Guest Post: Have You ‘Googled’ Yourself Lately?

As you all know, we are getting ready for our big LinkedIn workshop this week. As part of our online presence theme, I am very pleased to feature a guest post today by Sara Lancaster of No. 2 Pen. I met Sara at a networking (it works, people!) event for the Women’s Education Project in March and she has been helping me with my website content. You should see her influence in about a week as I change the layout and language on some of my pages.

So pay attention to Sara’s advice on online profiles!

Have You ‘Googled’ Yourself Lately?

If you are embarking on a job search, you should search for your name now and continue to do so regularly. This is not about vanity; it’s about managing your online reputation.

How to Google yourself properly

Google has something called “personalized search,” which means it keeps track of your search history and serves you search results based on your preferences. In order to get less biased search engine results for your name, log out of all your accounts and clear your computer’s cache.

Then try the following search strategies:

  • Sara Lancaster (name)
  • Sara Lancaster writer (name, occupation)
  • Sara Lancaster Denver (name, city)
  • Sara Lancaster CU Boulder (name, alma mater)

You might also try these combinations of searches using quotation marks around your name or by using your last name only.

How to remedy an injured online reputation recently published an article that stated 75% of HR departments screen candidates online, and that 70% of US-based HR professionals did not hire someone because of what they found online. What will an employer find out about you?

Facebook photos of you drinking at a party? An outdated MySpace page that you haven’t even looked at since high school? Your name on a forum talking about how you spend 18 hours a day playing World of Warcraft?

Now is the time to close old accounts, update privacy settings on the accounts you want to keep, and rewrite the “About Me” sections of your profiles. Consider having a professional photo taken or at least post a respectable photo to all public social media accounts.

Since Facebook is often the biggest trouble spot for potential employees, please be extra vigilant about untagging yourself from photos and making your profile private. Do not request to be friends or accept friend requests from employers, previous employers, and future employers unless you are confident you and your friends will keep it clean.

How to stack the search engine pages deck

Now that you fixed or tried to fix what’s already online, you should add content to the web ensuring potential employers have plenty of impressive content to review. Here are few ideas to get you started, but be creative! This is your chance to shine in the web space.

  • Create a YouTube video (using your flip cam) introducing yourself to potential employers
  • Complete your Google profile and add a link to your LinkedIn profile (If you aren’t already on LinkedIn, this is a must!)
  • Set up a profile on that includes a bio and your resume
  • Start Tweeting about the industry you want to work in
  • Blog about a hobby or topic you are passionate about

Managing your online reputation is an ongoing process. Be cognizant of what you put online and ask your friends to do the same.

Sara Lancaster is a website content writer and online marketing consultant for individuals and businesses. Read more about Sara, her agency, No. 2 Pen, and about how a website could help you in your job search by visiting the No. 2 Pen blog.

Soft Skills Workshop Recap and Resumes Part 3

Where did the week go? It’s nice to be busy with lots of things. At the same time I am running The Opportunities Project and meeting with clients, I am participating in a program called FastTrac NewVenture, which is an initiative of Mayor Bloomberg’s sponsored by the New York City Business Solutions Center, the SUNY Levin Institute, and the Kauffman Foundation. Twenty-nine fellow entrepreneurs and I meet twice a week to fine-tune and revise our business models and plans. It’s a great program and among other things, has me thinking about how some of my rates will change when my first price guarantee comes to an end on October 1. Please keep that in mind if you are considering buying coaching sessions from me!

Also, this week, we hosted our first workshop (woo hoo!) on Building Soft Skills for career and interview success. We started the event with some pre-workshop music from Glee (anyone else excited about Britney vs Brittany?), New Edition, and Eddie Money (?), and then transitioned into discussion and real-life interview practice and coaching. The surveys came back great and I even got an unsolicited testimonial. The Prezi is online for everyone to check out, and we may even have some video coming soon, courtesy of Eve Hyman. I plan on repeating the event in October with a new and exciting partner so more of you can experience it. Thanks to my summer interns who taught me the wonder of Prezi.

