The competition in the job market is tough and a CV just isn’t enough anymore. It has become extremely important to establish a good online presence to make yourself stand out from the rest. Your online presence has more to do with your personal brand than having your name appear first on Google. (that would be nice though). Personal Branding is the concept of “self-packaging” your personality with your unique set of skills and experience and then marketing that package to future employers, professionals in your industry or whoever else stumbles upon your name on the Internet.
If you publish any type of content on the internet, not just blog articles, but even Instagram and Twitter posts, you need to pay close attention to how you represent yourself on the internet. People not only stalk you when you follow them on Instagram, but also when you apply for jobs, scholarships, etc.
I remember an internship interview I had back in University. The interviewers were sitting in front of a glass wall so I could see their screens on the wall’s reflection. During the interview, I saw them opening up my website, Instagram, Twitter, looking at my projects on Github, etc… I was actually glad they did all that because it only made me look better :D. Would you like to have this much control over your your online presence? Trust me it’s not hard and this article will get you started on the right path!
1. Curate or Remove Your Social Media from the Public Internet
Social media has been responsible for countless job losses and rejections. I don’t think I need to convince you of the sort of damage social media is capable off. But here’s the thing, most of us are smart enough not to go on a racist rant on social media. However, people do use social media to evaluate and judge your character.
You might get a good feeling sharing an edgy joke to chase that social media influencer fame, but understand that this will reflect on your personal brand. People may misinterpret what you say and judge you accordingly. Remember that as a fresh, young adult, most HR personnel you will encounter are at least a generation older than you.
Anyways, you generally have two choices regarding your social media. First, you can hide all your social media from the public internet. Some sites like Facebook have a feature that allows you to hide your profile from search engines while others like Instagram allow you to make your profile private. This will protect your social media from people outside your network. However, it does not stop people within your network from sharing your content with the public. This is often how Facebook racists are caught…they open up to their followers then BAM!
The second choice that I recommend is to just not be a horrible person online. Avoid sharing your strong opinions with strangers on the internet. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but almost NOTHING good ever comes out of an online debate. If you are actually interested in debate, just take it offline into the DMs or in person. In fact, you can use social media to your advantage and spread positive energy. That will always look good to anyone stalking in you!
2. Create/Update Your LinkedIn Profile and Related Sites in Your Industry
LinkedIn is great for connecting you to professionals both within and outside your industry. This site will be useful for two main reasons. First, LinkedIn is a massive website and thus having an active profile will improve your online presence and personal brand. Secondly, recruiters and hiring managers use LinkedIn A LOT! These guys are employed to spend loads of hours a day on LinkedIn looking for candidates. LinkedIn also has a job-search feature which allows you to search and apply for the job (sometimes) without having to leave the website or fill in extra details that are already on your profile/CV.
Most industries will have popular websites or online forums specific to that industry. For example, in the software development industry, people use sites like GitHub to archive and showcase their work. For those in academia, there’s sites like ResearchGate which is advertised as a social network for scientists and researchers. Creating and maintaining profiles on these websites will greatly improve both your online presence and personal brand.
3. Create Your Personal Website
This is the ultimate goal! Having your own website is one of the most effective ways to improve your online presence and personal branding. The biggest advantage of having your own site is that it allows you to have a lot more control over your personal brand and how people perceive you on the internet.
Here are a few things you can include on your website:
- Your CV – I use my website to store my latest CV and it actually makes it easy to share to by just sharing the link tino1b2be.com/cv
- Your extended CV – You know that awkward moment where you have so much stuff you wanna put on your CV but you only have two pages (sometimes just one)? Now you can have a profile page on your website that has everything about your professional and educational experience. You can put detailed breakdowns of your projects, etc. that you were otherwise not able to include on your CV. On your CV, you can then link people to your website for more details.
- An internet gateway; You can put links to your social media accounts and other places on the internet where people can find you. This is a great way to control what people see about you on the internet.
- A blog – A place to write about yourself and experiences. You can also educate people on the sort of stuff you specialize in to show off your knowledge.
How can you actually get started with your own website?
There are MANY ways that you can build and host your own website and the best approach will depend on your web-development skill levels and budget. Beginners can use platforms like Square Space while more skilled individuals will prefer to use services like AWS. Here is an article on how to host your website FOR FREE on AWS with Amazon S3 and CloudFront.
This article just scratches the surface on this topic on improving your online presence and personal brand. The CV is still the first place most potential employers learn about you so feel free to check out this article on how to make a bomb CV!