One of the first movies I ever watched and fell in love with was the Wizard of Oz. Trust me. My interest was not in the possible deeper meaning of the book as a metaphor for political and monetary policy in the late 19th century. Nope. I was only 5 or 6 and just fascinated by tornadoes, scarecrows, tin men and a cowardly lion. Give me a chance to link a few characters from the movie to your job search process, and I am up to the challenge. But no flying monkeys! They still scare the stuffing out of me (yes that was a pathetic scarecrow reference).
I did a LinkedIn search using the phrase “Seeking New Opportunity” and came up with 319,745 results. I completed a second search using the phrase “Available for new position” and came up with 372,416 results. By my simple math, that represents over 692,000 job seekers whose chances of getting back to Kansas and finding their next job don’t look too good right now. Let’s see what the Wizard has to say on this topic.
They are called Ruby Slippers for a reason. When the Wicked Witch of the West went looking for Dorothy, she was very specific about what she wanted. She wasn’t looking for any old shoes. She specifically wanted Ruby Slippers. Recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring organizations use the LinkedIn Talent Solutions platform as a primary source of quality candidates. They search the LinkedIn database using powerful algorithms built on position titles and other skills-based keyword criteria. Headlines and job titles like “Seeking” and “Available” aren’t part of any search criteria. These words do absolutely nothing to increase your profile visibility. Instead build your headline, summary and experience sections around the position titles, skills, and keywords that best optimize your profile for the next position you are seeking.
The Scarecrow had a brain, and so do we. I always thought the Scarecrow was smart from the first minute I saw him. He didn’t need the degree from the Wizard to prove he had a brain. The people you connect with on LinkedIn are smart as well. One glance at the Experience section of your profile and we can tell that you are available and likely seeking a new opportunity. That, of course, assumes that your Experience section is accurate and up to date. Words like “Seeking” and “Available” hint at desperation and that is not the first impression you want to convey. More on that when we discuss the Cowardly Lion below!
The Tin Man had a heart, and your network does too. The minute Dorothy met the Tin Man, she knew he had a big heart. And was a big red heart shaped watch really the best heart the Wizard could find? In my career coaching practice, I advocate a funnel-based approach to building your job search professional network. My law of human nature is that at least one third to half of us are decent people open to helping and mentorship. If you put enough potential contacts at the top of your funnel, enough of us with a heart will come out the bottom and into your professional network. Just tell us why you want to connect in a well-constructed LinkedIn message. But again, lose the “opportunity seeking” and “available for position” language. Networking meetings are not job interviews. Keep the focus exclusively on learning and network expansion.
The Cowardly Lion had big-time courage, and you do as well. I confess that the Cowardly Lion was always my favorite character. I think it was the tail and the way he proudly displayed the courage medal he got from the Wizard. Courage and your job search need to go hand in hand. It takes courage to reach out to strangers and build a network. It takes courage (and practice!) to walk into a job interview and crush it. It takes courage to write a LinkedIn headline that tells the world what you want to be next. And it takes courage to write a LinkedIn summary that sells the world on your value proposition and why we should care about you. Don’t waste that valuable LinkedIn real estate telling us that you are seeking new opportunities and are currently available.
And I think that brings us at last to Dorothy. What can she tell us about a winning job search? First, always check the sky before you go down to Starbucks for your next networking meeting! Second, be open to meeting new people and expanding your network. You will make new friends, and they will help you find your way to your next job. Finally, believe in yourself, and your confidence will shine through at every step of the job search process. And if you happen to have a pair of magic shoes, wear them!
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Dan Troup is the Managing Director of the AdvantEdge Careers coaching service. If you are interested in learning more about how a job search expert and certified career coach can assist you, please contact AdvantEdge Careers for a free initial consultation.