By Nicole Williams
It may have been a few years since you've been on the dating scene, but it won't surprise you that the essential precursor to heading out with a new beau is the requisite Google search.
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 (like post those pictures of the holiday party antics), the good news is that we have a few years of online dating techniques to lean on, and yes, they work for your career!
It's all about the match. "Tall, Red Sox fan, adventurous, world traveler." There isn't a single woman who doesn't have a list of what they are looking for in a date. Now, have you applied that same principle to the job you're looking for or – even better – the boss?
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.
This might sound like crazy talk in light of the current job market, but like how having standards makes 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 to do some online reconnaissance. Look at the company's website and press releases. Also connect with professionals who are currently working at the company, and see what kind of skill sets and experiences they have. Is this the type of place you'd want to work?
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 the employers see that not only are they the perfect fit for you, but also that you are the perfect fit for them.
Look your best. You may think you look fantastic in that picture your friend took of you back in 1989, but unless you have been able to retain that same youthful glow (not likely), you're better off using a photograph that is no more than five years old.
While, of course, you are talented, have a great personality and just want to get through the door, the real questions is: When you walk through the door, will the hiring manager 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 coffee shop or trying to locate someone at a crowded networking event, it's better that they can actually recognize you.
The best picture is simply a headshot of you in professional attire. Pull back those shoulders, lift up your chin and smile confidently. That is all you need. And no, you can't use a picture of you and your dog. Not unless you're a vet.
Get recommended. Your mom raves about the "great gal" she met in her virtual book club who is absolutely perfect for you – not so much. Your best friend who is dating his own super model turned inventor of The Snuggle – that's more like it.
The first step is to make sure you're connected to the kind of people who reflect both who you are and who you aspire to be is to ask for help getting set up. When it comes to getting what you want in either your personal or professional life, there is nothing like the power of a solid recommendation. Whether it's via a phone call or LinkedIn, recommendations are the key to moving from an unknown to a known.
Tell me about yourself. "I like long walks on the beach and full-bodied Merlot." There are so many ways in which you could summarize yourself, so where do you start? More importantly, where do you end?
Not unlike the online dating world, the best place to start is not with you, but with who 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 around the point you want to be wrapping up, yes, if you're a marathon runner, snowboarder 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.