It's been a few years since I've been on the dating scene, but I never departed for a date without the essential precursor to heading out with any new beau: doing the Google check. It hasn't taken long for this stealth, inexpensive and revealing trend to hit the job market, and while the predominant talk on the street has been about what not to do (post those pictures of the holiday party shenanigans), the good news is that I have a few years of online dating techniques to lean on and YES, they work for your career!
Looking good: You may think you look fantastic in that picture that your friend took of you back in 1989, but unless you have been able to retain that same youthful glow (sorry, not likely), you're better off using a photograph that is no more than five years old. I hear the same lament on the job-seeking front as I do on the dating: "But I'm really talented and have a great personality -- I just want to make sure I get through the door." I get it, but the problem is that when you walk through that door, will he recognize you? If you look too far off the mark, the person on the other side of the desk will need to get past the feeling of deception and wondering about your level of self confidence before he or she can even get to know that great personality of yours.
Beyond the interview, if you're meeting a client at a busy Starbucks or trying to locate someone at a crowded conference it's better if they can actually recognize you. The best picture is a simple headshot of you in professional attire. Pull back those shoulders, put your chin up and a confident smile on your face -- that's all you need. And as for the question, "Can I use a picture with me and my dog?" No. Not unless you're a vet.
It's all about the Match: "Tall, Yankees fan, adventurous, great sense of humor." I haven't met a single woman (or man for that matter) that doesn't have a physical or at least a mental list of what they are looking for in a date. I'm a big believer that you don't get what you don't ask for, and considering the fact that we spend more time at work than we do with our significant other, it's not a bad idea to sit down and actually define what you're looking for in a dream job. Now, I know this sounds like crazy talk in light of the current job market, but trust me on this one: The same way having standards make you more attractive in your personal life, the same goes for your professional life.
How do you take initiative and actually find the job of your dreams? Take advantage of your own ability for some online reconnaissance. Follow companies that you're interested in, and identify groups that contain your industry's best and brightest. That way, not only do you get a sense of who you want to work for, but by the time you get to the interview stage, you're also able to bring all of your unique talents and experiences to the table -- and help them to see that not only are they the perfect fit for you ... but also that you are the perfect fit for them.
Tell me about yourself: "I like long walks on the beach and full bodied Cabernet." I'm not lying when I tell you I've actually read about a woman's love of wine on a resume I received recently -- and she was not applying to be a sommelier. So, here's the deal: There are so many ways in which you could summarize yourself, so where do you start, and even more importantly, where do you end? Not unlike the online dating world, the best place to start is not with you, but with whom you are attempting to attract. Of all the great talents and interests you have, the only ones the potential employer or client cares about are those that are going to benefit her business.
Do your research (see above), make a list of all the adjectives and ways in which the industry and/or company you're interested in describes themselves, and then match your experiences and skills to what they are looking for using similar language. For example, if they say they are innovative, then so are you! On the more personal front -- and 'round about the point you want to be wrapping up -- yes, if you're a distance runner, avid skier or even wine collector, you can include it in your summary. However, it's not about the buzz you get off a great glass of vino -- it's about your ability to discern trends, distill research and be a disciplined collector.
Get Recommended: Your mom raves about the "great gal" she met in her virtual book club who is absolutely perfect for you ... not the most solid recommendation. The first step is to make sure you're connected to the kind of people who reflect not only who you are but who you aspire to be (you know what they say about 'birds of a feather') and then ask for them to help set you up. When it comes to getting what we want in either our personal or professional life, there is nothing like the power of a solid recommendation and LinkedIn makes it easier than ever.
So, armed with an honest portait of who you are, what the company does and wants (and why you fit the bill) and a strong recommendation, go forth and succeed!