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