Managing your professional image: the American resume, networking and social media

Job interview

We live in a time where information can be presented, exchanged and consumed at the touch of a button, where no detail is too small to share and the potential audience can be anywhere in the world. A resume created by an engineer in Shanghai can be read by a manager in Silicon Valley; a job interview can be conducted online and networking does not necessarily mean a face-to-face meeting with a handshake at the end. But, with ease of communication comes a higher demand on awareness and thoughtfulness of how, where and what you are communicating.

Marlies Lloyd is a career coach at Globiana and a well-known career transition expert. She is a global citizen who has lived and worked in Europe, Canada and the US. Read our interview here:

Why is it important to keep your resume up-to-date, even when currently employed?
You never know when you will need your resume so keeping it up-to-date will make sure you don’t have to spend too much time on it when you do need it. Keeping your resume up-to-date also serves as a way to reflect and see where you are; what skills are lacking, what skills do you need to continue to use or deepen? What keeps you marketable and employable? Schedule a resume date every three months and see if you are still on par with what your next step is.

Why is it important to have a good resume?
The resume is your first introduction to who you are, what you can do and your value (why you?). A good resume is always customized to the position you are applying for. It is crucial to have a good understanding of what the job is about and how your experience is aligned with what is being sought.

What sets apart a good resume from a bad one?
A good resume will contain all the right keywords and it uses the language found in the job posting. This way, the reader understands that you are a good fit for the position. A good resume aligns the responsibilities of the position with examples of your previous experience and it highlights your actions and the results they have yielded.

How do you know which keywords to use?
Keywords are not hard to find; there are several methods you can use:

  • Pick about 5 job descriptions for a similar position and look for frequently used wording such as “global” or “international”, and use those throughout your resume. You can also copy and paste the job descriptions in a word cloud tool such as worldle.net. This tool creates a word cloud of frequently used wording.
  • Use a search engine and type: “keywords project manager” for example, this should give some typical results.
  • Read professional magazines and articles specifically related to your function. You should be able to pick up industry keywords there.
  • Use LinkedIn Pulse to help you create a feed of the function, industry or expertise area with the latest posts to keep up to date on the language and keywords used.

What should I think about when writing a resume?
A basic, standard resume should be no more than two pages and it should have the job title and reference number as the title. It should contain a summary of technical skills (if applicable), professional experience, additional experience (anything beyond 10 to 15 years) and education. If you recently graduated college, you would start with education and then professional experience.

What are the most common mistakes people make when writing resumes?
Some common mistakes are:

  • Not customizing the resume to the position and not utilizing the keywords or adapting the jargon of the industry. Remember, if you are applying online there usually is an “applicant tracking system” which tracks keywords. If the keywords are not used you will remain in the so-called “black hole” – your resume will go unnoticed.
  • Applying for a position you are over-qualified for. If you are over-qualified, the recruiter or hiring manager may wonder if you will get bored quickly or if you are simply using this job as a stepping stone and therefore will not be committed.
  • Not addressing “the gap” (having been out of work for a year or longer). Hiring managers and employers want to know that you are up to date. It is fairly simple to address the gap; you can indicate relocation, school or use community experience such as volunteer work on your resume. If you haven’t had the opportunity to go back to school then look at online platforms such as Coursera or Lynda, you can add that as part of your education under a heading of self-study.

How does activity on social media impact current and future employment?
Social media is important because it provides visibility and a way to network with people. Good social media sites for professional purposes are LinkedIn and Twitter, or Github for technical people, to name a few. Soon, traditional resumes will be replaced with online profiles, so having a presence on LinkedIn will benefit you in the long run. It is fairly common to provide your LinkedIn URL on your resume.

Can social media exposure have a negative impact on current and future employment?
Absolutely! Social media creates visibility and you never know who knows someone you may be working with or for. HR (Human Resources) and recruiters may do a search for your name on a search engine or a social media tool such as Google, Facebook, Instagram or twitter. So make sure whatever you post cannot come back to haunt you. Of course, this does not mean you should never post, it just means you have to be mindful of what you post. Ask yourself the following questions: what is the message I am sending? Will I be ok if my current or future employer reads this? What kind of messages do I want to post to show my expertise?

Also, think about what your social media strategy is. We tend to believe that only big companies have to develop a strategy for how to project to society who they are. However, in today’s social media driven culture it is important to develop a personal one as well.

Google yourself to see what is currently visible about you or your name. What comes up when entering your name? Is this you or someone else? Check your settings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to make sure they are set to private.

Is networking important?
Yes, networking is important! More than 70% of all positions are filled through referrals. Networking can be done online and through face-to-face meetings. If you are looking for a job, schedule 70% of your job hunt for networking purposes; have coffee with someone, volunteer at a non-profit, use meetup.com and professional association chapter meetings to get to know new people. Meeting people is essential for success in the job hunt as well as for keeping up in your current position. Even if you are shy, find a group that you have something in common with, such as a hiking group, and start building relationships that way.

How do you define networking?
Networking is gathering and sharing of information, it is NOT asking for a job! Networking is about building relationships — whether professional or personal. When you are getting to know people your main goal is to find what you have in common. Once you have established a relationship and the other person knows who you are and what you are looking for that is when you may be able to reap professional benefits from your connection. You never know who the other person knows or how they may be able help you.

Volunteering and American Culture
Working in the US: Perceptions and reality
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *