Topic 3: Professional Profiles

Why create a professional online profile?

The video below provides a neat summary of how creating a professional online identity, through a ‘personal brand’, can be beneficial (see 3:14-3:47).

(Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25217962)


How can I create such a profile?

There are many ways to create a professional online identity. However, considering that LinkedIn is the primary social networking site used by almost all employers, for both screening and advertising purposes (van Dijck, 2013), it makes sense to focus attention on a LinkedIn profile.

 

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of the social networking website:


What should I consider?

Here are my top tips to consider while creating a professional and authentic online profile:

(Source: Author’s own animation, created using PowToon)

I advocate three simple ideas: continuity, versatility, and balance. I have broken continuity down into ‘between’ and ‘within’ profile continuity. Within a single profile, considerations include: keeping information up-to-date (from photos to qualifications), being concise (Nyman, 2014a), and having appropriate contacts and engagement (Thew, 2008)Between profile continuity is also crucial, as van Dijck (2013) states that employers often screen various profiles of prospective employees in an effort to ascertain whether they remain sensible and professional outside of work environments. If you cannot guarantee this, then it is best to strengthen security settings.

Versatility refers to having profiles on multiple platforms. Despite arguments of dishonesty (Cover, 2012), managing multiple profiles can demonstrate adaptability and hard work, thus increasing the likelihood of securing a job offer (Nyman, 2014a). It also helps to optimise visibility through search engines (Carruthers, 2012).

Balanced content is important. A balance between private and public or personal and professional information, as well as between lists and in-depth descriptions. Profiles should grab an employer’s attention and convey important information quickly (BBC, 2013).

As a final note, if you are aiming for a truly authentic and professional profile, why not experiment and utilise programmes such as Canva to enhance your ‘brand’ continuity with banners or business cards? Be creative! After all, self-promotion can be likened to an art (van Dijck, 2013).

 

Word Count: 341

References:

BBC (2013) Job hunting: how to promote yourself online. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25217962 [Accessed on 07 March 2017].

Carruthers, R. (2012) Managing your digital footprint. Available at: http://coursecast.soton.ac.uk/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=2caea677-5fec-4c1a-9ad3-70320d724655 [Accessed on 06 March 2017].

Cover, R. (2012) Performing and undoing identity online: social networking, identity theories and the incompatibility of online profiles and friendship regimes. The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 18 (2), 177-193.

Duncan-Howell, J. (2010) Teachers making connections: online communities as a source of professional learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41 (2), 324-340.

Gerard, J. (2011) Linking in with LinkedIn: three exercises that enhance professional social networking and career building. Journal of Management Education, 36 (6), 866-897.

Guillory, J. and Hancock, J. (2012) The effect of LinkedIn on deception in resumes. Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking, 15 (3), 135-140.

NY Times (2015) How one stupid Tweet blew up Justine Sacco’s life. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html?_r=2 [Accessed on 06 March 2017].

Nyman, N. (2014a) Curating your online profile. Available at: http://www.neilsrecruitment.co.uk/2014/01/curating-your-online-profile/ [Accessed on 07 March 2017].

Papacharissi, Z. (2009) The virtual geographies of social networks: a comparative analysis of Facebook, LinkedIn and ASmallWorld. New Media Society, 11 (1&2), 199-220.

Thew, D. (2008) LinkedIn – a user’s perspective. Business Information Review, 25 (2), 87-90.

van Dijck, J. (2013) ‘You have one identity’: performing the self on Facebook and LinkedIn. Media, Culture and Society, 35 (2), 199-215.

Supplementary Bibliography:

Nyman, N. (2014b) Using social media in your job search. Available at: http://moocs.southampton.ac.uk/websci/2014/03/13/ill-tweet-job-spec-snap-cv/ [Accessed on 06 March 2017].

Tapscott (2014) Five ways talent management must change. Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2014/10/don-tapscott-talent-management-millennials/ [Accessed on 07 March 2017].

The Employable (2014) How blogging can help you get a job. Available at: http://www.theemployable.com/index.php/2014/10/28/blogging-can-help-get-job/ [Accessed on 07 March 2017].

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18 thoughts on “Topic 3: Professional Profiles

  1. Hi there Brad,

    Another fantastic post as usual. I like the focus of creating a personal brand, how to refine it and how to be creative in how you present it. This really emphasises ways in which you can stand out from the crowd and will help get noticed within the working environment.

