When you're out looking for a job, your online presence and reputation are everything. In today's job market, it's not only extremely easy for recruiters and hiring managers to look you up on the Internet, but also it's become a best practice for these key hiring professionals. The fact is that the vast majority of companies now look up applicants online to get a more accurate picture of who they consider hiring. For some, this can be a huge asset, but for others, it may be what causes them to get passed up for an interview. Even if you have the best resume and cover letter of the bunch, one negative link in a Google search can be detrimental. Of course, there are numerous ways to make yourself look more presentable in search engines. Therefore, personal search engine optimization (SEO) is imperative to your job search. Here are five tips for managing your personal SEO: 

1. Search yourself often 
If you don't know what information about yourself is out on the Internet, there's no way to properly manage it. Regularly type your name into search engines such as Google and Bing and see what results appear on the first page. Ideally, it will all be positive and expected web pages on which there is no professionally questionable content. Make a habit of doing this often so that you become aware as soon as possible of potentially harmful materials. 

2. Create an online portfolio or website 
Creating one location for all of your professional resources isn't only good for your SEO, but also provides a useful tool to include on job applications. When applying for jobs online, most positions will have an optional box to attach a personal website or portfolio. Take advantage of this space by building an easily accessible online portfolio that will prove to employers that you're willing to go the extra mile. 

3. Cover up negative content 
The Internet can often be an unforgiving place, and it may be near impossible to remove bad content attached to your name. The fact is, once it's one the Web, it's pretty much permanent. While you could waste a lot of time and energy trying to get it removed – which is rarely successful – the better thing to do is push your positive content higher in search rankings. When using Google or another search engine, most people don't go past the first page. If you can push any potentially unfavorable content to page two, it's much less likely to be seen by employers, colleagues or anyone else. 

4. Broaden your social reach 
If you're still only on Facebook, odds are you're not casting a wide enough social net. Your personal SEO will grow as you create professional accounts for other social networks such as Google+, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn and so on. The more active you are on these pages, the more likely they are to pop up near the top of your personal search rankings. Also, remember you can often link your pages to create a more complete network of friends, peers, colleagues, coworkers and other professionals. 

5. Post positive content 
People often hide behind the guise of the Internet to leave nasty and inappropriate comments. Not only is this conduct rude, but if it's traced back to you it can be hazardous to your job search. Rather than mope, complain, taunt or groan, focus on producing positive online content. This is not to say you can't be opinionated, however, remember that anything too polarizing could potentially turn off those viewing your pages. 

If you can't seem to be part of the team in the workplace or struggle during a group interview when you're out on the job hunt, it may be time to reconsider how you interact within a group of people in a professional setting. In many workplaces, being able to collaborate successfully is extremely important, especially if you're working to accomplish common goals for the company. If collaborative situations fill you with tension, try readjusting how you work within a team. Here are four tips for becoming a better team player at work: 

1. Know when to step back 
For certain people, ambition in a professional setting may push them to always take the point role or try to separate themselves from their peers. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but in collaborative situations it can be harmful to creativity and innovation. These ideas have become highly valued in the contemporary workplace, and rely on workers to know when it's time to take the lead and when it's time to follow. The fact is, others will have good ideas and subject matter expertise in certain areas that you lack. It's necessary to be able to step back in those moments and listen to others earnestly. 

2. Learn from your mistakes 
If you or your team in general makes a mistake, learn from it next time you are in a similar scenario. Errors are an inevitable and necessary element of innovation, so it's better to embrace them than shrug them off.

3. Don't take information for granted 
Communication is key in a collaborative workplace. If you assume that everyone has access to the same information, it may slow down your progress as a team. Make sure to share ideas and materials candidly if it is of value to the entire team. In general, making assumptions in the workplace can lead to unfavorable outcomes. Communicate openly about any concerns or issues you have with your team or a superior to ensure that they aren't exacerbated later. 

4. Play to your strengths 
While it's important to know when to follow, it's also crucial that you are vocal about your strengths. For example, if your work team has a big upcoming presentation and you have significant experience with PowerPoint or other presentation software, make sure that it is known amongst the group. Be proactive about taking on tasks at which you know you excel. It'll be beneficial for both you and your team. 

