The Professional Details of Job Searching
Pixar’s Andrew Stanton once said “If you want someone’s attention, whisper.” He means that the tiny details count. To succeed professionally after graduation, you need to stand out from the crowd. And nobody’s perfect, which means that in order to stand out, you need to have a few perfect touches that everyone else misses.
There are plenty of sources of information on the big things – resumes, connections, interview etiquette – but there are also plenty of more obscure details that need to be perfect, and are seldom mentioned by anyone. Here are a few of those tiny things that you need to keep professional:
An email address
These are all email addresses that possible employers will see shortly before turning into impossible employers. The business world takes place at sterile, factual email addresses. If you don’t have a no-nonsense address by the time you graduate, you’re in for a bad time. You need to wean yourself into the best possible address.
You’re in luck if you have a strange first or last name, like Randolph McDonald. Just head to Gmail.com and sign up with the entire thing. But most of us are in the middle category of names: Adam Rowe, for instance, is already used by a few dozen other email address users in the world, limiting my options. Try combinations of initials or go with the last name first, if you’re desperate: employers won’t care as long as the address looks suitably boring.
There’s a final category: the boss level of names. If you have the misfortune to have a completely over-used name – one of my friends is actually named “Peter Smith” – then you have just one choice left: add a word or two. My personal favorite is “YourNameis” since the “is” completes a full sentence stating at which email domain you can be found. [email protected], for instance.
You probably know better than to put up Facebook photos of yourself naked, drinking, smoking, or doing anything that would make your grandmother blush. Congratulations, you’re not an idiot. But there are other things to look out for.
Facebook, and other social media sites, are your entire online presence. It’s the only way that hundreds of your acquaintances, including your potential employers, know the real you. And it’s a verified fact that people trust and value good looking individuals over less good-looking ones. It’s not fair, but it happens. Pruning facebook photos to keep them respectable isn’t just something for vain teens. A few goofy pictures will give you character, but you should practice deleting photos that have poor lighting or give you bags under your eyes.
An unusual detail on the resume
Nowadays, resumes are quickly scanned for keywords and discarded if they don’t have enough. Often the scan isn’t even a human one. But if you’ve used connections, and you know that your resume will be slapped on the desk of a flesh-and-blood HR professional, there’s one touch you can add to improve your chances: something they aren’t looking for.
I stuck my experience as a clown on my ‘special skills’ section. Maybe you’ve skydived or can play two guitars at the same time. There’s no harm in slapping a weird talent in your resume: computers won’t complain about it, and the human services might appreciate your sense of humor. It’s the sort of whisper that just might get someone’s attention.