Pandemic-Proofing Your LinkedIn Profile

 

More and more over the last several months, we are learning the continuing value of developing and maintaining a strong digital presence.  As our world becomes increasingly reliant on virtual connection in the age of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to adapt and hone our networking and communication skills to meet these needs.

Whether you are currently in the job search, or simply want to keep your marketing materials sharp and relevant in the event of an opportunity presenting itself, one of the most important things that you can do in this time is refresh your LinkedIn profile.

This article from Business Insider demonstrates exactly why LinkedIn is such a great opportunity for jobseekers at the moment, and does an excellent job of showcasing how you can go about updating your LinkedIn profile to meet the needs of the “next normal’s” job market.

A few key takeaways:

1. – Shift your thinking of the LinkedIn profile to that of a resource, not just a resume.

Too many times job seekers are guilty of treating their LinkedIn profile like a static online resume instead of like a resource that can be used to demonstrate your areas of expertise and allow you the ability to communicate with your audience.

Instead of creating a standing resume, experts suggest that you work to communicate how you contribute to your teams/industry and share your expertise.  You can do this in a number of ways, including sharing articles, references, media, and more.

2. – Refocus your “About” section

Historically on LinkedIn, people have had a tendency to craft an “About” section that is nearly identical to the professional summary on their resumes.  Instead, think about the About section as a more organic way to tell your story – what is it that you want readers to know about you as a professional – what is your “remarkable difference”?

3. – Connect with others genuinely

This one kind of seems like a no-brainer, but in the age of COVID-19, where so many of us are adjusting to the idea that we are #AloneTogether – genuine human connection can be hard to come by.  Making an effort to use LinkedIn to create genuine connections and network with people on a deeper scale will help you really gain traction in building your network and opening yourself up to new opportunities.

If you’re interested in reading the entire article from Business Insider, you can do so by clicking here.  We hope that this has been informative in helping you think about redesigning your LinkedIn profile a bit, and also in helping you think about redefining the way you think  about LinkedIn as part of your networking and job search strategy.

Have a great day and Go Bucks!

 

Set Up for Success when Working from Home

 

Whether telecommuting or just starting a new home business venture, you’ll find orking from home takes both physical and mental steps to be productive. Factor in kids, spouses or roommates around; limited workspace available; and housework distractions that take you off course. The time is ripe to make changes – or more changes — in your office environment.

  1. Be practical about where you’re working.

It’s not always easy to focus at home or in settings that aren’t business-like. If you don’t have a designated office, re-think a bedroom, garage, attic, basement, even a storage room or large closet. Look online for transformation examples.

I turned our often-unused, ignored living room into a den/library. We sold the traditional furniture replacing it with book shelves, loveseat, lounge chair, and a used computer armoire, which conveniently hides my laptop and files behind its closed doors when we’re entertaining guests.

  1. Make a decision and act.

When you find a spot to work, but storage or clutter is in the way, don’t halt progress sorting through it first before clearing the space; that could take days or weeks. Pack it all into boxes and move them out of way, going back through when time allows. Remember, this doesn’t have to be permanent. Once I realized all six in our family would be working and taking online classes simultaneously under COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, we immediately moved my husband’s desk and computer into our bedroom to free up his basement office. That gave the kids freedom from having to tip-toe around their dad and created another place for them to escape for fun.

  1. Prioritize needs for your workspace.

No funds for new office furniture? Repurpose items around the house – just get set up. Find deals on used pieces online or at thrift stores. You won’t want to skimp on a good chair, though. Invest in one that protects your back and neck – maybe try an adjustable standing desk converter. For work in a common area, set boundaries and get noise cancelling headphones.

Have proper lighting on your desktop and also on your face for virtual meetings. Pick a space with natural light if possible – it’s best for eyesight, plus boosts energy and mood levels. Speaking of, mood is tied to procrastination. While working on a couch, bed or the patio outside may not be a good daily habit, if it suits your mood occasionally and yields results, go for it!

