Writing prompts for Tech Leaders | Creating Value, Visibility, and Authority on LinkedIn

Everyone likes a good story, whether it’s about a personal adventure, a crisis averted, or a how-to article. Well-written articles not only entertain, but they offer ideas and insights for others to learn from.

My favorite LinkedIn posts happen to be just such articles: short, engaging, real-world bursts of information that offer a new perspective, a glimpse of someone else’s world. Call me a tiny bit voyeuristic, but if the success of reality TV is any indication, I’m not alone.

For tech leaders who want to become more visible on LinkedIn but who are stumped about where to begin, here are some writing prompts.


Begin with your specific area of expertise. Is it software development leadership? Corporate technology and systems? Connecting a global technology organization infrastructure? Defending an organization’s perimeter? Keep to this playing field, for consistency’s sake.

Think of a specific episode within this playing field. Without breaking confidentiality, tell your story.

If you’re not used to writing, it will feel sludgy at first. Use ChatGPT or another AI tool to get started, then customize to make it your own.

Here are some writing prompts:

  • How we transformed our technology organization from waterfall to Agile.
  • How we built a pipeline of new grads into a pool of promotable engineers.
  • How we went about choosing (pick one) a particular provider, platform technology, etc.
  • Lessons learned in implementing xyz.
  • How we groom top individual contributors for leadership roles.
  • How we partnered with Talent Acquisition to ramp up our hiring (and get the right candidates)
  • How we learned to communicate effectively with our business partners.
  • What it’s like to lead a team of engineers in a (name your space) environment: pros/cons/what works well.
  • We learned from our mistakes in choosing the wrong (insert language, ERP system, tool, unnamed vendor here)

You get the picture. And I bet you have lots more.

Here are some guidelines:

Keep it fairly high level (i.e. not too long or detailed). It should contain some color (it’s okay to share missteps), and offer some insights.

Keep it relevant to the qualities of your own professional brand. You should highlight your domain of knowledge, industry, leadership style and/or values.

What you’ll find is that by telling (and humanizing) stories, connecting with others will become easier. When you write and post regularly, it gets easier. We get to know you a little. You also become more visible, and who knows where that will lead: speaking engagements? Collaboration? A new role?

When I started writing blog posts and posting on LinkedIn, it was terrifying. I felt like I was onstage, no clothes. Out there for the world to see (and make fun of). In hindsight, it’s pretty funny. It gets easier, so I’m glad I kept going. We all have stories and insights  – why not share yours with us (and reap some benefits in the process)?


Using my recruiting experience, I help technology leaders better-define their professional brand and navigate their job search. Want to know more about my signature Professional Branding Package? Click here.

Not sure yet, or you’ve got questions?  Use this link to schedule a FREE, no-strings intro call.


Copyright Katherine Turpin 2024. All rights reserved.

Unlocking Opportunities: When a Cover Letter Makes a Difference in Your Job Application

What’s your opinion on cover letters?

“I never send one (they’re old-fashioned).”
“A cover letter should hammer home why I’m a perfect fit for the job.”
“I think a cover letter should be included with each job application.”
“I honestly don’t know.”

Right?

Back when resumes were snail-mailed, a cover letter was an integral part of the application process, a friendly ‘How do you do?’ before the resume-reading began. Today, cover letters aren’t always needed or expected.

So when SHOULD a cover letter be used? Here are some situations where, as a recruiter, I would expect one.


When you’re applying for a job that’s a slight pivot from your current one, use a cover letter to address the reason why your skills/experience are a fit (pick 2-3 skills found in the job description and briefly talk about yours).

When you’re applying to a lower-level role. Again, keep it short, acknowledging that you’re applying to a less-weighty role and focusing on the value you can add while dialing your work responsibilities back, i.e. “I’m ready to move from a leading role to a supporting role.”

When you’re applying to an onsite position from a different location
, use a cover letter to briefly address what brings you to our fair city (i.e. to be near family, partner got a job here, etc.). In my experience, hiring managers are wary of bringing someone to a new city JUST for a job. Also, timing is helpful (how soon do you expect to be local?);

And anytime the company whose job you’re applying to ASKS for a cover letter.

OK – that’s the when; here are some tips on what to say:

Start by reviewing the job description; select 1-2 key requirements (don’t just match years of experience ~ talk about similar industry, company size, growth trajectory or how you’ve successfully conquered issues your target company may be facing).

Craft a couple of sentences about your experience as it relates to those requirements (ie. “with experience creating scalable processes within a fast-growing company, my background should be a good fit.”

