About LinkedIn in What Color is Your Parachute?

As I work my way through 2017’s version of What Color is Your Parachute? (making note that there is already a 2018 version that I need to get my hands on)  I spent some time with the section containing Dick Bolles’ thoughts on LinkedIn.  This section in the 2017 version doesn’t really seem to have changed substantially from the 2016 version, but for whatever reason, this year it really struck me, and I wanted to share because I find the perspective he offers on this, as he calls it “The swiss army knife of job sites” to be quite useful for jobseekers (and for everyone really – we all should be joining this conversation)!

Here we go, some of Dick Bolles’ reflections on the site (with commentary from me in parentheses), from his background and experience of working with jobseekers since 1970 … more than forty-five years:

  • A photo is mandatory (according to his research, the likelihood that your profile will be viewed increases 11x if you have a photo)
  • In “job title” add any industries that you want to find a job in to so that the search engine will pick you up. (He suggests that you use a slash (/) to get in multiple words/titles/competencies – I suggest that you go on LinkedIn and find someone who uses a divider that catches your eye and snag it for use on your profile (I happen to really like “|”)
  • Tell a story! (you may be starting to see why I am such a fan of Richard Bolles’ work!) he suggests that it should be a story that describes how you work using measurable outcomes. (Note: Bolles would have you put these in your “Experience” section.  I say that you want to look for any and all places to add them – but certain find a way to get one in your “Summary” section at the very least)
  • KEYWORDS are key!  As I have done, Bolles recommends that you go on in there and dig through other profiles to find words that others are using to describe themselves and copy the ones that are relevant to you.  (that’s what I am talking about!  This is using LinkedIn to DO things, like research)
  • Add any and all hobbies, interests, associations, etc. (you want to make sure that you return in any search from someone who might share an interest that is very important to you)
  • Add links to websites or blogs where you talk about your expertise (LinkOUT on LinkedIn is what I call this) / videos of yourself discussing some aspects of your expertise and upload this video / descriptions (including photos) of projects you are proud of, – and make sure to click to “share on Twitter”
  • Join GROUPS! (for readers of this blog, may I suggest the LSA Special Interest Group for Linguists Beyond Academia?)

More than anything, Bolles’ exploration gives some helpful context to remind us why it is that we care about LinkedIn – not only is it the “site of first resort” for employers, but because they are always on the lookout for “passive jobseekers” – you ain’t lookin’ for them, but they’re lookin’ for you! You never know what opportunity or idea or project or adventure might be out there looking for you, but you sure can make sure that you do everything that you possibly can to be in a position to be found!

For more on LinkedIn, start here for a collection of the many posts that have explored the site on this blog.




Learning how to use LinkedIn

LI image

If you are looking to learn how to make more of LinkedIn – they offer free online training to their users, looking to make the most of the affordances of the medium!


Screenshot 2016-06-06 11.51.57.png


There are a series of pre-recorded webinars on the following topics:



Also, there are also live webinars – for which you can sign up here
the next one is on June 28th!

All this and more resources may be found on their help page





Career Exploration, LinkedIn, WaLK series

Using LinkedIn to “pick one”

When you are just beginning a job search, it is at times very useful to just pick something.  As we have been discussing, there are many ways of conceptualizing work – many “ways in” to think about the world of work, so let’s think about how we might use this site to help pick one place to start: one industry, one organization, or one person.  Remember: you are just using this as a place to start – a place to ask yourself: “if that, then what?”


LinkedIn will be your research tool. Because it contains more information than any other source about the details of the working lives of the world’s professionals, you can think of it as your own annotated database of work.


Pick by Industry

Pick one industry from the list that speaks to you – for example: Photography.  Then ask yourself “if I were going to pursue opportunities in Photography, where might I see opportunities for someone with my skills and training?”  How do they think about communication?  Who is thinking about language?  Perhaps you can find a place to apply an interest in semiotics.  Use “Advanced People search” to search among your network.  Who are the people who you know who are working in this sector?


Pick by Organization  

Do you have a dream organization?  One that you have thought it might be fun to work for?  Find them on LinkedIn (and while you are on their page, be sure to “follow” them).  Take a look at their “About Us” do you see anything there that speaks to you?  Do thy happen to be hiring or recruiting at the moment?  Scroll down through their recent updates.  Do you see any “hooks” – i.e. an event that you might attend?  A resource that you might share?  Now scroll down the right hand column.  Are you connected to the organization in any way? What other organizations did people search?  Do you see any organizations that you might be interested in following up with?


Pick by job

Use some of your favorite keywords in the general search bar, selecting “job” in the drop down and see what returns.  When you find ones that you like, be sure to save them so that the “Jobs You May Be Interested In” (JYMBI) search algorithm becomes smarter and smarter in finding jobs for you.  Now take a careful look at this job ad.  Which of the tasks/duties/responsibilities speak to you in particular?  How do these map on to your skills / interests / abilities? Imagine that you were to apply for this job – what relevant information would you want this hiring committee to know about you.  Get that information into your profile!


About LinkedIn

LinkedIn, the World’s Largest Professional Network, is fast becoming one of the most important ways to connect (with employers, partners, mentors, former colleagues, employees, subject matter experts and clients) online. As such, the interactions which take place here (or which could but don’t) are increasingly important to understand. Even if you are not using it, other people, including your potential employers, probably are, so it is to your benefit to better understand the complexity and nuance of social interaction in this context.

If you are brand new to LinkedIn, my post on the Many Worlds of LinkedIn provides a bird’s eye overview.

What is LinkedIn About?
LinkedIn is about doing things like finding people and being found, discovering and creating opportunities. It is a place to be active, so that you show up on newsfeeds to stay top of mind with your network. It is about continuously cultivating your digital presence, and requesting introductions. To engage this dynamism, think about the progressive form of the verb – linking – not Linked, the stative form of the verb, which I argue contributes to the proliferation of misunderstandings about the site.

One key place to begin with thinking actively is with your tagline.

There are many things to do on LinkedIn, but as an interactional sociolinguist, I am principally interested in the role that language plays in accomplishing ends, and how LinkedIn in turn catalyzes and organizes language.  Click here to read more about the Linguistics of LinkedIn.

What IS LinkedIn?
Think of LinkedIn as a database.

For one thing, it contains myriad examples of professional self-presentation strategies. In the hands of a linguist, I cannot think of better data for learning about career and for presenting oneself professionally.

Company Pages contain many sources of information that are more easily found here than anywhere else and which are invaluable to the jobseeker.

It is a place to practice presenting yourself professionally.  Begin by imagining an interaction with your ideal reader.

Another good way to think about LinkedIn is as a self-updating rolodex. Better than paper rolodexes, this digital means of both capturing and facilitating connection can actively suggest your information for inclusion into others’ rolodexes, as it passively keeps track of people for you as they move jobs or change geographic location.

What is LinkedIn for?
At its core, LinkedIn is designed to help you network. Linguistically, it facilitates networking interaction in a number of ways: by helping you talk about yourself, by connecting you to other people in a way that facilitates conversation around similar (and diverse) interests, and by structuring an environment where asking for things is naturalized and foregrounded.

The basic action is the “request to connect.” Like “friending” on Facebook, this links you with another user. In so doing, LinkedIn also shows you how you are connected to that person (people who you know in common), “degrees of connection” in the nomenclature of LinkedIn.   This helps you not only to maintain your network, but also do research to see how you might work to increase its density.

To learn more, read the post How And Why Do we Link on LinkedIn? 

Wanna get started?  Think about spending an hour a week on LinkedIn.