OK, so you've submitted a polished, professional resume and a carefully crafted cover letter for your dream job. BUT, did you put the same amount of effort into creating, updating, and managing your virtual persona?
Today's job seekers must assume that they will be pre-screened online. A scenario may unfold as follows... as resumes pour in for the dream job you recently applied for, the hiring official sorts the resumes into three groups: the Yes's, the No's, and the Maybe's. Great, your Print effort paid off and you made it into the Yes group! But, so did six other top candidates. The hiring official now becomes “virtual detective” and goes to the internet to valid their Yes selections, prior to scheduling interviews. Unfortunately, you may be removed from the Yes group if you didn't represent yourself well online.
Here are some suggestions on how to showcase your virtual persona and make the cut.
Make sure you have an online presence. None, or too little online presence can hurt you. At a minimum create a profile on a professional networking site such as LinkedIn (other professional networking sites).
- Using a major search engine... find yourself online. Is it easy or hard? Your potential future employer will not want to spend more than a few minutes tracking you down. Ideally, you want to show up on the first few pages of the search results. If you have a common name, this can be challenging. Read on for ways to help them find you.
- Think how an employer might try to search for you. Likely, they will use your name, geographical location, and your current/past employer names as keywords when searching. Other keywords they may use include your job titles, projects, and awards/honors received. You should shape and edit your online content to include keywords from your resume.
- Beat' em to the punch! One way to make sure the employer finds the right you, is to do the detective work for them. You could include URLs throughout your resume, pointing to past relevant online work examples. Consider this approach if the online content adds value to, or embellishes a particular job or skill noted in your resume. Another approach is to include a bibliography of your online work (with URLs) at the end of your resume, or on a separate page. Examples include: recommendations from peers and former colleagues on LinkedIn, a website re-design that you spearheaded, or an article you authored that spotlights your expertise.
- Verify that your online job begin and end dates, job titles, and former employers match exactly what's on your resume. Keep the red flags down.
- If you actively use social networking websites, it's important to manage your information that’s publicly available. If you decide to use social networking sites for professional networking, look carefully at your content from an employer's perspective. Anything offensive? Any joking that may be misunderstood? Too many cryptic instant message abbreviations (OMG)? Too much information about your personal life? Typos? Keep it professional!
Promote yourself! Start a blog related to your chosen profession or field of interest. Participate in professional online forums, message boards, and newsgroups. Doing so, will build your reputation, credibility, and increase your search engine visibility.
Create a professional portfolio. Showcase your life's work online in one central place. A good example of this is Interfolio's Portfolio product. Highly customized pages allow you to include documents, videos, pictures, links and text to help you present your online identity in the best possible light, all in one place.
Control your tweets! Don't post the blow by blow details of your job search on Twitter or other micro-blogging sites. The last thing a prospective employer needs to read is how your other interviews went, how desperate you may be feeling in your job search, or that their position is not your first choice, but you'd take the job anyway because you really need the money.
Review the search results for your name periodically to monitor your online “reputation”. There are a number of reputation management tools. One such tool is Google Alerts, a free and simple service that automatically sends you an email or RSS alert when there are new Google results for your search terms (e.g., your name, your works, employer, etc.). This is also a good way to make sure the major search engines are indexing your latest works. If you are relying on organic searches to be found by employers, you may need to work on search engine optimization and/or link building to increase your online visibility.
Remember, what you post online today may be around for many years, even if the original source content is deleted. In particular, blogger content can have a long shelf life - thanks to article syndication, RSS feeds, and Creative Commons licensing (increases sharing and improves collaboration). So post thoughtfully today, and increase your odds of getting that next dream job!
About the Author:
David Driggers is an association professional with over 14 years of experience. He is the founder of the job search and career site ProAssociationCareers.org, at http://www.proassociationcareers.org. The mission of ProAssociationCareers.org is to provide a simple, yet comprehensive gateway to rewarding career opportunities at associations, societies, and other nonprofits.