    I understand that creating a variety of online profiles will enhance your visibility when being searched by employers, both on social media platforms and even on the internet. However, when you create a new profile not many people will be aware of this, regardless of the brand that is associated with it and will only be searched for by those who have been told about it. My question is, what do you think is the best way to publicise your profile? How would someone get their ‘personal brand’ actively searched for by others?

    Ollie

    (Word Count: 147)

    Like

    1. Hi Ollie, thank you for your kind words, and thanks for raising this question – it’s an avenue I hadn’t previously explored! However, having given this issue some thought, I believe that the internet (and its relevant platforms) does most of the hard work for us. For instance, a simple search for your name on most search engines enables employers to view the various identities/profiles you are currently managing. Of course, this is dependent on your privacy settings, which I believe should not be strict for a professional identity. Moreover, most platforms offer integration facilities so that you can provide links to other professional accounts, which is another key part of being visible.
      Finally, it’s about following instructions within each platform. LinkedIn provides you with regular hints and tips on how to increase visibility – this may be obvious but is often overlooked. Also, perhaps include links within your CV, to direct employers to the profiles you are most proud of.
      Do you agree?
      Brad

      Like

      1. Hi Brad,

        Thank you for replying to me. I agree that to a certain extent a simple search on the relevant search engines will provide an overview of the profiles that you are managing, however, this can not work out as well for people with common names, who also have online profiles. A quick search of LinkedIn, Facebook or Google will bring up a list of people all with a particular name so you end up blending into the crowd.

        Having said that, I do believe that having a very clear well managed profile which is easily recognisable and having others linked to that would be of benefit in cases like the one outlined above. Additionally, adding in links within your CV is a fantastic idea as it is a direct way to go from A to B and will lead the employer exactly where you want them and will not be lost in a sea of similar hits on Google.

        Ollie

        Like

      2. Hi Ollie,
        Being able to stand out from the crowd through this consistency and visibility is the crucial part of the debate. The art of doing this and having, as LinkedIn calls it, an ‘all-star’ profile is tricky without paying a premium rate to make use of Search Engine Optimisation. Fortunately for me I have a very unusual surname!
        Ollie

        Like

  2. Hi Brad,

    Thank you for another interesting post. I like how you consistently explore digital issues through empirical papers, which tend to be more reliable and objective than online media.

    I enjoyed reading the paper you shared on Twitter about deception on LinkedIn, which got me thinking about the issues of authenticity in self-promotion. The finding that deception was reduced when using a public LinkedIn profile is encouraging for internet users and hiring managers. However, the fact that LinkedIn users tended to lie less about work experience and responsibilities and more about interests and hobbies suggests that there is something a bit more strategic going on.

    In an increasingly competitive job market, perhaps there is a need to be more strategic in self-promotion. Do you think that online authenticity and strategic self-promotion can work together? What do you think should be the trade-off here? I would love to know your thoughts!

    Many thanks,
    Patricia

    Like

    1. Hi Patricia, thanks for your kind words, and I’m glad you looked into my Tweet too – thank you! These are some pretty broad questions you ask… If you use the term ‘strategic’ as a similar form to ‘deception’ (as discussed in the article) then I believe there is very little scope for authenticity to cooperate with self-promotion as lying on these online profiles can only get you so far. Employers will almost always see through the veil.
      However, I do believe that there is scope for thinking outside the box with regards to your skills in order to remain competitive and stand out from the crowd of fellow graduates. Being ‘online’ profiles, it will always be beneficial to use so-called buzzwords whenever engaging in self-promotion. For instance, if you attended a conference focussed on LinkedIn, a self-promotion strategy could include adding skills based on social networking or digital literacies.
      Does this go some way toward answering your questions? Please let me know if I misinterpreted them in any way.
      Brad

      Like

      1. Hi Brad,

        Thank you for your reply. You raise a good point that the term ‘strategic’ can be interpreted in more than one way. I in fact used the term strategic within my slideshow this week when referring to managing connections on LinkedIn. In this case, I stated that you should be strategic about who you accept/add as a connection, and only connect with those who add value to your professional online presence. Your answer actually helped me to clarify the distinction between deception (lying) and strategy (short-term planning and directing to reach a long-term), although it’s clear that sometimes the nature of these concepts can overlap.

        As discussed with Mark and Carolina this week, the optimal outcomes come from a balance between self-promotion and authenticity. You provide some useful tips here on how to show off your skills and experiences, using buzzwords, without going overboard and coming across as deceptive or inauthentic. Thank you for this!

