An online presence can greatly enhance your ability to market yourself to potential employers when you are seeking a career transition. Even if you don’t know HTML and have never created a website, there are numerous platforms available that can make it easy. Here are some ideas for ways you can use online media to market yourself during your job search:
- Create your own marketing website that concisely explains who you are, your vision and value proposition. Link to all of your other online tools, such as your resume and CV. Be sure the website is easy to read and make it easy for people to contact you.
- Include a short video explaining details of your skills and the value you can bring to an organization. Be sure your video is less than 5 minutes long and is professional. Your attire, language and background are important. You can also have your own Gravatar (Globally Recognized Avatar) – a small photo or image that appears next to any comment you leave on blogs that have a gravatar plug-in. Creating a Gravatar is part of building a personal brand and creating an image of yourself that is trustworthy, and is important in building relationships.
- If you don’t already have a blog, consider starting one related to your field of interest. Blogging about issues related to the new field you want to enter is a good way to show you have expertise relevant to your targeted field, even if you happen to be working currently in another area of veterinary medicine. Tracking industry trends or news also will allow you to show your interest and knowledge in the field. However, be sure you are not breaking any confidentiality laws. You also might want to write a blog to track your actual job search. However, while this may increase your exposure, be aware that your current boss might also read it.
- You should list your blog on your resume only if it is relevant to the career field you are exploring. If you maintain a personal blog about issues unrelated to the professional field you are looking to enter, it’s usually best to leave this off of your resume.
Social Media and Electronic Communications
Social media and email can be important tools to veterinarians seeking to make a career transition. But done badly, they also can be your worst enemies. Make sure to follow proper etiquette at all times when using electronic communications for your job search.
- Mind your manners: Address people you do not know as Mr., Ms., or Dr. Only address someone by first name if they imply that it is alright to do so. Always introduce yourself the same way you would in a cover letter: Dear Dr./Mr./Ms. X:
- Use the subject line: Make it obvious why you are writing. Indicate content and purpose. Remember how many emails people get every day. A clear subject line may prevent an automatic delete.
- Be professional: Do not use emoticons (smiley faces) or slang. Also, make sure the email address itself that you use for business communication is professional and mature. Think about the message that your email address sends (e.g., partygirlyahoo [dot] com)
- Use correct spelling and punctuation: Do not count on Spell Check, as it will not catch real words that are used inappropriately in a sentence. Have a friend proofread your letters and resumes. Print out a hard copy for proof reading, as some mistakes may be more apparent when seen on paper.
- Keep messages brief and to the point: Concentrate on one subject per message when possible. Get to the point of your email as quickly as possible while still including important information.
- Pay attention to detail: If you are sending multiple emails, make sure you change the contact name and content according to the person and company to whom you are sending each message. Beware of the Reply All function.
- Use sentence-style capitalization: Using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS looks as if you are shouting, and using all lowercase letters looks lazy and unprofessional. Italics and bold formatting should be used minimally to emphasize important words.
- Don’t use email as an excuse to avoid personal contact: Follow up with a phone call or face-to-face visit when appropriate.
- Remember that tone does not always convey well in email: Comments that are meant to be funny or sarcastic may be misinterpreted. You want to come across as friendly and approachable, not demanding.
- Use an email signature that includes contact information.
- Name any attached documents logically: For example, “your name, resume” so that they are easy to find. You may also ask the receiver if there is a different format they would prefer (i.e., Word document vs. PDF). With some spam filters, any emails with attachments will automatically be blocked. So if you are sending an email to a new contact, you may want to include all text in-line and only send attachments once you have established a dialogue. You might also want to include a link to your resume online.
- If you are responding to an email, include the original message in the reply for context. If, however, there is a long string of emails, delete the unnecessary information to remove clutter.
- Wait to fill in the “To” email address. This will prevent you from accidentally sending an email before it is ready.
LinkedIn: Many first interviews are granted based on LinkedIn profiles, not resumes. Make sure your profile is up to date and includes all of your experience. LinkedIn also has professional groups available where you many find new people in your field of interest. Search for relevant keywords in the search bar. You can filter the results to show only groups, jobs, people, or companies. Some groups are open, while others will require approval to join.
Facebook: Many employers check the Facebook profiles of job candidates (some reports are up to 92%), and 30% say they have rejected a candidate based on what they have seen on Facebook. Remember that anyone can see your Facebook profile picture, security settings are frequently changed without notice, and friends may “tag” you in posts without your knowledge. Even if you have your security set to “friends of friends”, if you have 250 friends and each of your friends has 250 friends, your profile will be exposed to potentially thousands of people.
In one study of Facebook profiles of early career veterinarians in Canada1, 71% of graduates were found to have a profile. Of those, 21% of the profiles were considered “high exposure” due to security settings, and 15% had what was considered inappropriate content. This included content that breached client confidentiality, obscenity, evidence of substance use/abuse, suggestive photos, sexist or racist remarks, and juvenile photos.
Certainly, when used appropriately Facebook can be used for positive self-promotion and networking. Facebook is testing a feature whereby users can add professional skills to their profile. Once that list has been filled out, Facebook links each skill to relevant special interest groups. The default option is for these skills to be public so they are easily searchable by employers, so beware other security settings. Facebook’s Graph Search also allows you to search your network and extended network for connections to certain companies or educational backgrounds.
Twitter: Twitter is a social networking site that limits user posts to 140 characters each. When a user posts updates, these are displayed on the user’s own profile page and are delivered to other users who have signed up to follow that person. By following industry experts, you might be able to hear about job opportunities. You can also establish yourself as a subject matter expert by tweeting about industry topics or news. Your Twitter profile page also can include a bio, custom background, and links to your online resume.
Pinterest: Pinterest is a social bookmarking site where you can “pin” images and stories that you like. You can pin your resume to Pinterest to get it shared throughout the site. You can also create a whole resume pinboard where each part of your resume is its own pin. You also can pin your previous employers, schools you have attended, or organizations where you have volunteered. Once you have created your resume pinboard, add it to your LinkedIn profile, Facebook profile, email signature, and calling cards. Just be sure to keep your board up to date and professional, as it will be viewable by anyone.
If you are currently employed but considering a career transition (and don’t want your current boss to know about it), use the personal messaging options within social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter to reach out to individual connections. In most cases these messages are better received than large broadcast messages, and direct messaging will protect your privacy. Just start each personal message with an introduction reminding your recipient how you know each other before you launch into what you want. Always remember to thank your contacts for their time.
1 Weijs CA, Coe JB, Christofides E, et al. Facebook use among early-career veterinarians in Ontario, Canada. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2013;242:1083-1090.