It’s no secret that the outbreak of COVID-19 has moved the working world online. With that in mind, there’s never been a better time to take stock of your online presence - especially if you’re in the middle of career change. That’s right, the Facebook photos of you passed out drunk at a party may come back to haunt you when looking for a job.
That’s why a good scrubbing of embarrassing photos, offensive rants and other unflattering online postings can help prevent awkward questions from potential employers. At the same time, you can add positive indicators of your work and personal life across many channels that a hiring manager and recruiter turn to when vetting your background. You just need to be diligent in your approach.
We all have an online presence, and some are bigger than others. The good news is that laudatory moments, your academic awards, records of volunteer service and other evidence of your positive attributes are available for employers to find. The bad news is that all the embarrassing moments are also online forever - think twice before leaving a digital comment or posting that you might later regret. (According to Forbes, 1 in 3 recruiters pass on a candidate based on something negative found on a social media profile.)
Today’s graduates have a larger digital footprint than those who left school a decade ago, so employers naturally have a more transparent view of your life. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media channels are your personal record keepers, meaning you need to be cautious about whom you friend or follow. Be especially careful in the area of politics, which in today’s highly polarised environment can impact your career. You don’t need to overly self-censor, but be mindful of the risks that come with social media and your professional online presence.
The most important network for professionals remains LinkedIn, which boasts more than 500 million users globally. As a graduate, this is the most important networking tool you have. It’s also a community to showcase your expertise, thought leadership and qualifications. Your primary goal on LinkedIn is to build a robust network and nurture relationships - the larger the network, the more access you have to different organisations and leaders there. Similarly, the stronger your LinkedIn relationships are, the more opportunities that may come your way.
Your profile should be consistent across all your social media channels. If you describe yourself on LinkedIn as a passionate engineer, your other profiles should reflect this as your professional occupation. How much of your professional information you share in personal networks is strictly up to you, but you may want to think twice about oversharing personal information in your personal profiles. This can be used to disqualify you for positions that you would otherwise be a fit for. Also, make sure to monitor comments made to your postings and content shared to censor inappropriate replies.
You can further strengthen your online presence by creating a blog, following the employers you admire and participating in talent communities unique to your field. By demonstrating that you are an active member in your field, you demonstrate that you are likely an engaged employee, interested in upskilling and staying informed about your profession.
One last tip: adhere to commonly observed online etiquette and develop your skills as a writer. Whether you’re a java developer, a mechanical engineer or a warehouse worker, possessing great grammar and writing skills is never a detriment. Typos and run-on sentences will only hurt your personal brand. Furthermore, behaving aggressively in forums will also lead recruiters to question your ability to work in a team, so respect the online opinions of others.
Taking all that into account, here are three tips for enhancing your online presence:
monitor your brand.
If what’s being said about you on various channels is difficult to hear, consider how you can mitigate the chatter. Will severing digital ties with individuals help, or does it require more drastic steps? Try setting a Google alert using your name for regular updates and other ways to monitor your brand.
accentuate the positive.
If you are unable to remove embarrassing content online, consider creating more positive content associated with your brand and help it to achieve a higher ranking. This way, recruiters performing screening might not find the damning evidence.
Visually and in voice, make sure your online presence is consistent. Use the same profile photos and write in the same manner. This will help you become more recognisable, especially as you look to build a sought-after personal brand.