Invite: “I’d welcome the opportunity for a conversation / interview / discussion”.

Add a little flattery, if it’s sincere and well-researched: “I’ve heard great things about <company / company’s transformation / thought leadership in xyz / other buzz>.”

To whom should your cover letter be addressed?

Do a quick LinkedIn search on the company you’re applying to. Can you figure out who the hiring manager is? If so, address it to that person and say something like, “Based on my research, it seems likely that this position reports to you.”

If you can’t figure out who the hiring manager is, see if the job is posted on LinkedIn. If it is, who’s the recruiter listed as the point of contact? Use that name. If there isn’t a name, address your cover letter to ‘Talent Acquisition’ or ‘<company name> Recruiter’ or ‘Hiring Team’.

Now put it all together:

Want your cover letter to be read? Don’t just regurgitate everything that’s on your resume.

Keep it short, relevant and curious/confident (vs. a ‘pick me! I’m the perfect fit!’ feel). It’s much appreciated when you, the applicant, help us connect the dots.

There are no guarantees that your cover letter WILL get read, but when you’ve kept it tidy, friendly and trim, it’s much more likely that it will be. Go on, you’ve got this.

Using my recruiting experience, I help technology leaders better-define their professional brand and navigate their job search. Want to know more about my signature Professional Branding Package? Click here.

Not sure yet, or you’ve got questions? Use this link to schedule a FREE, no-strings intro call.


Copyright Katherine Turpin 2024. All rights reserved.

Getting the Interview | The Holy Grail of Job Searching


Most leaders I’ve talked with are great once they get in front of the client / decision maker. The problem is, how to GET that interview. It’s like the holy grail of the job search.

At the leadership or senior leadership level, candidates far outnumber open positions (think of a pyramid…yep, that’s you, at or near the top). You’re competing against peers, up-and-comers, and possibly even experienced leaders who are stepping back.

For every leadership search I conducted, we had  >100 applicants, WAY more than we could consider / screen / interview. Time and resources just didn’t allow it.

So how do you score the interview? Here are some suggestions to stand out:

Your Resume.

  • Tailor your resume  to highlight relevant skills, experience, and incorporate keywords from the job description.
  • Be results-oriented in describing your accomplishments. Use numbers, dollars, percentages, time savings, etc.
  • Give examples of successful projects, highlight your leadership experiences and their impact. Make sure what you’ve highlighted aligns with the job you’re applying to. You can even bold the relevant sentences to make it easier for the recruiter to connect the dots.

Your Online Presence

  • Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date (put bullet items from your resume in each of your most-recent jobs to provide context).
  • Use a current headshot. It doesn’t need to be professionally-taken, but it should be clear and well-lit. 
  • Take advantage of LinkedIn’s ‘Skills’ section (add yours), solicit endorsements from those who know your work, and be sure to mention your extracurricular / volunteer activities (40% of hiring managers consider this section as important as your resume).

Your Network

  • Your network is your most valuable tool in a job search. Past leaders and mentors, vendors, a trusted recruiter or two, former employees, and professional friends can all be advocates and resources as you search.
  • If networking still feels cringey, I recommend reading or listening to “The 20-Minute Networking Meeting: Learn to Network. Get a Job”. It’s a terrific guide.
  • Follow companies you’re interested in on LinkedIn (people who follow the company they’ve applied to are statistically more likely to be hired by that company). Check the ‘People’ tab to see if you know anyone who works there. 
  • Be visible: attend conferences, industry events, participate in online forums and communities in your area of expertise.

Your Body of Knowledge

  • Keep current with technologies, news, and trends in your space.
  • Consider writing or speaking about tech challenges you’ve faced. Sharing your knowledge is an authentic way to connect with (and help) others.
  • Enhance your credibility with relevant certifications, side projects, or volunteer work using your technology leadership skills.

Your Interest

  • After you submit your application, send a followup email expressing your continued interest. Best to send it to the recruiter, but if you know someone in the company who can influence the decision to interview you, follow up with them as well.
  • After the interview, send a thank you email to reiterate your strong interest and enthusiasm for the opportunity.

    Take a patient, positive, persistent and proactive approach. Gather feedback, test out different approaches, and iterate based on what you learn. Stay engaged with the tech community to improve your visibility.

Because you never know where that next connection (and interview) might come from!


Need some help optimizing your digital presence? I help technology leaders clarify their professional brand. Click here to schedule a FREE, no-strings intro conversation to see if we’re a fit.



Copyright Katherine Turpin 2024. All Rights Reserved.

