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'A home phone number just seems super old'
And other behaviors past their expiration date
I was discussing what hiring teams are looking for with the resume writers at Leet Resumes (where we write great professional resumes for free, tips appreciated).
“Having a home phone number just seems, like, super old,” said one colleague. To which everybody else in the Zoom call nodded and yes’d in agreement.
Now, you may be of an age where getting the second home phone line was the height of luxury. So the world in which a home phone number is out-of-date, behind-the-times or unfashionable might seem bewildering.
But keeping up with the times requires keeping yourself honest about how in-touch with today’s world you really are.
In that spirit, here are four more things you might be doing to prematurely age yourself in your career.
AOL email addresses. Along with Hotmail and Yahoo, an AOL email address says that you first got an email address more than a decade ago, and perhaps haven’t bothered to keep up with the fashions since.
It is far past time to move off of AOL, which reached its peak of popularity 25 years ago - before Google launched, Steve Jobs returned to Apple, or mobile phones had screens.
And with email services now a tiny, tiny part of their corporate parents’ focus, Hotmail and Yahoo are unlikely to keep up with the state-of-the-art over the next decade.
Not keeping up with technology at work. Many professionals today started their careers when learning Microsoft Office was enough - Word, Powerpoint and a little bit of Excel made you computer literate.
The explosion in SaaS tools in the past ten years, from Salesforce to Slack to Zoom, Hubspot, Zendesk, Adobe, and JIRA, among others, has transformed American business. And each new year brings new tools. Some will become central to your career, and others will be gone before you’ve had time to forget them.
Whether you’re looking to change jobs or are forced to leave your current employer due to outside circumstances, having a stronger grasp of the technology tools in your industry will be important. Past generations had to master their tools - the dictaphone, the electric typewriter, the overhead slide projector - and you’ll need to master the tools of your generation. Especially if they’re changing every five years.
At this point, you ought to be spending 1-2 hours per week learning, updating and improving your knowledge of the technology applications in your field.
Make it a standing appointment in your calendar. Keep a list of things that frustrate you and learn how to conquer them. Dig into the online documentation and push yourself to get a little bit better every week. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the knowledge compounds.
Over the years, this will put you far ahead of your peers in the industry and that makes for a very helpful insurance policy for your career.
Not keeping up with technology at home. The mobile revolution blurred the lines between office and home life. We’ve had to take the good - answering work emails from our kids’ soccer games - with the bad - responding to the boss at 11 o’clock on Saturday night.
This blurring goes the other way as well. What’s called the consumerization of Enterprise has seen even the stuffiest of corporate applications try to emulate the interfaces, intuitiveness and delight of consumer apps.
You can improve your own taste in technology by being more mindful of how consumer products make choices easy. Pay a bit closer attention to how your Netflix, Amazon, Gmail, Uber and Paypal apps get you where you are going without confusing you. When you understand what features you like and don’t like as a consumer, and think about why, you can bring those insights back to your day job.
Lighting, lighting, lighting. When it comes to looking professional in 2022, it could be said that lighting is the new suit and tie, the new power suit. Speaking from the shadows, blinding others with the sunlight directly behind your head, allowing people to look up your nostrils - all of these are bad practices that date you as being from before the mobile era.
When you’re on your Zoom calls or Teams meetings, you’ll want to look modern, put-together, and professional. The younger generation is obsessed with vanity and live in a world where how you present yourself matters.
Just like the suit and tie spread from the aristocratic classes to the middle-class office professional in the 20th century, the expectation of professional lighting, on-screen presence, and effective use of video have spread from movie stars and news anchors to your laptop.
You’re compared every day to the standards of what people see on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. It might not be fair, but it is the future.
While some recommend ring lights, I bought this pair of softbox lights from Fovitec early in the pandemic and they’ve made it easy to look good.
Ask a colleague’s opinion on how you can improve your Zoom game. Don’t ask the negative - ‘is there anything wrong with how I look on Zoom’ - make sure to ask for specific advice - ‘if there were one thing I could do to improve how I come across on Zoom, what would your professional opinion be?’
So scratch your 867-5309 off your resume, and lead your way into a successful 21st century!
Follow me on twitter: @cenedella
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