For the past decade, the curriculum vitae has been the key for job seekers to show potential employers who they are, their achievements and the skills they can bring to a company.
But things have been changing dramatically over the past few years with the arrival of new social media tools that can prove valuable, provided you know how to use them. You may even use them for purposes other than looking for a job. You are likely to have heard of all of them: Twitter, Facebook, MyBlogLog, SlideShare, Myspace, and other tools such as YouTube, LinkedIn and Google Reader. With these new technological marvels in mind, Dan Stuart, 36, a senior business developer for the recruitment site Bayt.com, has one credo: brand yourself.
On his blog, Mr Stuart presents himself as a serial online adventurer specialising in personal branding, social media and e-learning. "We have sessions in January and February for people who come and get advice for their CV," he says. "I started talking to a lot of people and I realised, looking at their CVs, that they were not doing a very good job at positioning themselves, at marketing themselves.
"They had very much a job-profile kind of CV, like: 'Here is the task that I was supposed to do in that previous job; here is what I have achieved'. "People will probably look at where else you are online, what are the contributions you are making, things that you have written online. Are you commenting online? Do you have social profiles? "And if they cannot find you from a professional perspective, it is actually a bad thing because it means that you are not engaged and involved."
For Mr Stuart, socialising online is the key to success. Instead of hiding and fleeing technology and asking people not to comment on your Web activities, he suggests pointing people in the direction you want, making it easier for them to find you. And finally, you should own the conversation. "Social media, new technologies, is a kind of scary thing," he says. "But if we accept the fact that it is everywhere and you get over the privacy issues, if you just assume that everything you do is online anyway, you can just embrace it and use it for your own sake."
Creating and shaping a personal brand online is crucial for people who are starting out and those who are developing their careers. "Whether it is 100 years ago or a minute ago, you need to have a personal brand-positioning statement which differentiates you," Mr Stuart says. "You have got to shape the message." He says you should position yourself in 140 characters. The statement needs to be memorable, motivating and to provide a clear and meaningful picture that differentiates you from the competition. It should also be credible.
So what are the best tools? "Something like LinkedIn is very static," Mr Stuart says. "People tend to put a profile but they never come back to it. I think Twitter is very interesting. People have blogs but they may only share things on their blogs every three or four days. Twitter is like a microblog, a more instant microsharing of things." And as people choose to follow you because they think there is some value in your opinions, you end up pushing your brand, Mr Stuart says.
Another website he uses frequently is SlideShare, which he says "is easy to use; it is a great website. I can put my presentations online and link them back to my blog and put the access on Twitter. I also use it as an information resource." Mr Stuart also recommends using Google Reader. "It is probably the tool I use the most. With Google Reader I can see all the leads of all the sites I have chosen in one space, instead of visiting 25 websites on a daily basis. It is like my information resource."
When reading the thought leaders on a particular topic, it helps to become a thought leader yourself in this particular subject and generate reactions from people around you. "When I am putting into words the things that I am learning - it becomes a value and a contribution to a discussion," he says. "The beauty is that you can link all these tools together." So in a nutshell, you should: start a blog, fine-tune your Facebook account, get a Twitter account, check lists on TweetDeck, present yourself on SlideShare, and follow thought leaders by searching Technorati and using Google Reader. Post, comment and engage.
"Don't be the looking-for-a-job person, be the doing-interesting-things person," Mr Stuart concludes. @Email:email@example.com