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‘I make sure my Web presence is what I want people to find’

Mary Fran Wiley 27-year-old web designer  credits her return school use social mediGoogle-friendly web profiles with landing job Orbit

Mary Fran Wiley, a 27-year-old web designer, credits her return to school, and use of social media and Google-friendly web profiles, with landing a job at Orbit Media Studios. Photographed on Thursday, December 22, 2011. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

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Mary Fran Wiley followed an increasingly familiar route to a new job: A friend e-mailed her a job listing from LinkedIn, and Wiley leveraged her social-media savvy and a tailored cover letter and resume to win the position as a web designer at a Ravenswood startup.

“If you ‘Google’ me, I am the entire first page of Google search results — you see my Twitter account, my blog, my personal website, my personal portfolio and my LinkedIn profile,” said Wiley, a 27-year-old LaGrange native and University of Illinois graduate who now lives in Willow Springs.

She landed an interview at all three companies where she applied for jobs before being hired Dec. 2 at Orbit Media Studios, Inc.

Wiley intentionally kept her Facebook page off of the Google results.

“I make sure my web presence is what I want people to find,” she said, noting that she uses Google Index to make that happen.

Wiley, who aced a 50-percent salary increase with her new job, had told friends she wanted to return to Chicago after she had worked since June 2010 as creative manager for Illini Media Company, a non-profit at her alma mater that operates the university newspaper, radio station, yearbook and engineering magazine. Wiley had worked at Illini Media for three years in advertising sales while she was in college.

She majored in French and international marketing at U of I, but she credits her decision to obtain a graphic-design certificate from the College of DuPage, a community college, in 2009-2010 with helping her gain value in the job market.

“I knew a French degree wasn’t going to be a golden ticket,” said Wiley, who speaks French and German in addition to English. “I know lots of print designers who could be fantastic web designers if they weren’t afraid of the technology. Take one or two web-design classes at a community college. It makes all the difference to understand the technology, and you can use the skills you already have.”

She also didn’t waste time applying to job openings that didn’t fit her talents.

For the jobs Wiley sought, she researched the company where she had applied, used the exact key words in her resume and cover letter that were used in the job ad and emphasized certain skills over others to meet the criteria.

She noticed that Orbit’s job posting was written in a fun, casual style, so she wrote her cover letter in the same breezy manner, noting that one of her hobbies is posting a blog dedicated to baking and cooking gluten-free foods.

Wiley researched the salary book of AIGA, the professional association for design, to figure out a salary range she could expect or request.

She, like many career coaches, sees all kinds of opportunities for people to transfer their skills — writers become content strategists; marketers become search engine optimization specialists; programmers broaden their enterprise scale app knowledge by learning web apps; and information science workers segue into interface design and information architecture.

“At the very bare bones, you can learn a new computer language if you have an aptitude for it,” Wiley said.

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