Make your LinkedIn profile SHINE

I’ve helped some friends and former colleagues improve on their LinkedIn profiles over the years. My advice isn’t for everybody, and in fact, if it is for anybody, it’s for folks that have at least 10+ years of experience.

Some background about me — I have about 20 years experience and about 7-8 years ago, I was laid off from a company that had a nice severance package. One of the courses they offered was something like “Introduction to LinkedIn” or something like that. Now, being an arrogant 30-something year old, I thought “Yeah, I know LinkedIn, I use it to connect to people…” but I figured I had the time now that I was unemployed and I’d sit in the class. This post is my interpretation of the course.

To be frank — I was dead wrong. I thought I knew LinkedIn. I did not. I really used it previously as an extension of my resume. My LinkedIn had some bullet points and really just looked like my resume, but online.

STOP

My suggestions, in no particular order:

(screen shots and information is as of May 2021, these will likely change as LinkedIn continues to make changes to the platform)

  1. We’re going to be making a lot of changes on our profile, let’s not draw attention to it right now and turn off ‘Profile Visibility’. To do this, click on where your profile photo is (or should be, more on that later) –> Settings & Privacy –> Visibility –> Under ‘Visibility of your LinkedIn activity’ –> Turn OFF “Share Profile Updates with your Network”

2. Create an effective headline/tag line. Don’t just use the title your company gave you as that might be rather specific to a product, but rather something more focused like “Experienced Healthcare Data Engineer” or maybe something like “WordPress and SEO Consultant experienced working with small businesses” … I know this sounds cheesy AF, but it works. By the way, the title your company gave you most likely means very little to me because it doesn’t carry outside your organization.

3. Add a headshot for your profile. Let’s admit. We’re visual animals. We want to see who we’re going to be talking to. It doesn’t have to be a professional headshot, but you should be in focus and it should be kind of a closeup shot that shows your face. My recommendations would be to make sure the picture has good lighting.

Oddly enough, I had found a free headshot service back in the olden times, but if you can’t find that, I’d have a friend take a picture or two. (Check your local library) Absolutely NO SELFIES. I know it’s tempting … don’t do it. Trust me.  

I’ve found Groupons’s for JCPenny for $20 pictures … those work well. I’ve had friends literally drop $300+ on headshots. This is primarily for LinkedIn here … you don’t need to drop $300 on a headshot. You’re not going for a Broadway show here. We need a simple picture where you are in focus.

4. Convert your accomplishments to first person, conversational english. DO NOT USE RESUME SPEAK here. No bullet points. As if we are talking over a cocktail.

MOST IMPORTANT: ADD PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER (within reason)

5. In your ‘Summary Section’ make it conversational on what you’ve done in your career so far. Something like “I provide xxxx” and “My specialities include zzzz”. Two or three paragraphs here helps quite a bit.

6. Within the Summary section, put a ‘Specialties:’ and jam it in with buzzwords here. Product Z, Confluence, JIRA, Microsoft Excel, Replacing flux capacitors, etc … jam that section in with all the buzzwords to your hearts desire.

7. If you are unemployed Put ‘In Transition‘ as your current employer and write something like ‘Currently seeking new opportunities in (field of work)’ … this will tell recruiters that you’re out looking for your next role and not employed at your previous employer.

8. PERFECT SPELLING AND GRAMMAR. I cannot stress this enough. Nothing more off putting than a LinkedIn profile with a freaking spelling error! Have a friend or family member read through your profile with a fine tooth comb!

9. Customize your LinkedIn URL — this will change your URL from like https://www.linkedin.com/in/abhay-shah-123456 to something like https://www.linkedin.com/in/abhayshah do this, go to Me –> View Profile –> Upper right corner click ‘Edit public profile & URL’ and click on the pencil icon under ‘Personalize the URL for your profile.’

If you would like me to review your profile and provide some (free) feedback, drop me a line at abhay (dot) shah (at) lat42 (dot) com.

