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Editor’s note: guest post by Jennifer Gargotto.
You’ve worked your butt off to be employable.
But now, you’re terrified.
No one is hiring, and when they are, they’re getting way more responses than they can handle.
Whether you’re fresh out of college, stuck in the wrong job, or unemployed and waiting desperately for that right job, you’re stuck. You know you have something to offer, but how can you demonstrate that value when you can’t even get the interview?
You need an online presence.
Old job ads and resumes are remarkably outdated.
Most new companies that you would actually enjoy working for have a strong work culture and unique, non-corporate philosophies and management systems. Being a match for them won’t be summarized in a tacky Cragislist ad, and you can’t sum up your spirit for them in one neatly organized list of your relevant skills and past job experiences.
The more culture the company has, the more fun it will be for a great match, and the less-satisfying it will be for a poor match.
Even if you can find that perfect job ad, it’s impossible to overlook the fact that we’re in the midst of the worst economic downturn in recent history. Even if an ad for your dream job falls right in your lap (or right on your computer screen) you’re going to be competing with the legions of people that saw the ad and are just as, if not more, qualified than you. If you have any hope of competing, you’re going to need to set yourself apart before you even stand a chance of getting the interview.
The competitor with an online presence, a personal blog or website, has the capacity to establish personal value and authority long before they’ve found the job they’re looking for.
When I first graduated college, I was a nanny. I had started looking around to see what I could do with an undergraduate degree in Psychology, and the landscape wasn’t promising.
During my search I discovered a local tech start-up which appeared to be hiring. I didn’t know quite what I could do for them, but I sent them my resume anyways. Within 24 hours, they called me. They wanted to know my thoughts on marketing, and whether or not I would be comfortable taking over their marketing department.
I had never taken a marketing class in my entire life.
So how does something like this happen?
Because of blogging.
In retrospect, it was a brave move putting my blog on my resume.
In my blog I often discussed things that could easily rub someone the wrong way – like sex and monogamy, or my past history with anorexia, or my creative disposition that allowed me to be highly prolific (and then very wiped out) for long periods of time. My blog didn’t have anything to do with psychology (my academic background) or marketing (my career future). But my blog did allow me to build technical skills, showcase my personality (and like-ability) through my fan base and readership, demonstrate how I research, write, and think in my articles, and present myself in an honest, authentic, yet polished light.
Job searching and partner searching – are they really that different?
My blog was dedicated to female self-improvement, aptly titled “MsMorphosis: Fearless thinking for the modern miss.” When I wrote about dating and relationships, I advocated that women (and men) be 100% candid and authentic when meeting potential mates, since that would inevitably attract people similar to and compatible with them, as well as (more importantly) turn off people that weren’t compatible with them.
This is easier said then done.
Truth be told, it’s a bold approach when you’re lonely and meet someone you’re crazy about.
It’s human nature to try and change to fit what they’re looking for, a compromise here and there. A push-up bra and a little extra makeup. We’re biologically programmed to be on our best behavior when we want something.
But if you fake it on the first five dates, play your cards just right and land yourself a relationship, you’re bound to disappoint this person when you eventually settle into being your “imperfect” self. People are imperfect, but we overcome that when we’re compatible. We embrace each other’s imperfections, and grow stronger because of them.
So, in dating, it’s wisest to be the best version of your imperfect self, taking the fearless approach of authenticity and accepting that not everyone will want to date you, but recognizing that that’s ok because what you’re looking for is a relationship – and those are based on compatibility and can be hard to find.
The same thing happens when we’re looking for a job.
If you’re hired for a job that you aren’t really compatible with, you’re the one that has to go there everyday. Your job impacts the people in your life, the things you learn, and, in many ways, the routes you take and the paths you’ll encounter in the future. Like a bad relationship, a bad job will only make you feel incompetent and insecure, as though you’re “not enough” and easily replaceable (because in the wrong job, just like the wrong relationship, you are amazingly replaceable).
A job, like a partner, is a huge piece of our lives – it needs to be chosen wisely. I have since realized that for many people looking to find a truly rewarding career path, a blog is far more powerful than just a traditional resume: it’s an interactive entity that allows you to showcase (for better or worse) the thoughts and talents that make you you, allowing you to attract the most compatible employers and network with other like-minded individuals.
So, this brings me back to my story.
By just putting myself out there, the start-up was able to place me as they saw fit, which in this case was a far more exciting and stimulating position than I would have ever had the guts to apply for.
The moral of this is that the company knows their needs better than you do. In a one page resume you’re forced to condense your skill sets to match the position you’re applying for, but a website will showcase not only the subject you’re writing about but a large range of interests, ideas, initiative, and personality. When they see this, you might be surprised who is attracted to you as a potential employee, and where they envision you their company.
People make decisions emotionally and justify them rationally.
At the end of the day, potential employers are people, and people are irrational, emotional, intuitive, and inconsistent. Sometimes, this leads to unfair biases.
For instance, science has backed up what we’ve always feared to be true – attractive people just downright have it easier sometimes. According to a study in the New York Academy of Sciences, “attractiveness of interviewees can significantly bias outcome in hiring practices, showing a clear distinction between the attractive and average looking interviewees in terms of high and low status job packages offered.” According to the authors of the study, “when someone is viewed as attractive, they are often assumed to have a number of positive social traits and greater intelligence”.
Does this mean you have to be gorgeous to be employed? No, but it does illustrate the often subjective nature of the job-searching process.
It’s a long-understood axiom in sales psychology that people make decisions emotionally and justify them rationally. In fact, according to USA Today, “the brain’s wiring emphatically relies on emotion over intellect in decision-making.” Shockingly, “people who lack emotions because of brain injuries often have difficulty making decisions at all”.
When using your web presence to expand your job opportunities, there’s the possibility that you will turn a lot of potential employers off by the things you say or the other connections you’ve made. That shouldn’t matter, though. This brings us back to the dating analogy – at the end of the day, you want a compatible match, not the first (or easiest) match. Since a job dictates a lot of you present reality and future opportunity, you need to apply the same stringency to exploring it as you do to finding a mate.
A web presence allows you to control your presentation (because looks matter), demonstrate your skills, stand out in an overly-competitive world, network with industry experts, and create a bond with the reader – in this case, your potential employers.
They’re far more likely to emotionally want to hire you because of the blog, and justify it because of the skills listed on your resume – not the other way around.
Jennifer Gargotto is a full-time writer, blogger, and consultant. She spends her days writing for her blog, MsMorphosis, and helping others build and and grow their own blogs on her website Blogging Fearlessly.
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