Stand Out: Tell Potential Employers All About.Me
By now you've probably been told a million times that the savvy job seeker must have an impressive online presence. When a potential employer Googles you, which these days happens more often than not, will you be an E-ghost, with nary a link to your name, or will your Facebook page, where you look like a total party animal, be the first thing that comes up?
You might be wondering if there's a simple way to polish, or even establish, an online image, without spending a lot of time or money.
Some people have the time, writing skills and knowledge to start their own blog. But if you're in a hurry and not given to writing pithy blog entries several times a week, you might try the relatively new about.me, where you can not only write a paragraph or two about yourself, but you also can post a flattering picture, and perhaps most important of all, share links to all the networking sites you frequent.
"We've had connecting physical and digital identity as one of our top must-do's since kick-starting about.me" said Tony Conrad, co-founder of the site. "We're driven to help people take back control of their online identity and we can't wait to see the creative and passionate pages people come up with."
Beauty Is More ThanDeep
In other words, with an about.me profile page, you can give a prospective employer a much clearer idea of who you are and what you can do for him or her. You can include a flattering photo, and a bio that shows your personality -- aspects of you that are not easily conveyed on a resume alone. That way, you're so much more than just black words on a resume document. And if that prospective employer follows the links to all the other sites you have listed, they'll be able to learn even more about you, thus distinguishing your from the rest of the pack.
Those links can be all important. They can show potential employers where your work is posted, and they can also demonstrate that you're relevant and vital online. For example, if you're on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, (as I am) you can share links to those under your bio. You can also share Flickr, Tumblr, WordPress, TypePad, foursquare, Vimeo and more. List as many as you like.
Some brides and new moms have been known to use about.me to post a photo of the couple or new baby, with links to all the stores and websites where they're registered. But that's not going to help you get a job, is it? For employment purposes, you want to post links to sites where you and your work are represented professionally, in a positive light. You might want to leave off that Facebook link, it it's too personal.
Getting Your Name Out There
One of the best things about the site, aside from the fact that it's free, is that it lets you select your own URL, preferably with your name in it. Your page's URL, for example, could be about.me/YourNameHere. Mine is about.me/LisaJohnsonMandell. That URL can look great in an email signature or on a resume, automatically informing everyone that you're web-savvy enough to have an about.me page. It's also likely to pump up your Google or Bing search results.
I set one up for myself so potential employers could find out a little more about me for freelance work. The whole process took about an hour, but it would have been much quicker if I would have had a snappy bio pre-written, and realized that, at this point, there's not a lot you can do with photo manipulation and placement, and the standard backgrounds they've provided are limited. It's very basic, so don't try to force anything. I'd advise you to check out the samples for ideas before you start your own. Also, know what you want to express on this page before you start out.
Pros and Cons of 'Free' Business Cards
About.me is also partnering with Moo.com, which will give you 50 "free" ($5.50 postage charge) business cards with a photo of your choice on one side, and limited info from your about.me page on the other, plus a QR code (a little white square box with black dots in it), that, when scanned with a smartphone, will link directly to your about.me page.
Conrad believes that's a very cool leave-behind when you go into a job interview, and the state-of-the-art QR code may distinguish you in a very positive way, but I have to be honest with you -- unless you pay an extra $19.95, your "free" business cards will come with a Moo advertising banner on the back.
At best that advertisement says, "I'm savvy and thrifty enough to get business cards for free," and at worst, "I'm too cheap and or/desperate to upgrade." You can get more free business cards on other sites without the advertising, but they also won't have the nifty QR code. If you're dealing with people who would actually know how to read it, I'd pony up the additional $19.95 to go ad-free.
The advantages of a free about.me page are reason enough to spend the limited time and effort it takes to set one up. A URL with your name on it anywhere on your job application, from your resume to your email signature, can be worth it's weight in gold.
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