Tuesday, January 3, 2012

We Are All Ambassadors: Part I

The first blog post of the new year is always a tough one for me. (Last year, it took me until Jan. 26 to come up with something worthy -- but it ended up being one of my most popular blog posts ever. Check out "I Got Distracted" if you want to know more.)

The first blog post is important. You want to strike the right chord -- set the right tone -- for the year. But you don't want it to be trite. (Or about New Year's Resolutions, if you can help it!) So I debated Sunday (New Year's) about writing one, and made it through all of yesterday (Monday) without coming up with anything profound ... but lying in bed last night, the pieces finally came together.

It all started early Monday evening. I was trolling Facebook (instead of writing the resume I was supposed to be working on, or doing anything else on my lengthy-at-the-moment to-do list). I saw a status update from a casual friend of mine, "Anyone out there can help me with a cover letter? I'm applying for a job at {Company Name}."

I commented, "Are you talking to me?" because I had written a resume for her a few months back, as a favor. I didn't hear back from her, but one of her friends commented a few minutes later, "check Microsoft Word templates :)" ... to which I (somewhat snarkily) responded back, "...only if you want to have your cover letter look like every other one." My friend's friend, came back with, "Well, she can use it as a guideline so she can know what to include in it."

Ugh. At that point, instead of responding back with something even more snarky, like ... "I'd take the Gallery of Best Cover Letters over what Microsoft's engineers thinks passes as an effective resume," or, "I'm thinking of reading WebMD in hopes of being able to assist the surgeon the next time I have a procedure" -- I realized that 1) I was wasting my breath and 2) I wouldn't be representing the careers industry very well by escalating the conversation. So I went back and deleted my two comments... and managed to restrain myself from using the "block user" function on my friend's profile. (It's not her fault her friends don't understand how to job search effectively, right? See, I almost said, "It's not her fault that her friend is an idiot" ... but I didn't.  -->  :) -- right?

The message here, however, is that many of us as resume writers use Facebook to generate new business -- through use of Fan pages, events, Facebook ads, and even status updates on our personal profiles -- but it's a double-edged sword. We Are All Ambassadors for the professional resume writing community.  When we're sharing posts we've written on our careers industry blog, or mentions in the Career section of the local newspaper, or giving general job search tips to coincide with key dates (i.e., in September for "Update Your Resume Month"), we are increasing the visibility of professional resume writers. (Tell me you don't get requests for service or referrals from what you post about careers topics on your personal Facebook profile.)

But we're also representing the industry when we get snippy with one another in LinkedIn Groups. (Guys, these groups are public, and job seekers can see them too. One of the hardest things about resume writing is that there are very few "hard-and-fast" rules, so politely disagreeing is fine, but some of the threads really get out of hand. Or on Twitter. Don't have a fight with another resume writer on Twitter. The whole world is watching.)

Unless the reputation (and personal brand) you want to cultivate for yourself is that of a jerk, be careful about your tone when posting on social media. "Animal" on Twitter has solidified the reputation of many headhunters as "jerks" by some of the comments he posts -- he's well aware of that. (His tagline on Twitter says, "SENSITIVE? DON'T FOLLOW ME -- Feel free to criticize me in public.")

But this approach can (and does!) turn people off. (And paint a negative stroke on the whole industry ... a topic I'll get into later this week.)

We're all ambassadors. Including me. And remember, digital dirt persists.
So think before you post, and post carefully.


I'm going to take up this theme -- "We Are All Ambassadors" --  as a multi-part series for the week.
Check back tomorrow for Part 2: Why Pro-Bono Work Can Set the Wrong Expectations.

And I'd love your comments.


  1. Absolutely right. I will use some of given tips.

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  2. I have been tempted to vent about a client on my facebook page from time to time but then realized that I do secure quite a bit of business from my personal facebook page and that there are many potential clients out there. I feared they would wonder what I thought of them, so I don't say a word, ever, on my facebook page.

  3. I just wanted to say that I am absolutely devouring every one of your posts and taking copious notes! As someone just getting started as a resume writer (currently enrolled in the ACRW program), the information you provide here is priceless. THANK YOU.

  4. Thanks, Tiffany!

    Be sure to also sign up for a free membership in BeAResumeWriter.com

    Also consider a Bronze membership ($10/month) -- you'll have access to ALL the back issues of the Resume Writers' Digest newsletter.