When I was first introduced to Pinterest, I wanted to avoid it at all costs. It was during midterms and anything with that large a collection of food pictures and recipes to try couldn’t be good for my study habits.
But when I finally relaxed and gave in (after my exams, to say something for self-control), I immediately understood why this new social media tool had such a strong following. Pinterest had something the other sites didn’t: visual personality. The boards on pinterest function as a way for users to divide their interests and populate them with things they find interesting, entertaining, or in my case, delicious.
But as much as I enjoyed scrolling through endless pictures of recipes that included “avocado,” I had never considered it to be a professional tool. That is, until I attended the Social Learning Summit at my alma mater, American University. The event is planned, hosted and executed by the AU Social Media Club (which was founded by my friend and fellow USA Today College writer Alex Priest).
While I cannot say enough good things about the conference, what stole the show for me was the “Digital Me: Personal Branding” panel. The speakers were engaging, informative, witty, but most importantly they inspired the audience into action.
Panel speaker Rachael King, the former President of the DC Social Media Club, is the creative mind from which this idea originates. Besides her advice to ABC, “Always Be Coffee-ing”, she told us about her pinboard called the “Living Resume” – a visual representation of her experience, accolades and interests.
I knew what I would be doing as soon as I got home. Still not sure it’s right for you? Let me convince you:
1. Pinterest embodies the phrase, “show, don’t tell”
When it comes to personal branding, most people start with a resume or a CV. It is absolutely essential to have a properly formatted resume, and I am in no way recommending that anyone ditch theirs. But resumes are a document on paper and unless you are a graphic designer, it can do little more than tell a potential employer about your past experiences and qualifications. Pinterest, on the other hand, uses pictures to show a story – your story.
Especially for new grads, resumes are limited to whatever you deem most relevant and can fit on one piece of paper. A pin board can include anything. If you’re proud of it, pin it!
2. How you “fit” in a company is as important as how qualified you are for the job
The first step for applying to a job is writing a cohesive cover letter and submitting your resume. Once you’ve been offered an interview the game changes. While your qualifications are still important to the job, the interview gives the employer a chance to gauge your ability to handle the responsibilities of the position, as well as determine how well you fit into a company. It comes down to a simple question, “is this person someone I want to work with every day?”
Having a resume pinboard can help answer this question. It is a greater picture of who you are as a person. This is one of the reasons that an employer might want to friend you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter, to learn more about you as a person and how you present yourself to the public. But if you have to choose a social network to share, choose Pinterest.
3. Advantages over Facebook or Twitter
No matter how hard you comb through your Facebook (which I absolutely recommend) for pictures from nights that are a little hazy, there is always a chance something slipped through the cracks. Twitter is great for micro-blogging, but do you really want a future employer to read through your responses to trending topics like #HarryPotterChatUpLines or #OMGBoysareDumbYOLO?
Thankfully, Pinterest is a social network safe for work. Even if you show your future employer your Resume Pinboard and s/he chooses to poke around at your other boards, they are only going to learn more about your interests. What you like to eat, places you want to visit, inspirational quotes. None of these are going to damage your reputation, only give a more complete picture of who you are as a person.
What to include:
If you’ve decided to create your own resume board, it’s intimidating to figure out what should be on it. My rule of thumb, which I mentioned earlier, is “if you’re proud of it, pin it.” Here’s a short walkthrough of what I put on mine which will hopefully inspire you (it’s very me-centric):
• My USA Today College profile
• My LinkedIn profile
• A screenshot from when I was sorted into Ravenclaw on Pottermore
• The club I created (Professional Women’s Association)
• Computer skills (created with photoshop)
• Languages I speak (created with photoshop)
• The logo I created for myself (again, on photoshop)
• Article about me on HerCampus
• My resume (converted from PDF on photoshop)
• Brotherhood Seal for Alpha Kappa Psi
• My Twitter profile
• My WordPress blog
• A link to Mashable (because I’m obsessed)
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