If you're looking to find your first job and break into your career, the entire job hunting process might seem new and complicated. It can be challenging to know exactly where to look for jobs and how to make contact with key hiring personnel. In many cases, simply finding open positions that you're passionate about may be a challenge. However, this is partially because many of the most desirable job openings never make it to major job boards. Rather than spend time digging through dozens of outdated posts, use niche job boards and other strategies to locate the position of your dreams. This can be a confusing concept for many novice job seekers, because sending out resumes on the Internet feels like action. While filling out applications for hours may seem like progress, it is often a fruitless venture. In fact, when you apply to unadvertised positions, there is often a better possibility of getting an interview. Here are five tips for seeking out unadvertised position openings:

1. Use your network 
A majority of jobs are found through networking. At the end of the day, you likely have friends and acquaintances with common interests, some of which may work in the same industry you're hoping to enter. It's important to identify people in your network that can inform you of unadvertised job openings and may be able to introduce you to recruiters and hiring managers in your industry. Attend networking events and meet a wide range of people to help ensure you remain abreast of new job openings.

2. Create a list of desirable companies 
The companies you dream of working for might not post listings on large job boards. In many cases, companies that receive lots of applicants and job inquiries may only post openings on industry-specific job boards or on their own websites. This makes it easy for them to identify who is taking the time to seek out their company specifically. Create a list of 10 or 20 businesses at which you would love to work. This list will give you a resource to refer back to at anytime, and then you can go through and browse the job listings on each company's website individually. 

3. Be active on social media 
It's easy to set up social media accounts and update them occasionally. However, it can be a bit more challenging to regularly post and exchange information via these platforms. Using forums such as LinkedIn and Twitter to actively engage with other users, share news and showcase thought leadership can attract recruiters and potential employers. In particular, recruiters are generally active on these websites to scout out talent and find candidates to fill positions. If you use these sites passively, you'll potentially get looked over by these key hiring professionals. 

4. Get out of the house 
It might seem logical to sit down at your desk and dedicate yourself to several hours of filling out applications. Yet, isolating yourself means you're not interacting with other professionals and potentially missing out on networking opportunities. While at times it may be important to sit down and fill out paperwork, don't rest your entire job search on submitting resumes online. 

5. Volunteer and find other projects 
Seeking out volunteer opportunities or professional side projects can be beneficial to your job search. Not only do these ventures allow you do more networking, but they also  give you a chance to demonstrate your professional skills and work ethic. 

While you're in high school or college, a summer internship is a great way to gain some professional experience and have something to put on your resume. However, while internships are quickly becoming a norm for students and new job seekers, not every internship results in a job offer. Entering an internship under this false assumption would be foolhardy. Instead, consider an internship an opportunity to make yourself indispensable. Prove that you are not only ready for a full time position, but also deserving of it. Here are five tips for turning your summer internship into a possible job offer:

1. Ask questions 
Remember that an internship is a learning experience. Since you're brand new to the workforce, odds are you'll have lots of questions and be unsure of how to approach certain tasks. Rather than waste time trying to figure it out on your own, take opportunities to learn from your superiors. This practice will also help you demonstrate engagement in the position and learn the ins and outs of the business. Make sure to take notes that you can refer back to as well. 

2. Show off your professionalism 
In the professional world, it's often easy to separate an intern from the rest of the workers. Many students are accustomed to a relaxed work environment, informal dress code and (in some cases) showing up hungover. However, approaching your internship with a laid back attitude can potentially suggest to your employer that you're not ready to take on more responsibility. It's important to act as if the internship is a full time position and convey professionalism. To do so, follow the same dress code as the rest of the employees, use proper business etiquette in the workplace and adhere to the expected office hours. 

3. Network 
This is something you should be doing throughout the entirety of your internship. Rather than try to connect with everyone on your last day, meet people through the duration of your time with the company. Always use a professional tone and interact with people with which you don't work directly. Also take the time to network with other interns. Remember that even if there's not a full time position available for you with the company after your internship ends, the connections you make may recommend you for another position or pass on their praise. 

4. Choose an internship with potential  
It's easy to say yes to the first internship that comes along, but consider how the program is structured before you dive in. Some companies may only offer temporary student internships on a rotating basis without having any real intention of hiring on anyone full time. Consider as well if the place you are interning is somewhere you can actually see yourself working afterward. 

