Your Online Presence (Part 1)

We have been so fortunate that all of the technological enhancements that we’ve encountered has really allowed us to connect with the world around us. Long gone are the days when you mailed letters because long distance phones calls were so expensive. Waited several days for your photos to be processed to share them with your family. Went to the library to do research for a paper that you need to write for school. Technology has really allowed us to spread out and share knowledge with each other 24/7.

The caveat to that is that our footprint stayed in this cyber world for infinity. Whatever you did in your youth will travel with you to your job if you are not careful. Before you start your job search, be sure you clean up your online presence.

#1 Lock down your profiles
Make all of your profiles private with the only way for individuals to see you is by friend request. This is your first line of “defense” to ensure possible employers do not have a chance to see your personal life and make a judgement about it.

#2 Get rid of any obscene images
Scrub down your profile and ensure there aren’t inappropriate hand gestures, you aren’t shown passed out or surrounded by alcohol bottles, and you aren’t doing anything illegal. Also, you may want to consider getting rid of any risque posing pictures of yourself as well.

#3 Review everything that you’ve liked, commented, or have been tagged in
Avoid anything that is religious, political, or controversial in nature. We are all entitled to our own opinion on everything that happens in the world, however that opinion should stay private to those who know us best. The rest of the world should see you as a steward of the world, in a positive, professional light. Unless you specifically chose to work for a religious-based or political-based organization, your profile should stay neutral to religion, politics, and everything else controversial.

#4 Remember: whatever you post online may be used against you at your (future) employer
People forget that many companies do have policies in place regarding your online presence. You become a representation of the organization you work for. If it doesn’t align with the goals and values of the organization, that organization may reprimand you, up to and including termination. I have known several people who had been terminated due to what they posted online.

Bottom line– be careful what you put out there.

Have you ever had to “cleanse” your online profiles before? What were some of the things you decided to remove and/or hide?

Be SMART about your goals

It’s the holiday season. You’re sitting around enjoy dinner with your family. Dad is chowing down on his turkey. Mom is gossiping about the neighbor across the street. Your brother can’t manage to take his hands off of the DS, and your sister is trying to be sneaky about texting. You’re enjoying being home, savoring the emotions, and then out of no where, grandma turns to you and asks you those 10 forbidden words: “So, what are you going to do with your degree?” And just like that, all eyes are on you.

What could really help you in that situation is figured out your goals. Your goals will give you something to work toward, something to look forward to, and something to keep you motivated during tough times. When you keep your mind focused on the end goal, you are a lot more likely to accomplish the goal. What you may think are doors being opened will be your subconscious paving the way towards your final destination.

Now that the year is over, what better time than now to set those goals for the upcoming year. Using the S.M.A.R.T. goal process can help you create a successful path.

SPECIFIC – Make sure the goal you set is as clear, focused, and well-defined as you can get it. It usually answers the four W’s:

  • What do i want to accomplish?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where will it take place?
  • Why do I want this?

Example: I want to get my Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from My University.

MEASURABLE – In order to determine how successful you are in obtaining your goals, you need to establish some sort of measurable criteria, such as timelines, dates, dollar amounts, etc. This will allow you to actually track your results to see how much more you have to meet your target. You’ll want to consider the following questions:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will i know what it is accomplished?

Example: I am going to get my Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from My University by May 2016.

ATTAINABLE – When setting goals, you want to make sure that they are both attainable and also realistic. Setting your expectations too high for too short of a time will leave you feeling defeated. But, setting goals that stretch you a bit, but you can really accomplish if you really put your mind to it will motivate and energize you. Attainable goals typically answer the questions:

  • How can the goal be accomplished?
  • How realistic is the goal based on what I have going on currently?

Example: I will get a job in the accounting industry within 6 months after I graduate from My University.

REALISTIC – The next part of the goal has to be something that you are both willing and able to work toward. Can you answer ‘yes’ to the following questions?

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match my needs?

Example: I will put in 3 applications a day from now on until I am hired on at a company.

