4 Tips for Selling Yourself Successfully to Customers

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "What Color Is Your Parachute?" by Richard N. Bolles. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here .

How important is your online presence? Do you know how to build an online presence?

What Color Is Your Parachute? discusses the 4 steps of building your online presence. It is necessary to build an online presence to help your job search these days.

Keep reading for the 4 steps to build an online presence, according to the Parachute book.

Build an Online Presence and Resume

Now that you know what sorts of jobs you’d like to do, the next step is to secure those jobs. In this chapter, we’ll learn about how our online presence affects our job search and how to create a resume.

Before the internet, the only information an interviewer had about you was what you put on your resume. As a result, you had a lot of control over what you shared. These days, however, your internet presence will reveal a lot about you. Almost all recruiters will look you up online and almost 60% of employers have rejected job-hunters based on what turned up on their social media (bad spelling and grammar, prejudice, inappropriate content, and so on). Trying to stay off the internet won’t do you any good either⁠—47% of employers won’t invite an applicant in for an interview if she doesn’t have a social media presence.

However, the inevitable googling can work in your favor⁠—almost 45% of the time employers will like an applicant’s online presence and offer them a job. Therefore, you should take measures to make yourself more presentable online. There are four steps:

Step #1: Delete

In this step, you’ll take down or delete any information that doesn’t present yourself positively before you build an online presence you want:

  1. Make a list of adjectives that you’d like people to use to describe you professionally, such as “dedicated” or “passionate.”
  2. Search yourself and read all the results. Delete anything you or anyone else posted that doesn’t match your list of adjectives. If you don’t know how to delete posts, search how to do it⁠—you’re not the first person to want to remove something unflattering from the internet.
  3. It’s hard to completely delete something from the internet. Be prepared for anything you’ve ever posted online to come up, even if you’ve taken it down.

Step #2: Bolster Your Online Presence

In this step, you’ll round out the information that already exists online:

1. Fill out online profiles completely. For any and all online profiles you might have (Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on), fill out every field of the profile. Don’t leave any sections blank unless you have a really good reason.

2. Update your profile at least once a month. An outdated profile is unprofessional.

3. Use LinkedIn. 500 million people use it worldwide, and it’s the first place an employer will look when deciding whether or not to interview you. Additionally, this is the first place headhunters look when they’re searching for people. To use LinkedIn most effectively:

  • Connect your profile to an email account that you check regularly.
  • Turn off “sharing profile edits” so your network isn’t notified when you make changes. (You can choose to share specific updates later.)
  • Upload a professional photo that’s well lit, focused, and shows just your head and shoulders. You’re 11 times more likely to have someone view your profile if it has a photo.
  • Be detailed about your past experience. LinkedIn gives you space to write more than a bullet, so take advantage of it.
  • Include your skills. This increases the likelihood that people will look at your profile by 13 times.
  • In the headlines section, carefully choose keywords. Searches find you based on the keywords you put in the headline section. If your job title doesn’t contain keywords, or you want to get into a different field, put a slash after your job title with relevant keywords.
  • In the specialties section, use keywords that would turn you up in a search for the job you want. If you don’t know what kind of keywords to use, look at other people’s profiles and copy theirs.
  • In the summary field, write what makes you stand out from the competition.
  • Mention anything you’re particularly proud of, such as meaningful contributions to a company’s bottom line.
  • Link to websites that demonstrate your expertise and professionalism. Only link to social media or blogs if they’re about your professional rather than personal life.
  • Join active LinkedIn groups and post thoughtfully when something comes up that you can expertly speak to. If you don’t participate often enough, LinkedIn will remove you from the group.
  • Don’t post anything personal. It’s a professional site.
  • List non-work-related information such as education, hobbies, and so on.

Step #3: Build an Online Presence or Add More

In this step, you’ll add more information about yourself to the internet. There are a few ways to build an online presence this way:

  1. Join online forums and groups, whether on LinkedIn or other sites.
  2. Start a professional blog and update it regularly and this will be part of building your online presence. Most of the time, employers are more interested in down-to-earth blogs, such as how-tos, rather than philosophizing.
  3. Get on Twitter. Whenever you tweet, pay particular attention to the hashtags that employers are likely to search for.
  4. Upload professional videos to YouTube, such as yourself giving instructions on how to do a skill.

