ee cummings You’re Not

If you are a famous poet or author this is not for you. If people around the world know you by a single name, go hang out with Bono, Shakira or Fergie and don’t waste your time reading this. If you are like the rest of us schlubs who have to work for a living, and you are at least a little interested in your online presence, stick around.

A very recent posting from a recruiter in my network offered good advice. The recruiter said (I’m paraphrasing), “Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is free of errors.” Her point was that recruiters evaluate you based on your profile. If they like what they see, you may get contacted. If not, you will never know and you’ll be wondering why all your friends are getting interviews and offers while your inbox is full of digital cobwebs. Here are a few things that I have seen that you should avoid.

all lower case: my name is bill florin and i write this blog to help others manage their careers and professional reputations. isn’t it annoying to see someone fail to capitalize? Write the way you were taught in school. Proper nouns (e.g. your name) are capitalized. You aren’t impressing anyone with your nonchalant coolness by failing to extend your pinkies to the shift keys. By the way, E.E. Cummings did not write his name in all lowercase, but others, including F. Scott Fitzgerald did, so it stuck.

High School Yearbook Pictures: No, I’m not talking about your actual yearbook picture. None of us would get anywhere using those (especially me – yikes!). I’m referring to pictures that are neither professional nor appropriate for social media uses. If you sell cars, maybe it’s OK to pose in front of a car. If you don’t, maybe your Dukes of Hazzard snapshot should go. The same goes for bikes, motorcycles, boats, or pictures of you consuming anything (you know – drinks, food, smoke, whatever). When in doubt, get a professionally composed headshot done and us it.

Typos: Be as careful with your LinkedIn profile, personal website and blog(s) as you are with your resume. There is no rule that says you must type your material directly into the LinkedIn website. Write it in a word processor, triple check for typos and grammatical errors, and copy/paste it into the web app.

These are just a few details to watch for, but they are all very common. Review your content, make the changes needed and improve your professional reputation and online presence. And if you decide to make a career change into poetry, forget about all of this, do what you want, and call it “your art.”

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The Nine-Fingered Chef

If you have done any reading, research or work on social media tools, you know that terms like “personal brand” and “online reputation” are used by everyone. If you don’t have a robust LinkedIn profile, a Twitter account that you use regularly and a blog with daily updates that display your genius, you are nobody. These tools are very important, and will likely grow beyond anything we can anticipate today, but they are still just tools. My brother-in-law is attending culinary school and he has a set of knives that can be used to create gourmet dinners or disasters.

Dan Schwabel writes a useful blog on at Forbes.com about personal branding. His post today discusses the demise of the resume and how it will be replaced by LinkedIn profiles. There is one point that he doesn’t make, and maybe it’s obvious, but still worth discussing. Do you have what it takes to use these tools without hurting yourself?

First, is the material that you want to put before the world something that the world wants to see? Is the content clear, concise and well written? If not, put down the meat clever, Mr. Flay.

Second, are you committed to keeping all of these online tools current? If you are going to create a blog that you never update and that is just one more chore in your life, it won’t have the energy and enthusiasm behind it that makes it readable. The same is true for LinkedIn, Facebook and any other social media tool you care to mention.

Finally, the skills and attention to detail that are needed to create a great resume are the same skills needed to create a great LinkedIn resume. It’s the same material presented in a different venue. If it’s bad as a hard copy resume, it sure won’t get better as a purely digital document.

If you aren’t up to the challenge, get some help. If you are going to commit to social media, jump in and get to work. If not, put down those really sharp knives, keep your digits where they belong, and come back when you are ready.