  1. Put yourself in work mode.

Get into a professional mindset each day. Dress out of pajamas. Don’t sleep in. Replace your former morning drive by taking a walk around the block before “punching in.” Do one easy, habitual task each morning for a sense of accomplishment – it sparks a fire within to tackle another job (a prime example: search for retired U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven’s viral video “Make Your Bed” speech).

  1. Keep focused.

Know what diverts your attention and make an honest effort to avoid or eliminate temptations. Set hours to block favorite websites. Limit phone, email and texting – don’t answer every ring and ping. It’s said, “Doing the more immediate before the more important is counterproductive.” That includes tackling dishes or laundry “really quickly.” If it’s more efficient for you, see if your boss or spouse is okay with you operating during red-eye shifts.

  1. Utilize visual and mental

Employ time and task management aides. Many smartphone and computer apps are designed for this, down to simple calendar reminders. Or go old school – but still very effective – with the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, www.eisenhower.me/eisenhower-matrix/. Deadlines are good motivators, so ask a client or employer to hold you to them. On a to-do list, it’s visually encouraging to use check boxes or cross out completed assignments. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld marks a red X on his calendar each day he writes; seeing the chain of Xs encourages him not to break it.

  1. Set ground rules with family, manage expectations.

Apparently, “work-life harmony” is in and “work-life balance” is out. One week may be work-heavy but the next leaning more toward personal life. The two aren’t always equal – and that’s okay. Keep that in mind, as teleworking or a home business can be trying on families. Are you sacrificing time you should be spending with kids or a spouse during evenings and

weekends? Make a pact agreeing when to “punch out.” For parents with kids stuck at home away from friends and usual summer fun, give them a little more attention; listen. Those work minutes lost can be found later in the day.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re finding it frustrating or too lax working from home. Your eating, sleeping and exercise habits may be out of whack as well, with or without coronavirus social distancing at play. Know your trigger points. Ask for help. Take breaks. Go for a walk. Say mantras. Meditate. Pray. Be flexible. Remind yourself you have your health and that you’re still working at all.

You may love your new work life from home, or you may be anxious about a return to “normal.” Yet especially during a pandemic and national crisis like this crazy 2020, don’t sweat the small stuff. Time will surely show: This season will pass, this year will roll.

 

Ann Wilkins Jefferson is a 1992 graduate of The Ohio State University with a bachelor of arts in Communication – Rhetoric track. She held fulltime jobs as an assistant press secretary for a U.S. Senate campaign and as a communications / marketing director for a non-profit before starting freelance writing, primarily for two major clients. Aside from her civilian work, Ann is a lieutenant commander and Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, a career that has taken her around the world. She’s a veteran of Air Force Reserve Public Affairs and graduate of U.S.M.C. Officer Candidate Course. Ann and her husband, C. Calvin Jefferson, III, ’92, ’95, live in a Cleveland suburb with their four kids (including their oldest, Scarlett Grace, who graduated from Ohio State in May!). Cal is president of UnionHistories.com, where Ann assists with operations, editing and events

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Self-employment and freelancing: Have patience, forget ‘perfect’

by Ann Wilkins Jefferson, ‘92

With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, many of us find ourselves working from home whether we want to or not. You have a glimpse into how you’d operate as your own boss freelancing or running a business from home – except maybe not with children, a spouse or roommates around all day.
If you have to or want to continue working from home, here are tips to keep in mind:

1. You need to forget about “perfect.”
Finding a perfect time and business plan is counterproductive. Just get the process rolling and the fine-tuning can come later. Of course, you may have to work nights and weekends to do research and build a foundation.
Don’t worry about being perfectly qualified to start advertising your services or product, either. Repeat this phrase often: “Done is better than perfect.” Write it on post-it notes and put it in several places where you’ll see your new motto daily.
If you’re consumed with being flawless, you’ll waste precious time. Simply START. Yes, striving for excellence is a great goal, but as mega-successful entrepreneur Mark Cuban of Shark Tank stated, “Perfection is the enemy of profitability.” It can paralyze you if you’re preoccupied with it.

