The social scene

 

CAREER PORTFOLIO

It may be time to clean up your online act.

BY JOHN SULLIVAN, PMP, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

There's no denying the power of the Web in the great job hunt. Sites like LinkedIn, Ziggs and Namyz can help project managers build their name and make connections.

“More and more people are using social networking sites as a way to network and find jobs,” says Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology, an IT sourcing firm.

Online profiles are emerging as “good venues for establishing a positive presence and making new contacts,” she says.

Of course, you should be careful what kind of presence you're building. She recommends Googling your name for starters.

“It's good to simply know what's out there so you can address it if it comes up during a job interview,” says Ms. Spencer Lee.

Here are some more tips for taking control of your online reputation:

Consolidate

Some sites, like Facebook, are more social in nature while others, such as LinkedIn, are more career-oriented. Pick one for each purpose and remove or deactivate profiles on other sites.

Fill in the Blanks

Use your professional site to the fullest by adding work history, education, professional credentials and affiliations, including membership in trade groups and volunteer work. Use the summary section for your “elevator speech,” a short pitch about who you are, what you do, and how you do it differently or better than others. Save the hobbies and sports teams for your personal site. And be sure your profile is free of spelling errors.

Tell Me Something Good

Try to secure recommendations—and not just from your co-workers. Have a former supervisor or client put in a good word as well as provide different perspectives on your performance and accomplishments.

Smile

Use a professional portrait and update it every few years so it ages as you do. Don't use a casual photo or something that could disqualify you from consideration for a job.

Keep it Current

Write updates when you change jobs, get promoted, earn your Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification or win an award. PM

John Sullivan is an IT project manager and writer living in Dayton, Ohio, USA.

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PAPER OR PIXELS?

Don't recycle all those paper résumés quite yet.

The rise of social networking sites “doesn't necessarily mean companies are finding the most qualified candidates through these means,” says Katherine Spencer Lee, Robert Half Technology.

Fewer than 10 percent of 1,400 CIOs interviewed for a Robert Half study ranked professional and social networking sites as the most effective method for locating qualified IT job candidates.

“While social networking sites offer a more personal profile of an individual, it should enhance, not replace, the traditional résumé,” Ms. Spencer Lee says.

She advises candidates to bring paper copies of a résumé to interviews or meetings with recruiters.

Her comments are backed by a careerbuilder.com survey in which 22 percent of employers said they use social networking sites when evaluating job candidates. But it also found 34 percent of hiring managers chose not to hire a candidate based on what they found in profiles.

So even after you've done all your online homework, remember to get out from behind your computer and build your network. “It's important not to forget the benefits of traditional networking,” says Ms. Spencer Lee. “Making that personal connection cannot be underestimated.”

PM NETWORK FEBRUARY 2009 WWW.PMI.ORG

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