        I look forward to reading the reflection posts this week and seeing how others have approached creating an authentic professional online identity.

        Thanks again,
        Patricia

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Brad,

    I was drawn to your post as you used PowToon and I wanted to hear your thoughts on it! I tried it out this week but found it counterproductive as it took far too long to create and displayed little content. Your thoughts?

    I struggled tying my post this week to authenticity, especially as, to me, ‘multiple’ identities are sometimes inauthentic. Your ‘continuity’/’versatility’/’balance’ argument helped me reconsider authenticity, although I was left with some questions! For instance, ‘continuity’ in terms of being concise and up to date, as you explained it, and ‘versatility’ in terms of having accounts on multiple sites, to me feels related more to professionalism rather than authenticity. Do you agree or could you explain further?

    However, I felt authenticity linked well to ‘balance’, as you spoke about a private/public distinction. I’m interested to hear how you think this separation actually affects authenticity in terms of truthfulness, and also to what extent should we separate them (completely?).

    Thanks!
    Scott

    Word count: 164

    Like

    1. Hi Scott, interesting… I found it a very useful tool. Did you make use of the PowToon ‘templates’ at all? I made use of one of these, so it meant that most of the design work was already done for me. I just had to amend it by adding some more slides, text, images and edit the animation timings and voila! Were you at last Thursday’s drop-in session? If not, feel free to ask me some questions in person this Thursday – I’d be more than happy to help!
      I’m really glad my post helped you to see another point of view. Yes, my blog post was focussed on the professional aspect of online profiles. However, I believe that these still contribute toward authenticity, particularly continuity. As I’ve suggested, having consistency across platforms in terms of avatar photos, up-to-date contact details, easily identifiable information etc. all contribute toward authenticity through this personal ‘brand’.
      For your latter question, I refer to private/public and personal/professional information as a collective. I believe that employers want to see that you are human. For instance, it might be worth sharing information about extra-curricular activities or hobbies that may not appear relevant but still contribute toward authenticity and show that you’re not just about work; it shows more of a holistic picture of your identity (or identities).
      Of course, we must have some separation. There are inevitably going to be things that we don’t want our employers seeing (social activities), or that we don’t want our friends seeing (work-related information).
      Does this help clarify?
      All the best
      Brad

      Like

      1. Hi again!
        Glad to hear it worked well for you – I’ll probably try another making another 1 next week and make sure to make use of the templates and the tips from the lecture.
        Regarding continuity, I can see how this would contribute both to professionalism and authenticity by presenting a stable brand and limiting a portrayal of multiple personas – thanks for clarifying.
        I’m also inclined to agree with you on the latter point – showing a human side to us, whilst limiting / carefully selecting social activities to display may be preferred by employers. A complete separation of the personal and professional may be seen as unnatural.
        Thanks for your reply!
        Scott

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Brad,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post this week. The visuals are great and helped the reader to understand the importance of LinkedIn in the online world today.

    The sections on versatility and balanced content sparked my interest. You objectively discussed how there should be a balance between public and private profiles, something I entirely agree on. However, regarding versatility, I believe that content strictly on your professional side brings up issues of authenticity.

    I would like to know your views on how we can further increase our authenticity on professional profiles. Hill (2012) stated that employers take advantage of social media. This implies that people should present accurate information on both their professional and personal profiles. Therefore, I believe that media campaigns should raise awareness of balanced online content as employers can simply Google search for personal accounts, which likely represents someone’s authentic self.

    Best wishes,
    Wei

    Word count: 149

    References
    Hill, K. (2012). Facebook can tell you if a person is worth hiring. Forbes.

    Like

    1. Hi Wei, so sorry for the delay. Thank you for your comments. Naturally, having professional content on ‘personal’ profiles will bring up issues of authenticity. However, the focus in my blog post was on pure exploration and experimentation; trying to create/manage profiles on platforms that prospective employers are on too.
      The issue you raise is an important one. I also read an article somewhere (apologies for not being able to cite it), that found evidence of employers, in the past, paying certain social networking sites to gain access to restricted content on users’ profiles. This is worrying indeed!
      To ensure authenticity, I believe in treating all profiles as public. Before I post anything I always reflect on it and think ‘would I mind if a future employer has access to this?’. It is also about being sensible in general, not posting incriminating/inappropriate content.
      Do you agree?
      Brad

      Liked by 1 person

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