Portraying Yourself at Different Stages in Your Career
by Deborah Proctor
"Careers are sets of decisions, where you have the chance to emerge from the chrysalis every so often and show the world, show yourself, how you’ve evolved."- Hunter Walk, who recently left YouTube and Google to strike out on his own.
Whether you emerge as a Monarch butterfly or a Luna moth, no matter where you are in the career search lifecycle — new graduate seeking that first real job, seasoned employee making a mid-career change, or experienced executive seeking new challenges — searching for or changing jobs depends greatly on the image you project online. In most cases, younger job seekers want to appear more mature and experienced while older workers want to showcase their experience with a generous dose of youthful vigor. So how do you present that experienced yet youthful image to a potential employer at different stages in your career?
In an article for US News and World Report, Alison Green, author and creator of the popular "Ask a Manager" blog advises new graduates, "Make sure that your email address, outgoing voice mail message and online presence all portray you as a professional, mature adult, not a partying college student."
Career Services Professional, Jill Wesley, says, "Presenting too casual an image...not toning down a Facebook page...and thinking that 'If an employer was cool, they would understand,'" are some of the biggest mistakes younger workers make. Citing a well publicized case where a job offer was pulled after the applicant Tweeted about it, she adds, "You can easily damage yourself on Facebook or Twitter."
Wesley went on to say, "Younger employees, just coming out of school, need to help an employer see that they understand the rules of the work environment and part of that is projecting a professional image... to relieve the employer's fears about lack of experience and responsibility (will you show up on time, represent the company well, etc.)"
It is similar for older workers. Despite their perception that employers want younger, cheaper labor, Wesley points out that "Anecdotally, it appears employers are leaning toward experience."
Yet, older workers need to show they are keeping up with the times. "Stay current with attire and hair" says Enterprise Solutions Technology Group, President and CEO, BJ Pfeiffer, that's the"most effective way to impact the stages of one's career." As in the commercial where the man combs in color to cover some but not all the gray in his hair, an older work wants to give the appearance of both youth AND experience. "Employers are always going to question the energy and relevancy of older workers," states Wayne Breitbarth, author of "The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success" in a recent AARP article.
Both Pfeiffer and Wesley agree that cultivating a professional image is the best way to get hired, and a professional career portrait will present that image better than any do-it-yourself photo. A professional image can even help freelances and entrepreneurs who are creating their own path - a well-composed headshot may help build trust with potential investors, clients, and business partners.
When you schedule a portrait session with Focal Flame photographer Clint Thayer, he will consult with you ahead of time to determine the image you wish to project to a potential employer and then capture that. So whether you are a new graduate just emerging into the workforce who needs to express all the maturity you hold inside or an older worker reemerging as an experienced worker with a lot of life left, Focal Flame Photography will create that image for you.
Do you know a recent graduate looking for their first career job? Or perhaps you know a more mature worker looking for a promotion or career change. Why not give them a boost in the job hunting process with the gift of a professional career image for their online profiles!