What if Catherine the Great had a LinkedIn

LinkedIn profile writing tips
Original painting of Catherine: Portrait of Empress Catherine the Great by Fyodor Rokotov, 1763 via Daily Art Magazine

What if Catherine the Great had a LinkedIn? How would she represent her array of accomplishments like empress, politician, education advocate and writer in a way that would be both credible and approachable? 

What is LinkedIn & Does it Matter?   

Each section of a LinkedIn profile provides an opportunity to tell part of your story. LinkedIn allows users to connect with previous and current coworkers, companies and leaders in every imaginable job field. 

If you don’t already have a profile and you’re asking yourself whether or not you should bother investing in another social media platform, the answer is YES. It’s one of the first places employers look to post jobs, search for potential new employees and screen candidates. 

When thinking about your personal brand and the 7 Ps of marketing, LinkedIn is a must in helping share your story (positioning) and ensuring your professional information is accessible (placement).

The Leading Lady
Before diving into the how-to of Catherine’s hypothetical LinkedIn, let’s meet this leading lady. Catherine ruled the Russian empire from 1762-1796. She remains the longest reigning female in Russian history. Her time as Empress made such an impact that it is often called the Catherinian era and is considered the Golden Age for the nation. Even actress Helen Mirren points out that Catherine “rewrote the rules of governance by a woman, and succeeded to the extent of having the word ‘Great’ attached to her name.” 
Catherine the Great style collage
Catherine continues to inspire with Helen Mirren portraying the leader on HBO and Elle Fanning on Hulu. Painting of young Catherine via History.com

What’s amazing about Catherine is that she wasn’t born into riches and wasn’t even born in Russia. Though born a Prussian princess, Catherine was penniless and given away in an arranged marriage. But circumstances, including having a drunk and idiotic husband, did not dampen Catherine’s ambition. 

Once in power, she led Russia into the European cultural and political scene, expanded the territory, created new cities, spearheaded vaccinations, started a girls school, championed the arts and even wrote artistic works of her own. 

However, Catherine was not without her weaknesses and critics. When married to Peter III, she was unable to provide an heir for nine years. This put her at risk for time in jail, a nunnery, or even exile. Later, a cloud of suspicion hung over her ascension to the throne since Peter’s death followed her strategic coup and his absence allowed her to reign without rival. 

Her collection of lovers may seem like an early illustration of feministic freedom, but the revolving door of boy toys incensed many whispered judgments about the scandalous nature of her relationships. Additionally, she had an ongoing list of great ideas, but some said she did not succeed in truly implementing enough positive changes or systems, including a true education system. 

When creating her LinkedIn, Catherine would obviously leave out any of the criticisms or unflattering portrayals of her character. The goal would be to underscore her strengths and the great things she did accomplish. 

LinkedIn profile writing tips
Original painting of Catherine with her husband Peter III via History.com 

So now that we understand who Catherine was, we can imagine her reclining on a chaise lounge in the Winter Palace with her iPhone, considering how to craft her LinkedIn profile. The brisk Russian weather is offset by a blazing fire nearby, while Vasily Pashkevich’s “Fevey” is playing softly in the background. Letters are on her desk awaiting her review from Grigory Potemkin on the military front, as well as her friend Voltaire. But those can wait, because nothing stands between Catherine and taking action to help her career. 

Using Catherine the Great to Inspire Your  LinkedIn Profile 
With Catherine’s LinkedIn profile as our guide, let's begin to break down each section to see the possibilities in crafting your own profile. 

LinkedIn profile writing tips
Original painting of Catherine: Catherine II of Russia in Front of the Mirror by Vigilius Eriksen, 1762-64 via Daily Art Magazine

Never afraid to turn heads and quick to use art and imagery for political gain, Catherine would choose the most flattering portrait for her profile picture, as well as an eye catching image for her banner. These are often the first things viewers see before reading anything on a profile. When selecting images, factors to consider include professionalism, your clothing choice, facial expression, color scheme, image themes and their connection to your career field, personality, skill set, etc. 

Creating a profile without a profile image is not an option for those that want to catch the attention of recruiters, collaborators, etc. Research has shown that profiles with at least a profile image of the person are more likely to get viewed by others.

 The headline can be your current job title or you can add more details to describe your skill offering. The heading can reflect your current position or if you’re looking to transition into a new field, this can be a space to begin branding yourself in a new way. 

Had Catherine made her LinkedIn while serving as the Empress Consort, she could have avoided the consort bit and written a headline like: 

“Visionary leader solving problems to better Russia’s future.”

Once on the throne as Empress, she could have edited her headline to a skill listing of: 

 “Empress | Problem Solver | Visionary | Girlboss” 

The About section can be short and to the point in providing an overview of what you offer professionally. Or it can be a place to expand beyond what is typically seen in a resume. This is the perfect place to let your story shine and ensure any gaps in employment or things on your resume that could raise questions get clarified.

