Thursday, October 28, 2010

About Fear, and the Job Search

I had lunch today with someone who has offered to help me with my resume and my Linkedin page, both of which need some serious polishing now that I'm so actively hunting. It is an uncomfortable process having someone critique the resume, even though I was 100% aware that it wasn't the best document in the world. It's not that I'm not committed to putting forth my best effort. I think it's more that it's hard not to get emotional about job seeking.

So she looked at my resume and gave me plenty of feedback and advice, which I really, really appreciated. For example, she suggested I move my education down and put my job experience first, which makes sense. It's amazing how much of my resume is a hangover from the days when my education was all that I had to be proud of on my resume. I also got some new ideas, like adding a "reading now" list to my Linkedin page. I jumped on that suggestion right away!

But the advice that inspired the above title was simply to remove the picture of myself hugging my children and replace it with a more professional headshot. Now, the picture of me hugging the kids was out of date (and before I started going to a salon for a professional haircut, to boot). It just so happened that I had replaced the photo already with a recent headhot, which I specifically edited to remove my daughter from the frame. I think there is something to the "appropriate forum" idea: Larry Winget said something similar about political campaigns: "I want to know your position, not that you can breed." Understood, and agreed. LinkedIn is a professional network, therefore, I should be using a photo that makes me look like the professional I am.

But a note entered into our conversation at this point that gave me pause. She advised me first of all to Google myself. (I have- nothing terrible comes out of it.) But then she asked if my Facebook profile is public. I wasn't sure. She advised me to lock it down ASAP. Basically, she said, you don't want to go into an interview where the interviewers know more about you than you can tell them.

Um. This blog is a BIG problem, in that case. So I have been thinking this over and wondering, am I oversharing? Chris Brogan mentions this in Trust Agents, as well. Being in public and using bits of your personal life to connect with your audience is one thing. Oversharing, apparently, is another thing. I can see this. It reminds me of my husband's grandmother when she was in her eighties, and I would sit down to talk with her. She would tell me all the details of her health issues, and what she'd had for breakfast, and every exchange of the last conversation she'd had with her sister, and so forth. She was utterly open and charming and I loved her dearly, but I really didn't want to know everything about her daily life.

Still, I am a mother and I have young children. It's impossible to pretend that that won't affect my future or my job performance, and impossible for me to write them out of my life, even if I wanted to. I don't. The best part of applying for a job at the other day was that I didn't have to HIDE my family.

I don't want to live in fear. This blog was begun as part of a project of radical honesty. I have this little core of people that I am able to be radically honest with if I want to. They include my husband, my best friends, and my immediate family. Outside of that inner circle, I wear a protective mask. Exposure feels like death. But do I really want to be hired into another place where I have to keep still all day long? No!

Fear and shame are closely related, and I've tried to tackle shame in this blog before. I am not ashamed of myself. I am not ashamed of my family. I am not ashamed of my past mistakes, sins, failures. I am thirty-one years old. I have done and said stupid, foolish things before. I have done and said things that I am ashamed of, but I am not ashamed to tell you what those things are. I learned from them. I endeavor not to repeat them. But I can't erase them, and hiding them behind a screen will only make me more fearful.

Still, this is a complicated problem. I want to get into customer service and social media marketing. This means my reputation will need to be stellar. I don't want people stumbling across this blog, or looking at my Linkedin or Facebook page, and drawing negative conclusions about me. But won't the truth come out anyway? If I am all over the internet, and Twitter and Facebook and everyplace, the good and the bad truth are out there. My failures are already out there. Why pretend they don't exist?

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