When you are searching for a job, remember that your privacy is still a concern. Instead of blasting your information on every site out there, be particular about which sites you choose to use and go with job search resources recommended by experts. In addition, there are a few basic online rules to remember:
- Don’t give all your personal contact information: Use a dedicated email for contacts and protect yourself (and your family). This has the additional benefit of making you look intelligent about security risk.
- Understand and use cyber-safe resumes. Utilize the levels of visibility that site allows and understand the differences between “searchable by employers only,” “private,” “semi-private,” and “open.” Again, you have to read that site’s definitions in order to use it correctly.
- Keep track of when and where you posted your resume. Keep a spreadsheet, or use a career management tool like JibberJobber to keep track of your online job search.
- Your Social Security Number, bank account number, and mother’s maiden name do not belong with your resume. Period. That’s like giving a hacker the easiest target in the world for identity theft. That information can be given at the job site after you are hired.
As one security expert said, the safest place for information is on a piece of paper in your pocket. But you can’t find a job when your resume is hiding so you have to take steps to balance the real need for security with the equally real need for exposure. Demonstrating your understanding of cyber security standards during your job search is an asset to potential employers.
This is going to sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people make this mistake when they walk into an interview for a job: they never bothered to research the company.
When you get the dreaded question, “why are you applying for this position?”, do you know enough about the company to answer confidently? Imagine the impression that interviewer will have of you when you say, “I am interested in this position because of the company’s mission statement” or “I enjoy the field of _________ and this position offers many opportunities in that area”.
It is important to know at least the basics about the company, its structure, and its stated mission/goals/purpose. The person who is interviewing you is attempting to discern if you will fit into their company culture and become a viable team member. They want to know that you care enough about the job. By demonstrating you’ve taken the time to learn about the position gives the interviewer an idea of what kind of employee you’ll be.
When you are acquainted with the company you are ready for the interview. If you are asked “Do you have any questions?,” you can intelligently respond with queries that show you did your homework. You are aware of the size of the workforce and the structure of the management team. You know the stated goals of the organization.
Researching the company before the interview is worth every minute you invest because it prepares you for anything you may be asked.
How often are you told you need a LinkedIn Profile that is keyword rich, then you read an article on LinkedIn that tells you, “Stop Using These 16 Terms To Describe Yourself“? The main thrust of the article is that the keywords generally are cliches and should be left out of your branding vocabulary. However, keywords are very necessary in terms of being found on LinkedIn. Whenever I read an article like that, I try to take the time to read all the comments because there will generally be a debate! This particular article, though, has over 3,000 comments so that is probably not going to happen this time.
One common reality that many readers mention in this debate is the fact they won’t even make it to the interview without the keywords/cliches in the resume so the search engine brings it up to the person who decides on the viability of the candidate.
Words are tools. Tools can be poorly made and fall apart the first time used, or finely crafted and used by generations to build things. The goal isn’t the tool, although tools can be very beautiful. The goal of a tool is its usefulness in helping the user achieve their goal, what ever it is. But even the best tool cannot do anything without the user’s skill.
When you look at our LinkedIn Profile Development service you see how an expert views this debate: you need both the keywords/cliches and the humanizing factor. The keywords often are cliches, but an experienced wordsmith knows how to use them to get past the computers to the people. If all you have is cliched keywords, the resume stops here. It’s that human factor, the individuality brought out by a skillful resume/profile writer, that connects with the person reading about you.
There are too many profiles out there for a person to read all of them. That’s what search engines are for! And search engines are computers looking for keywords. The words are tools we use to get you to the person’s notice and to bring your “brand” to the front, where all that makes you unique can shine. That’s the “humanizing” factor and the other leg your online branding stands on.
Use the words that make up your online brand/presence wisely. Remember that you need both the keyword/cliche AND the individual spark that makes you recognizable.
One of the red flags an interviewer looks for is inconsistency in your information. If you have updated your professional resume, take the time to look at your cover letter and online information carefully to make sure they all match. I’m not saying to keep a falsehood consistent because lying is never a good idea, but I am saying that if you are not updating everything when you refresh one thing it eventually will look like you lied because the records are inconsistent.
This is an easy trap to fall into because there are so many places your professional information can be found. If you have recently taken a seminar on a specialty in your field, you may remember to put it on your resume but forget about your LinkedIn profile. Do that three times and your online brand is lacking three important pieces of information about you. Do that ten times, and an interviewer will wonder what’s going on.
This is also an easy trap to avoid! All you need to do is understand that updating your professional resume involves more than the pages you print out to mail with a cover letter or attach to an email. When you look at the professional resume packages offered, you’ll see that reflected. If you aren’t going to invest in a service like that, then it is a good idea to post a reminder to yourself in your resume folder that change to one means changing it all.
You are a package deal; a composite of experience and training and perspective that will benefit an employer. Your professional resume ‘package’ is a composite of your online brand, resume, and any other information a potential employee can dig up. Keep your information consistent across that package and there won’t be any red flags to find.
When your job search has been spinning its figurative wheels and all your efforts are ineffective, you have hit the plateau. The “plateau effect” is named after the geologic formation called a plateau: a level stretch of land that extends for many miles. You see the plateau effect in exercising, in medicine, and in a lot of other areas — the thing that worked previously is no longer working and something new has to happen in order to see change.
Make a list of what you have been doing in your job search. This is your assessment tool, so be thorough and honest with yourself. If you have only been looking at the newspaper or online job boards, say so. You want to have a visible list of what your plateau looks like. In physical therapy, the therapist will get very specific about how many steps the patient took, for instance, or exact range of motion in the shoulder they are rehabilitating. That specific list allows them to see where there has or has not been change so they know what to work on. For your job search list, keep track of how many jobs you actually applied for and when you worked on your resume, etc.
Set goals a little outside your comfort zone. That physical therapist will push the patient past what feels good but not as far as injury. This is how the body gets off the plateau safely and the shoulder gains the next degree of motion. Are you on LinkedIn? Maybe now is the time to consider that. The plateau happens because we get comfortable and stabilize. That isn’t always a bad thing, but in your job search it is! If you are ready to get off that plateau, it is going to involve some discomfort as you do unfamiliar things and explore new territory in job search resources.
The results of getting off that job search plateau are new skills, deeper understanding, and more job opportunities.
It is increasingly common for stories like this one about a bus driver fired over Facebook postings to show up on newsfeeds. Whether or not you agree with the practice, the reality is that your social media usage has a very public side.
When you think about it, the Internet is like a public park in a big city. When you walk through that park, you see all sorts of people doing all sorts of things. Some of those people might be doing things that make you scratch your head and ask, “What are they thinking?” They probably are thinking that nobody is paying attention to what they are doing.
We have an illusion of privacy on the Internet that is truly an illusion. How many times have you seen a post on Facebook that makes you scratch your head and ask, “what are they thinking?” I know I have… many times. It’s a smart practice to pay attention to your security settings and invest in your online brand — the person you are online — by thinking before you post. You must assume that it will be read by an employer or potential employer because that’s the reality of today’s working world.
Because social marketing and online branding are so important to your career, it’s a good idea to learn all you can about it. Read blogs like this one and consider investing in an hour of online branding/profile development coaching to make sure your professionalism is what people remember about you when they see you in that public park called the Internet.
Clutter really does affect your career: there have been studies that prove it affects the way employers and coworkers view your ability to do your job. Forbes ran an article called “The Dangers Of A Messy Desk” where a study clearly showed that co-workers judge other’s work habits by their cleanliness, and Office Max did a similar study with similar results. Here are three ways that those piles bring your life to a halt:
- You lose important information. The argument that it has to be in your view in order for you to remember to do it loses its power when you stop seeing the item that is in front of you. Honestly, what important piece of paper have you frantically looked for in the past few months?
- You get overwhelmed. How many times have you said, “I can’t deal with that right now, I’ll get to it later”? How many times did you actually get to it and do it the way you should have?
- You look inefficient. People assume that you are just like they are: overwhelmed by piles of papers and stuff while you stop seeing what’s in front of you and lose important information.
This isn’t just a workplace problem. UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families came out with a book on our clutter culture in America that is kind of fascinating and appalling and convicting all at the same time. But we don’t have to be handcuffed by our clutter habits!
Get real and start small. Take ten or fifteen minutes (set the timer) and work on one pile…and stop at the end of that time. Do this every day and you will begin to see a big difference. There’s all sorts of decluttering advice out there, but the big thing is doing it; if you wait until you have time to do it all, you probably will never do it.
If you are looking for a job, be professional about it and keep your surroundings professional. Make your job hunt a priority and respect your time job searching. Create a desk area, keep track of your papers and appointments, do the electronic weeding of your emails, etc.
Take a picture of your desk, cubicle, office, or work area, and look at it. Be honest, now. What would you think if that were a coworker’s space? If you were the boss, would you want that person working for you? If you like the way it looks, then maintain it. If you don’t like the way it looks, you have the ability to change it – a little at a time.
If you’ve been dreaming of being able to work from home and have finally started to live the dream…
the first month of working from home is a reality check.
This is the time you figure out what will and will not work for you. You might have set up your working space according to cute ideas on the internet and discovered that you hate actually working that way. You may realize that you need to get dressed in order to be productive. You certainly will discover that everybody (including you) thinks you can do all the household chores as well as your job.
Working from home does not mean you can “do it all.” It means you can be flexible in figuring out what works best for you and your family, but some things will still need to be delegated or eliminated from your lifestyle.
- Get everybody’s input on what is important and prioritize the top three for each person. One couple’s list looked like this: wife wanted laundry kept up, kitchen neat, and bed made. Husband wanted laundry kept up, living room neat, and cookies always in the cookie jar. So the family priorities were laundry, picking up once a day, making the bed in the morning, and keeping cookies around.
- Everybody living in the home has a job. Let little kids make their own beds and put their toys away. They get better at it the longer they do it by themselves. Really!
- Relax standards. Health & safety hazards are important, but perfectly folded towels aren’t.
Working from home means you CAN do a lot more! Most of the time you have the flexibility to move the laundry from washer to dryer during the day or keep an eye on something in the oven. You can plan work times around naps or get a mother’s helper a few times a week. Every family has different needs, and those needs change as its members grow. The reality of working from home isn’t like a daydream, but it is the best choice for many families.
When you sit down for that job interview, the last thing you want to be worried about is what you are wearing. That choice should have been made a few days beforehand, if possible, to give you time to put together an “interview outfit” that gives confidence.
The idea that you must “dress for success” never goes out of style because people see your clothing as part of your initial impression. Here are a few tips to work on now, so you will be ready to go the morning of your all-important interview:
- Plan one or two “interview outfits” and keep them ready to wear (c’mon ladies, we have at least that many outfits ready for a night out!) That means they are clean, mended, and fit comfortably.
- Get dressed in the entire outfit and have a friend take your picture from the back, side and front. Look at those photos and decide what needs to change. (You can’t change your body in two days, but you can pick a better shirt or shoes.)
- Do your research and know what is appropriate for this interview. Go conservative if you have doubts.
- Figure out the entire outfit, from shoes, socks and underwear to tie and jewelry. Have it all laid out the night before so you know it’s ready.
- Have a backup in case you spill something on yourself. It’s been done!
- Shine your shoes, give yourself a manicure (and pedicure if you’re wearing peep-toe shoes) and plan your grooming schedule. This is not the place for that just-stepped-out-of-the-shower-wet look.
When you have planned your outfit and know you look your best, you have confidence. Preparing ahead of time helps you focus on the interview instead of that button that popped off your shirt before you left home. Part of your job search includes dressing for success, so get ready to shine!