Is the Way You Use Social Media Hurting Your Career?

Every time I read an article like the recent “How social media can hurt your career” on Careerbuilder, I am grateful that we didn’t have social media back when I was in college. Young, testing the waters, and with a lot of opinions to share, I wonder if I would have unknowingly committed a faux pas in the weakness of a heated moment that would have hurt me professionally? Of course, stupid choices are not reserved for the young. Grown and experienced adults make them every day. The differences are some are more public than others and now social media is being used by employers as a microscopic tool inspecting your every utterance.

As social media becomes the latest branding strategy, networking technique, job seeking tool and recruitment vehicle, it’s also becoming the latest way for people to get job offers rescinded, reprimanded at work and even fired.

While I am all for expressing oneself and acknowledge that for many of us our online friends are as valuable as any person we know IRL (“in real life”), some of the examples I read about are really eligible for the Darwin Awards. Like the offhanded “my boss is an idiot” type remarks on Twitter and Facebook or the “I’m doing something illegal, immoral or against company policy right now at my desk” sort of fare that really makes you wonder whether the author thinks that no one is really going to read it? Unless you are working in a cave, chances are your boss, co-workers, employer, or someone is going to have something to say about your comments. Remember the 6 degrees of separation that makes social networking such a powerful tool? Well the power saw cuts both ways.

Of course what is and is not appropriate is in the eye of each individual. Yet when it comes to professional life you really do have to get that you should never put anything in print (and these days that includes tweets, status updates, etc.) that you (or your mother) would be embarrassed seeing on the front page of the newspaper (or say the front page of Read the rest of this entry »

Why Vacations Are Necessary When You’re Unemployed

I know, the title of this post sounds crazy: take a vacation while you’re unemployed?

Well, in my case, I had enough from free-lance earnings and needed a break from the slow pace at which job searching is going these days. I got tired of sitting around, refreshing Craigslist every ten seconds, and decided that even though I was out of the day-to-day hubbub of a full-time gig, I still deserved a pause.

The week that my partner and I spend outside of New York was great. I read a lot, got tan and had enough space to really think about what I want in my next job. I also came to terms with the crossroads I’m at with my career, realizing that I’ve been going nonstop since college and should take this time to assess where I’ve been.

My first realization: I want to be a writer, not necessarily a journalist. As the media consolidates and morphs into god knows what, I’m going to take the opportunity to write for a broad spectrum of outlets, from nonprofits to Twitter, and have fun learning the new processes. I enjoy talking to people and learning new information, then synthesizing those interactions into written form that, I hope, help readers pick up what I learned. I ultimately don’t care if my writing is on A1 of the Times or in a report on a Web site. Read the rest of this entry »

Worthless Stock Options – And They Called This a Reward?

I can remember my first year at my last company (let’s call it Fancy Fortune 100)) when bonus and raise time rolled around.  Management was so excited about the fact that they were handing out employee stock options as part of the compensation package.  Oh everyone rejoiced, you’ll make a lot of money on this, it’ll be worth tens of thousands of dollars. People buy cars and boats in cash with their option grants.  This week as I shredded the useless paper filled with the options that expired two years from my last day with the company due to layoffs I sarcastically muttered – wow what a load of crap.

I know I shouldn’t complain. During my years there I earned a good salary and did receive some cash bonus awards.  It’s not like I was part of the Dot Com bust where people literally were planning on stock options for survival (or at least justification for working 24/7/365).  It’s not like I worked for Enron and saw my my 401K vanish or invested with Madoff and lost my life savings. Yet the promise of a job well done sours as I fire up my shredder. Read the rest of this entry »

My never-ending job quest

I know, I know, I’m not the only person looking for a job – but sometimes it sure feels like it.

After getting laid off in April, as part of a cull that was just another nail in the coffin of “traditional” journalism, I was confident I could land something relatively quickly. Well, at least, within a few months. It’s now been five months, and I’m starting to get, well, frustrated.

I’m definitely not alone though. The Labor Department Thursday said the number of laid-off workers applying for benefits dipped to 570,000 from an upwardly revised 574,000 the previous week. And overall, the unemployment rate is 9.7% of all Americans.

Still, there has to be something out there for me: an experienced writer/journalist with eight years under my belt. I’m not writing this as an advertisement, I’m writing this post as a sign that, although things seem to be getting “better” and people’s portfolios have bounced back from the brink, jobs are still a rare commodity. Read the rest of this entry »

Steps For Cleaning Up Your Online Persona

Last week I mentioned that your online persona could be costing you jobs. Everything that we say or do online is available for anyone to see, so it’s very important that the image you project online presents you in the best light.

There are several services on the market that claim to clean up your online persona. They allow you to get monthly reports, much like your credit report, that will tell you if anything negative has been posted. But with a little bit of tech savviness on your part, you can do the work yourself and save the registration fee that it costs to sign up for these services.

1. Social Networking
In the early days of the internet, people crafted alter egos for themselves, and they were relatively anonymous. Nowadays, however, the distinction between online and the “Real World” is fairly blurred.

