Whether you've taken a break from work for family or personal reasons or have been in the same job since printer paper had those tear-off edges, it's important that you keep your skills current. This obviously applies to your technical skills and job-specific responsibilities, but here are some simple professional areas to make sure you're keeping up with the times.
Aside from their professional email address (their names @ employer.com), my parents still share a personal email address. Until AOL got hacked a year ago, it was an AOL.com address. This is not how to be current.
I give this advice to the college freshmen I teach too—get yourself a gmail address with your real name in it. If yours is taken, try a combination with initials or underscores, but don't get cute with the numbers. In fact, just don't get cute at all—avoid RollerSkateDiva@Hotpants.com, for example.
While my dad is an avid Facebook oversharer (don't worry, I made sure his profile went friends-only once he retired), my mom doesn't want her face anywhere on the internet. If she's looking for a new job someday, I worry that she won't have the kind of positive professional presence that most employers look for. I'm lobbying to get her to set up a LinkedIn profile—it will only have professional information, it allows her to connect with colleagues and potentially useful members of her extended network, and it puts her firmly in control of the reputation her name has online.
If you have a LinkedIn already, congratulations! Welcome to 2009! Make sure your summary has up to date contact info, including phone, your new professional email, and a few highlights from your resume's achievements section.
This is apparently the post where I heckle my nearest and dearest, but my husband has some kind of Skype-induced rage syndrome. Somehow, every time he logs on to use it when he's working from home or out sick, it won't load or glitches or takes forever to update (the way programs you haven't opened in a million years often do).
My recommendation, should you be in the market for interviews that may ask you to call in over Skype, is to set up your profile (and give it a professional, recognizable handle) a few days early, and practice with a friend or relative you should really be calling more anyway. Practice logging in, locating your contact, initiating and receiving a call, and hanging up so you'll be ready and professional come game time.
Staying Current is Key to Managing a Successful Career
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