Create a winning LinkedIn profile  _ Connector Team Recruiting.png

Build Your Personal Brand

Earlier this year I wrote about how the job market had become a truly candidate driven marketplace. We continue to see strong hiring and a real talent shortage in the Retail Home Furnishings sector. This is being driven by this month’s continued low Unemployment rate of (3.7%) and this means the white-collar worker segment is nearing full employment.  The accelerating level of changing demographics from retirements of baby boomers to the rise of the millennials in the workforce is changing the number of qualified candidates in the Retail Labor market.

As a Candidate you should focus on refreshing your resume and your LinkedIn profile to make sure that your profile stands out.  Here are some tips to make sure that you stand out from the crowd.


Being on LinkedIn is a must for every executive job seeker.  In fact, 9 out of 10 employers and recruiters will want to see your LinkedIn profile before they will invite you for a job interview. Therefore, having a compelling LinkedIn profile is a smart thing to do.


LinkedIn profiles have the components of your ‘regular’ resume such as a summary, education, experience and special skills.  The way you present these determines how companies will perceive you as a potential hire.  Employers can see LinkedIn profiles 24/7, and if the descriptions are minimal (as frankly most LinkedIn descriptions are), they may not be impressed.

As with resumes, average candidates with superior profiles often get better offers than superior candidates with second-rate profiles. It may be impressive that well-known companies employed you or that you have prestigious job titles. However, by themselves, these factors are not enough.


A solid LinkedIn profile has substance and sophistication. It shows not only where you have worked and for how long, but also gives a persuasive synopsis of what you accomplished, implicitly suggesting how your experience can help potential employers achieve their goals. Great LinkedIn profiles articulately communicate one’s signature value and strengths that positively differentiate a particular executive from other leaders.

Strong LinkedIn profiles also have an abundance of relevant keywords. When employers look for candidates, they usually seek definite talents and skills. Having a profile rich with contemporary industry terms and expressions gives you a competitive advantage and demonstrates that you are a proficient candidate.

Keep in mind Recruiters use Boolean search strings to find relevant candidates and all are based on the industry specific keywords.  This is discussed in item #2 below.

HOW TO Build Your personal brand with a Superior PROFILE:

The easiest and most logical way to prepare a compelling LinkedIn profile is to first prepare an outstanding ‘regular’ resume. Then, you can effortlessly paste the key elements of your resume into your LinkedIn profile.  As a result, you’ll have the best of both worlds – a powerful regular and an online executive resume.

After you paste your resume information on LinkedIn, you can add other personal components such as a photo, memberships, and connections. It’s really straightforward.

In fact, LinkedIn has a wonderful Learning section available to you with experts and thought leaders giving out advice just like this to help users with their online profiles.

Bear in mind that content quality and relevance are the most important parts of your profile, so always revisit and keep it up to date when you update your resume.


1.     Invest in getting a professional photo taken

According to a recent LinkedIn Survey, your profile is 2.1 times more likely to be viewed if you have a photo in your profile.  

  1. Here are some tips: If you can afford a professional head shot find a local photography studio and tell them you are doing a Linked in profile head shot.  The photography studios in malls or chain stores are all set up for taking Linked in head shots. They can typically do a great job and at an affordable rate. Have someone accompany you…that special someone that can make you laugh, feel natural and give you sincere feedback.

  2. Do wear the appropriate business outfit, however, make sure that it represents you as a person. The more comfortable you are in your attire, the better the result.  

  3. We do not recommend including anyone else in your picture including spouse, significant other, pets or anyone else in your business head shot.  From my seat and POV this is not Instagram or Facebook…this is your business image.

 2.    Craft a more strategic headline.

Your Linkedln headline is important for two reasons: It creates the first impression of you and the keywords you select for it are the words that help recruiters find you.  A nice feature is that your headline can change on demand.  You can go into your account settings and you can use up to 120 characters to craft your headline. 

To craft a strong headline:

  1. Be specific about who you are and what you do. For example, instead of using a generic title like "Distribution Manager," use Distribution and Logistics Executive/Warehousing and Final Mile expertise

  2. Incorporate relevant keywords. To find the most impactful ones, look at job descriptions for positions you'd love and check out your most relevant Linkedln groups to find industry appropriate terminology.

