Internet Image Consciousness for Job Hunters
Have you run yourself through a google search lately?
When I was growing up, my parents (wonderful people) did not instill in me a sense of image consciousness. I was raised to believe that character and intelligence were what counted, not how one looked. While this is an excellent ideal, it's not entirely true in the work-a-day world. Image does count and it now goes way beyond wearing appropriate clothing. Now I find I'm pressed to create and maintain an online image.
An online image is not about physical appearance, though that helps and I'm increasingly aware of the need for more professional photos of myself. This is about the image portrayed online regarding my expertise. It also means minimizing collateral noise. If a potential employer does a simple online investigation, like searching for "jen pearson teacher," I don't want a link to a photograph I took with "teacher" incidentally in the caption to draw attention away from the meatier fare I'd like them to see: my linkedin profile or my meta-resume site.
Of course, creating an online image means creating that meatier fare--online forum posts, online articles, tweeting regularly about news relevant to my field and including that same news on linkedin and facebook updates. It's called "branding," something I once thought was only for cattle and cereals.
I believe it was people in their 20s and 30s during the late 1970s to early 1980s who earned the moniker "the me generation" for being very into self-development. Another "me generation" seems to be emerging, this one bent on self-promotion. The goal is to express our know-how publicly online, to appear in-the-know (if not cutting edge), to not just be people who do our jobs well but who want to contribute to our field, who are passionate (in the business sense of driven). In other words, we need to create a lot of online media hype around ourselves. We're becoming less of an industrial or technological society and more of a marketing society. Ignore that trend at your peril.
As laid back person who normally doesn't seek a lot of attention, embracing ME online has been challenging. Some of it, like creating a website that goes so far beyond what a resume can do, has been intriguing. But much of it has been both confusing and tedious, especially since I'm older and not terribly techy or inclined to chase after the newest developments. The good news is that if I can do it just about anyone can.
Linkedin: The 500 pound gorilla
Simply put: Go create a linkedin.com profile now. Google takes the site so seriously that your Llinkedin profile will soon be showing up at the top of any Google search for your name. Potential employers may do that search, and as a job seeker, I have also run the names of potential supervisors through searches on Google and on Linkedin specifically. You need to be on Linkedin and you need to develop your profile. Set up some time weekly to tinker with it.
But the great thing about Linkedin is not looking at people's profiles or the likelihood of someone "discovering" you through your profile. Groups are the greatest thing on Linkedin. In them, you can meet people within your own profession, learn about job hunting strategies, learn about companies, and explore potential careers. It's in groups that you make your mark and people may begin to notice you. So even before you finish perfecting your profile, join groups related to whatever field you want to advance in. Start and participate in discussions.
Set up a free website
I decided to create a free website through weebly.com. I'm happy to say I found it easy and it truly is free. A website is much more flexible than a resume and can be more comprehensive without overwhelming the viewer. Since I haven't had a monolithic career in a single niche, being able to put my different areas of experience (education, publications, etc) on different tabbed pages has been very helpful. I love being able to add photos. I can provide links on those pages to other things I do online, such as my account here on hubpages. I can also put a link to the website on my resume and other places on the web. It can easily be added to an email signature or a business card. There are also numerous areas on a linkedin profile to add a link to one's website. Give creating a website a try and see if it doesn't help you rethink and present your work life in useful ways.
Links to sites mentioned in this article
- Jennifer Pearson
Provided as an example of an online resume site.
- Weebly - Create a free website and a free blog
Named one of TIME's 50 Best Websites, Weebly has an easy, drag & drop interface to create your own website. It's free, powerful, and professional.
- World's Largest Professional Network | LinkedIn
200 million+ members | Manage your professional identity. Build and engage with your professional network. Access knowledge, insights and opportunities.