The ambitious today are all on the Web. Writing words, posting pictures, uploading video. It's all about visibility. It's all about being there, being seen in all the right places. There is no better place to be seen than being the first result in Google when someone searches for you. Increasingly, that's what organizations are doing before they interview a candidate for a job. They will Google them and see what they get. If they don't find anything, that says something. If they find a lot of positive results, well it says that this candidate is active, they're out there doing things, self-motivated.
Blogging has become a major trend, but what is a blog but an extended CV. Sure there are personal blogs, but increasingly people are using blogs as a way of saying: "I'm really smart. I really know this subject. Give me a (better) job."
Your social network is very important in relation to helping your career move forward. Add some good contacts to talent and ambition and you're going to be moving forward. However, today you need to be thinking about your web network. If the content you have created is being commented on and-more particularly-being linked to from other websites, then that means your status is rising.
If you are ambitious, you must publish the important things you do today. Publishing is about visibility. It's about getting your name in front of those who matter to you. If you do something great and don't create a record of what you did, did you really do it? As far as the Web is concerned, you didn't, and the Web is becoming the global memory. So you've got to get it down - get it recorded.
Academia may look somewhat mild and comradely to an outsider, but it can be an intensely competitive environment, governed by the law 'publish or perish'. Ambitious and creative academics get published and not-so-ambitious and not-so-creative ones get forgotten. Take Albert Einstein, for example: he gained fame and influence not after he formulated his theories on relativity, but after he published them.
We have moved from lifelong employment to lifelong learning, and the organization has become, in part, like a university. The implications are clear: as members of this lifelong learning university, we will be expected to publish more in order to show what we have learned and to share the best of that learning.
In the past, many people gave their loyalty to an organization in the hope that it would give them lifelong employment and fulfillment. That's rarely the case anymore, and the implication is that you will need to publish outside the organization so that others will become aware of your abilities. You must look after yourself today, and your blog or other type of website is a way of saying that you are always open to new opportunities. You should never be too busy to look after your long-term interests.
Get your own URL (website address), because your website should be one of the most permanent things you carry with you throughout your life. You may change careers, houses, or even countries, but your website address and its associated email address shouldn't change.
Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant
, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994.