Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Using social media as job search and career development business analysis resources 10: thinking through your planned online professional image and message 1

This is my tenth installment to a series on the points of intersection between business intelligence and its gathering, and social media and related interactive online channels as sources of actionable information and insight, as they can be applied to job search and career development (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 397 and following for Parts 1-9.)

I began this series with a focus on what job seekers and career developers can learn about businesses that they might find opportunity to work with (in Parts 1-8.) I then shifted orientation and began discussing what those businesses and their hiring managers can find out about us in Part 9.

I outlined some of the key areas of concern in that series installment that need to be both understood and where possible managed, in creating and maintaining an effective professional online presence and reputation. And I add that my intention for this more career developer-oriented portion of this series is to add to Part 9’s list as I pursue a more comprehensive discussion of online business intelligence gathering and use. In that regard I add here another pertinent discussion point to the Part 9 list that I will delve into in this series too:

• Active damage control, where I only noted keeping track of what is being said about us online in Part 9, and knowing where posted and publically visible claims about us might be erroneous, misleading or both.

Effective responses to damaging online information can become essential elements of professional reputation management and for any of us. But I start addressing the to-discuss points of Part 9 with its first one here: with focused consideration of the jobs and careers-oriented marketing materials that we post about ourselves online, as for example through our professional networking profiles. And as a starting point for developing that type of information sharing resource, I always begin with a document that most of us have at least some form of already and that all of us should have effectively up to date and available and as long as we are pursuing jobs and careers and a work life: a resume.

I have written a number of times about resumes and resume writing in this blog and particularly in the first page listings to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development directory. In that regard and to highlight a more through process-oriented approach to constructing an effective resume, I cite here Parts 5-10 of my series: Finding Your Best Practices Plan B When Your Job Search Isn’t Working (see Guide directory postings 56-72 for the series.)

The exercise of preparing and maintaining an effective resume helps you to keep track of precisely where you worked and when, where with time precise dates of employment can slip and precise details of what was done there can become blurred and lost. This can help you to maintain a focus on your career development and not just on the more immediate day-to-day of your current job or job search, by forcing you to remain aware of your overall work history and where it has led you and where it is headed. And if you draft effective resumes this forces you to focus not just on what you have worked on, but on the impact that you have achieved and the value you have created from doing this. A well drafted and up to date resume helps you to develop sets of value creating bullet points that you can list for the jobs you have held and the businesses you have worked with: quantifiable bullet points that would set you apart for the overall value you could offer as an employee.

• But most of the time we prepare resumes as tools for specific job search campaigns, so when we are actively searching we might have several different drafts prepared and ready, depending on the precise nature of the target companies we would send them to, and the precise requirements of the specific jobs we would apply for there, and the precise concerns and preferences of the hiring managers who we would send them to as well.
• Effective resumes that are send out in specific job search campaigns are specialized and targeted tools, designed to help us to more effectively connect into and market ourselves to specific target companies.
• An online profile that we would offer about ourselves through a site such as LinkedIn is a much more general and generic document, and even if it includes within it essentially all of the same basic content areas that a job search resume would include, with information on our educational background, where we have worked and what we have done there, special skills, certifications and professional licenses we might hold and so on.

When you write a draft resume for a job search application, you select the precise details that you would want to include for that potential employer, with an awareness of the unavoidable fact that that the people who you send them to are all but overwhelmed by the number of job applications flooding their inbox with competing resumes – most of which are generic mass mailings or mass-online submitted. So with only a few specialized job search exceptions (e.g. applying for a US Federal Government civil service position) you need to keep your resume to a few pages at most, and you need to put the most important details on the top page so your value can be more easily seen.

Word selection becomes crucial here too. When essentially every business receives seemingly endless numbers of mass mailed generic resumes for every position they seek to fill, they tend to load all of them into databases and then select out the at least minimally applicable of them for even just brief consideration, using key word-based database queries. So you need to make sure that you address all of the points that they are looking for, treating their wish list also-wanted skills and experience as essentials too, and using the same types of wording they use in indicating how you match and even exceed their minimum requirements. As I have noted many times, it does not matter if you have the skills and experience they most want if you indicate that using terminology they do not use and that they would not include in framing their resume database searches.

But now you want to develop a more generally applicable LinkedIn or similar professional profile that you can cite and use as an online marketing brochure when presenting your skills and experience. How do you best translate a resume approach, and particularly a focused job search resume development approach to best meet the needs of this forum?

You can offer a wider and more open-ended assortment of information about yourself as a professional, but it is still probably going to be advisable to keep your online profile focused and somewhat lean too. The difference is that while a resume might focus on what you would offer in meeting the needs of some single specific employer or at most some single category of employers, an effective online profile focuses on what you seek to move towards professionally, and on career development. This is where you can show you have the background and experience needed to take the next types of career steps that you seek to achieve.

You still want to focus more on the value that you have created from what you have done, than you do on simply listing what you have worked at. Quantifiable performance bullet points still hold the greatest potential for setting you apart as a potential candidate to hire, and one who businesses and their managers would want to work with. But focus longer-term than you would in a specific job search campaign resume.

And this brings me to the challenge of wording and of terminology selection and particularly where there are more than one common acceptable way to represent the same skills. Professionals looking to hire, among other online profile reviewers, use the search tools available through sites such as LinkedIn to find people with specific desired skills and experience – so once again you can face the same key word search filtering challenge that you would when drafting a resume for a specific job description and when you are adding a resume into the applicant submission flood. But here, you cannot simply read the job description and web site of a specific hiring company to learn precisely what terminology they prefer, where there are alternatives currently in use for identifying what are essentially the same technical skills, for example. How do you address this challenge in a more general audience-facing online professional profile?

• What are the most commonly used terms for technical skills, for example, that you need to list as having?
• If it looks like you might have to make a choice as to which of two commonly used terminologies to use, can you find a way to smoothly fit both sets of terms into your profile so you can be found either way?

Word choice is an important consideration that goes into making both your resume and your online professional profile findable. It is important to think and plan and write both of these types of employability marketing tools with focused care – here focusing in this series on your online profile with its findability taken as one of your primary goals.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will consider a wider range of social media-formatted professional channels and forums where you can market yourself for what you have done and can do. That includes participating on online professional groups, posing and answering questions in forums where they can be publically shared, blogging and use of twitter and a range of other options. And I will write about using tools of this sort coordinately to create an overall more effective and more visible marketing message. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide. And you can find this and related material at Social Networking and Business and its continuation page too.

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