Thursday, June 9, 2011

How Your Personal Brand and Online Presence Can Combat Ageism

Many jobseekers prepare and post resumes with the phrase “More than 30 years experience…” and “A seasoned executive.” These phrases are only “code” for “I am an older candidate” which we all know can be the kiss of death. We also know that it is a common belief in both recruiting and employer circles that if you are over 50 you are likely neither technically savvy nor capable of top performance.
Au contraire!  Most of us who are over 50 would beg to differ. The notion comes from relevance of age and athletic ability. As we all know, when we get older our physical abilities may be affected but our minds certainly are not.

In fact, age 50+ is, for most, the peak of their knowledge, leadership, and performance ability. You must get in front of the employer to prove your capabilities to them and eliminate this stereotype. Your only way of doing this is by skillfully managing and crafting your personal brand and your online presence.

How do you define your personal brand?  It’s far more than a well-written resume.  It also encompasses your online presence (Google search results, online CV, blogs you write or contribute to, your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles…and more!).  

1    1.  Google search results

          When was the last time you “googled” yourself?  An astonishingly high 22% never 
          had and 16% had done so only once.  Trust me, folks, any employer or recruiter 
          is going to do just that if your resume passes muster! 

          If you don’t like what you see, or don’t see enough, you need to curate your results.  
          Some people, especially those with common names, even do their own Google 
          advertising in order to get found.  Others use Vizibility to help.

2.      2.  LinkedIn

It is critically important that, if you’re going to join LinkedIn, that you spend time and thought on your profile, on your contacts, on your recommendations, on your posts and the groups that you join.  Employers and recruiters often go here first after doing a Google search for you.  You have a substantial opportunity to make a great impression here IF you have put it together thoughtfully and strategically.  

3.      3.  Tweet, tweet, tweet!

No it’s not just for Justin Bieber and Paris Hilton.  This is the medium that most “older” executives are the least comfortable with.  Here’s how to think about Twitter and its place amid the social media channels:  LinkedIn is the boardroom; Facebook is the barbecue; MySpace is the bar; and Twitter is the water cooler.  I don’t know about you but my personal favorite source of news and insights is at the water cooler!  Use Twitter to send updates on information of interest to you and your network; retweet posts you appreciate; follow people you admire; and contribute.  The more you contribute, the larger your network, the more likely Google is to pick up your online presence in this very important channel.

4.      4.  Blogs

If you don’t have one, consider posting to them.  Again, this is an important piece in your online presence.   How “dated” could your experience be if you’re plugging in to a blog or 3 on a regular basis?  This shows connectedness, that you’re savvy vis a vis social media, and that you are plugged into what’s going on right now.

Bottom line:  People do not care how old or overweight a ball player as long as they score!

Your online presence must show the employer that if you are given the ball, you will score…and that you HAVE scored.  That will help prevent the employer from categorizing you as less capable due to your age.