5. Keep in touch 
If your internship ends and a position isn't available at the time, don't get discouraged. Getting offered a full time position after an internship can sometimes be nothing more than a matter of timing. Be persistent and keep in contact with people from the company to stay abreast of any positions that open up. Furthermore, staying in contact helps ensure that if there is an opening, hiring managers may already have you in mind. To stay in touch, make sure you find appropriate and professional ways of asking for contact information near the end of your internship. Moreover, this gives you an opportunity to send your coworkers and employers thank you notes once your internship has come to a close. 

If you're trying to find a new job the Internet seems like a logical place to begin. After all, the world wide web is loaded with job boards and company websites, making it easy to fall down the rabbit hole of sending out resumes en masse, squandering away hours hitting send. In some ways, this is a logical human instinct. More sent resumes will lead to more potential phone calls leading to more interviews and then a job offer. However, odds are a significant percentage of your applications get skimmed over if read at all. More so, there are probably hundreds of other applications who have applied to the same position, making it hard for you to stand out in the crowd. At the end of the day, the Internet is an important resource, but should not be your sole line of attack. 

Use your network 
When you're looking for a job, consider who you know that can help you in your search. Look to family, friends, colleagues, former classmates and other acquaintances for an in. If you find your dream job browsing the Internet, ask yourself if you have any connections to the company. Do you have a friend or family member that works there? Do you have any LinkedIn connections that have worked there previously? Before just sending in a resume willy-nilly, look at the company website. Is the company hosting an event in the near future? If so, attending might be a perfect opportunity to make a connection and score an interview. 

Attend professional events 
Meeting people in a face-to-face setting is incredibly important when looking for a job. If you sit in front of a computer screen all day filling out applications, you're potentially missing out on opportunities to interact with potential employers. Moreover, isolating yourself during your hunt may dull your social skills and make it challenging to talk with peers and higher ups. Attend professional events such as career fairs regularly to make in person connections and make an impression. Invest in business cards so you have a physical document to give to hiring managers. This will have a lasting impact and encourage name recognition. Request informational interviews for a chance to meet with recruiters and hiring managers one-on-one. Overall, pushing yourself to expand your job search from a computer screen to the real world will help you seek employment more holistically. 

It's good practice to get in the habit of sending thank you notes to those who help you during the course of your career, whether it's someone helping you network or an internal contact at a company that pushed your resume to the top of the pile. Yet, what is of utmost importance is always sending a thank you note to those you interview with while searching for a job. This form of recognition does way more than express gratitude to the person or people that took the time to speak with you, but also makes the interview an ongoing conversation. In fact, in some cases otherwise perfect candidates may lose out on a job simply for overlooking this basic matter of etiquette. To ensure you don't lose out on your dream job, here are some tips on sending a thank you note after an interview:

Never write a thank you note in advance 
A thank you note should always be personal and customized to relate back to your interview and the company potentially hiring you. Generic thank you notes written in advance come off as lazy and uninterested. Essentially, though you may intend to demonstrate initiative, it comes off as indifferent and fails to further address what was discussed during your interview.

Email or snail mail are OK 
A thank you note via email has become an acceptable form for such a document. However, if a company is more traditional, a handwritten thank you note may go a long way. Emails are advantageous when you're trying to communicate quickly, and they are also generally more convenient, whereas handwritten notes may take a day or two to arrive through the postal service. For this reason, handwritten thank you notes should be sent as soon as possible after an interview.

Go beyond saying thank you 
While graciousness is important, you taking the time to interview was necessary for the company as well. Besides expressing thanks, you should emphasize memorable details about your interview, continued interest in the available position and your understanding of the next steps in the hiring process. Don't forget to include your contact information as well. 

Don't send gifts or use the phone 
Sending any type of gift puts a hiring manager in an uncomfortable situation. Avoid mailing anything more than a professionally worded note. Also, don't try to thank a hiring manager via phone call or text message – a phone call will interrupt their busy day and a text message is impersonal and inappropriate. 

