By Stephanie Trice Gill
After arriving in Maine with a professional-level career overseas, re-establishing a career in Maine can be frustrating, even for those fluent in English. Maine is full of immigrants with the type of skills that the Strategic Plan for Maine says are vital for the state to attract, including those of engineers, scientists, and other highly trained science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals. But too often, immigrant professionals get stuck working in low-paid jobs outside of their field. In this new monthly column, we’ll address challenges facing diverse immigrant talent in Maine, provide tips and strategies for how to jumpstart a career, and share success stories.
To get started, readers should consider getting “LinkedIn.”
LinkedIn.com is a social media site where someone can highlight prior professional work and education, and share a vision of employment plans. Employers hiring professionals look for a candidate’s LinkedIn page to get a quick snapshot of who they are. Setting up a profile only takes a few minutes and it’s free. (LinkedIn offers a paid, premium-level service, but the essentials are available without cost.) A LinkedIn profile is a brief introduction to someone’s professional skills. It’s a marketing tool, not a comprehensive list of education, skills, and experience. Use it to highlight achievements (“Projects” and “Awards”) and to gather professional “recommendations” about competence as well as “endorsements” for skills.
Here are some tips that might open the door to an opportunity.
• Photo (“headshot”): A LinkedIn photo needs two elements: a smile and eye contact. This photo is important, as it helps employers “meet” someone before an interview, leaving them with a good, professional, first impression. In the U.S. some people say, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.
• Background photo: To establish a local presence, upload a photo of local scenery, like a beach or skyline, that will appear behind your headshot.
• Headline: This offers a great opportunity to establish a “brand” that identifies a field (or fields) of expertise. Avoid using a headline that is the same as a job title. For example, if someone holds a current position that doesn’t accurately reflect their skills and talents, they can identify as a “Client-focused French Bilingual” or even “Global Change Leader/Catalyst” (if that’s accurate).
• Work History: Highlight prior professional work. Leave off any job that isn’t in line with one’s historic career trajectory and job-seeking aspirations.
• Settings: Users can customize LinkedIn settings to meet their needs. Under “Communications,” users can adjust settings to send — or not send — emails and alerts about job postings, profile searches, and other information. Under “Visibility,” users can determine who can connecct with them and see profile information.
Next month’s column: Maine’s most direct career pathway for immigrant STEM professionals