Cross-posted at Professional Crossroads.
I have posted this on A Veteran Runnah to let people who follow me heah, know what has gone on and the direction that I am going. No it is not my typical running post, but pretty important about who I am.
What’s been going on?
I have focused a great deal of time on my job search over the past 2 months and during this time started following the advice of more knowledgeable people than I am, about how to use social media effectively in your job search.
Looking back I got caught up in the “you have to do” or “this is how it is done” from the experts that I forgot to just be me.
Don’t get me wrong – my job search is important and yes I understand the importance of having a consistent online personal brand for others to see and take note of. At the same time there is a lot more to my life than always searching for a job or attempting to be the perfect candidate for the “next” open position, while being online.
The efforts I was making to create this professional persona and how I was using social media was beginning to change who I was online.
My job search efforts turned my social media sites from something that I enjoyed being a part of, to being just another job search tool – something to be used. A tool to quickly network with others who could be that link to a contact, that I could turn into a job opportunity, instead of establishing conversations or relationships with others online.
This is not who I am.
Forsaking what was important
During the past couple of months I have neglected the online friendships that I have developed over time and my other interests were being forsaken, to focus on my job search and to create the “elusive consistent personal brand” or develop a personal social media strategy, by following the “expert’s recommendations on how to use social media.
However, the deeper I got into this online job search world and its many communities, the more overwhelming and confusing it became at times. Who was right and who was wrong? Were the differences in the “experts” recommendations, ideas or suggestions a matter of style, personal preferences, ignorance or attempts to get you to “buy” something? There was all too often too much contradictory or just downright stupid stuff that some “experts” were saying job searchers needed to do.
Being who I am, I began to question if this direction and what the “experts” were saying was right for me?
Well guess what – Enough is Enough
Many of the ideas, recommendations or suggestions about how to “brand” myself and put together a social media strategy to promote my job search and online presence, while they may be great for someone else, they just are not me.
Social media is more than just a tool to increase my personal brand, look for a job or to make money online (not a bad thing, but not my main reason for being online).
I use social media to meet people online, have conversations, learn new ideas, see different perspectives (no I don’t always agree, but I get to see how others might see things), and take part in chats or webinars that are interest driven etc. – not just to promote myself. There are already enough people who use social media for that purpose, we really don’t need me to add to the noise.
Part of the reason that I and so many others use social media is that we like being around those (online and in real-life) who share our passions. Mine are: technology, running, eating mostly healthy, fitness, my interest in Harold the Destroyer gardening methods ;-), irreverent comments here and there and just enjoying being myself.
Professionally, I still enjoy talking about education (though I generally do not get too involved), training topics, a bit of human resources, using social media in marketing and leadership styles.
Nope I am not
I am not some primped up or invisible persona who doesn’t say “boo kiss my ass”, because it might O-ffend someone, although I have learned that tact and timing, along with shutting my mouth, can be useful in many situations, but at some point there is a time to simply be honest about what is going on.
Yes I spelled offend wrong on purpose.
If that is what a company, agency or corporation wants, I am not that person and wouldn’t fit their culture – so why not just lay it out on the table now and get it over with.
Who am I
A guy from a small town in Maine, who went in the Coast Guard and stayed for almost 21 years, then became a Special Education Teacher for most of the time I have been retired. I decided to take a year’s sabbatical to regain my health after a knee injury and have. Now I am have gone into job search mode and discovered that to be “successful” at it according to the experts – I have to “market” myself differently – hmmmm that might be true but…
I still enjoy having fun, laughing with others and at myself – in other words I have a personality, opinions and a life, that goes beyond the boring one that I was carefully cultivating over the past couple of months. In order to fit the mold that the experts believe that others want to see you i.e.
Don’t stand-out or up too much or you will be passed over. In other words, don’t be or show too much of yourself-play the game.
That is why I took last week off from my job search to think about who I am and what I want to project as my public persona, because I was becoming uncomfortable with direction I was going.
The time away from the daily expert advice and ideas, gave me the answers that I was looking for.
The choice that I am consciously making – is to be me (warts, freckles, smiles, occasionally having stinky running shoes/clothes under my desk and yes how damn old I am) which may close some doors for me. However, that is a risk and challenge that I am taking.
I want prospective employers to know what they are getting when I walk through that door. That they will not get Mr. Hyde too, when they were expecting only Dr. Jekyll.
The Reality is
that I am not the boring person that I have pretty much portrayed on Professional Crossroads (and that was creeping over to my other social media haunts) and that I damn well plan to live the next 65 (I fully expect to live to be 120 – if you don’t believe it you definitely won’t) years of my life fully and enjoy everything about them that I can.
I may not be the life of the party, however I am comfortable smiling, laughing and having fun wherever I am, whether it be on this blog, while participating in a Twitter chat, webinar, in a professional setting, while I am out for a long run or heaven forbid, being comfortable with myself with no one else around.
There is a time and a place for being serious about the image you want to project in real-life, online or what your digital footprint will be, but it doesn’t have to be done to the exclusion of the “social and fun” side of life or social media – as long as you use some common sense, which I believe that I have a fairly decent amount of.
So what do I do next?
- Slow down.
- Not get caught up in all these BIG ideas and all the things that the “experts” believe I must do or need to do to improve my digital footprint and social media strategy, to be ready for my job search.
- Distill down all the different things that I have learned over the past few months and figure out what will work for me.
- Most of all – I plan to have fun and keep smiling a lot – life is too short to do anything else.
I plan to get back to being me and enjoying the social part of social media when I am online or in that other one called real-life. That is why the picture of me running, at the start of this post has gone back to being my avatar on Twitter and I am thinking about changing it on Facebook and Google+ also. LinkedIn is my professional social media site and trying to make the others that also, made them less social than I want them to be.
I have a feeling that my digital footprint is just fine and will take care of itself.
If you are looking for your next great employee in the Central Maine area, look at me a little closer to see if I am what you are looking for – I might surprise you and be exactly what you are looking for :-).
What do you think have we gone too far, to hide who we really are during our job search efforts in today’s world?
Sorry this was so long, but I had a lot to get off my chest :-).