Creating Your Professional Story | Eight Points to Get You There


Humans love stories – they’re as old as time. And being able to articulate your own professional story is a powerful tool in your career development. Most importantly: being able to effectively tell your story will help you stand out.

A professional story is versatile: use it in a job interview, a presentation, a training session, or even as you pitch an idea.

Here are some key considerations when crafting your own professional story:

1. Tailor your story to your audience.  What are they interested in? What are their expectations or values? Make sure your story is relevant to the context of the conversation.

2. Have a captivating introduction. Open with a thought-provoking fact, an interesting question, or a short and relevant story. Grab their attention at the starting gate.

3. Structure it: have a clear beginning, middle, and end.

In a job interview, this could be as follows: describe (in a captivating way) a problem that needed to be solved + why it needed solving. Add your involvement in finding and delivering a solution, including details to show impact (like costs before and after solving, time to delivery, issues or struggles you faced) and wrap up with a quick “new state / happy outcome”. You get the idea.

4. Use metrics to showcase your impacts and accomplishments and add credibility.

5. Be authentic. This helps your relatability. Share struggles, missteps, and learning moments. They’ll like you for it.

7. Incorporate the audience’s questions. When you respond to their questions within your story, it becomes more real and engaging to them (and shows your capacity for emotional intelligence).

8. Be concise. You don’t want to be remembered as someone who rambled on and on. Watch your audience’s body language and if they seem distracted, be able to shift gears.

By weaving these elements into your professional storytelling, you’ll stand out as someone who can communicate effectively and leave a memorable impression. A professional story that’s tailored, relatable, and credible is a powerful professional tool.

Using my recruiting experience, I help tech leaders better-tell their professional stories.
Want to see if my services are a match for your needs? Click here to schedule a FREE, no-strings intro call.



Copyright Katherine Turpin 2024. All Rights Reserved.

6 Great Reasons for Having a Professional Brand

A common problem of mid-career tech leaders (10+ years in) is, “how do I fit all my experience on a few pages?” There is a tendency to put EVERYTHING into their resume and by default, their LinkedIn profile. From a recruiter’s perspective, this leads to confusion about what the person is actually best at, not to mention what they really like doing.

Here’s an example from my own career: for several years while at Robert Half International. I led a team of recruiters. I was good at it and our team was in the top 10% of the company for two years in a row. But I really, really did not enjoy the work. I’ve been a leader in many jobs, but I’m not the least bit interested in doing it ever again. So I downplay it or even leave it off altogether.

A professional brand is created by getting very clear about your professional strengths, your key contributions, and what you like doing.

Knowing what kinds of environments you thrive in, what leadership style fosters your best work, and what kind of work/life balance you need for peak productivity is important. Also – a well-defined professional brand is alive and evolving – what you like today might not make the cut later.

Here are six great reasons for creating your professional brand:

1. A clear professional brand helps you decide which qualities and experiences you’ll highlight on your resume and LinkedIn profile. You’ll be able to articulate accomplishments and weave in those experiences – both personal and professional – that make you stand out.

2. A clear professional brand makes job hunting much easier. It gives guidance as you review new roles. When looking for a new position, this clarity will help you vet opportunities.  If you know you work best in an entrepreneurial setting, you may choose not to work for a change-averse, highly bureaucratic company. 

3. A clear professional brand makes interviewing easier. It provides a framework for interviewing.  It offers coherence. With the clarity that comes from introspection, your confidence will also improve.

4. A clear professional brand helps your audience (hiring managers, prospective clients and decision-makers) better-understand the value you bring. You stand out, because you’ve taken time to self-reflect.

5. A clear professional brand makes networking easier. Once you’ve defined your professional brand, the pressure is off when people ask, “So….what do you do?” or “What kind of job are you looking for?” It’s a mini-elevator pitch, a sound bite that gives instant context. 

6. A clear professional brand can benefit your digital presence. When you take the time to honestly evaluate your skills, your preferences, and your perspectives, you’ll direct your social media posts and articles accordingly – what values do you hold dear? What lessons will you talk about?

You don’t need a logo or a mission statement to have a clear professional brand. What you DO need is self-knowledge and the ability to articulate what you bring to the marketplace, whether it’s  a new job, a promotion in your current company, or as a speaker in your industry.

A professional brand offers clarity. And your clarity will be a huge asset.

I work 1:1 with technology leaders who need help better-defining their professional brand.
Want to see if we’re a fit? 
Use this link to schedule a 15-minute no-strings FREE intro call!



Copyright Katherine Turpin 2024. All Rights Reserved.