Have you ever met someone in one context (school, work, etc.) and later seen them again in a totally different context? What’s your reaction?
When I’m in that situation (encountering a doctor I’d only seen once in her office in a bikini at a weekend camp out, for example), it’s jarring. I often can’t remember who the person is, or what their name is, because they’re so out of context. And I wonder how all the parts fit together.
Well, when you’re looking for work, this same issue can arise, often virtually.
Make Sure Your Image is Consistent
I’ve talked before about the steps you can take to “clean up” your Google results. (You should totally do this.)
But now we’re talking about something a little different — consistency.
What does that mean?
- It probably makes sense to use the same photo for all your social media accounts. If you don’t have a good, professional-looking headshot, it’s time to get one. Ask a friend to take it, and put on a suit jacket. This will be your “go to” photo for LinkedIn and any other site where you post your professional details. Why? Because that way people can be sure they’ve found the correct John Smith, when they do a little background check after your initial interview. (Before long, this photo will start appearing in image search results for your name, so make sure you like it.)
- Triple check that everything online matches your application materials. Does your cover letter say you’re in the top 10% of your class? Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and doesn’t say you’re top 5%. Check all dates of employment and education. Don’t include jobs one place and not another. Don’t give anyone a reason to think you’re not telling the truth!
- Be consistent in your interests. It goes without saying that you’ll want to pay attention to the convergence of your law school activities with the jobs you’re applying for. Looking for firm work? Starting the Anarchist Law Student Society at your law school might not be the best idea. But also consider what extracurricular activities are likely to show up when someone searches for you. Do you blog? About what? Blogging can be a great way to express yourself, learn about online marketing, and make friends. But what happens when you’re writing a hyper-personal blog, for example, and opposing counsel or a potential employer is following along? (Not saying you shouldn’t do it, but I’ve talked to several aspiring lawyers who wish they’d played things a bit closer to the vest with their personal blogging.) Before you post anything online (whether it’s in a forum, on a blog, or on a social media site), just take a second to think about whether it’s something you’d like your potential employers to consider. If not, it’s time for a pseudonym (and a different email address).
Ultimately, your goal is to project a consistently positive image, however someone encounters you.
Paranoia isn’t necessary, but a little forethought will ensure no one has reason to think, “Which version of this person is real?” when considering whether to hire you!
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Job Hunting 101
Here’s all of Job Hunting 101:
- Job Hunting 101: It’s Not All About You
- Job Hunting 101: Project a Consistent Image
- Job Hunting 101: Don’t Neglect Your Headshot
- Job Hunting 101: What Makes You Unique?
- Job Hunting 101: Google Yourself
- Job Hunting 101: Did You Know Your Law School May Pay for Conferences?
- Job Hunting 101: Get Out and Meet People
- Job Hunting 101: Be Careful Who Your Facebook Friends Are
- Job Hunting 101: Follow Up
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What would you like career help with? Leave suggestions in the comments!
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