More Resume Tips and Wrapping up the First Cocktails and Careers Tour

What a great week! I attended six events where I got the opportunity to meet and help almost 100 job seekers. It was rewarding and refreshing to talk to people who are optimistic in a difficult environment. One of the best events was the Syracuse University Success in the City event (pictured). Every recent graduate I met was well spoken and prepared- kudos to them and the career center. I also had the pleasure of giving a free coaching package to Dave Bell, a 2010 grad with entrepreneurship in his future. I look forward to helping him with those goals.

At almost every event, resumes were a hot topic. So as promised, here is my second tip on resume development. You may think of your resume as just a list of bullet points and accomplishments, but it really should tell a story about you and your career. If it’s just a multi-page document with a lot of buzzwords, you are not going to get very far in your job search process.

We have become overloaded with blog posts and articles about online application systems that search your resume for keywords and throw out the ones that don’t have enough. First, that is an exaggeration. Second, only a small percentage of people ever get hired through a job posting like that so that is NOT where you should focus your efforts. Instead, commit to creating a clear and concise product that you are proud to email to a personal contact you met at a networking event. Third and finally, if your resume does get through an initial automatic review, an interview is not going to be scheduled without a human evaluation for quality, anyway.

If you’re not sure if your resume tells a story, ask a friend or colleague to look at the most current version and ask what stories they would tell about your career based solely what is on paper. Do they sense that you stood out from other people at your level or in your title? Do they get a sense of the career decisions you made up to this point? If not, what could you do to make your resume tell a better story?

Now that our first Cocktail and Careers tour is complete, we are focusing on our Cupcakes and Careers workshop series. Our first one is tonight at the SLC Conference Centers at 352 Seventh Avenue at 7:00PM. We will be talking about how you can build the soft skills that make people successful in the interview and job search process. Hope to see you there!

Alumna in the House

Very excited about two events today!

The other 2/3 of The Opportunities Project team- Maddie and Eve- will be at the Idealist Grad School Fair today at the Puck Building in Soho. We will be having a Public Service Edition of the Cocktails and Careers Tour at Puck Bar across the street at 7:30 PM for people who want to learn more about getting into public service careers, with or without a master’s degree. The Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, where I got my MPA in public finance, is hosting the fair. I had a great education at Wagner so check our their stuff at the fair and then come talk to Maddie and Eve about what we can do for you in taking your next step in public service.

Check out the details for the Puck Bar event.

I am not attending this special stop on the Cocktails and Careers Tour because I am hosting a table at the Syracuse University SUccess in the City event tonight in midtown. One big reason I started my business for college students and recent graduates is that my experience as an undergrad at Syracuse was incredibly transformational for me. I am excited to help students and even more excited that Syracuse is giving me an opportunity to give away a coaching package to a recent college graduate at the event tonight. Even though I had a great experience at NYU, I will always primarily be an Orangewoman at heart. One look at Otto and my heart melts.

Sorry, Your Resume Does Matter: Tips from a Recruiter

The universe is telling me that it’s time to get out of my entrepreneur/new small business owner haze for a bit and write a quick blog post on resumes. Three things awakened me to this realization this week.

(1) Everyday I see at least one tweet scroll by or an article in my Google reader that talks about how resumes aren’t all that important because jobs are obtained through networking. I saw one last night that left me both tired and boiling mad at the same time.

Resumes and Networking are not opposite concepts or tools. Hot is to Cold is not the same as Networking is to Having a Great Resume.  When networking, you may meet the best contact ever, but if  he has no job openings, he will want to pass on your resume to someone in his network. His contact will likely put great stock in the personal recommendation, but your candidacy has to stand on its own and that has to be reflected, at least in part, on paper.