  3. Avoid using "unemployed" in your headline. Instead, use strategic keywords that convey your value statement. For example; titles such as Business Development Leader/Hunter, Sales Generation Expert, Top Performing District Sales Leader, or Highly Engaged Sales Coach and Servant Leader demonstrate what you could bring to a company.

3.    Ask for Linkedln recommendations.

Getting them from your Linkedln network, as well as Featured Skills/Endorsements (that's No. 4), lets others sing your praises and keeps you from appearing boastful.

  1. For optimal results, ask for a recommendation immediately after the successful completion of a project or when you receive an important accolade or award. Make your request in person or by phone, if possible. It's more personal than email and gives you an opportunity to talk about specifics for the recommendation. 

4. Manage your featured skills and endorsements.

You know those annoying messages that pop up on Linkedln asking if you'd like to endorse your contacts for a variety of skills? I've always considered that feature worthless. After all, I've had people endorse me for public speaking who've never heard me speak and received endorsements for career coaching from people I've never met.

  1. According to a recent Linkedln study, users who display five or more skills are messaged 31 times more and viewed 17 times more than those who do not! So as meaningless as endorsements seem, they do attract more eyeballs to your page.

 5. Incorporate  photos and video.

When it comes to building a powerful Linkedln profile, remember  the old adage: A picture is worth a thousand words. You can now easily post photos and videos to your Linkedln profile under the Experience, Education or Summary sections.

  1. You can also use images in the background banner of your personal profile, where you can feature a logo, photo or image that colorfully enhances your brand. For example, a realtor might display a photo of the city skyline or an executive might use a photo of a conference she recently organized.

  2. Remember, it's far more effective to post a speaking clip that demonstrates how engaging you are than to simply state, "I am a strong public speaker." 

6.    Show off your expertise with SlideShare.

Linkedln recently bought the SlideShare presentation platform and now integrates it within your account. This way, you and your work can be easily discovered through a specific SlideShare search or through Google. It's another dynamic and interesting way to display your thought leadership and draw traffic to your profile. 

7.    Blog with Linkedln Publisher.

Finally, consider posting blogs on Linkedln to build your personal brand as a thought leader. The posts you write will be displayed on your Linkedln profile and as your connections like and comment on them, they'll be seen by your wider second- and third-level networks as well as through Google searches.

Final Tips and ongoing Brand update and Maintenance Tip for Executives…

Look at your personal profile on Linkedln

  • Compare it to the seven tips in this article and to your competition

  • Spend five minutes a day on Linkedln by sharing, liking or posting to increase your presence and profile.

Bill O’Malley is President of Connector Team Recruiting a firm headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia specializing in the Furniture | Appliance and Sleep verticals. Connector Team is an affiliate office of MRINETWORK, Philadelphia, PA.  Connector Team is a full service Search Firm offering permanent placement recruiting solutions and also contract staffing solutions.

For comments or to reach Bill contact him at

Reference and credit to: MRI Learning and Talent Development - Personal Branding

Is your job application process eliminating top talent_ _ Connector Team Recruiting.png

Your job application process is an important focus point to review in a tight labor market.  This is because at the present time we find ourselves in a war for talent across the consumer goods industry.  The home furnishings sector is not immune from the talent shortage, in fact, I’ve had conversations with a number of owner’s, hiring authorities and industry consultants recently and the common thread heard is that entry level positions and commission sales roles that used to be easy to fill are now becoming very difficult.  

I recently published a blog article a few months back that touched on and outlined ways to review and make sure you use your company Career page and take a look at whether it’s mobile and user friendly.  Here is a link to that blog post: Improve your career web page to gain access to more candidates

Here is some additional data from our home office at the MRINetwork that provides some results and real time data from recruiters and companies for 2019.

Take a look around, almost everywhere you go it seems everyone is on a mobile device. These mechanisms provide us with 24/7 access and the ability to instantly connect to work, and almost every aspect of our personal lives. It should be no surprise then that candidates expect this same convenience when applying for a job. However, this is one task that many employers haven’t adapted for ease on a mobile apparatus, according to the results of the 2019 MRINetwork Recruitment Trends Study.

In fact, 76 percent of candidates say they expect the ability to submit applications and receive feedback via a mobile device. However, just 30 percent of employers offer a mobile-friendly application process. While that's up from 10 percent who did so in 2015, according to separate analysis from the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), employers aren't transitioning to these on-the-go options as quickly as today’s workers expect.

