and I were shut away in an office, away from the main hustle and bustle of the office, tormented by the hive of activity and interaction that was evident on the other side of the glass.

I must have asked about what was expected during the interview, but my inner optimist saw the lack of substance as an opportunity to shape my new job. Excited about the prospect of working with this well-known company, and unwilling to rock the boat, I sat tight and let the company interview and select me, rather than seeing it as an opportunity to interview and select my next employer.

What’s the lesson?

Don’t assume. Instead, make sure you are as clear as you possibly can be about what a role entails before you take it on. Probe the interviewer to understand what you will be doing on a day-to-day basis, the results your performance will be measured on, and how your role can evolve. If someone is already doing the job, talk to them or, at least, look them up online. Your interview is your chance to make sure this job in this company is right for you, just as much as the company uses the opportunity to ensure you are right for them.

#2 Don’t deflect career unhappiness into other areas of your life

Here’s what happened to me. I was bored out of my skull, extremely unhappy, nothing to do for most of the day. So what did I decide the answer would be? Food. Not a clever move. Lunch seemed to be the only thing to look forward to, and I made much more of it than I should have done. As a result, lunch made a lot more of me than there should have been. Once home, in the evening, depressed by the prospect of the next day, I continued to comfort eat, making my weight problem worse and worse. In four short yet extremely long months I ballooned, putting on more than a stone in weight and setting a scary and lasting pattern for the next 20 years of my life.

What’s the lesson?

If I had the opportunity to advise my younger self, I’d urge her to focus on other projects and activities, allowing her to advance outside of the nine-to-five. Work is a really important aspect of our daily lives but, whilst it is not fulfilling your dreams, it’s a good idea to ensure it isn’t all-consuming. I must have been job-seeking during this time (I’ll come on to that later), but I wish I had taken up other interests to distract myself from the depressing hours spent in the office. Whilst your brain isn’t fully engaged in one pursuit, it has room to fulfil another, and I could have achieved a lot with that available headspace. I wish I’d pursued another interest, like running at lunchtime, something I did the following year. One day, I even ran past the Queen in her carriage on the Mall.

#3 Explore other avenues before you quit

I must have been fairly desperate to knock on the door of my boss’ office and ask what else I could do to help, but I mustered the courage on more than one occasion. The wider team were bustling with enterprise, and I felt sure there must be something else, anything else, I could do to get involved. Unfortunately, I was shut down on each attempt, and my role never did evolve into anything more.

I took to wandering the open plan floor, getting to know the movers and shakers, trying to get an insight into their activities, hoping it would lead to more work. Nothing doing. It seemed like a closed world, with no welcome to outsiders.

What’s the lesson?

Although it didn’t work for me, I can say hand-on-heart that I did my best to make the best of a bad situation. If you are in a bad job, I’d encourage you to explore every possible avenue before you quit.

#4 Know when to call it quits

I must have decided fairly quickly that this role wasn’t for me, as four months later I had started a new role. Less than a mile down the road, the new job was a world away from my worst role ever. I had wide-ranging responsibility, a boss who embraced professional development, and the opportunity to learn every single day. More than that, I was busy! Busy and energised. I even took up running at lunchtime.

What’s the lesson?

Sometimes, jobs just don’t work out, and no amount of hope or anguish will change the outcome. Once you have made the decision to move on, move on.

So, that’s my worst ever job. What was yours and what lessons did you take from it?

Googled yourself recently? Like what you found?

Googled yourself recently? Like what you found?

I caught a television news interview with an anti-doping expert this week and, whilst her words and delivery were convincing, my attention strayed to the background behind her. I got the impression she was filming herself from her own computer, sat at her desk with a home office set-up visible in the background.

Like many home offices, shelving dominated, packed with files, books, and other paraphernalia that gets called upon in the course of day-to-day work. I could make out the titles of several books that corroborated her title and stance – books on sports and how they were governed. She wasn’t focusing on what was behind her but, nevertheless, this lady’s physical background gave depth to her interview and played a role in increasing her credibility.

