Managing Your Online Persona: How You May Be Damaging Your Future Job Prospects

by Michael Peterson, Senior IT Recruiter, www.linkedin.com/in/michaelpetersontheoris/

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If you’ve been half-awake in the last decade, you’ve probably heard of popular websites like Facebook and Twitter.  We call them social media sites as they serve as a means for us to socialize on the internet.  YouTube, Google+, Spotify, Pandora, Tumblr, Instagram…the list goes on and the savvier of us probably have accounts on all these sites and more.  Regardless of how plugged in you are to these sites and the use of the internet in general, a troubling theme seems to show with a lot of people I work with, socialize with, and relate to.  What could that be?  Too many Farmville invites?  To many followers of reality TV stars?….Maybe.  But I’m talking about is the amount of inappropriate and incriminating content posted publicly to social media sites.

            We’ve all done it to some degree.  Put an angry status on Twitter or Facebook, realized it was a bit too extreme and deleted it.  I’ve seen this problem with all demographics, not just the older users but more often with younger users.

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There was a recent news story in which John Walsh described the exposure of a crime ring ran by teenagers in their apartment complex.  The biggest tip off?  The teenagers tweeted about it and posted pictures bragging about their crimes.  For some of us it seems like common knowledge but not everyone realizes that once you post something on the internet, even if it’s private, it’s there forever.  You can delete your uploaded video or picture or post but it will remain in the archives of the host site and can be retrieved by authorities and used against you.

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This activity doesn’t even have to be of a criminal nature or something that you post personally.  Recently a teacher in Georgia was fired because a friend tagged her in a photo on Facebook where she was enjoying a beer.  She wasn’t friends with any of her students and her privacy settings were set high but it was discovered by school administration and she was promptly let go.  Just simply being at an event where something incriminating is happening can come back to haunt you.  If you’re not being filmed by a security camera, chances are someone has their phone out and will post it up on YouTube with you in the footage somewhere.

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Social Media trawling is the term applied when someone searches social media sites for negative content to use against an individual.  This can be done by the authorities, cyber bullies, or even potential employers!  So how can you help yourself?  Try these simple steps to clean up your online persona:

1.       Google yourself.  Seriously.  Try using your name and if it’s common, other identifiers like your hometown, work, or school.  See what results pop up in the first few pages.  Any results beyond that is usually a waste of time.  If you see something about you that you don’t like, get rid of it!  If you don’t own the content (for example you show up in a YouTube video) contact YouTube and its parent company Google and ask for it to be removed.

2.       Research the privacy settings on your social sites.  Set your privacy settings to adjust the audience for your content.  Every social media site has a help section to assist with this or you can search help on Google or just find a friend that’s in the know!  Remember that if you have to severely lock down access to certain content it might not be worth posting.  Weigh the consequence versus the reward.

3.       Use a pseudonym but remember that it’s not foolproof.   You can still incriminate yourself with the law here as most blogs and social media are tied to an email account that can be traced back to you.  What it can do is prevent you from showing up in a search by a prospective employer if what you’re saying is emotionally charged, political, or in opposition to the views of an organization.

4.       Be impersonal and try to stay general with your statements.   Instead of saying something like, “I downloaded free music at this site” try, “some people have been known to download free music at this site.”  Review your statements to remove yourself as a participator in any act that may show you in a negative light out of context.

Ultimately, there are several things you can control to keep your online persona pristine.  Those running for office or a high-level position at a publicly traded company will obviously have to be more diligent than a local business owner but remember this: What you put out there stays out there.

Don’t Want to Be Like Awkward Penguin at Your Next Job Interview?

by Justin Bryant, Director of Technology Services, http://www.linkedin.com/in/justinbryant08

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Handling a job interview with grace isn’t always an easy task. Candidates are understandably nervous. After all, this one interaction can have a major impact in determining whether that individual is offered a position within the company.

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Unfortunately, this nervousness can have a detrimental effect. Employers need employees to be capable of handling any problems that come their way, and evident nervousness can be seen as indicative of a lack of confidence, regardless of whether this is truly the case or not.

That is why it is critical for candidates to keep calm while interviewing for these positions.

