Topic 3: Developing An Authentic Professional Online Profile

Discuss the ways in which an authentic online professional profile can be developed.

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Job hunting and recruitment have changed dramatically with the advent of the Internet and social media. Add to this the recent global economic crisis, and the hyper-competitive job market it has created, and you’ve got one tough crowd to compete with. That said, we all have access to the same tools and thus we have a level playing field.

Online professional profiles are all about self-branding, the aim being to present yourself in a favourable light so as to gain credibility and appeal to potential employers. Unlike in the days when employers’ only research came from calling the two references provided, they now have a host of Internet documentation to check your details against. Thus, when creating your professional brand, you must make sure you portray a consistent image of yourself. In his book “Linchpin”, Seth Godin (2010) sates  “If you need to conceal your true nature to get in the door, understand that you’ll probably have to conceal your true nature to keep that job.”  I think it is worth noting that, in doing this, your true nature needs to be concealed across a number of mediums, so unless you’re in line for an Oscar, it’s advisable to be authentic.

Weiler (2012) states “It used to be that your resume was the determining factor in landing a job, but now social platforms are becoming the norm for both networking and finding work.” This is exactly right and in modern times the professional is expected to have a number of online profiles: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and often a blog.  This is supported by Bonzionelos (2003), relationships in social networks, including professional ties, constitute an important facet of social capital. Through Twitter and other platforms job seekers can now create ties with thousands of people with a single tweet. Be active on Twitter and LinkedIn and initiate the first contact with employers. Companies do not mind being contacted for job opportunities on Twitter, so reach out. In fact, firms are often able to provide valuable advice on the things that you should be doing to find a job. If you’re lucky, recruitment may check you out and give you a job offer.

So we’ve established the importance of a professional online profile, now here are some tips to doing it well:

  • Your online profile, like it or not is what defines you to your employers so make your profile look as professional as possible, no drunken photos or funny pictures. Neither of these are great but I’m sure you can ascertain which is best.

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  • Be authentic. We’ve identified that you can easily be caught out on the little white lies you tell.
  • Be relevant, employers don’t want to know about the waitressing job you had as a teenager. Limit the jobs you list to ones relevant to the position your seeking.
  • Think outside the box. Video, interactive CVs and viral content are a great way to get attention. Take Adam Pacitti as an example, he was a university graduate struggling to get a job in the tough economic climate.  Adam utilised the media available to him, went for the hard sell and, with a great deal of determination and exuberant publicity stunts, he managed to get a job offer. It’s not for everyone, and won’t appeal to all employers, but it shows that with the right tools anything’s possible. employadam.com
  • Link everything. Make it easy for employers to navigate through your online presence. On my LinkedIn I have a links to my personal website, Twitter, About.me, vizify and all my listed Jobs have links to my employers websites.

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  • Create a blog. A blog is a great way to share your knowledge and showcase your expertise, but they’re not for everyone. If writing isn’t one of your strong points, don’t do it. Anyone interested in you will certainly be turned off if you publish grammatical errors or awkward prose.
  • Don’t write an essay on your professional CV.  Set your sights on making your profile neither too long nor too short.  Be clear and concise as if anyone looking wants more information they can follow those all important links you’ve added.
  • Last but not least, make sure there’s no content on any social profiles you wouldn’t want your employers seeing.

  References: 

Godin, S. (2010). Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future (p. 224). Hachette UK,. 

Welier, W. (2010). 6 Things Your Professional Online Profile Needs. HiredMyWay.

Bozionelos, N. (2003). Intra-organizational network resources: Relation to career success and personality’. International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 11, 41–66.