 Given Catherine’s love of writing, hers would likely be more expansive than the short sentence or bullet point approach. To remain approachable to her vast network of courtiers and politicians who would be scrolling through her profile, Catherine would likely write this section in the 1st person. Though some people choose to write their profiles in the 3rd person, this can create undesired distance between you and the readers (i.e. the recruiters and hiring managers).

Check out the sample About section for Catherine below to start thinking of your own story:  

I am the Empress of Russia. I am a woman of action and refuse to take “no” for an answer. I see potential where others may only see the status quo. Since coming to Russia, I have embraced the heritage of this nation and invested myself into seeing it flourish. As obstacles have appeared, including rivalries, opposition and death threats, I have harnessed the power of collaboration to suppress the negativity and stay focused on what’s next for Russia. My key areas of focus have included military strength, border expansion, shaping the political landscape, advocating for education and supporting the arts. 

Multiple approaches on how to structure the job experience section can be found on LinkedIn. Some simply list the job and company with corresponding dates. Those that want to give more detail but still keep it simple, list bullet points or key accomplishments. For those that want to express the experience in a conversational manner or explain confusing points on the resume, they may choose to write in short paragraph form. 

Catherine would be wise enough to angle any negative experiences as positives. As an Empress Consort she might say “Created a network of support among the military to prepare for any future instability in the government.” But this would be a nice way of saying she built her alliances to overthrow her husband in a coup and take the throne for herself. You can't fault her for being prepared.   

Here's a summary of Catherine's experience using a combination of the key accomplishment and short paragraph formats. 
Prussion Princess: 1729-1745
Key Accomplishments: 
-Used tutoring from my French governess to prepare myself for a new life in the Russian royal family. 

Russian Bride and Grand Duchess: 1745-1762
Key Accomplishments: 
-Pursued further education through voracious reading and cultivation of relationships within the Russian court. 
-Embraced the new culture and became fluent in Russian. 
-Began ongoing collaborative relationships with political and military leaders. 

Empress Consort to Czar Peter III: January 1762-July 1762
Key Accomplishments: 
-Created a network of support among the military to prepare for any future instability in the government. 

Empress of Russia: 1762-1796 
Key Accomplishments: 
-Longest ruling female to lead the nation of Russia. 
-Cultivated arts and culture to enable the nation to enter the global scene. 
-Supported Russia’s development into an artistic and cultural hub through the cultivation of art, architecture and city planning. 
-Focused on growing the nation through border expansion and military accomplishments. 

As a lover of arts and culture, I saw Russia’s potential to enter the world stage and ensured we became a part of the global landscape. I supported Russia’s development into an artistic and cultural hub through a cultivation of art, architecture and city planning. I knew that Russia could be bigger and better than what I inherited in 1762, so I made a point of expanding the borders through military accomplishments. I built an empire through leadership, networking and determination. 

List any schools you attended and the degrees you obtained. This can also include online courses and modules you take to further your understanding and skill set.  

For Catherine, she taught herself a lot through reading and relationship building in the Russian court, but that’s a bit hard to convey on a LinkedIn education listing. But her self-directed education would speak for itself in other areas of her profile and experience. 

If you’re out there doing good in the world, you can list it here. This helps others know more of what you do outside of the confines of your 9 to 5 job

Your top 3 skills will show in this section. People in your network can endorse you for skills that are prompted by keywords on your profile, or you can edit the skills that are listed to better support the brand you want to communicate. 

Catherine was an expert at networking before her reign, as well as during her time as Empress. Without networking, she wouldn’t have been able to obtain the support needed to take and keep the throne. Other key skills for Catherine included collaborating with her courtiers, building relationships with military leaders and connecting with peers in other countries for initiatives like alliances, military actions and city planning. And of course one of her top skills would be leadership--why wouldn’t it be for someone with “Great” added to her name?

Given her strengths and experience, she could summarize them into single word skills for endorsement to include leadership, networking, collaboration, communication and strategy.  

Once you create a profile, the system will generate a unique URL to go directly to your profile. Be sure this web link is as simple as possible. They often generate with numbers after your name if you have a similar name as other users. You can edit this so it can be easy for others to type and remember. 

Within the interests section, any organization you follow will be listed for others to see. You can follow companies of interest like The Economist and Vogue to get their posts in your feed, as well as to further communicate what topics you find relevant. 

Causes allow you to list topics that are important to you and your work like Education and Arts & Culture. Again, by listing these, you are further building a picture of who you are, while also potentially helping you connect with others that share similar interests. 

LinkedIn profile writing tips
Original painting of Catherine the Great (Getty Images) via History.com 

LinkedIn is a social media must for anyone seeking to further their career. Just as Catherine would have used the platform in her own time to communicate her brand and build her professional network, you should too. 

Consider each section of your profile carefully, and don't be afraid to edit as your experiences and perspectives change. Getting started on your online professional presence or refining your current profile puts you one step closer to taking charge of your career journey.  

Sources and Further Reading: 
1. Music fit for an Empress: Catherine the Great's Playlist by Rachel Orzech  
4. History Channel articles here and here