Communicating Expertise and Brand

Once you've held a position long enough, you'll develop a level of expertise.  Malcolm Gladwell suggests that it takes about 10,000 hours to become an expert, or in his words a "phenom," or someone who delivers beyond typical expertise.

(After many years in a position, if you haven't developed expertise, I'd venture to say that you're in the wrong job)

This leads me to share a story of a recent client who wrote:

Hi Stephanie,

I had some feedback on my LinkedIn summary today that was less than complementary (sic). I was told:

The definition of an out-of-the-box creative, (I would reword this, as it sounds cocky)

Do you think there is another way of putting this?


Now, before I tell you how I responded and how this question played out, you need to know that this client is beyond an expert: he is a phenom. One of those people who is in the right job, using innate talents augmented by educational credentials and hands-on experience who over-exceeds expectations.

His accomplishments are in the remarkable if not legendary category. I wish I could give you details, but because of client confidentiality I cannot. Truly, he is outstanding in his field. And yet ...

He needs help landing a job. I'd say that the main reason he needs help is because he wasn't ready to "own" his awesomeness! He was hiding behind mediocrity to a degree, bringing his work down to a more common denominator.

Here's my response:

My question is - how do you feel about this? If you can stand behind it and feel that that is you, you likely don't need to change it.

I certainly don't mind changing, just want to make sure that you need to change it. One person's opinion is just that, one opinion!

Here are some alternatives;

- "Out of the box" solutions are my forte
- Known for arriving at solutions that escape others,
- Having developed a solid reputation for innovation

Do any of these resonate with you?

Our conversation went on a bit, and I presented the idea that when a company who needs a strong innovator, a company that is truly ready for change, reads his summary, that company will appreciate the language and reach out to him.

On reflection, he said that he is ready to embrace his value, and he doesn't feel that the orginal version overstates his abilities.

Disclaimer: To protect my client's privacy, I changed the actual phrase used in his LinkedIn. The phrase above is not as elegant as the one used in his summary, but it serves the purpose!

"LinkedIn is the defacto way to find a job in today's market"

So stated an article in the weekend's Globe and Mail, one of Canada's national newspapers. Author Gillian Livingston, under the heading of Networking, built a  case for job hunters to consider joining other Canadians, now 10 million strong on LinkedIn.  Ten million Canadians!

It appears that we are "early and enthusiastic adopter[s] of Internet technology and social media" as she was told by Brian Church, the head of sales solutions for North America at LInkedIn Corp. Considering that there are professions that don't really require an online presence - doctors, teachers, CSIS staff, and most blue collar jobs come to mind - that number is doubly impressive.

I was telling a recent client that I truly believe LI has the ability to transform itself into the premiere job search board, one that holds all resumes and that puts the onus on recruiters to conduct a job search that requires no job posting, no resume submissions. Wouldn't that turn recruitment on its head!?

If this happens, the "resume" will be housed in the LI profile. (The content will still need to be well composed, and thus my job, thankfully, won't become obsolete!) With up-to-date info, options that tell recruiters (but not your employer) that you are actively seeking a new opportunity, details such as location, credentials, knowledge base, working style, testimonials, samples of projects, video clips - wow, it could be a bonanza of information pertinent to employment!

Last week I took a course in how to truly optimize LI profiles (as this is one of the services I offer) so that when recruiters run their analytics to find potential candidates for job openings - some of which are likely in that "hidden job market" category you've read about - they can actually find the clients for whom I optimize LI profiles.

Some of the "fixes" are required simply to overcome glitches in the reporting software, that don't reliably pick up some fields of info, or that completely ignore fields of info. Some information, I learned, should be included in three different fields so that it does land on recruiter reports. It's from that report - sometimes holding 1000 names - that recruiters scan and select potential candidates to review and contact for an interview.

The recruitment process, for now, continues to grow in complexity. Perhaps one day it will settle down to a model reminiscent of old fashioned recruiting techniques; that is, fairly static and dependably unchanging. But increasingly a LI profile is without question a must for the serious professional job hunter.