Archives for posts with tag: Linkedin

I do not photograph well. This is not false modesty. I am reasonably happy with my looks. There is just something about having my picture taken that feels like torture, and it shows in the finished product. I look awkward and self-conscious, every time.

This was not always the case. I have pictures of myself as a young child, and that girl is smiling, wide open to the world. Pardon me for saying that I was adorable then. Back when I had my baby teeth.

Then I hit the stage of teeth too big for my face, compounded by the fact that curly hair was not in style at the moment. Between trying to hide the teeth and contain the hair, I lost the joy of hamming it up for the camera.

Photography used to be more of an investment, when pictures required film and processing. There was more pressure to look good. I knew the silent reproach of a drawer full of school photos, unworthy of sharing or trading. Just stacks of little rectangles on a page, all big teeth, lumpy hair, and eyes pleading for approval.

Over the years, I have seen a few good photos of myself, mainly taken when I was completely unaware of the photographer, or when I was just too caught up in the fun of the moment to remember to worry. So I know I can take a decent picture, I just don’t feel I can.

Things might have been different for me if I’d had grown up with digital photography. Don’t like that snapshot? Delete and try again. And again. Hey wait, I can do that now. To overcome my “photo phobia” I have set a challenge for myself: at least one photo of myself daily, until I can get comfortable with the process and/or have a picture suitable for my LinkedIn profile.

It starts today. Cheese.

The advantage of a set of well-developed, broad skills  (critical thinking, analysis, oral and written communication, “people skills”) is that they can be applied in many disciplines. The distinct disadvantage is that they don’t lend themselves to condensation to a simple label.

Some of us remember when a job search was conducted on paper: cover letters and resumes via snail mail to prospective employers. It was easy then to prepare communication tailored to a discrete audience. A letter to an insurance company would look different to the one you sent to a hospital, and so forth. The resume could be “targeted” highlighting information most likely to impress a specific recipient.

Now, everybody can see everything all the time, thanks to the internet. Job hunting is simpler, and more complex.

On LinkedIn, the best profiles include a simple tag line: CEO, engineer, consultant. My profile does not include such a line. I know I should have one, but what should it be?

In my recently resurrected search for full-time employment, I am struggling to reconcile valid but conflicting  advice:

1) Don’t  limit options with narrow labels if skills and experience are transferable.

2) Develop a “Brand”:  a clear, consistent message about who you are, what you can offer, and the type of opportunities  you are seeking.

 Am I the only one who finds it difficult to craft an on-line identity that simultaneously defines my “brand” and allows for maximum opportunity?
I am not looking for just any job; ideally, it will be something that allows me to use the skills I have now, and develop new ones. Recently, I have found several interesting options, all of which relate to my core experience, and none of which share titles: Litigation Specialist, Patient Advocate, and Employee Relations Consultant.
What kind of tag line would apply to all three? How do I cast that broad net and be specifically attractive in three different capacities?
You tell me.

In my sporadic yet ongoing search for real work, I have established a LinkedIn profile. True to my self-conscious, insecure, indecisive self, I have not completed said profile. This post will attempt to address why that is, in my hope that in so doing I will be inspired and motivated to move forward.

The purpose of the LinkedIn profile is to present one’s professional self to the world. It should  list accomplishments, describe abilities and define goals, and with any luck, propel the professional toward connections and opportunities. Right?

OK. So what is my problem?

I am morbidly averse to trying to catalogue my accomplishments, probably because I am afraid I won’t find any. Likewise abilities. And goals? Uh, to find a job. That I like. That pays reasonably well. With great colleagues. That challenges and engages me and allows me to make some contribution to the greater world. Or at least my little corner of it. Can I be more specific?

Now you see my problem.

It’s packaging. And truth. Not that I have any problem with the truth. My problem is reconciling who I have been with who I want to be next, right down to my very name.

(I’ve written before about why I wanted to change my name. I’ve gone so far as to change it socially, but not legally. Mainly due to dread of bureaucracy, but the time has come to confront that too. I see a trip to the County Clerk’s Office in my near future. I’ll think about dealing with the DMV and Social Security later, when I can bear it.)

In the short-term, at the suggestion of my very savvy friend, I have  merged all four components of my name into one LinkedIn identity. She was right to talk me out of ditching my unloved first name, and the surname I was born with; my entire professional life has been lived as that person. So the name thing is solved for the moment: first, middle, last and married. It is quite the moniker. I fear that no one will have the patience for the whole thing. (There’s a lot of spelling.) I am Sandra Leigh Smutz Cadwallader. (phew)

Having solved the Who, I must still consider the What; the complete profile includes a title or tag line that summarizes the professional. That’s great if you are a marketer, an engineer, or a candlestick maker, looking for another marketing/engineering/candlestick making gig, but what about me? I’d like to cast the widest possible net without sounding like a Psycho Great Imposter. (haven’t we all worked with one of those?- “Yeah, I ran a restaurant. It was after I was a swimsuit model and before I became a stockbroker.”- lookin’ at you, K in S.F.)

I am a former investigator with experience in criminal law, juvenile dependency, and insurance. My greatest strength may be my ability to approach and engage people, to gain rapport, build and maintain relationships, often under stressful conditions. I am a skilled interviewer. I am able to obtain information from multiple sources and quickly and concisely put it in report form. I routinely managed multiple projects with conflicting deadlines. I am by nature a problem solver with an interest in conflict resolution. I enjoy training and mentoring. Although I have never been strictly motivated by money, I have strong sales skills: in my current part-time position, I am consistently among the top three producers. I qualified for “President’s Club” status last year by attaining over $300,000 in sales. This year I am on track to attain at least $500,000.

So what am I?

Under-employment offers some advantages, including the ease with which one can excel. In the first six months of my little job, my efforts have been formally recognized three times, and I have received lots of great informal feedback from my managers. I have also been allowed more responsibility. Rather than simple floor sales, I will be able to schedule appointments to sit down with customers and develop plans for bigger projects, and I’m excited about the opportunity.

I see this job as a long-term, but not necessarily central, part of my work life. It is fun, the people I work with (and for) are wonderful, and I am developing skills in an area that has always interested me. I’m also applying skills I brought to the job. And of course, there’s the discount. I sell beautiful things for the home, and I have a home that needs many things, which might as well be beautiful.

Being officially “part-time” also keeps things fresh, and leaves me plenty of time for…

That’s the problem. Even with my puttering and my projects, my walking and my Waldo, and my lovely family, I find myself searching for somewhere to direct the rest of my energy. The years of experience in my field are jingling in my pocket, just crying out to be spent. (wow, tortured metaphor or what?)

I’ve been diverted this last year by many things (details available in previous posts), but have been inching back toward the hunt for a “big girl job” with a big girl paycheck (I have not given up my dream of hardwood floors.)

I applied for the local version of my old job when I spotted an opening in early May.  I tweaked my LinkedIn profile. I asked the colleague I most admired at my last job for a recommendation, which he promptly provided. I perused LinkedIn, scanning for anyone  with whom I might have some tenuous connection, who might give me some insight into the prospects for the job. I didn’t know anyone who knew anyone, but I noticed the profile of a woman who had previously held my prospective position. We seemed to have a lot in common professionally, although she has already done things I am still aspiring to: certified mediator, mitigation and sentencing specialist. I’d love to talk to her. I started composing a message, and couldn’t find the right tone. Dr. T came home and off to lunch we went.

I did not receive a response to my application, which stung a little, but was something of a relief:  a full-time job could be hard to juggle with the parts of my life that are working well- studying with BR two nights a week, and my little job, and there was a certain “been there, done that” aspect to the job. Ideally, I’d  come up with something that allowed me to set my schedule around my existing commitments, and give me room to grow. This train of thought pulled up right back where I started last year: mitigation specialist, certified mediator, private investigator, graduate student, freelance writer. All highly acceptable options, but how feasible? Time to start getting serious again.

About two weeks ago, I received a LinkedIn invitation from my prospective contact.  Had I sent the message after all? I couldn’t find it, and decided I was becoming just that much more senile. I happily responded to the invitation, promising myself to contact her after the in-laws left. Before I got to it, she sent me a note today, saying she’d found my profile on LinkedIn, that she was interested in moving to California and hoping I might be able to offer her some information on how things are done there. She offered to provide any information I might need about working here. I expect we will meet for coffee soon. I am still grinning at the cosmic symmetry.

George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (

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