Chris Bigelow

Disparate thoughts and musings…

Archive for Social Media

Have you Googled yourself lately?

When my position was eliminated in February I Googled myself, because outplacement firms and career counselors all say that you want to know what references are on the web about yourself.  Fair enough.  There are two reasons for this (and, no, narcissism is not one of them): one, you want to be sure there is no negative or erroneous information posted about yourself and, two, you want to be “findable” (via positive references).

I was dismayed when I had to wade though the first six to eight pages of Google results before finding any reference to myself.  I think that singular reference was to my LinkedIn profile, as that was about my only web presence at the time.

In the wake of this realization I set out to raise my internet profile and make myself “findable” on Google.  My goal was to show up in the first page or two when someone searched for “Chris Bigelow”.  How did I go about doing this?  I started learning about Social Media and:

I also made it a point to cross reference all of my sites to each other using links.

How did it work out?  Well, I just now Googled “Chris Bigelow” and found my blog (fifth and sixth entries) and Google profile (“eleventh” entry/footer) on the first page of the search results.  On the second page I found my Twitter account (second entry) and a directory of all “Chris Bigelows” on LinkedIn (fifth entry) where, incidentally, I show up as the second directory entry.  That’s five times in the first two pages of results. Much better than my previous showing.

“Fine,” you say.  “So where is this all going?”  Over the course of my job search I have been contacted by numerous recruiters (both internal and external).  They have found me in a variety of ways on line: LinkedIn, Monster, Lynxster and CareerBuilder.

Last week, though, I experienced a first when I was contacted by a corporate recruiter who found me via Google.  And not by searching for “Chris Bigelow”, which was my original expectation behind increasing my web presence.  This recruiter found me by submitting a Boolean search string of attributes desired for a specific open position at that company.  I have to admit that it had never occurred to me that I could be found that way.  Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised.  Later that evening, as a test, I entered the Boolean search string “engineer AND lean AND ‘powder coat’” into Google and didn’t I show up as the second and sixth entries on the first page of results.  Wow!  Powerful stuff.  The next day I was discussing this incident with a friend who is an independent recruiter and he said that the best, cutting-edge recruiters are now employing this technique.

In the fourteen years I spent at my last employer, the internet went from nascency to ubiquity and job search has changed dramatically because of it.

Have you Googled yourself lately?

Google Boolean search

Addendum, 28 August: This post has received a lot of comments, mostly on the LinkedIn groups where I posted a link to it.  While the feedback has been generally positive, I have had some cautionary feedback as well which I want to share.

As is true anywhere on the internet, you need to exercise caution when sharing personal information.  Since this runs counter to the whole concept of social media it creates an extremely delicate balancing act.  Making too much information public places you at an increased risk of ID theft, common burglary, and more; making too little information available reduces a potential employer’s ability to find you.

While the choice of how much information to share is strictly a personal one, I recommend that you do not share your home address or phone number.  You might take this a step further and list your location as simply the nearest metro area.  At the risk of stating the obvious, certainly don’t share your date of birth or social security number.  And by all means, don’t broadcast travel plans (“Hello – Mr. Burglar?  We’ll be in Cancun the week of January 7th…”).

Best of luck raising your visibility, but remember to be safe.

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Tutorial: WordPress.com Text Widgets

My last post was about how to add social media buttons to your VisualCV.  I got positive feedback on it so I thought I would follow it up with a tutorial on the “text” widget in WordPress.com.  This widget may be the least understood and underrated widget available to WordPress.com bloggers.  I’m no expert but am happy to share what I have learned.

I’m going to assume you know something about widgets.  If not, go to “Appearance”, “Widgets” and poke around.  There are lots of useful widgets and my dashboard reports that, as of this moment, I am using 20 on this blog.  But today we will talk specifically about the text widget.  Eleven of the 20 widgets I am using are text widgets.

What some people may not realize is that, in addition to plain vanilla text, this widget also supports a limited amount of HTML code which makes it extremely useful.  To illustrate, when I was first setting up my blog I added a blogroll with links to various blogs I feel are worth reading.  I categorized them too.  Imagine my dismay when I realized that both the categories and blog names were automatically alphabetized and there seemd to be nothing I could do about it (short of playing games with the names themselves).