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  1. Research the Job and the Company. Take the time to research the company and the position you are interviewing for in advance.
  2. Practice, Practice, Practice The more practice you have at interviewing, the more comfortable you’ll be during a job interview.
  3. Know the Facts. Be sure you know your work history, and bring an extra copy of your resume to refer to if you’re nervous and need a reminder.
  4. Take Your Time. Don’t rush to get out a response to an interview question. Briefly think about your response before you answer.
  5. Give Examples. When you respond to interview questions give examples of how you handled related situations. The more specific you are, the more the hiring manager will see that you have the skills to do the job.
  6. Don’t Ramble. Your response to interview questions should be direct and to the point.
  7. Ask for Clarification. Not sure what the interviewer is asking? Its fine to ask for clarification if you’re not sure what is being asked.
  8. Be Direct. When you’re asked about why you left (or are leaving your job) try to keep it positive. Be direct and focus your interview answer on the future, especially if your leaving wasn’t under the best of circumstances.
  9. Keep it Professional. Your responses should be focused on your professional skills and abilities. There is no need to tell the interviewer all about your personal life, your interests, your family, or your hobbies. Most importantly, don’t bring up any work-related issues you might have like having to arrange child care or transportation if you get the job.
  10. Have Questions Ready to Ask. The last question you’ll probably be is asked during a job interview is whether you have questions.
  11. Don’t forget to thank the interviewer. ( A personal hand-written letter is ALWAYS a nice touch)

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Keeping “Professional” Fashionable: Tips on How to Dress to Impress and Enjoy It!

by Heather Rominger, IT Recruiter, http://www.linkedin.com/pub/heather-rominger/2b/b82/518

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When most think of “professional attire” they don’t always associate it with the words fashionable or stylish.  It is important to keep your unique style while dressing for work and there are several ways to do this while still keeping it work appropriate.  Here are some tips to keep in mind when dressing for work, these tips work for both men and women:

  1. Dress according to work policy – even if your work place has a strict dress code policy there are always was to incorporate personal style with a pop of color or a fun accessory.
  2. Pick clothes that fit – even if this means getting items tailored. However, this does not mean items that fit too tight.
  3. Always have a nice suit – this is important for special occasions like making a first impression during an interview.
  4. Keep it fashionable – you can stay up on the latest fashion trends by picking up a magazine, turning on the television, or following fashion themed websites like corporette.com, corporatefashionista.com, workchic.com/blog, and for men, tsbmen.com or epic-living.tumblr.com.

Here are some items to keep in the closet for men and women:

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Men:

  • Shirts: 5 – 10 shirts so they may be rotated weekly or every other week
  • Shoes: Have more than 1 pair of shoes that are in great condition
  • Ties: This is a venue to show off your personal style – chose colors and patterns that fit your style

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Women:

  • Suit: This could be a pant suit or a skirt suit – tailored to fit
  • Skirts: There are several styles of skirts – pencil, ruffled – choose what fits you best
  • Trousers: It is good to go with neutral trousers as this allows for more combinations but choose a couple of colors/patterns that go along with your style
  • Shoes: Heels or flats depending on your preference – this is an easy way to show off your style
  • Accessories: Scarves, jewelry, hats – pick the items that allow you to have your own style

So, why is it important to keep your personal style/fashion in your work clothes? Your style reflects on more than just your clothes. If you are comfortable in your clothes at work then this may help bring out your work style as well.  “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky; in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” –  Coco Chanel

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Food For Thought: How a Famous Philosopher Might Use Exercise to Encourage Intellectual Growth and Performance

by Hayley Foster, Senior IT Recruiter,  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/hayley-foster/3/b8b/462

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Health and productivity have been linked for ages, but never has it been more important than in these demanding times. Recent studies suggest that health-related employee productivity accounts for 77% of all losses costing American employers more than $136 billion per year.  An unhealthy lifestyle, lack of sleep, and bad nutrition can take a drastic toll on your productivity, mood, and morale. Eating healthy, especially breakfast, and increasing your exercise can cut business losses and put extra money in your pocket.

Eating a healthy breakfast is the first key in increasing your ability to tackle the workday. The brain requires two major products from food. The first is blood glucose, or natural sugar from foods. Don’t get excited, donuts and muffins are not natural sugar! Processed sugars, like the ones found in these office staples, illicit massive spikes in blood sugar followed by a massive drop off.  The second is protein, which provides sustainable energy and works to control the levels of blood sugar. Protein along with whole grains will help to keep you feeling full long into your day. Here are some examples of healthy breakfast foods sure to help you feel energized, concentrate, and stay full:

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1. Greek Yogurt

Packed with protein and full of flavor, Greek-style yogurt provides a rich and satisfying way to get your day started. Try adding fresh berries, low-sugar jam, or honey for added sweetness.

2. Whole Wheat Toast

Whole grains will keep you fuller, longer. Add a small amount of nutrient-rich, natural peanut butter for added protein and healthy fats.

3. Coconut Water

Filled with potassium and natural electrolytes, pure coconut water is a wonderful way to hydrate yourself in the morning or after a workout.

4. Eggs

Filled with iron, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, eggs provide the perfect fuel to keep you going. Try scrambling them with spinach and low-sodium turkey bacon for a more substantial meal.

5. Cottage Cheese

Tart and filled with protein, cottage cheese is great on its own or with fresh fruits. The combination of calcium and protein will keep your bones strong and your stomach full.

