Be the Boss Over Cancer

Online Image

What you post online makes a difference to employers. Do you know how to protect your online image?

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Why LinkedIn?

Building an effective profile on the professional website LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is becoming as crucial as crafting a good resume. LinkedIn is designed not only to help with job hunts, but to manage your career identity and build it.

Networking is key – 85% of all jobs originate through contacts. LinkedIn builds on your existing personal and professional networks many times over by making the connections of your connections available to you.

In the last few years, employers have been turning increasingly to LinkedIn -- 64% of those who filled openings in 2010 used LinkedIn. They have two good reasons: they can tap a much wider market and it’s inexpensive. More than 120 million people are on it, including Fortune 500 employers. In this troubled economy, it's replacing pricey head hunters. Many users post job opportunities to their own networks first. LinkedIn is a great leg up. Devote some time and effort when you join, and it will likely yield benefits.

Basics of a Great LinkedIn Profile

Don't just go on, sign up and download your resume.

Don’t reiterate your resume. What you should provide is not recounting of your entire work history, but a focused profile. Tell visitors what you've done professionally and what you hope to do. Create a very simple summary that speaks to your accomplishments and the kinds of things that you can do for an employer. Keeping the profile crisp, succinct and professional is very important because online it is easy to misinterpret the verbal shortcuts that you might use among friends or close colleagues.

Get references. Many job search experts highly recommend that you ask people for recommendations regardless of your situation, whether you're working, you're self-employed, or you're looking for a job. As with the content of your profile, make sure that your references are professionally relevant. The good news about the recommendations on LinkedIn is that you have the ability to edit someone's recommendation prior to them putting it on LinkedIn. LinkedIn will send it to you first. If you see something that you’d like to omit or rephrase carefully approach the writer and discuss the changes with them. Job search experts warn that recruiters often discount candidates without references. But don’t go overboard; five to eight substantive recommendations will do the trick.

Join groups. LinkedIn offers groups based on interest and association – professional societies, alumni organizations and groups of colleagues past and present. You can even set up your own new networking group. Be selective about one or two groups that are the most interesting and appealing to you. Introduce yourself. Don’t join more groups that you can actively participate in – participation is the whole point of LinkedIn.

Put up a picture. LinkedIn has a feature which tells you how complete your profile is as you work on it. A full five percent rides on your photo – don’t worry about having the perfect headshot but do humanize yourself with a picture.

Connecting with LinkedIn

Getting the word out that you are looking is more than half the battle.

Remember it is a reciprocal process. Many people tend to be uncomfortable with the idea of networking -- either because they don’t know how to go about it or they don’t like to ask for help. Networking is a reciprocal process -- don’t shortchange yourself – you have connections and advice of value to offer to your growing network too.

Know what you are asking. It is important to realize that most people are willing to help if you are able to articulate exactly what you need -- don’t be vague. LinkedIn is a professional network so use it for more than just hiring introductions; ask well-thought out questions about developments in your field of interest.

Be strategic about your connections. Experts warn not to invite someone you don't know at all. The goal is to have people help you and for you to help them--and that's not as likely from strangers. Utilize your growing network instead.
If someone asks to connect with you that you don’t feel comfortable accepting – don’t – remember your associations reflect on you.

Getting the most out of LinkedIn

Devote some time. Set a goal--such as 15 minutes a day--to participate. If you look active on the site, you will look more attractive to a potential employer. Post updates regularly and engage in pertinent online conversations. Updates will show that you are actively involved in your profession – and keep your name uppermost in the mind of your network.

LinkedIn’s Helpful Hints

Take advantage of the advice provided by the site itself. LinkedIn will suggest people you might know and groups that you might be interesting in joining. A feature now in Beta recommends jobs of interest posted on the network. You can also take advantage of their interactive guide to building the best profile which reviews your profile and aids you to strengthening weak areas. Don’t miss the LinkedIn Learning Center for detailed advice and the LinkedIn Blog for updates on the job market and online networking.

Rumor has it that LinkedIn will become a pay service sometime soon. But employment professionals say you needn’t opt for the special pay features yet – just make your free profile great.

Your Online Presence is Your Brand

A final word about your general online presence and your cancer

Guard your medical privacy: Everyone knows the tales of indiscreet photos that ruined a promising career. However, not everyone thinks about how what you might share on your Facebook or Twitter accounts about cancer could influence your job hunt. Prospective employers will Google you and you may not want them to know that you are in treatment or a cancer survivor.. Remember, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulates how much your employer can talk about confidential health issues. And the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulates confidentiality by your health care providers.

Sites designed for support that have a high level of privacy like mylifeline.org and caringbridge.org can be a good option for a safe space to talk about your diagnosis with only those people you select.

Before you post on any site: 

Before you post information, opinions or photos, especially to a social site, ask yourself:

  • Would I want a boss--current or future--or coworkers to know this?
  • Would I want this on the front page of a newspaper (or the home page of my favorite news site)?
  • Would I want my grandmother or mother to see this?

Monitor Yourself: Pay attention to privacy settings on social media such as Facebook, which allow you to control who sees what. You might want to set up a new, separate social media page, meant just for your inner circle. On that, you could put a caveat not to re-post anything about your health elsewhere.
Once it is on the web, it doesn’t go away so most importantly you need to be mindful of the decision you are making and that fact that it has a both
short and long term effect.

For more on protecting your online brand visit: http://www.cancerandcareers.org/en/looking-for-work/online-image

Cancer and Careers Resources
Check out the Cancer and Careers Looking for Work resources for additional aid or ask a question of one of the job search experts: http://www.cancerandcareers.org/en/looking-for-work