Enter the text widget.  First, I looked at the source code for my blog to see what the HTML code was for the blogroll.  Mind you, I knew no HTML prior to this.  I then copied and pasted this code into a new text widget.  By keeping the format calls intact the rendered widget looked just like a normal blogroll.  Except that now I could manually rearrange the code to list the blogs in any order I wished.  A small triumph, perhaps, but it made my day.  As an example, the HTML code for my “Career Blogs” widget is as follows:

[sourcecode language=’html’]
<ul class=’snap_preview xoxo blogroll’>
<li><a href=”http://corcodilos.com/blog/&#8221; title=”Nick Corcodilos: The insider’s edge on job search &amp; hiring™” target=”_blank”>Ask The Headhunter®</a></li>
<li><a href=”http://www.hannahmorgan.typepad.com/&#8221; title=”Career Sherpa: Guide for lifetime career navigation” target=”_blank”>Hannah Morgan</a></li>
<li><a href=”http://personalbrandingblog.com/&#8221; title=”Navigating YOU to future success!” target=”_blank”>Personal Branding Blog</a></li>
<li><a href=”http://sirlinkedalot.com/&#8221; title=”Insights on job search, hiring, networking and all things LinkedIn” target=”_blank”>Sir LinkedAlot – a recruiter’s insights</a></li>
<li><a href=”http://blog.spinstrategy.com/&#8221; title=”Tools for Intelligent Job Search” target=”_blank”>Spin Strategy™</a></li></ul>
[/sourcecode]

So far so good.  Each section of my blogroll is a separate text widget so I can order the sections any way I wish.  I then used the text widget to create my social media links, complete with custom buttons.  The code for that widget is as follows:

[sourcecode language=’html’]
<br><a href=”http://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisbigelow&#8221; title=”Click here for LinkedIn profile”><img src=”http://www.linkedin.com/img/webpromo/btn_viewmy_160x25.gif&#8221; width=”170″ height=”27″ border=”0″ alt=”View Chris Bigelow’s profile on LinkedIn”></a>
<a href=”http://twitter.com/cbbigelow&#8221; title=”Click here for Twitter profile”><img src=”http://twitbuttons.com/buttons/siahdesign/twit1.gif&#8221; alt=”Twitter Button from twitbuttons.com” width=”170″></a>
<a href=”http://www.visualcv.com/chrisbigelow&#8221; title=”Christopher Bigelow’s VisualCV”>
<img src=”http://buttons.visualcv.com/visualcv_buttons/visualcv_button_without_head.jpg&#8221; width=”170″ border=”0″ alt=”Christopher Bigelow’s VisualCV”>
</a>
<a href=”http://www.google.com/profiles/C.B.Bigelow&#8221; title=”Click here for Google profile”><img src=”https://cbbigelow.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/google-chris-bigelow.gif&#8221; alt=”My Google Profile” width=”170″></a>
<a href=”http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Bigelow/734471596&#8243; title=”Click here for Facebook public profile”><img src=”https://cbbigelow.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/facebookwithlogo.jpg&#8221; alt=”My Facebook Profile” width=”170″></a>
<br><br>
[/sourcecode]

Everything in the fourth column of my blog and 60% of the third column is done with text widgets.  Poke around.  Play.  Discover.  And have some fun.

Clarification: To use my code you must remove the first and last lines of each example (the lines with the “sourcecode” tag in them).  These are required by WordPress.com for me to show you the code in my blog post – they have nothing to do with running it (actually, they are there specifically so it does not try to “run” in the body of the blog post).

Tutorial: VisualCV Social Media Buttons

VisualCV Social Media LinksLast week a friend of mine (we’ll call him David) asked me how I did the social media buttons on my VisualCV (click the VisualCV button to the right and look in the top, right corner), so I thought I’d put together a little tutorial.  I’m assuming you already have a VisualCV.  If not, go to http://www.visualcv.com, sign up for a free account, and follow the prompts to import your LinkedIn profile.  This is the fastest way to get up and running with all of your basic data.  From here you can tweak to your hearts content.  Don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet?  Shame on you.  My recommendation would be to create that first.

Once you have a VisualCV go into edit mode.  Your VisualCV consists of a “Main Column” and a “Sidebar”.  The edit menu area is split into two parts – one for each of these areas.  There are various sections you can add to the main column and sidebar.  We’re interested in adding a section to the sidebar called a “Portfolio”.  I put mine at the top of the sidebar where it is visible and convenient for folks to click through, but it can be located anywhere in either area (main or side).  Once you’ve added this section and positioned it (drag and drop to rearrange) we can start adding buttons.

