Your Career, Your Choices

Making effective use of your online profiles

Q. I am just putting together my CV for the first time in 14 years. Should I put a link to my LinkedIn account on it? (John, question put to us at recent jobs expo seminar in Castlebar, Co. Mayo )

A. Your CV is a sales document, as we’ve said a thousand times here before. So the question goes right back at you, John: if someone were to click on your LinkedIn profile, would that help to sell you?

John nods. “I keep my LinkedIn profile very up-to-date,” he says. So, in his case, we would support the idea of putting a LinkedIn link on his CV.

We have seen some excellent examples of how LinkedIn, and other social media, can be used effectively. Here’s just one:

When in college, Tony made a point of contributing to online discussions about his chosen field. He joined groups on LinkedIn, commented on topical issues, and even started discussions. He also tweeted and re-tweeted news and opinions of interest in his field. The result?

By the time, he left college, Tony had created a significant ‘footprint’ – when potential employers checked out his LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, they saw evidence of a young man with a real enthusiasm for his sector.

Needless to say, Tony linked his LinkedIn and Twitter profiles from his CV. The ultimate result? Tony punched significantly ‘above his weight’ for a recent graduate, and landed a job that he described to me as ‘my dream job.’

The message is that some people see social media as simply a place where uninteresting people bore you to death with news of their latest face-shave or tooth-brush. It can do a whole pile more than that, and we would urge you to explore how you can apply it to your benefit.

I should explain more about LinkedIn as some of you may not have heard of it before, or heard about it but not dipped the toe. It’s a bit like Facebook without the trivial stuff: an online business arena. It amounts to different strokes for different folks, and we encourage you to check it out. Go to www.LinkedIn.com and create your profile. It’s free.

The age of experience

Q. I’m 58 years of age, and have just been laid off after 23 years in the same job. I haven’t even started to look around for a job yet – deep down, I have this fear that I’m too old. Am I? I am an office administrator. (Mary, email ).

It is our view that you’re too old only if you think you are: tell yourself you’re too old, and you are guaranteed to be right.

I know an employer who boasts about how he took on a 71 year-old staff member last year, and how it was a major success. “With age comes experience,” explains the employer, “and there are different people for different roles. I would never look at age as a debarring factor, but rather I would look at the candidate and see what benefits they offer.”

Ageism is rife. When the media – and, indeed, presidential candidates – talk about “our greatest asset, our young people”, do they not realise the subliminal message they are sending to older people?

You shouldn’t buy into any suggestion that you’re too old. Rage, rage, against it, as Dylan Thomas said. Do not go gently into that good night.

Yes, you may never again run 100m in 15 seconds. But you are unlikely to be asked to do that in an office administration job, unless you cut it too fine with the evening trip to the post office.

Think of what you’ve got – not what you don’t have. Think of the experience you bring. Think of the enthusiasm you have. Think of the skills you have. Think of the discretion, responsibility, and reliability you’ve developed over the years.

Think of all of those things, put them down on your CV, and tell them to interviewers in the interview. And then get that job.

Sli Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com ) carry out Mock Interviews. To obtain the form they use for marking candidates in Mock Interview, email [email protected] with Mock Interview Form in the subject line.

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