You've got a resume on the right paper, the right suit, your Twitter posts, Facebook profile, and a great cover letter. You're on the job search.
Have you ever wondered how much of this is NECESSARY?
One of the hardest things to admit in a job search is that some things are done not because they are useful, providing information about yourself and letting you learn about an employer, but because they're about image. You're trying to project a certain image, but it's easy to feel that its frustrating or useless.
In some cases, it is a useless case of putting on an image, but never discount the importance of image as image is also a matter of meeting expectations.
That formal outfit you wear to an interview may go back in the closet until someone's graduation, but wearing it to the interview shows you care about the job and are meeting expectations of how someone dresses on an interview.
You go out of your way to get a professional photograph of yourself on your website – sure you could have gotten 90% of the same result with a roommate with a steady hand and a camera. But that extra crisp image shows you care.
You got that fancy resume paper at the copy shop – it doesn't change the quality of the resume, but shows you care.
Image can be about shallowness, but also it's about caring enough to say "I am going to go out of my way to project the Image you expect. Now that I have shown my commitment, I hope we can talk." There's the image that is faked – and then there's you, going through the social steps to demonstrate you care.
As the job search world changes, as social media keeps coming into prominence, as linkedin.com or plaxo become expected, there will be changes not just in the tools we use, but what we use in order to demonstrate our commitment. Yes it's image, but as noted, image can be important.
I view it as communication, as I said. Sometimes I even joke about it – noting that I have one good business suit (and 8 business casual outfits, I own no jeans), or that I used an extra-colorful envelope to get people's attention. That's part of image too – showing I know that I'm making an effort to show I care, letting people relax, and getting to the meat of the job search.
Image isn't always shallow.