Have you been sending out dozens of paper resumes to no avail? In today's tough job market, it can be a challenge to make your resume and cover letter stand out. Part of the problem for many applicants is that a piece of paper simply isn't enough in the digital age. While your paper resume may showcase a number of your professional skills, it doesn't necessarily do an adequate job of showing off your personality or creativity. However, this doesn't have to hold you back. Rather than continue to send the same old MS Word document, consider creating a multimedia resume to help differentiate yourself from the rest of the herd. Multimedia resumes can usually be added to online job applications either as an email attachment or in the additional information section of your application. Here are three ideas to get you started:

A video resume gives potential employers and hiring managers a chance to have some "face-to-face" time with you before an interview. Moreover, a video resume has the ability to showcase your videography skills and work ethic. A video resume can also potentially demonstrate a professional level of comfort with technology, which is necessary for many jobs in today's workforce. However, remember not to solely submit a resume in this format. Instead, use a video to complement a traditional paper resume, giving employers the opportunity to compare your video with your qualifications on paper. 

Providing samples of your work is a great way to prove to employers that you have the ability to accomplish tasks. Work samples that are well-organized in a portfolio can demonstrate professionalism and attention to detail. A portfolio can also highlight initiative, as many employers will potentially ask for work samples when considering a candidate for the job anyway. Again, a portfolio is a great way to complement a resume, because it provides evidence of your listed skills. If your resume says you have experience managing a marketing campaign, deliverables from that campaign included in your portfolio corroborate that information. 

Having a portfolio compiled in a document is helpful, but you can take it to the next level by developing a portfolio online. Therefore, employers will be able to easily access your work samples when browsing your online presence. When an employer uses a web browser to search your name, a strong portfolio will ideally be at the top of that search. This also potentially attracts recruiters and employers to you. Many recruiters can only spend a short time looking at each resume due to the high volume. However, these same professionals spend time browsing the Internet seeking out candidates that may be perfect for a specific position. 

While developing infographics may seem somewhat specialized, there are a variety of templates available online. Infographics efficiently convey lots of information and provide an aesthetically-pleasing element to stats that might otherwise be cut and dry. For those looking to enter a creative profession, complementing your resume this way might demonstrate creativity and innovation. Furthermore, it will help your application stand out from the stack monotone paper resumes.

No matter what media you choose to use to enhance your resume, remember to meticulously edit all of your application materials and personalize them for each position. Rather than rely on one element of an application to carry you to an interview, make sure you are providing a strong, individualized resume, an articulate, well-edited cover letter, refined multimedia resources such as a portfolio, and a thoroughly filled out application. 

Although you may have a refined resume and an articulate cover letter, a career portfolio can potentially make all the difference when you're on the job hunt. While a resume provides a concise work history and a cover letter serves as a statement of purpose, a portfolio fills in all the gaps and provides tangible work samples. Essentially, consider a portfolio a more holistic look at your professional experiences. For employers,  a professionally compiled portfolio not only demonstrates ambition and initiative,  it also provides them with a broader spectrum of resources when considering you for a position. 

However, a portfolio can be challenging for many young job seekers to put together. It's hard to know what content to include, especially when you're still at the beginning of your career. Don't let this deter you from showcasing your work though. Create a portfolio to stand out from the crowd. Here's a basic guide to professional career portfolios:

What exactly is a portfolio?
Portfolios have long been used in creative industries such as journalism, architecture, fashion, graphic design and photography. In these professions, workers generally use past projects to demonstrate their abilities to potentially new employers. Today, portfolios have become common across many professions. Since the job market has become more competitive and the Internet allows hundreds of job seekers to apply for a specific position every day, strong portfolios can be used to easily identify quality candidates.

Though a portfolio is not the same as a resume or cover letter, it can include both of these items. What a portfolio really brings to the table is evidence of your professional accomplishments. Whereas a resume might state past job responsibilities, a portfolio will tangibly demonstrate these skills. For example, your resume could mention that you were an editor for your school or university newspaper, but a portfolio will include articles you wrote or edited while active in that position. Overall, a portfolio – whether digital or on paper – highlights your achievements, work contributions, capabilities and general knowledge in a way a resume and cover letter cannot.  

What should a portfolio include?
A quality portfolio is meticulously organized and often includes the following elements:

  • Introduction and a table of contents
  • Job specific resume and cover letter
  • Work samples
  • Professional artifacts
  • Professional licensure and other certifications
  • Awards and honors
  • Any materials that would specifically apply to the position in which you are hoping to get hired. (For example if you're applying for a position in finance, past budgeting materials might help make your portfolio stand out.)
  • Letters of reference

Your portfolio should have consistent styling throughout its entirety. Pay attention to aspects such as font type and size, organization structure, and that your information is up-to-date. Regularly edit your portfolio to ensure employers are viewing your contemporary skills and accomplishments. 