Her physical background had me convinced, however, if I’d remembered her name and Googled her, I’m sure I’d be rewarded with countless matches – from her organisation, from LinkedIn, from industry events, interviews, and more.

It got me thinking about the ‘background’ candidates consciously and inadvertently present online, and how it affects their employability.

The purpose of a background search of any kind is to discover more about an individual. Today, a simple Google search on a specific candidate can throw up a tonne of relevant information or nothing at all. Both of these scenarios can lead recruiters and hiring managers to draw their own conclusions.

A positive background search will enable the searcher to verify information they already hold, so that they can be positive you are who you say you are. It should also allow them to uncover additional evidence of your skills, experience, and potential, thus building your case for employment.

An unsuccessful background search will leave the searcher scratching their head, unable to verify the stated facts presented on your CV. They may even struggle to find you online at all, leaving them wondering about your lack of profile.

CareerBuilder’s 2015 social media recruitment survey found that 51% of hiring managers use search engines to research candidates and more than a third (35%) of employers are less likely to interview candidates they can’t find online. Once found, employers aren’t necessarily looking for information to rule you out, as six in 10 surveyed are “looking for information that supports their qualifications for the job” and 32% of those surveyed found information which supported the candidate’s application.

So, how should you take charge of your personal search results and ensure that the returns play out in your favour? Here are five areas of digital turf you can confidently ring-fence for your job search:

#1 LinkedIn

Technically, this could be combined with point #2, yet LinkedIn is so important, I felt it deserved its own section. LinkedIn often dominates search results for individual names, so maintaining a LinkedIn profile that is clearly about you is essential to return a positive match.

First of all, make sure you have a LinkedIn profile, then check that your name, headline, photo, and industry details are clearly about you, rather than a namesake.

Next, check that your LinkedIn profile is complete, verifying and enhancing the information already presented on your CV. If you are confident in displaying a comprehensive profile to a broad professional network, this can reassure the searcher, convincing them of your sincerity and reputation. LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements will also enhance your standing.

To provide deeper insight, consider using LinkedIn’s publishing feature, showcasing a video or interview on your profile, or engaging in LinkedIn groups.

#2 Social Media

Do each and every one of your social bios reflect your professional offering and status, as outlined on your CV?

Are you tweeting about the latest industry news, sharing tips or photos from industry events, or interacting with individuals and organisations with the same professional interests?

Are you showcasing your visual portfolio on Pinterest or Instagram, or involved in relevant Twitter chats and communities on Google+? Are you sharing relevant video tips or insights on YouTube?

Social media timelines offer a real-time insight into your interests and activities, highlighting your thoughts and focus right now. This is invaluable for recruiters and would-be employers hoping to discover more of the real you.

If a search only throws up unconnected social chatter, it won’t support your professional profile, and may even put your reputation at risk. Double check purely social profiles are kept private, and that public profiles reflect your professional goals.

#3 Blog or Personal Website

Perhaps you blog or have a personal website. If so, check it’s up to date and reflects your current professional interests and aspirations. If you don’t have a dedicated site on which to share your professional musings, consider using LinkedIn Publisher as a platform.

#4 Organisational Profiles

Your current organisation may feature your bio on their website, and this can be telling in more ways than one. If it doesn’t reflect your here and now, consider a refresh to make sure it does. Earlier this year, I read a jokey bio that had the potential to disrupt the candidate’s job search. Luckily we located and addressed it before her job search got properly underway.

#5 Industry Events

If you’ve been invited to speak at an industry event, your bio may feature on the event website, so make sure it reflects your main messages and the professional strengths you want to promote. Even if you haven’t been invited to present, you can engage on event forums or share event highlights on your social profiles, linking yourself as someone interested in lifelong learning and development.

