The LinkedIn Rehab Session

To ring in the New Year and the new decade, we just started running LinkedIn Rehab Sessions for CG Councils, our community of product and GM leaders in the tech space.

The goal of these sessions is simple: help in the war for talent – i.e. help leaders rehab their profiles so that their presence on LinkedIn can help them better recruit product, UX, and engineering talent to their teams.

The design is simple.

We bring two non-competing peer tech leaders together via Zoom.

Then they – with my coaching – rewrite each other’s profile in just one hour.

That’s the key: peers rewrite the profiles of non-competing external peers — much easier, faster, and less anxiety-ridden than rewriting your own (or bringing in an expert).

And, I’m happy to say that it works. Paired leaders are relieved and excited by their much improved Linkedin presence and begin seeing recruiting benefits almost right away.

In fact, given how simple and powerful this is, my team and I are now rolling it out as another benefit to all of our CG Councils members in 2020.

If you are a current CG Councils member, then get in touch with Charlee to schedule a LinkedIn Rehab Session of your own.

Thanks — and Happy New Year!


Founder, CG Councils

P.S. More details on how this session works below.

— The Problem

Most tech leaders ignore their LinkedIn profiles and, as a result, their job titles, about sections, and job experiences are often wildly out of date and certainly *not* helpful in recruiting great talent for their teams.

They ignore their profiles for good reasons:

  • Harassment from vendors and recruiters
    Once they update their profile to a more senior role, they’re more likely to get harassed from vendors and recruiters.
  • Hard-to-describe jobs
    They often have new kinds of roles in the ever-evolving tech economy that can be difficult to explain — especially in a LinkedIn profile.
  • Anxiety
    Like all leaders, they often suffer from impostor syndrome, or just plain stress about getting it right.
  • Signaling that they are leaving (or looking)
    Updating might signal to bosses or colleagues that they are looking for a new role — and, again, in most instances these leaders want to update their profiles so they can better *recruit* to their teams, not leave their jobs.

Note: One way to avoid signaling to colleagues *and* reduce vendor harassment is to turn off notifications (see this post on how to turn off notifications of profile changes).

— Benefits of an Updated Profile

For these sessions, we focus on two key benefits:

  • Better recruiting of team members
    Many leaders know that when a potential candidate goes and looks at their current outdated profile it can turn that person off, rather than encourage them to apply or continue in the interview process.
  • Improved team morale
    Our members report that when they have a better LinkedIn profile, it has a positive impact on team morale and enthusiasm.

— The Solution

Instead of bringing in an expert, we pair two non-competing peers together and have them edit each other’s profile.

This is not a new idea. For example, the marketing team at B2B SaaS leader, AppFolio, asks that team members write each other’s bios. It’s much easier, faster, *and* effective.

What AppFolio does and what we are doing here with this rehab session relies on a core design principle of CG Councils: peers can see you better than you can see yourself. And, in this case, peers editing your profile bring none of your anxiety, impostor syndrome, or frustration about yourself (they have it for themselves but not for you) to this activity and that frees them up to work faster and better than you can on your own.

— The Two Leaders

For the first LinkedIn Rehab Session, I invited Sally, who works at one of the BigTech companies, and Brett who works at a large tech company but not one of the big five. (Note: both of these names are pseudonyms but the quotes and issues come directly from this session).

They both are in senior management roles that did not exist before the cloud and before the proliferation of subscription-based business models. Further, neither had updated their LinkedIn profiles in at least 10 years.

— Step 1: Job Titles

We started by looking at their titles on LinkedIn.

“I’m embarrassed by this. It’s so out of date,” said Sally.

“It looks like I have the same title and same role for the last 8 years,” said Brett. “But I had 6 different roles at 6 different levels all the way through from junior product manager to SVP today.”

You might be wondering why senior leaders would have out-of-date titles and also why they might be embarrassed. Just update it, right?

Well, as I mention above, it’s a little more complex than that.

In Sally’s case, she had an internal title that did not properly communicate the scope of her role. Some large tech companies like Sally’s have title *deflation.* For example, banks often have lots of VPs and SVPs while large tech companies can have very few. In fact, a VP at a bank is usually a senior manager or director at a large tech company.

So, we looked at some internal peers of Sally’s who face the same problem. We found one that added a word to her title that helped to communicate better to the external world the scope of her role and borrowed that for Sally’s profile.

Then we turned to Brett’s title. There we faced a different problem.

Brett had an SVP title but of what? He has a new role that’s hard to communicate and he and his HR team have not yet come up with a good title.

This is where Sally came in – because she is in a similar role to Brett, she knew the language and knew where to look for examples at other companies (as well as some internal peers to Brett), and within 10 minutes we had come up with a descriptive title for him.

— Step 2: About Sections

We did the same process with the about sections.

Sally had a long about but it was written more than 10 years ago and had nothing to do with her current role.

So I asked Sally to just talk to us and describe again in plain English what she’s responsible for.

Sally answered but it was hard at first to understand what she was talking about. She was using too much internal jargon.

“We need to talk about what this actually is rather than the labels that mean less outside your four walls,” said Brett.

Brett saying that carried a lot of weight with Sally. He’s not some random person. He’s a peer but even he couldn’t understand what she was saying.

Sally responded to Brett’s comments and started to describe her job with more plain English. That was very helpful.

After Sally helped us understand her role better, we then reviewed several about sections from peers of hers. Sally pointed to one of her internal peers who is “very well spoken.” That person had a compelling yet simple about section.

Brett liked it, copied her language, and then added, “I might even use this particular phrase of her’s on my profile.”

Having taken these steps, Brett then started to draft Sally’s about section.

  • He got specific
  • He removed words that were over-the-top
    He pointed out that he had seen some profiles that were so exaggerated that they were a total turn off. It hurt credibility rather than helped.
  • He adapted effective language from other profiles
  • He avoided jargon and instead used standard words
    He focused on words like well-known product names, channels — web, mobile, etc — and common business model names.

Sally and I also joined in on the editing.

And in about 10 minutes we came up with an improved about section that described Sally well.

“That is a great ‘about’,” said a relieved and happy Sally.

We then did the same thing for Brett. And so it went for each element of their profiles.

And, voila!, in one hour we had rewritten both profiles.

— What about the experts?

You might be thinking this all sounds good but why not simply hire an expert to do it for you or tell you what to do?

Obviously, you can do that. There are many LinkedIn experts and articles to read on this subject. They can certainly be helpful.

But there are several limitations:

  • LinkedIn experts may not know your job very well
    They may have some general expertise about LinkedIn but they don’t know your job and the kinds of people you are hiring. So they don’t have the specificity that a peer can bring.
  • Peers seem to relieve anxiety
    Working with a peer you trust relieves anxiety about how to improve your profile ( for several reasons: 1) you trust peers more because they are in the same boat as you; 2) because you see you are not alone, and 3) because editing each other’s profile gives both greater clarity about how to describe their own jobs.
  • Peers can be faster
    Bringing two leaders together to re-write the *other’s* profile is delightful, effective, and faster.

Again, if you are a CG Councils current member, then get in touch with Charlee to schedule a LinkedIn Rehab Session of your own.

If not, feel free to find a peer and run a LinkedIn Rehab Session of your own.

Happy New Year.



About the Author

Phyl Terry

Phyl Terry, Founder and CEO of Collaborative Gain, Inc., launched the company’s flagship leadership program – The Councils – in 2002 with a fellow group of Internet pioneers from Amazon, Google, and others. Thousands of leaders from the Internet world have come together in the last 15 years to learn the art of asking for help and to support each other to build better, more customer-centric products, services, and companies.

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