For those of you who are looking to differentiate yourself in the job market, keep reading! Today’s blog post will feature great advice from LJ Marinello, Sr. Director of Global Partner Solutions at Microsoft, on how to build an effective walking deck.
How LJ pivoted from pre-med to tech
Unconventionally, LJ started in college as a pre-med major where she was required to take an introductory class to computer science. Her technical major led her to take the next advanced course in computer science, where she helped other students and was asked by her professor if she’d ever consider switching majors. Although she did not want to switch in the beginning, she eventually tried it out—and recently celebrated 21 years at Microsoft!
What is a career walking deck?
LJ defines a career walking deck as a short story about YOU and your brand. Essentially, it is meant to fill in the gaps that a traditional resume and LinkedIn profile don’t show. Your career walking deck is an opportunity to share personal qualities and examples about who you are as a whole person, not just your professional self.
The goal of a career walking deck is to build a connection with the hiring manager, whether it is through an affiliation (e.g. alma mater) or common interest. This is especially critical in our current remote work environment!
Why is it important?
Although hiring managers can’t hold it against you for not preparing these walking decks, it could become a key differentiator if you were tied with another candidate. Apart from your resume and cover letter, your walking deck is also a way to demonstrate your written communication and digital creativity skills, which aren’t as easy for hiring managers to gauge.
When prepared properly, a career walking deck demonstrates a keen attitude and attention to detail. It also tells a hiring manager that you’re interested in the role and willing to put in the time to do something a little extra. On the other hand, sloppiness shows a lack of professionalism and could make them question your written communication skills.
Good vs. Great Career Walking Decks
A good walking deck will share some personal stories about you, talk about your brand, and highlight your values and qualities that a hiring manager should know. It should just be a few slides and should never replace your resume or LinkedIn profile.
A great walking deck takes this one step further by connecting the dots. It needs to tell a story about who you are personally and professionally. For example, if you want to emphasize that you are an “organized and reliable team player”, you should include feedback and photos that relate to teamwork and prepare a very structured walking deck.
Yes, the little details matter when it comes to building your brand. For example, if you want to present yourself as a calm and collected leader, then possible use colours in your walking deck that send a message of calmness. If you want to demonstrate yourself as someone who is bold and risk-taking, then try using contrast and vivid colours. Colours are a way for you to send a message without using any words.
Do’s vs. Don’ts for Career Walking Decks
Don’t make it a novel. It should be a bite-sized story (5-6 slides) about who you are as a person and what your brand means.
Avoid heavy text. Make your slide layouts balanced and visually appealing with photos, images, and quotes.
Don’t be sloppy. Remember to double check formatting, consistency, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
It’s never too early or too late
Wherever you are along your career path, you should prepare a career walking deck. Fun Fact: LJ’s high school aged daughters have started creating their walking decks to map out their academic experiences and extracurricular projects for potential college admissions counselors.
- Start with internal reflection about what kind of story you want to tell
- Figure out the balance between your personal and professional life and what details you’re comfortable with sharing
- Get feedback from your peers and mentors to improve it overtime
Thank you to LJ for taking the time to share her tips and perspective from a hiring manager. I hope this inspires you all to get started with building out your own career walking decks!
More job hunting resources
- How to build a career walking deck that impresses hiring managers
- What’s a career walking deck and why you need it
- My career walking deck example
- Career walking deck templates (ready to use)
- The Perfect Career Profile
- 10 LinkedIn Tips for Networking
- 5 LinkedIn Mistakes
- Resume Rescue
KKARENISM | Growing 1% everyday through finding inspiration to share with the world. It all started in 2017 with the goal of sharing career learnings, experiences, and advice to help others. To date, Resume Rescue has helped 160+ professionals land jobs at companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Salesforce, and Shopify. Today, thousands of readers from 78+ countries leverage the resources and study guides for their personal and professional development. Please check out KKARENISM on LinkedIn for #hiring posts shared directly by managers and recruiters. You can also subscribe to my newsletter for a monthly recap of new content.