TIMELY – Your goal has to have a starting point and an ending point. A time-bound goal ensures that you are constantly checking the progress on your goal. Focus on answering the following questions:

  • When?
  • What can I do six months from now?
  • What can I do six weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?

When you are developing your goals, be sure you keep them in a positive light, are constantly referring back to them or looking at them, are personal to you, and have some variable of flexibility.

What sort of goals have you set for yourself? Where you able to attain them in the time frame you allocated? Did you have to change them?

Tell me a little about yourself…

There you are, sitting in the chair, about to begin your interview. You’ve studied up on the company, you’ve recognized your skills and have examples to back it up, but then they hit up with the hard one straight off the bat: “So, tell me a little about yourself.”

Sweat glistens down your neck. Your heart races. Your palms are sweaty. There’s a frog in your throat.

Wait… that’s not how it goes because you’ve prepared yourself. You have a great elevator speech already lined up to tell future employers who you are.

An elevator speech is a brief message talking about who you are, what you’re looking for, and how you can benefit the company with the skills you bring to the table. It has to be no longer than 30 seconds long, the time it takes to get to the top of a building in an elevator. It’s that speech that you can use at any time with anyone, even if it’s in an elevator. Get comfortable with your speech and rehearse it over and over until it feels natural to you.

Focus on these 4 points when creating your speech:

  1. Who are you?
    • Tell who you are and what you (or your company) does
    • Tell what you do (or want to do)
  2. What do you offer?
    • What problems have you solved or contributions have you made?
    • Tell why your listener should be interested in you
    • Use examples if/when you can
  3. What are the benefits?
    • What special service, skill, product, or solution do you offer your listener?
    • What are the advantages of working with you? Of hiring you? How do you differ from the competition?
  4. How do you do it?
    • Tell a story or talk about an example showing how you are unique

Make sure your speech flows naturally and all of the sentences tie in together. Avoid any specific jargon and answer the WIIFM for your audience: What’s In It For Me?

Have you ever been in a situation where you were put on the spot to tell about yourself? When has having an elevator speech in your ‘back pocket’ come in handy?

The “IT” Factor — at an Interview

We all know it when we see it– We call it the “it factor.” “Wow, she’s definitely got it.” But what in the world is “it” and how do you get it?

“It” is the way you present yourself to the world. If you come in with your head hanging low and mumbling to your shoes, people think you lack confidence. If you come in with your head up high and interrupt at any chance you get, people think you are arrogant. So, how do you find that middle balance? How do you present your “it” at an interview?

  1. Be true to yourself. Know yourself and be honest with yourself about who you are. Those who have “it” don’t want to be anything other than them. They believe in themselves, they established a brand for who they are, and that is how they come off to people.
  2. Be intentional. What is it that you are trying to accomplish? If you’re trying to accomplish in getting a job, then you have to act like it. Speaking low or interrupting others does not convey that you want a job.
  3. Watch your pitch and tone. Make sure that you are speaking at the appropriate pitch and tone for the individual. You want to convey sincerity in your answers.
  4. Mind your body language. Sit straight, but don’t be too stiff. Shoulders should be positioned back a little and your chest should be out, to convey an image of confidence. Be sure you do not cross your arms at any point or get too comfortable and slouch back on the chair.
  5. Gain their trust. You want to make a good connection with person interviewing you. Sometimes we tend to forget that the interviewers are just as human as we are.
    • Smile, often and sincerely
    • Use their name when answering questions
    • Use your active listening skills and try to use key words in your answer back to the individual
  6. Wear clothes one step higher than the position you are interviewing for. If the organization is business casual, you wear a suit. If it’s casual, you wear business casual attire. If it’s jeans and work boots, you wear slacks and a polo. Present an outside image that conveys you are serious about the position and you respect their time. (P.S. Make sure everything is ALWAYS tucked in and no cleavage showing)

What were some of your best and worst dressed experiences? Have you ever had a wardrobe emergency, and how did you get over it?