One of the biggest frustrations job hunters face today is the rigidity many employers seem to have regarding previous industry experience.  Given the large supply of candidates out there in the market, quite a few hiring managers these days are scouting around for perfect round-peg, round-hole credentials when it comes to the people they hire — and as a result, serious job seekers sometimes have to “nudge” these employers a little bit to get them to see the transferability of their skill sets, background, and capabilities.

Along these lines, a great thought struck me the other day in terms of how some job seekers could promote this concept to a more effective degree via their LinkedIn profiles.  While LinkedIn only allows people to select one official “industry” code to identify themselves with on their profiles, a savvy job hunter might also add an extra paragraph in the “Summary” section that indicates a list of alternative industries that are closely related to their experience — and that they are actively targeting for new assignments.

For example, a person who has worked for years in the restaurant industry might choose “Restaurants” as their primary industry selection, but also add a short paragraph in their Summary that says:

“Given my track record of management success within the highly competitive restaurant industry, I’m equally convinced I could drive tremendous results for similar industries where customer service is paramount, such as hotels, spas, resorts, casinos, entertainment facilities, and almost any ambitious organization within the retail field.”

Alternatively, a person who has worked for years managing a chain of dry cleaning stores might expand their horizons a bit by adding something to their profile like:

“My years of specialized experience in the commercial laundry business would also allow me to make major contributions to any organization heavily reliant on route sales and complex delivery/pickup schedules.  Examples of such industries would be package delivery services, bus transportation, trucking, food delivery, and waste management.”

Not only does adding such text help open the eyes of the people reviewing your profile who might be tempted to pigeonhole you, but even more importantly, it ensures you come up in appropriate keyword searches for these additional terms — since tons of employers and recruiters are using LinkedIn these days to proactively source potential candidates for hire.  This gives you a competitive edge, since so many people with more experience than you in a certain field may NOT have fleshed out their profiles sufficiently enough to ensure their profiles come up in a search, whereas yours will, even though these fields are your secondary focus.  I see this on an almost daily basis when I conduct sample searches for various types of professionals.  The people who I’d expect to come up, often don’t.  The people who pack their profiles with a savvy mix of keywords usually do.

So if you’re like a lot of folks trying to get employers to think more outside of the box, in terms of considering your credentials, do your part to help them see the light.  Try adding a section like the ones mentioned above and see if you can snag a few extra inquiries, here and there, related to these alternative fields!