If you are on Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Friendster, or any other social networking sites, you need to remove any pictures or videos that might show you acting a fool. This includes your account, but it also includes your friends’ accounts. If you’re tagged in someone else’s photos and they show you doing body shots off a stripper, photocopying your buttocks on the company’s copy machine, or anything else like that, you need to contact your friends and ask that they delete those pictures. Read the rest of this entry »

Comfortable in Your Own Skin Podcast with Julie Roads

Last month I had another of my podcast interviews and this time with Julie Roads of Writing Roads, LLC.   Julie is a professional marketing copywriter, speaker/workshopper and consultant with a specialty in web & blog writing and activating social media authentically to grow any business.  I first met Julie online, most likely through my writings here at Queercents. As I got to know her work more I was thrilled to get a chance to sit down and talk with her one-on-one about what it takes to be successful as a self-employed writer.

In our time together Julie shares a lot of great tips for all aspiring writers and freelancers.  She also talks about the joys and challenges of raising her kids with her wife.  Julie is a social media expert with a knack of building community online so you’ll want to check out her musings on Twitter as well.

Head on over to listen to the comfortable in your own skin podcast with Julie Roads.

Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G. Company, offers life and business coaching for lesbians to help you gain the clarity, confidence, and courage you need to have success on your own terms. Get the free eCourse “5 Steps to Turn Fear Into Freedom” at her website

Is Your Online Persona Effecting Your Career Potential?

If you’re on the job market right now, you’ve probably noticed that it’s a competitive environment. The number of available jobs has dwindled, and the number of applicants for those jobs has risen substantially. With so much competition, job applicants need to be super vigilant about the persona that they project online, because many employers are using Google as a tool for vetting applicants.

According to Business Week:

Googling people is also becoming a way for bosses and headhunters to do continuous and stealthy background checks on employees, no disclosure required. Google is an end run around discrimination laws, inasmuch as employers can find out all manner of information — some of it for a nominal fee — that is legally off limits in interviews: your age, your marital status, the value of your house (along with an aerial photograph of it), the average net worth of your neighbors, fraternity pranks, stuff you wrote in college, liens, bankruptcies, political affiliations, and the names and ages of your children . . .

Today there are two of you. There’s the analog, warm-blooded version: the person who presses flesh at business conferences and interprets the corporate kabuki in meetings. Then there’s the online you, your digital doppelgänger; that’s the one that is growing larger and more impossible to control every day. Read the rest of this entry »

Financial benefits of being fluent in Mandarin

I’ve been to China several times with my day job and every time I go, I’m amazed at how increasingly relevant the country is becoming. I keep telling Jeanine that we should make sure Sam learns Mandarin as a child because will certainly help him as an adult.

There was an article a couple of weeks ago in The New York Times about American graduates finding jobs in China. It profiled a number of adventurous twentysomethings to show why it’s better to be there than here:

Shanghai and Beijing are becoming new lands of opportunity for recent American college graduates who face unemployment nearing double digits at home.

The article is good, but Xin Lu at Wise Bread wrote a post taking it a step further by offering 6 tips for those who are really interested in working in China: Read the rest of this entry »

How to Write a Cover Letter

I probably should have posted this before I wrote about job interviewing skills, but hey . . . whatever. A good cover letter is another tool that you will need to help you land a job. Some people spend a lot of time decluttering their resumes, but then they forget to write a killer cover letter and all that work on their resume is a waste of time.

Reasons to Send a Cover Letter

  • Cover letters are customized to the specific job that you are seeking
  • A cover letter succinctly describes your skills for the interviewer without making them search your resume to find the relevant information.
  • Cover letters help you show your personality style: enthusiastic, goal-oriented, straightforward, etc.

What Should a Cover Letter Include?

  • State the job opening that you are applying for and how you heard about the position (Craigslist, company’s website, etc.)  If someone at the company told you about the position, it is a good idea to mention this in your cover letter.
  • Show that you are familiar with the company and explain why you want to work for them
  • Summarize your qualifications that make you a good fit for the job – you should pull this information directly from the job description
  • Effective cover letters are detailed but succinct.  Get straight to the point and avoid flowery language.
  • Give specific examples of achievements that may not be apparent from the resume.  For example, “At my previous job I increased sales by 25%.”
  • Give your contact information so that the interviewer can follow up with you

Read the rest of this entry »

Should You Come Out During a Job Interview

Paula’s recent post about being out in the workplace, along with my recent experience with the job interview process, got me wondering if it’s a good idea to come out during the job interview.  I’m not talking about showing up in assless chaps and waving a rainbow flag – that wouldn’t be appropriate for any job interview, unless, of course, you’re hoping to become the bouncer at your favorite leather bar.  But there are more subtle ways to out yourself during the interview process.  So what are the pros, and what are the cons?

Rosie Kirk at Lesbilicious believes that there are many advantages to coming out during the interview process.

1. It shows you’re brave
Coming out is not easy. Homophobia is rife, and you never know how people are going to react. To come out to a stranger who wields power over you is therefore a brave decision. A smart employer will see that, and see the benefit of hiring someone who has guts and will stand up for themselves.

2. It shows you’re honest
The unfair truth is that by not correcting an assumption of heterosexuality you’re being dishonest. After all, you can smile and nod when someone asks if you have a boyfriend, but what happens when they ask his name? Make up one lie and you’ll find yourself telling more and more lies until you’ve fabricated an entire life. Read the rest of this entry »