How To Optimize Your Online Presence (For Job Hunts)

By . Filed in Web 2.0

Everybody is connected, and it’s as easy as pie for companies and their recruiters to run a quick search on their prospective employees to find out about their attitudes toward work and assess their suitability for the job.

As a matter-of-fact, Dan Schawbel from Forbes goes as far as to suggest that our online presence will replace our resume in the near future. Given such an emerging trend, it is high time we become cognizant of what the Internet has to say about us. In the midst of a job-switch, it’s good practice to keep your online profiles presentable and optimized for your future employment opportunities.

You never know if a headhunter has ever considered you as a potential candidate for an attractive post but decided not to because of your less-than-appealing online presence. Follow these 10 simple and practical tips on managing your social profiles to make them resume-ready and increase your odds of getting the interview.

1. Stay Well-Versed with Changes in Privacy

If you’ve read my earlier post on 5 Facebook Privacy Settings You Should Know and Facebook & Your Privacy: Why It Matters, you would’ve realize by now how important it is to keep abreast of revisions to privacy policies on Facebook and other social network sites.

These policies determine how searchable your profile is and how you can restrict access to your postings. You will need to enable your potential employers to search for your profile page effortlessly. Be wary of what you make public (and accessible by them) to accurately portray you in the manner you want.

A Buggy Issue

Apart from such privacy settings, it is also necessary to make a conscious effort to stay informed about existing bugs and get them fixed before they leave you vulnerable to any privacy leak. It would be disastrous if all your private photos and postings were available to your prospective employers during a routine background search.

Facebook users have not forgotten the recent Facebook privacy glitch late last year when private messages that weren’t supposed to be public had seemingly appeared publicly on their wall page.

2. Be Public

Access restrictions aside, stay public in general. It makes sense to say that you wouldn’t have any online presence if you don’t appear online! Besides robbing your chance to impress recruiters, a blocked social network profile may also raise a red flag, giving the impression that you have things to hide.

Since an overwhelming 93% of employers use LinkedIn to headhunt candidates, it’s definitely a must for you to publicize your LinkedIn profile in order to appear in search results. The same applies to other social network sites like Facebook (66%) and Twitter (54%).

3. Utilize Your Limited Bio Space

The description for your social network bio plays a big role in attracting the attention of employers. On Facebook for instance, within a limited space, you are to summarize your experience, personality, interests, skills, what you can offer to the employers and presumably more. Technically, it is something like a resume.

A bio is actually more conversational and can be used to provide more information about you than any standard resume could.

Cater to Different Profiles

Note that your bio will differ depending on your networking platform. For LinkedIn, it is expected for your bio to reveal your experience and expertise, your educational background along with various accomplishments in your career.

You can be less formal when it comes to your personal blog or Facebook profile and perhaps include some light-hearted materials from your personal life. However, always be critical about the words and phrases you use because recruiters pay special attention to certain keywords and phrases.

4. Filter Your Images

That entire thing about a picture being a thousand words, well, it’s true. With Facebook becoming a daily social outlet to connect with friends and family, you know unappealing photos will turn up eventually.

They’re generally harmless, but there are some photos of your wilder days in college that need not ever grace the light of day. If they do not represent who you are today, they may ruin your chances of landing a job in your dream company.

Filter your Tagged Photos too

Your safest bet is to go through the photos in your account and sift through the more private photos. You’d also want to spread out your net to humiliating photos friends put up on their Facebook wall. There is the option to require authorization from you first before these photos will turn up in your account. To do that and control other forms of unwanted tagging, check out How to Control Unwanted Tagging of Facebook Photos.

5. Integrate Your Social Network Profiles

How are you with names on the Web? It’s time to make sure that your name is consistent across all of them. Some of us may choose to use some nickname for our Facebook account while have our official name reserved for more professional uses. Then there’s a case of including the middle name, dialect names, Christian names to different profiles.

If you want to facilitate a recruiter’s search for you, standardize the name through all your profiles. Try not to use a nickname because it may seem less professional and less relatable to your actual name.

Keep It All Together

Apart from your name, check if the details you have put in your various profiles about your accomplishments, prior experience, employments, interests and even photos are pretty similar as well. Once you’ve done that, link all your social networks together.

One great way to do that is to create profile badges (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn) for all your social profiles and promote them on your website. Your blog or website will become the hub for all prospective employers to glimpse at your personal and professional networks and get a feel of you as a potential employee.