Five types of word you should never use on your CV

Five types of word you should never use on your CV

Although words aren’t the only ingredient you’ll use to create your CV, let’s face it, without them it is just a blank sheet of paper. Words are pretty important in this context and your choice of words plays a huge role in making your CV either weak or wow.

What’s more, there’s quite a quantity of words you’ll need to select and string together to create a compelling career document. The word count of last three CVs I have written has ranged between 878 and 1027 words. That’s a whole heap of choices.

I admit, it’s not an easy task to choose the right words, ones that can carry forward your career aspirations until you have the opportunity to speak them in person. This week’s blog outlines some groups of words you should either treat with caution or give a wide berth.

#1 Slang

I love to hear the latest word on the street, whether I learn it from my 12-year-old, witness it online, or furtively clarify a term I’ve come across in the urban dictionary. Personally, I think it’s great that the English language is constantly evolving to accommodate and describe the changing world around us. In the last year, words like ‘tekkers’, ‘bae’, and ‘clean eating’ have crept into our household vocabulary, and they make me smile, but that doesn’t mean they should ever appear in a professional communication like a CV.

Slang can confuse the reader, and may be misinterpreted. Make sure your CV is ‘on fleek’ by using clear, appropriate, and professional language. Your words should be instantly recognisable, appropriate in context, and easily understandable to anyone reading your CV.

#2 Clichés

Using clichés on your CV is lazy, and does nothing to differentiate you from other applicants. It’s boring for the recruiter to read the same trite lines over and over, and it’s a missed opportunity to build your personal brand. Instead of saying you’re a hard-working team player, think about what really stands you apart, and express that in your CV profile. Outlining your unique strengths will make your CV more appealing than stringing together overused buzzwords. Jennifer Holloway recently wrote an excellent article about the difference between strengths and skills, you can check it out here.

#3 Negative or bland wording

Your CV is your opportunity to convey your prowess, passion, and potential to your target employer. It needs to carry forward your career hopes and dreams before you can make a more interactive face-to-face or verbal impression on the hiring manager. There is absolutely no place for negative or bland language on your CV.

You may feel compelled to explain a negative situation on your CV, but lengthy explanations of adverse circumstances can talk you out of an interview before you’ve even begun. Keep your CV positive, keep any explanations short and simple, and instead use your CV as it should be used – to showcase your positive traits and experience.

A lack of career confidence can sometimes seep onto a CV, resulting in a shy, restrained, and unassuming presentation that is unlikely to inspire or interest anyone reading it. Fear of bragging can also inhibit CV language choices. The results make an uninspiring read.

A negative or bland CV is not worth the paper it’s written on. This is your career, you’ve worked it, you’ve achieved it, now you need to use it to move forward. Be confident and own your history and achievements, and narrate your message in an assured and buoyant way.

#4 Words you don’t understand

When writing your CV, it can be tempting to up-level your language. It’s a bit like using your ‘telephone voice’ when answering your business line, your intention is to make a positive first impression. However, tread with caution. You don’t want to use words that you don’t fully understand, or ones that actually weaken your authenticity. Keep it real by using words you are comfortable speaking as well as writing.

#5 Words the reader won’t understand

It may seem natural to select words from your verbal vocabulary, but do check that your language is commonly recognised before hitting the send button. You may not give a second thought to including words you use in everyday speech, but are they real words and do they mean what you think they mean? Now’s the time to check. In speech, people often use words out of context, so it’s worth taking the time to check their legitimacy, relevance, and accepted meaning.

Enlist the help of several reviewers to check that your words make total sense. If your review panel questions one of your words, consider switching it for a more common term.

Acronyms fall under this category. Acronyms can easily become part of your day-to-day language at work, and it’s easy to assume that others outside your current circle will understand their meaning. If you really need to use acronyms on your CV, take time to explain them first, e.g. Management Information (MI), then you can confidently abbreviate all subsequent mentions.