6. Fresh Berries

Filled with antioxidants, fresh berries provide added sweetness to yogurt, cottage cheese, whole grain cereal, smoothies, and oatmeal. Fresh or frozen, berries can help lower blood pressure and provide you with vital antioxidants.

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Exercise is also an important factor in increasing your work performance. Walking meetings are a new trend in the workplace.  Aristotle was said to conduct his teachings as he walked the halls of the Lyceum in Athens.  Walking has been shown to boost brain connectivity and function, something a keen mind like Aristotle’s has no doubt figured out. Better functioning brains with better neural connectivity come up with better ideas. Company exercise plans or exercising over your lunch hour has also been shown to yield higher output.  A study at the University of Bristol showed exercising participants work performance was consistently higher, as shown by better time management and improved mental sharpness. It also showed participants to be more tolerant of themselves and their colleagues.

Let’s be realistic, you’re not going to do away with sit down meetings, donuts, and the occasional lunch at your favorite Mexican joint.  But a few tweaks can do wonders. Get up early and have breakfast at home so you avoid those donuts. Next time you have an informal meeting with another coworker suggest you go for a walk outside. Or gather your lunch buddies and go to the gym instead. These changes may not seem like much, but they could translate into higher pay if your job performance improves as a result. And who doesn’t like more money.

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The Job Seeker / Recruiter Contract (Or How to Avoid Bad Recruiters)

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by David Lovell, Vice President of Business Development, www.linkedin.com/pub/dave-lovell/0/116/a66

OK!  As an IT Services professional, I routinely research various user group discussion threads, read blog posts, etc. regarding IT placement and job opportunity.  As I read, a recurring topic seems to be emerging around the interaction and bad experiences a business professional has had with a Recruiter at some point in their career.  An experience that has soured them on the process and caused them to bucket all Recruiters in general as… well…Pond Scum.  I get it.  I do.  I recognize that there are some Headhunter types out there that have given the recruiting profession a bad name. They are only interested in “the deal”, getting it closed, and cashing the check.  They’re not thinking about you or “is this the right fit” or the long term relationship.  Some will submit you without your knowledge.  Some misrepresent the opportunity to you, and misrepresent you to the client. Any of this sound familiar?

It makes me mad knowing that some of these bottom feeders are out there leaving this bad trail behind them. It’s also frustrating to hear some job seekers, bucket all Recruiters and consulting companies together in one lump group.  That’s not fair. But then I smile and think of all of the proactive candidates Theoris receives and how many of our candidates we get as referrals from current staff.  I realize that folks do recognize the difference, for the most part, between the Headhunter approach and a professional organization that is there to be an agent in that career pursuit.  That being said, there is still help needed for those who have suffered those bad experiences.

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Recruiters and professional consulting companies serve a very important role for numerous organizations and their pursuit of top talent. A company’s internal recruiters are typically more generalists by design. They are intended to recruit for everything across the board that the firm may need.  For highly specialized or technical needs such as IT, Engineering, Scientific or Quality/Regulatory Compliance, these companies will frequently look to outside professional Recruiters with a deeper knowledge and understanding of these areas.  The key as a job seeker is to align yourself with the right recruiter that can properly assist you.

So here are a few points to consider for today’s job seeker, when choosing and working with a Recruiter.

  • DO YOUR HOMEWORK – Research the Consulting Company / Recruiting firm you are considering working with. How long have they been around?  If they have been in business awhile that’s a pretty good indicator that they have a good customer base and have a good reputation or they wouldn’t survive in today’s arena.
  • REMEMBER YOU’RE IN CHARGE – The recruiter works for you.  You should feel very confident in establishing the ground rules on how this relationship works.  What types of opportunities you are interested in and what ones you’re not.  A trusted recruiter will agree to NEVER submit your resume ANYWHERE that they have not talked to you about FIRST, framed for you, and received your expressed permission to submit on your behalf.
  • BE HONEST AND FORTHCOMING – Communicate! Both the Job seeker and Recruiter should be able to put all cards on the table and feel comfortable around full disclosure on every topic, including other job opportunities in play, salary expectations, client process and status, competition in play, etc. You should expect the recruiter to be direct and forthcoming, and they should be able to expect the same.  If you are not feeling comfortable here, maybe this is not the right relationship.
  • LESS IS BETTER – Contrary to some beliefs, working with too many Recruiters can be counterproductive.  Often times it’s better to pick just a few Recruiters that are established, well connected, respected, etc.  You don’t want to risk having multiple recruiters trying to chase some of the same opportunities at the same time.  It creates confusion.

Hope my rant is helpful in some way.  I invite readers to share their thoughts, experiences and observations.  If you have had previous experiences with Theoris, feel free to comment.  If you have not,  check us out!!