2. Take advantage of any major life changes (like being quarantined?!).
After graduating college with a degree in Communication – Rhetoric, I held a few very rewarding fulltime jobs for the next nine years. But when my husband, Cal, and I welcomed our third child, we faced daycare payments for three adding up to half my salary and benefits. Rather than both working outside the home, we decided I’d stay with the kids for financial reasons and their well-being. That transition led me to freelancing.

3. Seize opportunity when it knocks.
My first self-employed gig came when the newspaper where Cal worked sought a freelance writer. He volunteered me before I even had a chance to hear details. I almost turned it down, unsure of being exactly what they wanted. Yet I made a key decision in working for oneself: I jumped at the chance to get out of the gate and on the way.
Those first three writing assignments turned into six, then ten, then to about 15. I grew self-assured the more assignments they gave me, gained much-needed additional income, and kept my resume current. Carrie Fisher aka Star Wars’ Princess Leia but also a best-selling author, gave advice to fans along those lines on having courage to begin: “Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

4. Have patience and persevere.
If you’re starting a home business and it’s not looking great, remember it takes time to be successful. A helpful motivator: Print out President Calvin Coolidge’s quote on persistence called “Press On” and paste it in your workspace.
Cal, a former editor of Ohio State’s student newspaper The Lantern, earned a bachelor’s in History and then Journalism. In 2012, two decades after his first degree, he launched a “side’ business with two coworkers that grew into fulltime work. None of them have MBAs. But they had vision. After two initial shaky years, patience and persistence paid off!

5. Take calculated risks.
Of course, you’ll also have uncertainties. And if you’re married, starting a home business is a team effort. I stopped freelancing and volunteered for a mobilization to Afghanistan in 2012, as I’m a Navy Reserve officer (we came to that agreement after many discussion and weighing the risks). This way Cal stayed home with the kids and had the freedom to work on the new venture while they were in school. I was able to provide a steady paycheck and medical insurance through my mobilization. Not everyone needs to make a move quite so drastic, though for us it worked.
What could work for you? We are in an era when operating a company or teleworking is possible in various fields due to recent technology and apps, often with little overhead from a home office. You’ve heard before, “Necessity is the mother of all invention” and another ala desperation led to success. But for you it could be neither: Maybe you’d be good at or better at what’s already being done.
Read about those who had successful start-ups and why; Entrepreneur magazine is a favorite of mine. Look up how Sir Richard Branson started Virgin Airlines – it’s a great example about not overthinking, just taking action. Ask trusted colleagues or friends for advice and critique on what you’re planning or take a look at your website or product. Consider joining freelancer sites like Upwork.

6. Don’t forget reaching out to fellow Buckeyes for guidance!
Use your Ohio State alumni connections on LinkedIn, social media and at the Alumni Association for direction and feedback. You’re part of the biggest college alumni group in the world (if that still holds true – if not, it’s the greatest). We’ll cheer you as you go!

Ann Wilkins Jefferson is a 1992 graduate of The Ohio State University with a bachelor of arts in Communication – Rhetoric track. She held fulltime jobs as an assistant press secretary for a U.S. Senate campaign, and communications/ marketing director for a non-profit before starting freelance writing, primarily for two major clients. Aside from her civilian career, Ann is a lieutenant commander and Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, a career that takes her around the world. She’s a veteran of Air Force Reserve Public Affairs and a graduate of U.S.M.C. Officer Candidate Course. She and her husband C. Calvin Jefferson, III, ’92, ’95 live in a Cleveland suburb with their four kids (including their oldest graduating from Ohio State in May 2020!). Cal is president of UnionHistories.com, where Ann assists with operations, editing and events.