Josh Ostrega, chief operating officer and co-founder of the software company WorkJam, told SHRM that it's in employers' best interest to invest in the digital era.

"These companies may be missing out on the most qualified prospects," Ostrega explained. "Highly skilled workers don't stay unemployed for long. Enforcing a sluggish application process encourages strong candidates to look elsewhere." Here are some strategies that you as an employer may want to consider implementing to optimize candidates' experience:

Partner with an industry-specialized recruiting firm

By working in concert with an industry-specialized recruiting firm, you can give your candidates more on-the-go options for applying to jobs, while also gaining access to a larger pool of potential candidates. “The odds of you finding a perfect candidate who is also looking for you is miniscule,” said Chris Hesson, manager of technology training for MRINetwork. “Increase your odds by working with a recruiter who is the expert in your arena and knows the players. A savvy, niched, focused recruiting firm can also help ensure top talent are applying for your jobs via platforms that are on the cutting edge of technology,” This can be especially critical if your company isn’t able to invest in a mobile-friendly process.”

Draw on other tech capabilities

If your organization is able to make some technology investments, consider offering quick-apply options on job boards and social networking sites like LinkedIn. Here, candidates can simply provide their profile link for consideration. If you’re directing applicants to apply through a career site, make sure downloaded resumes can be parsed so that candidates don’t have to make manual entries.

Harnessing the power of mobile technology is a win-win, both for candidates and your company's ability to attract top talent on an ongoing basis. Ensure your organization isn’t losing out on the best in the industry because of a clunky, outdated process.

Blog Post by: Bill O’Malley, Chief Recruiting Officer at Connector Team Recruiting.  Connector Team is recognized by leaders and leading consultants as the premier search firm in the Furniture | Appliance and Sleep vertical space. Connector Team is an affiliate office of MRINETWORK recently ranked in 2019 as a Top Recruitment Firm by Forbes Magazine.

5 Ways to Hire Smarter _ Connector Team Recruiting.jpg

Over the past couple of months, I continue to look for creative ways to help our clients find more talent in a very tight employment market.  Many of the calls I receive are for entry level wholesale, retail or business development roles. I wish I could tell you it’s going to get better sometime soon however, statistics suggest otherwise.

I believe many Owners, Executives and hiring authorities across the highly specialized Furniture and Big-Ticket industry channels appear to have some bias towards hiring candidates without specific and or direct experience within our industry. This is not without merit, since we all would all love to check off every box to meet all the requirements for a job description.

I think in today’s hiring climate that needs to be revisited.  More emphasis on identifying core competencies and traits and history in top performers can lead us to a larger pool of talent.  We need to attract people into the Furniture industry. I fell into our industry by chance when I was a working college student many years ago. I fell in love with the industry and I never looked back.  

There are some companies that understand that Sales and Customer Engagement are key to the front line and back office roles and they have figured out the formula.  They are looking outside our industry to find applicable transferable skills and the result is they are expanding their pool of candidates to choose from and finding some hidden gem talent from other retail, wholesale and service channels.

In a competitive labor market, we suggest you look for transferable skills and applicable expertise and then outline them with your team so you can clearly identify these traits in the interview process and apply them to each position.  

According to a study by FORTUNE the Unfilled jobs cost the U.S. economy $160 billion a year. Instead of “trying to take the risk out of hiring by looking only at people with a specific set of skills and experience,” he says, “we’re seeing more employers — including big ones like Procter & Gamble and Accenture, who have operated this way for a long time — first assessing candidates’ attitudes and behaviors to find the right ‘fit’ and then training them for the available jobs.”

Those companies look carefully at the traits of their current, proven top performers, then come up with a profile of who is most likely to succeed, and hire people who match the profile, even if their skills and experience aren’t ideal. Says D’Arcy, “It takes a willingness to make a long-term investment in creating your own internal talent pool.”

Sheer frustration with the lack of perfect candidates will drive more employers to go this route, he adds. “Most organizations today still use the same rigid approach to hire that just doesn’t work anymore, and inventing what comes next is hard,” he says. “But I think we’re seeing the beginning of a trend.”

So, you can see where we are going with this trend and recommendation.  

