Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Conducting a Job Search in the Age of Branding

Branding "you're a fine girl..." 

Image:pixabay.com

So recently I decided it was finally time to change careers. I'm in my 40's, and no longer happy at work. I'd become burned out and began to question whether I was anywhere close to what my original goals and dreams had been when I was in college and my 20's. The answer was a big NO!

Me circa 1988. Copyright:Annette Sugden


Back in what now feels like the ancient past, I was an aspiring writer, artist, filmmaker, actor with an interest in advertising and marketing as a related back up career. By my late 20's, I'd worked in independent film and on a couple "Hollywood" projects. I'd written my first freelance article for a now long dead magazine, and an art gallery had shown some possible interest in some of my art work. My day job was as a project administrator at a large San Franchsco architecture firm.

Me circa 1997. I'm bottom row, in the middle. Copyright: Annette Sugden

It was at this point that I decided to move to London, UK to work as an Au Pair while I figured out which direction I wanted my writing and artistic life to go in. Then by accident I became a therapist, tutor to children on the autism spectrum. I've been that for the past 17 years. Granted I also became a performance poet, one who became published in a few journals, wrote articles on poetry, literature and art for an online journal, eventually becoming managing editor there. But the job that barely paid my bills, behavioral therapist, shadow, habilitator, took over a lot of my life.

Me circa 2000 in Arles, France 
Copyright: Annette Sugden

At some point, I stopped creating. I went to work, got into petty arguments on Facebook and other social media, and laughed at funny cat videos like everybody else. I posted rants, and complaints, and hit share with no thought of any consequences. It was as if social media were my journal dumped out, shook up, and put on display. I was the hypersensitive, mean high school bitch at age 40 that I could never relate to when I actually was in high school. Who was this person? Was this my true brand? Was this me? 

Image: pixabay.com

Of course I had no idea I was creating a brand, or that anybody really noticed. I think that's how most of us are. The idea of having an online persona, a personal brand, of needing to worry about public image in this way is not something the average person thinks about. The idea that strangers, employers, prospective bosses are googling us as if we're a Taylor Swift or a Kanye West never enters our minds. Personal brands are things only celebrities, professional athletes and politicians have, right? WRONG!

When I was actively promoting my art, and playing around with html and that old program known as PageMaker, I did create my own website which is still hosted on Tripod. (http://annettesugden.tripod.com/)
I recently brought it up on Google. I didn't even know Tripod still existed. I haven't updated it since 2007ish. Now I have a problem.

Mixed Media Collage
Copyright: Annette Sugden

Is this website, even not updated, something I want as part of my 
brand? I'm working on changing careers to advertising and marketing, but this time digital marketing, content marketing and social media specifically. Is the fact that I designed, developed, and wrote copy for a website even one I temporarily abandoned show skill or inconsistency? This website is so old it has link page! Link pages have been out as far as digital marketing is concerned for years now. In fact link exchange is actually now considered bad marketing. Even if I do nothing else, I need to delete that page. 

What about my livejournal page? (http://annettesugden.livejournal.com/)
Remember livejournal folks? I have a profile there that I never deleted. Do I include it on my resume and LinkedIn profile? I don't have much of a marketing portfolio since I haven't worked in digital marketing yet, but I have personal projects from a few years ago. That's more than somebody who had zero. So for now the website and my livejournal are on LinkedIn.

Me circa 2010 with generic female professional hair.
Copyright Annette Sugden

I don't post without thinking on Facebook anymore. That means I don't post or share as much as I used to. But most of my posts on Facebook are only to my friends. My public personal brand is currently mostly limited to Twitter, LinkedIn, and this blog. Although as I continue to update my social media marketing technical skill set, I will set up Instagram and Snapchat profiles and presences as part of my brand.

Now MySpace, no way. I deleted that profile several years ago. Although you never know. It could make a comeback. 

My MySpace profile pic, me circa 2004
Copyright: Annette Sugden

SEO you next week.

If you're curious, my active social media urls are: