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Interview with Stéphanie Horemans, Trainer, Coach, & HR Consultant and College of Europe host parent

by Laura Mora (EU International Relations and Diplomacy)

“LinkedIn will probably be the first impression that an employer may have of us”


  • 25 five years of experience in Talent Acquisition & HR Management in multinationals located the Benelux & the United Kingdom.

  • Favourite quote: “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.” (Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon)

Some months ago, Stéphanie followed her heart and moved from Wallonia to Bruges… She quit her employer without a plan in mind. Wandering about side paths was full of surprises and learnings, they even got her further than her initial destination. Today she guides individuals when facing life decisions or career choices. She develops the leadership skills of Managers and their teams. Finally, she advises SME businesses (located in the West & East Flanders) in their HR, learning & talent management. As a Career coach, she organizes a series of workshops in order to help people find the job of their dreams. She and her partner are also involved in the Host Family project at the College and they are the host parents of our lovely director Marta Úbeda and me. What started off as an informal feedback session on our LinkedIn profiles ended up turning into an interview for La Voix: we quickly realised that her expertise could help our readers as much as it had helped us.


1. In your opinion, is it necessary to have a LinkedIn profile?

Definitely YES. Nowadays, most of the companies do no longer publish vacancies on the traditional job posting platforms: instead they tend to announce them on their own website, they use LinkedIn or they recruit via networking. The use of Recruitment & Selection agencies has dropped when LinkedIn was born. 75% of jobs are filled in through networking - which refers to the ‘hidden market’. LinkedIn is, in one way, a professional networking tool. So, if you want to maximize the chances of finding a job, then definitely yes you need to be on LinkedIn.

2. As an expert in recruitment and HR, what is the first thing you check and expect to see on a LinkedIn profile?

Packaging is key when you search for a job. Of course, the content is relevant, but generally speaking, if your profile does not look professional, it gives off a bad first impression and you may not be invited for an interview. You want a job? So work on your packaging! We all know how important first impressions are. We only get one chance to give off a good first impression. We all need to develop and maintain our personal branding and LinkedIn will probably be the first impression that an employer will have of us

3. In your opinion, what are the five most common mistakes that people make on their profiles?

First, I would say that misspelt words and incorrect grammar are the most common mistakes that I see on LinkedIn profiles, posts or articles.

A second common mistake is neglecting to follow any groups or communities. At the end of the day, who and what you follow say a lot about you and it can make a difference in the eyes of a potential employer.

Thirdly, LinkedIn was not created to compete over who has the highest number of contacts. Do not collect them and accept invites with caution

The fourth common mistake is the lack of a summary. It is vital as it says who you are, what expertise you can offer and what you are looking for.

Finally, one should refrain any religious or political statements shared online.

Of course, there are many more but if I have to choose five of the most common mistakes, that would be my selection.

4. On the importance of the summary, what exactly is it and what needs to be included?

The summary, next to the headline, is the most important section of the LinkedIn profile. You can edit this section just underneath your name, your headline, your current job and location. The summary is an attractive description of yourself. It should include who you are as a person (key talents), what you can offer as a professional (your expertise) and what are you looking for (in terms of future job or company).

5. Here’s an easy one: a smiling photo or not?

Always smiling, but with a neutral background, not one with flowers or a picture from your beach holiday. The profile photo should be welcoming, as if you were seeing the recruiter personally, face to face. For instance, the usual formal “ID” type of photo should be fine but, please do smile!

6. Would you recommend using key words?

Of course. Recruiters do use key words when searching candidates with a certain expertise in the database. If you want to work in a specific area or deal with specific tasks, make sure you have these key words mentioned in your profile, c.q. in your summary, but also in the endorsements part. Otherwise your profile will not show up to the recruiter.

7. Are recommendations or endorsements useful? Why?

They are as they prove your previous knowledge and therefore validate your current level of expertise. However, my advice would be not to overdo it or overuse it. In my opinion, a balanced profile may include two or three recommendations. Moreover, it is important that they are done by people who personally know you and have worked with or have observed you in a professional environment. Endorsements are also important, and you should ask for them if they might help you find that job that you are looking for.

Bear in mind, too, that you can manage both your own recommendations and your endorsements. In case they do not fit in with your current interests or they are outdated, please remove them. Above all, they should help you find the job you want and therefore be consistent and aligned with the kind of job you are looking for.

8. Would you include knowledge of a language in your profile even if you do not have official proof of it?

Yes, why not? For example, you could be dating, living or married to someone who speaks another language than your own and practising that language daily, but you might not have an official document that states your level.

9. We tend to click on companies and groups without much thought. Could that be counterproductive?

In some way, it could. You can follow any company you want, but my advice would be that it should be linked to your interests. Again, it is not about collecting names or companies and therefore do not overdo it. Coherence is important, as is consistency with your profile and the area you are working or interested in. Of course, there are leaders who define trends – such as Richard Branson, Obama, Ian Bremmer… – and companies and institutions like Microsoft or Harvard that one needs to follow. And that is Okay, they can inspire you

10. What would you recommend to those readers who are preparing for recruitment processes as we speak?

Nowadays, the Recruiter, the HR Manager or the Line Manager who selects the candidates to be invited for an interview will have googled you first!

Therefore, I would encourage you to Google your name and see what is popping up. Delete anything that could be awkward or jeopardize your job search I would say the same for any of your other social media profiles.

Moreover, get prepared for interviews. As they say, if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. In addition, work on your summary profile and on your selling points. It is crucial to master your “elevator pitch” for networking and for interviews. All in all, prepare for what is coming in the best possible way.

#issue4 #jobsandcareers #manuelmarínpromotion #collegeofeurope #espritducollege #interview

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