Let me give a brief background note here: the portfolio section is intended to showcase things in your portfolio (duh!).  If you’re a graphic artist this makes sense.  But the area can be put to other uses.  I know a guy who has a photo of one of his patents shown in the portfolio area of his VisualCV.  The key feature of the images you place in your portfolio is that they are clickable hot links.   Typically, they link to a larger copy of the image so that folks can see it in more detail.  But they can just as easily link to external web sites, which is how the social media buttons work.

So now you have an empty portfolio section.  First things first: you need images to use for your buttons.  The easy way would be to right-click and “save image as” on mine.  The “My Website” button was created by my son, the Photoshop wizard, and then edited by me.  Buried deep in the LinkedIn site is a place to get buttons; you can find it at https://www.linkedin.com/profile?promoteProfile=.   My Twitter button came from http://www.twitbuttons.com/ where they have quite a collection so, if you don’t like mine, pick another.   I created my Google button by typing my name in the Google search box and then doing a rectangular screen grab in a roughly button shape (I may have had to do a little cropping afterwards to get it the way I wanted it).  I found the Facebook button by searching around via Google.

Once you have your buttons you need to upload them to VisualCV.  It may be easiest to do this one by one as you add each portfolio item to your new section.  Click the “Add a Portfolio Item” button at the bottom of the section.  I did not title each button as I think it looks cleaner, but that’s a personal taste thing (all I have is a single title for the section, and this you add by clicking on the title area of the overall portfolio section).  Add an individual item title or not as you see fit.

Next, click on the “Choose Portfolio Item” box with the “X” through it.VisualCV Choose Portfolio Item This will open a window with two tabs: “Upload” and “Portfolio”.  Your portfolio will most likely be empty save for the photo headshot you may have uploaded for the main column.  Click on the “Upload” tab, browse to your button image location and select it, add a descriptive title in the box, and hit the “Upload” button.  Only certain image formats, such as JPG, are supported – if you get an error your image is either too large or in an incompatible format.

Now that you’ve uploaded your button image you must select it in the “Portfolio” tab.  When you do, you are presented with some choices for the image’s “Click-Through Behavior.”  Click on “Link Image to a Website”, enter the URL address of your matching social media page, and click the “Add to Section” button.  If everything looks okay, click the “Save” button below your new portfolio item.

That’s it.  Repeat for any other buttons that you wish to add.

Hybrid Blog (Frankenblog?)

(Disclaimer: if you are a serious webhead the following post will bore you to tears – instead I recommend you go to Hulu and watch a re-run of Lost.  Or, better yet, Big Bang Theory.  If blog is still a four-letter word to you then please read on)

I’m new to blogging.  Can you tell? (clue: this is post #2)  Lots of decisions to make besides whether or not to change the background color value of my Boxnet widget to 63b4cd so it is an exact match for the heading text (really).  Oops!  I just lost three quarters of my audience…sorry about that!

One decision that anyone starting a blog is forced to make is this: do I use a hosted service (like WordPress, Typepad, Blogger, etc.) or do I self-host?  Using a hosted service is quick and easy.   And free.  Did I mention that?  I am presently unemployed and quite fond of  the word “free”.  Self-hosting involves picking a company (think 1&1, GoDaddy, etc.) to host your web site, paying them a (quite reasonable) monthly hosting fee, and installing/configuring your blog software.  It offers you a LOT more control over how your blog looks and behaves.  I might find that fun but most folks couldn’t care less.

What if there was another option?  What if you could have what appears to be a self-hosted site but is, in reality, a site hosted and maintained by one of the hosted services?  For free (I do really like that word).  Well, almost free.  That is what I’ve done and here is how I did it.

Over the past two weeks I created this blog on WordPress.com.  Today I took the plunge and splurged on my own domain name: http://www.chris-bigelow.com.  Pretty fancy, huh?  Here’s the best part: it cost me $6.99.  Really.  There is a catch, though: next year it will cost me $8.99.  Once my domain name was registered (2-3 hours processing time) I then logged into a domain control panel and “redirected” my new domain to my blog here on WordPress.com.  For my domain registrar the control panel looks like the image below (click it for a larger version that is readable by humans).

Domain destination control panel

Domain destination control panel

Now bear with me as we get briefly technical: the key step is to choose “Frame redirect” as your forwarding type and to type in a “Title” for your new web site.  Why?  Because when someone goes to your newly minted domain and it redirects them to your blog site, the URL and title bars will not change to those of the site you redirect to – they will remain from your domain.  An example is in order: my direct blog address is cbbigelow.wordpress.com and the indirect address is http://www.chris-bigelow.com – access the blog both ways and note the difference.

So now, for the princely sum of $8.99 per year, I have a personal web presence. Not free, but almost <grin>.