Your LinkedIn profile should be about the future, not the past

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“Future” by Salvatore Vastano on Flickr

When presented with the opportunity to tell your story as a professional, it’s tempting to think of it as a look to the past. You may believe your story is an amalgam of all the things you’ve done, all the things you’ve accomplished–and that’s certainly part of the equation. However, it’s important to make a slight distinction when crafting your LinkedIn profile: you want to think of it not just as a rehash of what you’ve done, but as a means of showcasing your capabilities for the work you want to do.

This little tweak can go a long way toward helping you decide everything from what experience to include–whether to incorporate a job from the past or a given volunteer commitment, for example–to what to say in your headline or summary. The key is remembering that your audience will go where you take them–as long as you can back it up in the real world. If you rely on them to sort out what you have to offer, you may end up sending the wrong message.

Gather as much evidence as you can to back up your capabilities: past work experience for sure, but also media that shows examples of what you do, recommendations from those who can speak to your strengths, and status updates aligned with your goals. It may seem unfair, but as our work environments continue to evolve, what you’ve done in the past will only take you so far. You need to demonstrate what you can do to serve as a resource to your connections–now and into the future.

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