How do you represent yourself on a few 8.5″ x 11″ sheets of paper?
Very carefully, and then still not very well.
We want to see your work history, the litany of technical jibber jabber you’ve got expertise in, and a sense of your project accomplishments. We want to know the names of the companies you’ve worked for, what industries they are in, and their geographic locations. Your formal training and education, awards, and other interests outside of work also give us a little broader sense of “who you are.”
But this is a boring, boilerplate, standardized view of you. And it’s not fair. This can’t possibly fully represent you — your unique abilities, your personal style, your hopes and dreams. It can’t tell us anything about how you’d fit into the team, the environment, or the culture. It’s simply a method used to navigate the limitations of our processes to quickly understand and evaluate the most basic qualifications of a candidate. It’s effective in the most limited sense, but it’s not enough to really put across who you are, how you think, and what you can do.
So don’t stop at a stellar resume. That’s only the starting point.
We’ve known for many years that standard practice in recruiting and evaluating candidates is the Google search. Once your resume has you past initial filtering for qualifications, we type in your name and sort through the results.
Why wouldn’t you try to influence these results?
Sure, if you’ve published articles, been the subject of interviews, or been profiled in case studies or “about us” pages of your companies, good stuff will show up. But that’s someone else’s take on you. Why not create your own stuff to be found. There are so many simple things you can do to ensure things you’d like to highlight show up in the results. All you have to do is create them.
In 2013, to be a candidate for employment and not have a LinkedIn profile is just plain silly. This is the simplest method to provide a little more insight into who you are beyond your resume. It’s simple to setup because it is in the resume format, but it has more flexibility and can display so much more.
Put up a professional looking photo, sell yourself in the “Summary” section, and display your connections to other professionals. Go further and show some thoughtful updates, contributions to industry groups, and recommendations by peers, clients, and bosses. It takes time to build up, so start now. But rest assured, it’s worthwhile. LinkedIn shows at the top of the search results — just be sure to make your profile page public and to customize the url to match your first and last name (e.g., http://www.linkedin.com/in/tomcatalini).
A Web Page
A really simple way to do more is to setup a simple web page. There are tons of services that make this very easy.
With a simple web page, you can highlight your skills, experience, capabilities, and aspirations more easily. Don’t repeat what’s on your resume, that’s an awfully boring web page. Instead, share highlights, include a professional photo or two, and use the space to give some insight into your personal style, professional interests, and how you think. Include a list of your favorite business books, links to professional associations that you’re active in, or write a few paragraphs on some topics that you’re passionate about. Keep it professional, but show some personality.
Grab a domain name that includes your first and last name and point it to this web page. This will help ensure that it shows up near the top of the results when your name is searched.
Beyond the web page, you could setup some social media profiles. Use your first and last name as a handle on all of them so that a search on your name shows these results near the top. Take some care to build out each profile with a good photo and an appropriate summary, following the decorum of each platform.
Create posts and comments that represent you well. Reshare and favorite interesting and useful posts by others. Show us what you’re thinking and how you interact with others.
For bonus points, setup a blog. This is the ultimate platform to show us more about how you think, to share with us your analysis of matters of interest, and to reveal your opinions.
All of this is to help build your personal brand, an extension of your resume that can show us things your resume never will. All of the things that fill the gaping void between resume review and interview.
Of course, doing this means you’ll have to spend some time and energy coming to understand yourself better. You’ll have to think about how you’d like to be perceived. You’ll have to think about what sorts of companies you’d like to work for – and what sorts of companies you’d like to avoid.
This level of analysis can be tricky. It requires a bit of soul searching and a bit of fessing up to what choices you’d make before you have all the information on “what’s out there.” But that’s exactly the point. Set the filters now and set them yourself. Don’t be defined by the market.
Knowing what you’re good at eliminates possible paths that you’re not good at, which helps you focus. Knowing the kind of environments where you’d fit in well saves you time from exploring the kinds of environments where you won’t.
Focus can be a bit scary, because it eliminates options. But it also frees up time and energy for the things that are likely to be a better fit.
And determining fit is part of why your name is being searched. If you’re truly not a good fit, then that’s fine. You’ll be eliminated more speedily from those opportunities. When someone else searches and it does show you as being a better fit, that hiring process will be accelerated for you too.