There is an inherent, maddening irony in a New Media job search. You are distinguising yourself from the crowd, attempting to keep the hiring manager's attention -- effectively showcasing your ability to hold fickle interests in an economy where that same attention is the most precious commodity.
I'm taking inventory of my experience with personal branding in the digital age as applied to my job search. Last year after some professional success in my small hometown, I realized my life was spent inadvertently preparing for a career in New Media. I promise that's the last part of this post that will sound like a cover letter. An anthology of my cover letters would be an instant classic, though.
They said you have to get yourself out there. I needed a public blog, something in the search results. The only thing Google result was a PDF transcript of a trial in Australia where someone shared the same name. We can't have that; maybe it would be okay to open up the Facebook privacy settings just a little...
Where I'm from, it's uncouth to have your name, much worse your picture, on the internet. In a community where everyone already knows each other's business, it's somehow taboo to share outside that small bubble. Owning yourName.com was a good idea to harness SEO flow, but grandma thinks it's incredibly vain and possibly the mark of the beast.
You're me. Get a Twitter account. Follow all the movers and shakers. @ them, retweet, add to the discussion. But you need an edge, something to help you stand out. Maybe have the bright idea to stalk and "friend" the hiring managers on Facebook; turns out this works equally well as it would on real-life crushes, creeper. If you had the time back you've spent scouring job sites and writing cover letters, you could have written that novel, finished the album, or spent a more time nurturing your real-life relationships. Regroup.
Stretching yourself thin, trying to be all things to all people. A-political, a-sexual, ageless, always positive (read: boring). Wondering whether to add the french accents on the word résumé or leave it "resume", but phrases like "resume attached' can mislead the reader - best head over to the character map.
Have a few interviews that go great. Write thank-you letters, call and follow up. Never hear from them again.
Now you google yourself, second-guessing. You realize that there's too much now, an overload. Between the Youtube channel, blog comments, Flickr account and more, the person researching you has the same problem we all do while sitting in front of shiny rectangles - ADD. They stop reading at the first typo in your cover letter -- the tweet where you abbreviated please to "plz" for lack of characters is doubly offensive. They're not looking for a person, they're looking for a solution, a tool to solve a specific problem.
So you tighten your identity belt, dig up Linked-in connections, buck up, read a million more job descriptions. You know you're being watched. You're famous, no -- you're a secret agent. And you better be one hell of a verbal and written communicator with the ability to multitask in a fast-paced environment. Brb, my laundry just beeped.