(2) Resumes were a hot topic on Monday night’s Twitter #jobhuntchat. Recruiters and HR folks were telling jobseekers that most of them actually don’t know how to do a resume, and the jobseekers were telling the recruiters they have great resumes. What was interesting is that the recruiters were all tweeting the same advice on resumes, but in most cases, the jobseekers  still weren’t convinced to follow it.

BTW- what’s a Twitter chat you might ask? It’s when a bunch of people (sometimes over 100) get together for an hour to chat on a topic that interests them. A host throws out 5-6 questions and you share your thoughts, reply to other’s thoughts, and retweet things you like to your followers. Everything you do, you include the hashtag in the Tweet. Yes, just writing some of these terms makes me feel like a teenager. But participating in the #jobhuntchat and the #genychat have been some of the best hours I have spent in the last week in making connections, challenging my thoughts, and becoming a better career coach.

(3) We had an awesome first stop on the Cocktails and Careers Tour last night at The Village Pourhouse. People brought their resumes and I did some free reviews over a Guinness. Everyone who came was great and super-focused and I have no doubts with some tweaks to their approach and how they express their brand, they’ll be hired soon. But when I was reviewing one resume, the person kept bringing up advice that she had received at a workshop offered by the public library. For example, she was told ALWAYS use an objective, while I was telling her it was taking up valuable real estate on her resume. If all of your experience is in one area and you’re applying for a job in that same area, I know your objective. I also told her to ditch her AOL email address and she was skeptical, again, because this was in conflict with information she had heard at this workshop.  I am not criticizing her- she was legitimately confused.

So I have three resume tips to share this week. The first tip is now obvious, but it’s to defer to advice being given by real people who hire and recruit. They see resumes all day long and can tell you what stands out to them based on evidence. If you’re a college student or alum using the career office, you should absolutely question where counselors are getting their ideas and if they are requesting and incorporating feedback from employers into their advice to you. What they are telling you could be taken from a book published in 1999.  Likewise, other jobseekers or moms and dads may have great feedback, but if it’s different than what an expert is telling you, you should defer to the expert.

I am becoming more and more convinced that jobseeking is like teaching. Everyone experiences it in some form or other (in the case of teaching, as a student), so they think they know how to do it and love to advise others. But hard data shows that only a small percentage actually succeed at either.

And on that note, if you are in New York City and want your resume reviewed by an expert recruiter, come join me on the Cocktails and Careers Tour. Our next two stops (September 15 and 18) are at The Copper Door Tavern. They are excited to have us and have offered us $12 bottomless glasses of wine tonight. Wine makes resume reviews so much easier.

Cocktail and Career Tour Starts This Week!

I’m about to hit another first milestone in my business this week: hosting my own events! Starting September 14, 2010, I will be having a series of FREE Cocktail and Career happy hours. I really liked just talking with people at the Working NYC event we participated in this summer and want to model these events after that experience. People should feel free to come and just talk with me about any career issues they are facing over a drink at any of the four happy hours. Many of the bars where we are having these events are offering us specials and are excited to be helping people with their careers. We are also holding bar tab raffles for people who Like our Facebook page.

Setting up these events was very interesting for me. In my last job, Isomeone else set set up evnts and she was awesome at it. One thing I knew was that I was definitely NOT awesome at it, so I asked for help from one of my former students to scope out space. I taught fourth and sixth grade in Washington Heights in the late 90s and have stayed in touch with many of my former students who are now in their early 20s and pursuing their own careers. One of my amazing former sixth graders, Glendy, is now a grown-up student at Lehman College and volunteered to come out and try out places and be in some pictures to document our adventure. We saw about six bars and together we settled on The Village Pourhouse, The Copper Door Tavern, and Thunder Jackson’s (not pictured).

Here are the details on the events.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010, 4:30 to 6:30 PM @ The Village Pourhouse

982 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10025

If you have a Columbia University ID and Like our Facebook page, you will be entered into a raffle to have your tab paid for the night (up to $25).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010, 4:30 to 6:30 PM @ The Copper Door Tavern

272 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010

If you have a Baruch College ID and Like our Facebook page, you will be entered into a raffle to have your tab paid for the night (up to $25).

Saturday, September 18, 2010, 1:00 to 4:00 PM @ The Copper Door Tavern

272 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010

EVERYONE who Likes our Facebook page, you will be entered into a raffle to have your tab paid for the night (up to $25).

Monday, September 20, 2010, 6:00 to 8:00 PM @ Thunder Jackson’s

169 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012

If you have a NYU College ID and Like our Facebook page, you will be entered into a raffle to have your tab paid for the night (up to $25).

Podcast Episode 1: Interview with Hope Reichbach

We just recorded our first podcast! For our first episode ever, we interviewed Hope Reichbach, a Brooklyn neighbor who graduated early from NYU and is now running for political office. In her interview, she talks about the lessons she learned in getting her career started.

We are using the Strategic Career Starts label for our podcast series, our LinkedIn group, and our Meetup. Be Strategic is one of our six core competencies and one of the most important three in developing a great career. When you listen to Hope’s story, you’ll see what we mean.

So listen to our first episode, quirks and all. One lesson is not to take allergy medicine 15 minutes before recording. It makes your brain fuzzy and you say “um” a lot. Another thing is that Strategic Career Starts has a lot of “r”s for a girl who grew up in a Massachusetts fishing town and still struggles with her “r”s. Practice will make perfect. Strategic Career Starts, Strategic Career Starts…

Enjoy…. and learn!


The Strategic Career Starts Podcast Series

A month old…

Wow, it’s hard to believe that The Opportunities Project has been more than a month old.

Things I’m excited about

– Launching a back to school campaign in NYC

– Getting our website finalized- for REAL

– Finishing up some interesting pieces on the NYTimes article on 20somethings and student debt that I have worked on

– Meeting more amazing clients who are ready to take on the world

Things I am not so excited about

– Managing space rentals

– Dealing with my technology problems (How can Gmail, Twitter, and Feedburner all fail at the same time?)

– Uncertainty- as much as I try to embrace it, it still is scary

Onward, and upward… new adventures await in month two.

It’s Hard Out There for a Grad

I saw this video on and thought that someone had made a marketing video just for us and the problems we’re trying to solve. I’m new to this business… isn’t that how it works?

Alas, it’s for a potential competitor (or partner?), but there’s certainly enough space in our market for many organizations who want to help college students and recent graduates with their career development so check them out. Even for someone who has worked closely with recent college graduates from the HR and recruitment angle during the last two years of a very rough economy, and right after the 9/11 recession, this video is enlightening, compelling and sobering. If you can watch this and still maintain a positive attitude, you’ve won half the battle.

Unrelated note: One bad side of graduating high school in the early 90s- my first thought when I hear this song is Vanilla Ice.


Getting Ready for NACE

I’m getting ready for The Opportunities Project’s first NACE conference and am looking at the attendee list and writing down the names of people from all the colleges and service organizations who I want to meet. I am eager to talk to people both to learn about the great things they’re doing and talk about partnering. The list of people is long, as well as the list of questions I want to ask. Here are two questions that keep coming back to me.

  1. How are college career centers held accountable for the success of their services? Coming from an organization that is squarely about accountability (What is your impact on teacher and student success? How satisfied are they with your services?), I am amazed that I can’t find this easily via the internet. So far, I have only seen stats on career placement on American University’s website and only see one session on this at NACE, but I am not sure it’s going to answer my question. I am going to continue my search for data on college career center success.
  2. How do colleges design their career center websites? In my research on these websites, I have seen as much crazy, disorganized stuff as the good. No, I will not be linking to examples- I am trying to make friends!

I have more questions, but it is Memorial Day Weekend and I don’t want anyone to have to think too hard. Follow my updates from the NACE conference next week on Twitter.