6. Update Your Profile Regularly

Of course, it will be pretty pointless if you have all those badges for people to connect with you but do not have your most updated information in those profiles. It is of utmost benefit to you if recruiters can easily see your most recent job descriptions, achievements and other life changes to accurately assess your capabilities.

Failing to provide the most current content on your profiles may signal to them that you’re not interested enough to be headhunted. When you do update your profile, make sure that you do so for all other social networks so that you don’t frustrate recruiters with inconsistent updates.

7. Express Yourself Across Different Platforms Regularly

If you want to maintain that online presence, you will need to be proactive in all your social networking platforms and your own website. Your goal is to showcase yourself to potential employers with your viewpoints and expertise so that they can judge you in a positive light.

Don’t just stop at blogging for your site or commenting and posting on your social network account, participate in public online forums, commenting on other blogs and even submitting reviews on books, movies, travels, etc. All these online footprints you leave out there establish your online reputation and validate the claims you make in your bio and resume.

Sharing is Caring

The beauty of online social networking lies in its seamless ability for people to share with just one or two mouse clicks. The lifespans of most articles or posts today are prolonged when they get shared across networks.

Hence, you can be assured that your efforts in blogging, commenting, posting and such can multiply your online presence in volumes when your contributions get shared. Just make sure that they are spread around for its quality content and not for the wrong reasons.

Here are three sharing utilities you can embed within your website to promote yourself: Share This, Lockerz Share and Add This.

8. Share Your Work Online

When you want to impress potential employers, one thing you have to do is to showcase your work online. This is especially so if you’re in the creative industry. You can do that by making use of a couple of well-known online communities and photo-sharing networks such as DeviantArt, Behance, Flickr and Instagram to promote your artwork and other designs.

Due to the abundance of designers and artists in such specialized communities and networks, such sites provide a conducive environment for contributions and commentaries. There is often a wealth of knowledge to tap into and plenty of opportunities to forge a positive reputation for yourself.

Your Portfolio, Your Shrine

Even if you’re not from the creative industry, you can still launch and build up your portfolio online. Showcase your past accomplishments on your website, from published research papers, company projects, samples of your best work, presentations and speeches, to volunteering services, accolades and certifications.

Putting these up online allows recruiter to have a clearer picture of your competence than what your brief and concise resume may reveal. Remember to place convenient attachments and links to your showcases on your website.

9. Balance Your Posts & Updates

Much as you want to get prospective employers noticing you online, you shouldn’t restrict your posts and updates to just career materials. I’m sure you’d still want to have fun and connect with your friends on a personal level instead of just using SNS to get jobs.

The good news is you can; in fact having personal posts and updates unrelated to work produces a more holistic representation of you and make you appear more genuine. So go ahead, show pictures of your family and friends, tweet about your hobbies and rant about sports all you want!

Keep It Clean and Coherent

Wait a minute, you say, what about all your profanity-filled tweets? Ah, that’s definitely a no-no. True enough, there are certain posts which tend to deter recruiters, as this infographic by Online College shows. 61% of recruiters don’t wish to see profanity in posts.

Other taboos include poor grammar/spelling mistakes (54%), mentions of alcohol consumption (47%) and religious posts (26%). The rule of thumb is to err on the safe side by not posting anything you think might be controversial. At the very least, limit such posts to your friends and hide them from public viewing.

10. Do a Check By Googling Yourself

The best way to assess your online presence is to run the test yourself and google your name from time to time. If you want to see how popular you are on search engines, check out how frequently your name surfaces in the search results and how high up in the list they appear.

A study from Optify has revealed that the top three spots in the first page of a Google search get as much as 58.4% of all clicks! To attain that, you need to make your online presence felt with ongoing engagements in online communities, discussion forums, social network sites and blogs.

More importantly though, find out whether there are any negative content or digital dirt that others might have written about you. These can include bad reviews, online flamings and articles that quoted you out of context and put you in the negative light. If there are any, your priority will be to deal with those first. Here are some ways you can resolve them.

Author:

Michael is a freelance blogger and regular contributor for Hongkiat.com. He graduated from the National University of Singapore with a double major in Psychology and Communications & New Media in 2011.He believes in the power of the written word to influence and inspire. An enthusiastic video gamer, Michael is also actively engaged in various physical activities in his spare time.

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