Your Employment Search Persona

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Have you given much thought to what image you are portraying as you search for your next job? Presumably you have seriously considered what the correct job title(s)/sector(s) to target are, and have created resume(s) that best highlight your relevant work experience/education/skills. However, there are other informal aspects of your search which play an increasingly important role in forming your persona.

Certainly choosing your career direction is the most critical part of this task, and developing associated well-matched resumes is an essential step towards achieving the goal. What I will discuss here are other things that also impact your image.

With this candidate identity, what the job seeker should try to achieve is the ideal combination of consistency and appropriateness in the following areas:

  • Online Network Presence – LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter – these are all popular internet-based networking sites. More and more employers (estimates of 50+ % already) investigate job candidates online, impacting their decision of who to invite for an interview and ultimately hire. As a job seeker, you have the ability to influence the impression you make. There are even new-age terms thrown around when discussing this subject. Here are two in the same sentence: Become a virtual detective and check for the digital dirt. Pretend that you are a perspective employer searching for information about yourself online; do a Google search on your own name and see what appears. You may be surprised! For all of the networking sites that you are using are have used previously, check them carefully to ensure they are consistent with the resume you are distributing. This includes job and education details. At the same time, be sure that there are no inappropriate messages/pictures on your sites. Keep in mind that anything you write online may well be publicly available to anyone that decides to search. A recent study reported that 35% of employers found content on social networking sites to cause them NOT to hire. Main reasons included:
    • Bad-mouthing previous employer/boss
    • Sharing confidential information
    • Lying about qualifications
    • Making discriminatory comments
    • Provocative/inappropriate pictures
    • Content about drinking/drugs
  • Create a Blog – A blog is an excellent way to strengthen your online persona, highlighting your writing skills and your (professional) content expertise.
  • Email Address – Now we come to the most trivial element, yet one that job candidates sometimes overlook. The goal with an email address is to make it easy for the employer to respond to you, while at the same time not causing any red flags for inappropriateness to arise. When all is said and done, even this first point is questionable, as in the huge majority of cases if a company is interested in you, they not send an email but rather call. Nonetheless, there are cases when a company does respond by email to ask for more details or even to schedule an interview. So, let’s take a look:
    • The simplest course of action is to choose a conservative and easy to remember email address, such as [email protected]. Of course, there are a number of variations using free email accounts (gmail, yahoo, hotmail…) and your name.
    • When a company is writing to you, usually it will be by replying to a message that you sent. Or someone may copy and paste your email address from your CV. However, there are times when the person sending you the message actually types your email address manually. For this reason, it is preferable not to use a capital letter O or the number 0 (zero) in your address, as these can be difficult to distinguish. Also, the underscore character can be problematic, as it is not visible if the text is underlined.
    • The main reason to double-check your email address though, is to consider whether it is appropriate. I have received emails from addresses such as:
    • Are such email addresses really suitable to your professional objectives, supporting your effort to build a strong image? It depends… If you are seeking a job at respectively, a zoo, Hamas, a pornographic movie or the White House, then maybe yes. However, as a general-purpose email address for a job seeker, such identities can be a liability. Politics, religion, and flippant images are not helpful in the recruitment process.
    • For those of you that decide that you need to create a new email address while searching for work, this process is free and quick. And most internet email services give you the ability to automatically forward emails from one address to another, so you can oftentimes continue to monitor one email account even when you use multiple accounts.

    In the year 2010, your online persona is your virtual shadow, accompanying you along the path to your career success. Take the time and effort to make sure that this image is the one you want to portray.

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