A webinar participant asked a great question on a call this week – he wanted to know if and how to include the work he did in the evenings and weekends, which was in a totally different field from his ‘day’ job, on his LinkedIn profile. Here are some options for including unrelated experience in your LinkedIn profile.

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Before I could answer fully, I needed to know if:

  1. he was going to continue ‘moonlighting’ and wanted to find more work in this field
  2. he was looking to segue his career so this became his new, full time, day job or
  3. if this was just a hobby he wanted to share

The answer to this question drives the approach I would recommend.

1. If he was looking to establish the fact that he regularly ‘moonlights’ in the secondary field and that he would like to get more of that type of work, I would recommend that he state this in the summary section of his profile. I need to caution that if your day job involves working for someone else, be sure that this info is NOT a surprise should they happen upon it (or when it is delivered as as a notification if you are linked!) and that there are no rules against this. If you are self employed and just have multiple, unrelated interests, there should be no issue but you may wish to explain, in the Summary, how they tie together so people reading your profile are not confused. The goal of the profile is to INTRODUCE you, to explain what you do, how you are different and why the reader should link to/ reach out to/ hire YOU. If you leave them confused, they will just move on to the next profile in the search results!

Say your day job is nursing and you make hand dyed scarves in the evenings, selling them at craft shows and directly via your website. While not aligned, these are not necessarily exclusionary and you could mention both in your summary (I am a nurse by day but relieve my tension and stress by handcrafting beautiful scarves in my free time, selling them at…). In this case, I would list the nursing position, with dates AND list your craft company’s name and web address, also with dates, in the Experience section of your profile. Both can be current but the more recent one, date wise, will appear at the top.

You could (should!) elaborate on your technical nursing skills in the skills and certification sections and could include a portfolio link in the scarf company listing to show off your beautiful scarves. Be sure to include a call to action and a link for them to purchase the scarves if that is your goal!

2. If he was looking to segue from his existing job in his established field, into a new and unrelated field, I also recommend detailing this in the Summary section of the profile. There, he could explain that after a number of years as a real estate professional, he is starting a new venture in the tech field. He could establish his tech experience by including links to websites he has built, projects that he has contributed to or awards he has won while ‘moonlighting’. He could also include testimonials from clients once he has listed this business in the Experience section.

In this scenario, he should also include both positions in the Experience section and if possible, include Skills (especially if they build on one another) used in each area. Here, it is less important to include certifications and recognition in the existing field (since he is leaving it) but it is useful to include any classes or continuing ed courses taken (added to the Courses section), Awards and honors (like a Maker Faire award) and/or Patents, to show both initiative and competence in the new field.

Including a portfolio or links to a website and projects is a great way to establish expertise and add visual interest, in your profile.

3. If the ‘moonlighting’ is just a hobby that you would like people to know about, you may want to include it in the Summary section OR you could just list it as an organization, volunteer position or cause you are interested in. For example, if you moonlight, raising seeing eye dogs, this is both a cause you support, as well as possibly a volunteer effort. You could explain why you do this in the summary (when our child lost his site, we learned the immense value of having a seeing eye dog…) and also include this in the Volunteer and Cause Sections. In this case I would NOT recommend including it in the Experience section. If you brew craft beers, this too does not warrant a mention in the Experience section but could fall under Personal Details.

If you organize the Special Olympics or run Habitat for Humanity projects, and these take up a significant part of your work life, you may want to include them as Experience items, indicating start and end dates to show that they overlap with your ‘day’ job Experience and be sure to link to these in the Organizations section so their logo is displayed for all to see.

And for all of you out there who DO that type of extensive volunteer work, thank you!