Monday, February 20, 2012

Go on a Privacy Offensive, Not Defensive

This past week Forbes published an interesting article about how the retailer Target figured out a teenage customer was pregnant before her parents knew. Target, it turns out, gives each customer a unique identification number and-using credit card information and login data from online purchases-tracks what we buy, using this information to tailor its marketing efforts. Those coupons you got from Target in the mail last week? More than likely, they are 100% different from the ones sent to me.

Privacy, of course, is dead and has been for a long time. Background checks are so ubiquitous that anyone with a credit card and computer can perform one...on any one of us. And career experts have guided candidates to lock up their social media accounts for fear of having its contents reflect negatively upon them.

For years we have been on the privacy defensive...I propose a privacy offensive.

Online presence: Instead of locking up your social media, use it strategically to reinforce your personal brand. Create profiles on not just the ubiquitous sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter) but also some of the up-and-coming ones like Google + and Pinterest to profile the unique, professional you.

Personality profiles: Personality profiles like the MBTI, DiSC, Insights, and StrengthsFinder can be used to show employers unique talents and qualities you possess that will benefit their organizations. Highlight the information provided on these assessments to give objectivity to your personal marketing, and strengthen them with concrete examples of how you exemplify those qualities.

References: Don't just contact your references and prepare them for a potential phone call from a prospective employer. Ask your references to cite specific examples of your leadership, work skills, and/or knowledge that apply directly to the position for which you are applying. This will empower them to demonstrate how you can help that employer specifically, and they won't have to search, themselves, for answers that are the best fit.

Don't be held back by the Information Age. Use it to proactively empower you and your career.

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