Self-reference for success

You love your Pomeranain, which is why your gamerhandle lets people know they've been P0wned by CerebusPom23.  Your sig file on your favorite message board references your Twitter account.  Your color scheme for your fansite is a subtle variant on your favorite sports teams, each page lovingly coordinated.

If you're a fan/geek, especially if you're heavily online, you've probably got a lot of self-references.  Handles reflect interests, websites reference other sites, your cosplay costume is based off of your love of Japanese history, etc.

Congrats.  You're practicing one of the skills necessary for career success- self-reference.

One of the lessons I've learned in my job searches, my personal branding, etc. is that all the elements of your job search/career work best when they refer to each other, when they back each other up.  Making the effort to do this helps make your identity and skills very apparent (hopefully in a positive manner).

Some examples of self-reference:

  • Orville Pierson, whose book I reviewed, recommends, making sure that your "elevator pitch" to recruiters, the quick summary on your resume, and your resume itself all reflect each other.  Make sure that the achievements in your resume come out in your "elevator pitch", etc.
  • Does your personal/professional web page reflect your personality, skills, and image?  Is it not professional enough – or too professional?  WIll people who meet you be surprised that it's so "not you."
  • Is your image what people would expect – or something different?  Are you coming off as too professional – or too unprofessional?
  • Do your online handles reflect the image you're cultivating – are they professional (or creative) enough that clients/potential employers feel they fit the person they're talking to.
  • Can you relate your fan/hobby elements to your career when people ask – or are you defensive or unable to communicate it?

You have plenty of experience building a self-referential identity as a fan or geeking over something:

  • You've build your handles and online references to refer to you.  What can you use and learn on building your identity professionally?
  • What tools have you learned to build self-reference – good writing, good speaking, web page building, etc.
  • When did it backfire – when was it TOO easy for people to find you – and how can you use that to either further integrate your life by going all the way, or look to have a proper personal/private division.
  • How have you been identified in your fandom and how did you define yourself.  What can you use to out of that to build a better self-referencing identity.

You've been building an online identity for years.  What can you use on your career? Probably more than you think.

– Steven Savage