AWS Item Development Workshop

Last week I served as a Subject Matter Expert for Amazon Web Services to create test questions for the Solutions Architect Associate Exam. I’ve now served on two of these IDW’s and I thought I’d share my experience.

My journey to become a AWS Subject Matter Expert (SME) actually began in April 2018, when I visited the Certified Lounge at the AWS Summit in San Francisco. In the lounge, there was somebody scanning badges for people to volunteer to become SME’s. I figured I’d throw my name in and see what happens.

Almost a full year later, I received an email from AWS on the next steps to become a SME. Those steps was a survey, first asking which AWS Certifications I held, then which products I used, in which capacity, and to provide some examples of my work.

Once I completed that very long survey, I figured I’d never hear from them again … but I did, a little over 6 weeks later! I was being invited to my first Item Development Workshop to be held at the AWS office in Chicago (how convenient!) in June.

Before I could attend my first workshop though, I was required to attend the AWS Subject Matter Expert Item Writing course online and pass the exam with a score over 92%. Let’s just say … it took me a little longer than the noted 2.5 hours, but I somehow got through.

Last week I attended my second Item Development Workshop was 3 days long and the formats were very similar to each other. The sessions themselves were attended by approximately 12 individuals, with about 8 of them being AWS employees, and 4 being external experts. After the introductions, each facilitator told us how our exam writing ends up on the actual exam itself.

We were given the task to write exam questions for particular exams with expanded exam blueprints, which are not publicly available.

The first and second days were split pretty equally on exam writing and group reviews. Once we wrote exam questions, we were split up into two groups to review questions. The first group was given questions to review questions written by individuals from the second group and vice versa. The third day was spent mainly doing group reviews of questions and tying up loose ends before passing along to the next stage.

The group review was equally as difficult process as the question writing as well. Each question was projected on a TV and we discussed what we thought the correct answer was. There were several times when others believed an incorrect answer was correct or the the opposite. (This is when stuff gets heated!) Usually this required us to spend more time than the facilitator allocated for us on the question and we poured over user guides, FAQs, and white papers to provide evidence. If the answer or incorrect answers needed to be changed, those questions were assigned to somebody else in the room for further clarification.

After each of my IDW’s, we completed anywhere from 70-90+ questions for future exams. After we wrote the questions, they went on to a Cloud Technical Architect for review of accuracy, then went on to an Alpha Testing, which is an internal test with other Subject Matter Experts to determine to viability of the question on the exam. If at any point, it’s determined that the question or answer isn’t sufficiently clear or just tested poorly, the question is sent back to the pool for further modification or is scrapped from the exam all together. After the Alpha Review phase, questions begin to flow into the actual exam.

All in all, it’s a pretty grueling process to write exam questions, review other questions with your peers, and then hope they show up on the actual exam. In an effort to maintain the integrity of the exam, we’re never informed if our questions showed up on exams, but I like to believe they eventually will.

That being said, I do recommend trying to become a SME for AWS. It’s a fun experience and a bit of a break from your day to day. You’ll get to learn about products you’d never used before and get to work with other great SMEs across the world.

If you’d like to join the AWS SME, fill out the form located here.

Welcome…

So I’ve been kicking around the idea of starting a blog for a while. Most of the time I’ll want to share an article that I’ve come across. I’ve been doing this on a one-off basis with some friends and colleagues for a while now, I thought I’d open this up to a larger medium now.

I’m calling the blog ‘FinTech over Coffee’. No reason other than I enjoy Finance, Technology … and coffee.

This site is hosted on AWS Lightsail instance for no reason other than I wanted something hosted on AWS that was quick and simple. The smallest Lightsail instance was $3.50 a month and provides ample compute, storage, and data transfer for my current needs. I want to focus on content rather than the tech stack behind it right now.

With a simple ‘Getting Started using WordPress from your Amazon Lightsail instance‘ Guide from AWS, I was able to get this blog up and running in less than 20 minutes.

I hope to share some finance, technology, product management, and maybe the intersection of all of them in a few articles. We’ll see.

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