Sunday, July 13, 2008

The career crisis and the CV

I'd like to rebound on Mad's previous post.

I always had a CV updated. Well, maybe not always, but in the last 2-3 years I didn't let my CV unupdated for more than a couple of months. I also got one online. I even googled my name to see what websites were popping up first. Was this information that I wanted my next employer know? If not, learn the lesson: never put your name again on such a website. Then learn a bit how Google ranks the websites and arrange for other websites to take the lead. The first page must be clean.

When my career crisis happened, I was certainly not ready [who is?]. But at least I got all my career information ready. What I did where, what I published, what conferences I attended and what were the titles of my talks, who I supervised, what grant I got, etc., etc. All I had to do was a little bit of CV cleaning/shuffling for the different positions I was applying for.

That's what I thought.

My problem number one was with my online CV. As I simultaneously applied for different jobs with emphasis on different skills, shall I rearrange it for every position I was applying for? Should I advertise for my website? Worse, should I advertise for my blog (I never did)? What I wanted to do was to match my online CV with the position I wanted the most at a given time. But that was much too much work. Keeping it simple and factual was probably the smartest thing to do.

I was unaware of my problem number two until a friend of mine, working in a private company, had a look at my CV. He knew me, knew I was a smart guy (hey, he's a friend), knew some of my skills... but couldn't find any such information in my CV. That was a good academic CV tailored for academia, with a little bit of focus on what I really wanted to do (more management / communication / supervision /...). But it was not a CV for the industry market. And he was not surprised at all that I didn't get any interview.

We spent a couple of hours starting to completely rewrite my CV. Something I wished I learned before. Something any reader of this blog should learn. 

And?

And I never finished this re-writing. Because I got positive feedback on my favorite application. So I preferred to wait a bit before spending more hours on that CV. And I finally got the job I wanted. Guess what? Well, a position in academia involving more management / communication / supervision (but not as an assistant prof). Exactly what my CV was designed for.

But I have to admit that a bit of luck helped...

7 comments:

The Mad Chemist said...

If not, learn the lesson: never put your name again on such a website. Then learn a bit how Google ranks the websites and arrange for other websites to take the lead. The first page must be clean.

Very good point.

If you have a website or online CV you would like to point perspective employers, you can submit a specific website to Google here:

http://www.google.com/addurl/

The other search engines have their respective "add URLs" sites too, though once you submit to one engine the others pick up the URL fairly quickly. (It may take a while for the web crawlers to find the page so it is not something you want to do at the last minute of a job search.)

And as you mentioned, you can also google bomb the good websites to influence the rankings--it is frighteningly easy to do.

Pablo Achard said...

Sure, cleaning a google page is a long-term process. It is not very difficult but it must be done way in advance...

Submiting a personal web page to Google is not very efficient. The same is obtained (with a higher google rank) by linking the new personal web page from an existing one. Your current lab certainly has a web page and I've never seen any PI or webmaster refusing to add a link to one's personal webpage. Google's engine regularly navigates in your lab page and will find the link.

Mad Hatter said...

How interesting! I'd never thought about trying to alter the ranking of websites that show up when I Google my name.

And having your CV always updated and ready to go is very good advice. I think whether one has to reformat a CV into a resume depends on the job one is applying for. Perhaps a topic for a future post?

Yttrai said...

It's probably wise to google oneself routinely to keep track of what's public. By doing that i once learned that a previously private site had suddenly become googleable, and edited my personal information out of newly public posts.

Can you give us links as to how to affect the ranking of the google hits? None are things i'm particularly embarrassed by at the moment (BUDA, RPGs, orienteering, and all my patents) but i expect rankings change over time?

Pablo Achard said...

Sure. You can have a look here for example
http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/internet/google-ranking-factors.htm
http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization

To cut it short, let's distinguish different cases:

- you want to promote a website (A) but you don't have any website yourself: you have to have other websites (B) pointing to A, preferably with your name as a tag and preferably with B being highly ranked. Go on blogs you like and leave interesting comments. You often have the possibility to sign your comment with a name and url (though blogger seems to behave strangely for that): use your name and put the url of the site you want to promote.

- you want to promote a website (A) that belongs to someone else (your university or whatesoever) but you have one or several websites of your own (B): apply all of the above PLUS enjoy the possibility to create links from B to A. Note that thanks to CSS you can have invisible text. So on every page of B you can create links to A without corrupting your website. Use this possibility to have different tags linking to A (1st name last name, last name 1st name, last name only,...)

- you want to promote a website (A) you designed yourself (or at least that you can modify): apply all of the above PLUS read the advices from the links above. Which means that you can use the keyword sections, the figure legend section, the invisible text to repeat your tag (your name in different orders) so that Google strongly relates A to your name.

Having your webpage with your name in the title (like www.pabloachard.eu) makes it very likely to appear high in Google if someone searches for your name. Having factual and relevant information on it helps.

I'll make another post on network websites like LinkedIn. This is another way to have clean and relevant information about you ranking high.

The Mad Chemist said...

Submiting a personal web page to Google is not very efficient.

It is "lower tech" but it can actually work quite well depending on your final objective.

With a little manipulation, the site I wanted at the top of a certain Google search was the top result in about a week after the crawlers picked it up.

Go on blogs you like and leave interesting comments.

You have to be really careful with this approach. Such comments can be construed in different ways by different people/job recruiters. Any comments with religious, political, etc overtones could cost you in the future.

And doing a google bomb does take some maintenance as over time undesired sites can work their way back up in the listings. For a good blurb on google bombs, take a look at Wikipedia.

Pablo Achard said...

With a little manipulation, the site I wanted at the top of a certain Google search was the top result in about a week after the crawlers picked it up.

My point was that that "little manipulation" will anyway bring the site to the google search engine. So the registration is kind of superfluous.


You have to be really careful with this approach. Such comments can be construed in different ways by different people/job recruiters. Any comments with religious, political, etc overtones could cost you in the future.


I totally agree! By "blogs you like" I meant "blog you'd like to see associated with your name in the eyes of a recruiter"


And doing a google bomb does take some maintenance as over time undesired sites can work their way back up in the listings.


Sure but most of the time the sites you don't want to see anymore are related to a event (you participated to a political meeting, you registered for Miss WoW, you signed a petition, you won the cheeseburger eating competition, etc.) so are likely to go down with time. Additionnaly, you will participate to more conferences, be employed in different places and so on, so the number of "good" websites is also likely to increase with time.