Here is a how-to guide on assessing candidates with transferable skills, but no industry experience:

Employers by and large concur: When it comes to hiring, an ideal candidate is one with experience. However, there's something else business owners also agree upon - experience isn't everything, especially when job candidates bring other desirable qualities to the table.

According to findings from the 2018 MRINetwork Performance Management Study, close to 80 percent of employer respondents either somewhat agree or strongly agreed with the statement that they're more likely to extend job offers to people with transferable skills, but who lack industry experience due to increased difficulty finding qualified talent.

Interestingly, however, candidates aren't always aware of employers' flexibility. Just 50 percent of respondents somewhat or strongly agreed that companies seriously consider applicants with tangible skills, but who lack industry experience.

This is a key finding for employers to recognize, one that they may consider factoring into how they advertise job openings, so candidates are fully aware.

That being said, candidates don't always mention transferable skills on resumes or in interviews. Thus, businesses must endeavor to identify them during the hiring process.

Here are a few tips that can help you assess inexperienced job candidates whose marketable skills could make them the ideal people to fill open positions:


Enthusiastic employees are engaged employees. When workers are excited about the job functions they serve, they're more likely to perform well because they're eager to learn, improve and achieve results. Try to spot evidence of potential workers' passion for previous work, as well as for the job to which they're applying. This may be found in their resumes, such as if they were ever "Employee of the Month," but also in the interview itself.


The interview is only a small moment in time that provides a snapshot of what candidates are like and can offer. It can be difficult to identify all their transferable skills inside of 30 to 60 minutes. You may want to pre-screen them, so you have an idea of what they're like before they arrive. Social media can provide a sneak peek into their backstory. In a recent poll conducted by CareerBuilder, nearly 60 percent of employers who acknowledged using social networking for researching job candidates did so to better identify their qualifications. Fifty percent said they also used Twitter and Facebook to get a sense of their level of professionalism.


Hiring solely based on experience can be tricky because it's not necessarily indicative of how well applicants will perform in the short-term, or the long-term. They may lack the temperament or desire to take their talents to new heights.

The ideal is a combination of both, noted Johansson Consulting CEO Anna Johansson. Writing in the Huffington Post, Johansson stated that potential is particularly worthwhile, because it's more inclusive and broadens the pool of prospective hires. It also makes the hiring process in general less taxing.

"It's a lot easier to find and hire a candidate who has potential than to track down someone who has years of experience and is available for hiring," Johansson wrote. "A business is also much less likely to overrate potential than experience...which has become a problem over the years."

How do you spot it? Experts say potential is manifested through indications of enthusiasm, such as curiosity, inquisitiveness, determination, insight and emotional intelligence. Asking probing questions can draw these qualities out.

No candidate is perfect, nor is any hiring method. However, being more open-minded and evaluating applicants beyond credentials and specific industry experience, can help employers’ home in on the right person whose transferable skills can have a huge impact within the company.


Look at your existing top performers in each functional area.  No successful top performer has the perfect ideal background; however, I think you may find some things in existing employee’s backgrounds that may present a guidepost or light bulb moment.  Was it running a family business at an early age, working through college and balancing the book work with the real work?

Go back to the pre-screening bullet and you can discover much more about people today by just looking at social media and their background beyond the resume that may be in front of you.  


Here is a great interviewing question to ask as an interview starter. Asking this basic top grading question - “take me back to your High School days and bring me forward with your career history”.  

What better way to make sure that the candidate does the majority of talking, this gives you an opportunity to sit back and see how they communicate.

A top candidate can remember details and can move forward and do it within 5-10 minutes.  During this time, you’ll discover a literal treasure trove of information. This typically will include information  about the candidate’s work history, and it could uncover those traits you feel align with other successful people within your organization.

This is a great way to test cognitive ability without a personality test by just having them answer this question. If someone cannot present a road map and present a coherent career history, how do they know where they should go in their employment quest.

So, there you have it, some ideas, tips and other tools to apply to capture more talent that is out there within your reach.  

I believe we never can stop learning and growing. If you have a favorite type of hiring tip you would like to share, please send me a note.

Blog Post by: Bill O’Malley, Chief Recruiting Officer at Connector Team Recruiting.  Connector Team is recognized by leaders and leading consultants as the premier search firm in the Furniture | Appliance and Sleep vertical space. Connector Team is an affiliate office of MRINETWORK recently ranked in 2019 as a Top Recruitment Firm by Forbes Magazine.