Lessons learned from Harper Lee’s mock LinkedIn profile

By Paul Lee Cannon

AUTHOR’S NOTE: If Harper Lee had a LinkedIn profile, what would it look like and how could it inspire your own? That was the premise of this piece I wrote last year after it was announced that Lee would be publishing a second novel, “Go Set A Watchman.” The beloved author passed away Feb. 19.

To Kill A Mockingbird” author Harper Lee recently announced she’ll be publishing a new book this summer, some 50 years after “Mockingbird” first landed on library shelves and bookworms’ nightstands around the world. To honor the occasion, I thought it would be fun to create a fictional Harper Lee LinkedIn profile, complete with tips on how job candidates can make their own profiles more attractive. From start to finish, here’s how I imagined the story unfolding.

What’s in a name?

She used her full name, Nelle Harper Lee, rather than her pen name, which works here because you can clearly recognize it’s still her. If you prefer to go by another name in the professional world, then by all means use it in your profile. But note that you could potentially run into a few snags when a new employer asks you to complete an I-9 form. In most instances, the name you list on the form needs to match what’s on a government-issued document such as a passport or state-issued driver license.

Professional title and statement

“Novelist. Won this award called the Pulitzer.”

She kept it short and sweet, but at the same time it’s memorable and speaks volumes. Use humor (and humble pie) sparingly. Bragging will certainly get you noticed — but most likely not in the way you’d like it to.


“I’m putting the finishing touches on my new “old” book, “Go Set a Watchman,” to be published in July 2015 by HarperCollins. Yes, it’s taken me half a century to decide to move forward on this, but better late than never, right? Besides, telling a good story on the written page demands an incredible amount of time. And not to toot my own horn, but think about it: “Mockingbird” is one seriously hard act to follow!”

You don’t have to be a globally acclaimed novelist, but treat your summary statement as an opportunity to tell a compelling short story that only you can write.


“Endorsed by Atticus Finch, Boo Radley, Scout, Jem, Truman Capote …”

While Ms. Lee’s roster of endorsements is full of characters, it’s advisable to call on former or current colleagues and collaborators who can testify to your exceptional character.

Who’s viewed her profile?

“Gregory Peck, and oh, about 30 million others.”

We’re all familiar with the excitement of knowing someone’s checked out our profile, particularly if they’re with a company we’ve been vying to work for. Which is all the more reason to always keep your profile current and full of substance.

Jobs she may be interested in

“Publishing a long-awaited sequel to ‘To Kill A Mockingbird.’ ”

Keep your profile up to date and rife with career highlights, goals and achievements, and you’ll notice more opportunities that match your skillset pop up on your radar. A more active approach would be to have a few companies in mind, find out what they’re looking for, and then tailor your profile accordingly using words and titles that would appear on, say, the company’s career website.

Companies she may want to follow

HarperCollins Publishers, Condé Nast, The University of Alabama School of Law, Oxford, Huntingdon College, Mockingbird Website Wireframes

The companies you follow offer a narrative of what you’re interested in, both professionally and beyond work hours. They also can reveal what has influenced where you’ve been, where you are currently, and where you want to be heading down the career path.

Closing statement

You don’t need a Pulitzer to pull off a great profile. But by following this simple advice, you can certainly shape your credentials into a compelling professional history that recruiters will want to read. So go ahead – be creative, be bold, and have fun with it!

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