Step #4: Summarize

After you build an online presence, you’re going to summarize all the wide-ranging online information about yourself into a resume. Here are the steps:

1. Brainstorm a list of all your skills, experiences, and so on. Be as quantitative as possible. Consider the following brainstorming questions:

  • Where did you go to school, did you receive scholarships, good grades, and so on?
  • Have you ever volunteered, done unpaid work, or completed an internship?
  • If you’ve worked in sales, what were some of your accomplishments?
  • If you’ve worked in customer service or administration, what were some of your accomplishments?
  • If you’ve ever planned an event, what were your accomplishments?
  • What are your skills with technology?
  • Do you have any mechanical skills?
  • Do you have any trade skills, such as electrical, plumbing, and so on?
  • Have you ever led a team or trained anyone?
  • How long have you worked in certain industries?
  • In any situation, when have you held responsibility? How did you handle it?
  • Were you ever promoted or given more authority?
  • Have you ever done things outside of your job description, either because you were asked to or because you volunteered?
  • How could you contribute to a company and how could you contribute more than your competitors could?
  • What positive feedback have you received? Consider customer praise, performance reviews, and awards.
  • Do you belong to any committees or clubs?
  • Have you published or presented anything?

2. Choose a professional format. Some industries expect to see certain conventions in a resume, but for the most part, there are no hard and fast rules for resume formatting. Here are four options:

  • Reverse chronological order. In this format, divide your resume into sections such as experience and education, and then place the information in order of newest to oldest. This is the most common format and is advantageous when you have a lot of experience or skills related to the job. It’s disadvantageous when your most recent activities aren’t related to the job.
  • Skill-focused. In this format, divide your resume into sections based on skills and then file relevant experience and organization under each skill. This format is advantageous when you have skills rather than experience that are related to the job. This format is often used by those with gaps in their resumes, so be prepared to address that in an interview.
  • Combo. In this format, combine the reverse and skill-focused formats. Divide the material into categories based on skills and then put the specifics in reverse chronological order. This format is overall most advantageous and works particularly well when you want to highlight non-recent relevant experience.
  • Original. In this format, be creative. Use images and design elements such as fancy typography. This format is most appropriate for creative jobs because it demonstrates visual arts skills. However, remember that creativity is subjective, so a resume that appeals to one employer might not to another.

3. Write the contents of your resume. There are some dos and don’ts:


  • Use correct spelling and grammar.
  • Translate jargon into layperson’s language.
  • Use your resume to describe your experience in a way that’s most relevant to the job you’re applying for.
  • Be clear and up-front about your strengths. 
  • Include numbers when possible, for example, how much you sold.
  • Use keywords. There’s a keywording resource here.
  • Make sure to include your contact information, including your name, phone number, email, city and state if relevant, and LinkedIn profile.
  • Include scholarships, awards, and so on. Only include your GPA if it’s 3.0 or higher.
  • If you like, you can include an objective, a summary of experience, and hobbies/interests.


  • Don’t use qualitative phrases such as “hardworking.” Cover facts.
  • Don’t include any information about your children, marital status, and so on.
  • Don’t mention non-obvious or nonvisible disabilities in a resume (in general).
  • Don’t give references. You can give employers references after the first interview. Make sure to ask references for their permission, and if they’re writing a letter, read it first.
  • Don’t explain complicated situations. If you’re considering including something that’s hard to explain on paper (such as why you left your last job), leave it out. The only purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. You can discuss more complicated things in the interview.

4. Post your resume publically. You can post your resume on major job boards such as Monster or on specific companies’ websites. (Unfortunately, many companies don’t look at resumes posted on their sites.)

  • Don’t include any information that would allow someone to find out where you live or work.

5. Send your resume to specific postings or employers.

  • Customize your resume for each position you apply for, building your online presence isn’t a replacement for this.
  • There’s most competition on major job boards such as Indeed (employers typically receive 219 applications) and least competition if you can get your resume to an employer via referral (typically 10 applications).
  • In addition, or instead of, a resume, you might write a cover letter or put together a portfolio.
  • If you’re sending your resume to specific employers by email, also send a paper copy in case the employer has a policy against opening attachments. When sending your hard copy, use paper that’s at least 28 pounds. Employers only spend about eight seconds per resume, and the feel of the paper will make you stand out.
Build an Online Presence That Gets You Hired

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Richard N. Bolles's "What Color Is Your Parachute?" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full What Color Is Your Parachute? summary :

  • How to not just find a job, but find a job you love
  • Why traditional resumes don’t find you the right job
  • The 7 steps to identifying your ideal career

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.