So You Need To Write A Profile?

Where to start … ?

Writing a personal profile is much more difficult than it sounds – all you have to do is type a few words about yourself – it sounds like nothing at all – until you start trying to type…

The first thing to do is to stop right there and think. As I said in my previous blog, what goes into any profile you write has a fascinating way of repeating on you – any personal profile you type will be ruthlessly searched by any and all search engines the minute anybody types your name, or even a name similar to yours – and the information that pops up will do so with no respect whatsoever to your feelings.

So the first thing you need to decide is what KIND of profile you want.

If it is for a social media site, what kind of social media is it and what do you want to get out of this particular profile? Even something as straightforward sounding as Facebook can be a minefield – generally it is assumed that this is a site for friends – but is it? All social media sites are being used more and more for Business, Marketing, maintaining your Professional Status, to be “Found”, Networking and to find things out about people you have met or are considering doing business with. Looking for employment? A potential employer/recruiter will almost certainly search your profile on all the most popular social media sites, even though the emphasis will be on known professional sites.

I strongly recommend having a detailed personal profile on at least one “Professional” social media site such as LinkedIn or Google Plus. These are not only usually the first to jump up when your name is put into a search engine, but they also usually allow for the most detailed Personal and Company Profiles. This profile can form a base for all your other profiles, from which any or all of the information can be copied and pasted as required. LinkedIn for example even has a facility to convert your profile to a CV with as much or as little editing as you wish.

The format of Profiles is similar on most sites, starting with your Summary and then moving on to other relevant data such as employment history, skills, education etc. There is however no rule as to where you start and I strongly recommend not starting with your summary.

It can be beneficial to start “from the bottom up”. By completing such things as education, organisations, work history, current position and so on it can help you form a clearer picture of where you are right now and to summarise that for your profile. Go the other way and after spending possibly hours devising your summary you will find that as you complete the rest you will be thinking “Oh yes I forgot this, I forgot that”. This can have two possible outcomes – you decide you can’t be bothered to start again – and your best branding tool is wasted, or you have to start take 2 (or 3 or 20!).

It is also wise not to try to write your profile “Live”. Some sites will give you the option to keep your changes private until you authorise otherwise but many others make the information available as soon as you enter it. Usually once you click “save” on any section of a profile it is posted live. Either way it is easy to forget to check your settings every time you want to make a minor adjustment. I suggest that for sections such as your summary, job description, interests etc. you create your content in a program like Word and only when you are happy with the final result, copy and paste it. Word is also much “friendlier” in terms of editing and formatting but do not get too carried away adding fancy fonts and colours – most of these sites will only accept very basic palettes and will drop all of this when you paste it!

Another benefit of working off line is the ability to save your work as you progress. Any glitch in your Internet signal may cause you to lose all the work you have done – most sites DO NOT HAVE AUTO SAVE – believe me I have been there! I suggest then that even with items which may not be so easy to just cut and paste afterwards such as education and work history, you make your lists, with dates, basic descriptions and keywords in a saveable document. Extra work? Minimal – much of it will be cut and pasteable anyway and once you have this list you have it for life. Furthermore it is then easy to access and amend this data at any time with respect to any other profiles or Resumes you may wish to compile.

A few pointers:

  1. Use a search engine such as Google Keyword Search – test the words in your job title, job description and so on. Even your interests will contain key words
  2. For your current position be precise but, where there is space for a job description do not be afraid to use detail. If you are promoting your company this is the ideal space for a Company Description and to mention your Company Page.
  3. Volunteering can be as important as work experience – as reported by 42% of hiring managers in a recent Global Poll. It is worth considering putting current volunteer positions under employment rather than in the Volunteer section even if there is one.
  4. Where there is a facility for listing skills, check you are using keywords when possible and list them with the most important at the top.These can usually be rearranged at any time.
  5. Be specific about your Education – it will be noticed.Universities, Colleges and Schools are all relevant.
  6. You may not wish to list every school you attended on your professional profile but you may want them on for e.g. Facebook so old school friends can find you.

So You need to write a profile? Part 2

This is dedicated to your all important summary and headline. I suggest you get busy with the above as it will follow shortly!

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