Why a portfolio?
Simply put, a portfolio will leave a lasting impression on employers and hiring managers. However, there are a number of other reasons this document is so important. A portfolio is an invaluable resource when you're interviewing, because it helps prepare you to discuss your work experiences. Furthermore, when an interviewer asks you about past job roles, you'll have evidence on hand to show them what you've accomplished before. With your portfolio as a reference point, you'll be able to clearly communicate what you have achieved. This makes the interview process less stressful and gives you a jumping off point for answering tough questions. 

Moreover, a portfolio serves as a living document for your career accomplishments. It can be continually added to so that any time you're looking to move on to a new opportunity, you have a reference guide to use during your search. 

Have you been working your butt off applying for jobs? When you finally get a job offer, you might be tempted to accept the terms, no questions. However, you shouldn't just sign a contract out of pure elation. Consider what the position offers in relation to your career, and, of course, how much the job pays. You shouldn't go into a position feeling undervalued, but asking for more money can be nerve-wracking. No big deal though – you can do it! The most important thing you can do is to go into a negotiation with proof of why you deserve more cash.

You will have to be able to articulate your worth. Doing so requires a little rehearsal. If the thought of negotiating your pay rate makes your stomach churn, take a look at these tips to go in feeling confident and composed:

Consider how the company is performing
If the company hiring you is bringing in high profit margins and has seen a significant amount of recent success, it's probably a good time to ask for a higher salary or hourly rate than outlined in the initial offer. Furthermore, think about how the industry you work in is doing as a whole. If you got an offer from a boutique doughnut shop, and the New York Times recently wrote an article about the new doughnut craze, odds are you're working at a business that will thrive in the near future. However, if the chips are down and the company is bleeding, asking for a more money might just put you on the boss's bad side. 

Do your research
Go in knowing the average hourly rate or salary of a person in your position. Have numbers ready so you can show your new boss what other employees in a similar position are making. You should be able to discuss industry norms with ease. Remember not to make demands – negotiating is a conversation.  

Be prepared for your boss to say no
If you talk to your new boss about your salary and he or she tells you no, remember that the conversation doesn't end there. Be prepared to negotiate by asking questions and receiving feedback the longer you're with the company. Inquire as to how you can improve once you start working to get a raise in the future. Keep the tone professional and remember that demands and confrontation will often get you nowhere. Negotiating an increase in your pay offer can take time – be ready to make it a continuing conversation once you've begun working.

It's common knowledge that networking is extremely important to your job hunt, but are you making easily avoidable networking gaffs? Though the concept of networking is relatively simple, there are a number of ways to not execute your social skills well in practice. Simply put, people are different professionally and socially, and it can make the process of expanding your career network complicated. Not everyone is good at working a room and making connections. On the other hand, others are great at meeting lots of people, but are forgetful, inattentive or rude. However, there are common guidelines that can help you connect with people during your job search. Here are four mistakes to avoid when networking:

Not using the Internet
It's imperative to meet people in person at job fairs and other professional social gatherings, but the Internet is a necessary way to stay in contact with a vast network of people in your industry. Social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all great platforms for connecting with people. If you're not consistently active across multiple online avenues then you can potentially miss out on job opportunities or fall out of touch with associates and hiring managers. 

Only thinking about yourself
Don't go into a networking situation with a selfish mindset. Remember that people want to connect with you for the same reasons you want to connect with them. Create a two-way street, and don't forget to share opportunities and pay it forward when someone helps you land an interview or pushes your resume to the top of the pile.

Forgetting to say thank you
If someone takes the time to help you out, make sure you properly thank them. This can be done with a handwritten letter or a kindly-worded email. The main idea is to emphasize your gratitude, because they took time out of their busy schedule to help you get ahead by connecting you with others. 

Not following up
Always follow up with new connections. While you might meet dozens of people during a networking event, it's important to send quick emails or connect on LinkedIn the next day to stay in touch. If you promise to send someone your resume or portfolio, don't blow it off. Make sure you send them those materials as soon as possible to demonstrate your professionalism and initiative. You never know what it may lead to. 

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