My Dream Job Found Me (When I Was Not Looking)

W&M StepsIt is hard to believe that more than a year has passed since I contributed to this blog. However, it has been an amazing year, so I wanted to take a moment to reflect upon how my dream job found me in hopes that you might be inspired to achieve your dream job too.

A year ago, I was a tenured associate professor of management and marketing at Saint Vincent College. I had been at the institution for nine years and looked forward to earning the title of full professor. As part of my teaching responsibilities, I had created courses on Essentials of Selling and Internet Marketing. One of the most popular assignments in these courses encouraged students to develop a professional online presence. In particular, students were tasked with establishing a LinkedIn profile that reflected their personal brand promise. Students were expected to use best practices (outlined below) to ensure that their profiles were not simply an overview of their personal achievements but rather took the perspective of future employers and highlighted how students could contribute value to those organizations. Of course, I needed to practice what I preach, so I worked to ensure that my LinkedIn profile set a good example.

Every week, LinkedIn sends an email about “jobs you may be interested in” based on your individual profile. Honestly, in March 2014, I was not interested in any job other than the one that I had at Saint Vincent College. But as I glanced at my inbox one night, the first job that appeared in an email from LinkedIn was for a Clinical Associate Professor of Marketing at the College of William & Mary (W&M). And as I read the description, I realized that it was not simply a job of interest to me, it was my dream job.

At this point my mind was racing. The odds were not in my favor that I would ever know about such an opportunity, let alone be considered for it. I knew nobody at W&M or anybody that even lived in the region. Bloomberg Businessweek had just selected W&M’s undergraduate marketing program as #1 in the nation and, although I was a solid professor, that ranking was intimidating. Still, I took a leap of faith and hoped the algorithm that LinkedIn had used to determine that I was a good candidate for the job was a positive indicator.

I submitted my application on March 17 (I was definitely hoping the luck of the Irish would be with me). One month later, I received a call from Dr. Larry Ring, the head of the marketing area, asking if I would be interested in visiting the campus. I arrived for an intensive interview process on May 5 and was extended an offer to join the faculty later that week. This past year has turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

I tell my students that two of the most powerful words in the universe are “thank you.” So I decided to write this post to express my appreciation to LinkedIn and share a few tips that might help your dream job find you.

(1) Personalize your LinkedIn URL (mine is by following these simple steps on LinkedIn:

(2) Feature a professional profile photo (it really is worth the investment). A recent Entrepreneur article noted that, “Facial appearance can affect judgments of attributes such as trustworthiness, aggressiveness and competence.” Look at the profiles of executives that you admire for examples of effective photos.

(3) Create a headline that reflects your value contribution to others. The headline does not necessarily need to be your current job title; however, it does need to be compelling and simple to understand. You have 120 characters … make them count!

(4) Develop a summary that clearly articulates your brand promise. Keep in mind that most individuals will only spend a few seconds reading your profile so consider a quality vs. quantity approach. Overall, your LinkedIn profile does not need to reflect everything that you have ever done. When developing your LinkedIn summary and profile consider the perspective of potential employers. What would make them take the time to read further about your background?

(5) Leverage the power of keywords. Perhaps the single most critical success factor when developing your LinkedIn profile is the use of critical keywords. When I meet with job seekers and ask to view their LinkedIn profiles and then ask to view their job descriptions of interest, 90% of these individuals have not used critical keywords mentioned in the job descriptions within their LinkedIn profiles or resumes. I have no doubt that my dream job would not have found me on LinkedIn had I not ensured that my profile contained keywords that are important in my discipline.

(6) Visualize your success. During the past few years, LinkedIn has expanded its capabilities to encourage members to share examples of work to include projects and videos. This is a perfect opportunity to make your brand “come alive.” I now require my students to embed their perfect pitch videos in their LinkedIn profiles, in hopes that their dream job can be found just a click away.


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