More and more, military veterans are using social networking tools such as LinkedIn. And, recognizing that recruiters and hiring managers use social networking to source, attract, and recruit talent, learning how to read a military veteran’s LinkedIn profile is important.
In reading a veteran’s LinkedIn profile, first understand that many military service members and veterans are hesitant to join online platforms where they share personal and professional information. In many ways, the sharing of data online feels counter-intuitive to a veteran who was trained to be discrete and cautious throughout their military career.
Second, recognize that many job seekers who are veterans are not well-versed in how to use social networking sites to position themselves and attract employers. For this reason, you might see that a veteran job seeker’s LinkedIn profile is set up and then sits idle. Unless the veteran understands how to use LinkedIn, it’s easy for them to misdirect their online efforts.
For insight into the military veteran’s online profile, consider:
- Tagline/headline – LinkedIn offers each user the opportunity to describe themselves in 120 characters underneath their name. We call this the tagline or headline. You may see a veteran’s headlines read, “US Army veteran in transition,” or even “Project Management | Leader | US Veteran,” or anything in between. Unlike with a civilian’s LinkedIn profile, the headline on a veteran’s profile could be less meaningful. Veterans are often taught how to create LinkedIn profiles by focusing on the Summary and List of Experiences, not necessarily the headline. For this reason, if you see an obscure headline, continue reading to learn more about the individual.
- How does the veteran present themselves? Does their profile image show them in a military uniform, yet they transitioned out five years ago? Or, are they showing themselves in the job they want? The profile picture can indicate the candidate’s state of mind in their career. However, in many cases, veterans have not been taught to project a civilian career image in their profile picture, and still show themselves in uniform. This, again, would be a good topic for an interview.
- City/State. When listing their city and state under their name on a LinkedIn profile, active duty service members might list the location of their last duty station, instead of the city and state where they plan to locate after separating from the military. Remember this as you recruit based on location. Also, many online profiles will indicate the candidate is willing and open to relocating – look for this if recruiting near military installations.
- Career progression. With a basic understanding of military career progression, look for signs that the veteran was promoted ahead of schedule, took on significant additional responsibilities, or changed their military career path. These could all be great indications of a unique military career, worthy of a conversation and interview with the candidate. You wouldn’t want to just ignore a veteran’s LinkedIn profile just because you don’t understand their military career path.
- Recommendations. While the technical aspects of the veteran’s job experience might be qualification for a job, consider what others write about them in their recommendations. The Recommendations feature on a LinkedIn profile can give you insight into:
- How this person works with others
- Their leadership and mentoring skills
- The caliber of individuals willing to recommend and endorse the candidate
As you evaluate a candidate’s LinkedIn resume, and see they are a military veteran, remember that many veterans are new to the social networking space. While serving their country they were focused on tasks and missions very different from self-promotion and social media. Reading between the lines can reveal great value in the profile of a military veteran.
About Lida Citroen
Lida Citroën, a branding expert based in Denver, has made a career of helping people and companies create new or enhanced identities. She is passionate about helping veterans learn how to compete for careers in the civilian sector. A TEDx Speaker, Lida presents her unique personal branding training programs across the U.S., at military installations and events, serves on the Board of Directors of NAVSO volunteers with ESGR, and has produced numerous programs and materials to help military veterans successfully transition after service. If you have a transition question Lida can help answer, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is also the author of the best selling book, "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition," available at www.YourNextMissionBook.com and on Amazon.