How to Better Present Yourself to Future Employers

The job market isn’t just somewhere to look for jobs. It’s where you sell your most valuable asset: experience. Whether you have aspirations of freelancing or climbing the corporate ladder, representing yourself well goes a long way toward getting that gig.

On Paper

Consider whether the person reading a whole pile of résumés is going to want to slog through a four-page life story. In a field like engineering or architecture, a four-page résumé may be acceptable, as the projects will need a more substantial level of technical description. Otherwise, a one- or two-page document is an appropriate length for most employers. Use the space wisely by concisely demonstrating previous responsibilities and skills learned.

Preparing a portfolio is a necessity for more than just architects and photographers. Anyone from designers to zoologists may want to have a visual representation of the work they’ve done and can do. Have a PDF of work examples that can be easily emailed along with a résumé, as well as a hard copy to take to a meeting or interview. A personal website may be the best resource if you want to make a greater amount of sample work available.

Save Face(book)

Speaking of online work, if you’re promoting yourself online — and you should — make sure the picture painted is honest and appealing for all viewers. To avoid undue embarrassment — and to keep your chances at getting a job or client — make sure all the information is accurate, wherever it’s posted. Don’t exaggerate your last position on MySpace or your contribution to a project on Facebook. Also, there shouldn’t be anything offensive on your profiles or posts. If you wouldn’t say it to grandma, don’t post it on Facebook.

Make sure to choose profile photos and avatars wisely. Consider what would be appropriate for the workplace. It doesn’t mean your Twitter avatar needs to be a boring graduation portrait, but it might not be the place to share the scandalous Halloween costume photo. The same goes for embarrassing pics of lost bets and wild parties: it’s best that a potential employer not find those. If any friends have embarrassing pictures tagged with your name, politely ask that they remove the pictures from their albums.

Online Résumé

Don’t dismiss blogs and Twitter accounts as a means of drawing professional attention. A potential employer may see an ongoing conversation online with others in your field as sign of genuine interest, rather than just another person looking for a day job. Also make sure to maintain an up-to-date LinkedIn account or similar professional profile. It allows potential clients or employers to see your résumé and get in contact if they’re interested in your online work or discussions.

Showing Off

When it’s time to show your stuff, know the audience: presenting yourself and your skills to a church will look very different than for a local skateboard alliance, even if both projects or positions require the same skill sets. Strike a balance between expressing how you’re relevant to the project or company and what makes you unique.

Many Americans are currently looking for a job. If you want to be one of the successful ones, be thoughtful in presenting your skills. It might make the difference between earning a pay check and earning a whole lot of nothing.

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