As part of the post-digital generation, your online personality is an essential part of your professional brand. To the world, it defines who you are, the experience you have accumulated, the caliber of colleagues and friends you associate with and the knowledge you have shared publicly. Prospective employers can tell a lot about you through your online personality so it’s absolutely critical you take care to build and strengthen this aspect of your career.
Because you have worked in the field for some years, employers expect your online personality to reflect a level of growth commensurate to your experience. What you’ve achieved so far in your career, your participation in professional societies and communities and other online mentions can either be an asset or a hindrance in your search for the perfect job. That’s why you should take the time to assess your online personality (yes, everyone has one) and take steps to strengthen what it says about you as a professional.
Where do you start? The challenging aspect of managing your online personality is that the digital world is constantly changing. That means information about you can be found across a growing base of channels, making control of it more unwieldy and difficult. At the same time, finding that information may become more onerous for employers because there is an ever-expanding universe of content to sift through. As a result, you must both promote your online brand and manage access to it at the same time. Controlling all of the online information about you is nearly impossible, but there are some measures you can take to put yourself in the best light.
According to Inge Dubois, Innovation Lead & Manager of Customized Solutions for Randstad Belgium, jobseekers can’t hide who they are anymore because the Internet has brought unprecedented transparency into every organization and the people who work for them. As a result, jobseekers should strive to build an authentic online personality rather than pass themselves off as someone they are not.
“Make sure your public profiles reflect who you really are and not who you want to be in the future. You can make clear your aspirations, but don’t present an inaccurate picture of who you are today. Don’t be someone you are not because it can have a very negative impact on our credibility.” Dubois urges.
To do this, be accurate when describing your professional achievements and contributions to past employers. Remember, your information is widely searchable and may be viewed by prospective employers, past employers and those in your professional network. If your profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media don’t align and isn’t an accurate portrayal of your professional life, you will be quickly found out.
On the other hand, these social channels can be a powerful resource to amplify your personality, to interact with professionals you aspire to be and to seek feedback and affirmation from colleagues and acquaintances. Too often jobseekers overlook aspects of their online personality when they should be tending to it.
Want to be recognized as a thought leader in your line of work? Consider publishing regular posts on LinkedIn. You may also want to build a following on Twitter and Facebook to reach a broader audience. Aside from creating your own content, remember to share that of colleagues and others in your network. Sharing is an effective way to burnish your personality as a deliberate and engaged professionals.
As digitalization continues to evolve, be mindful that you should take advantage of all opportunities to leverage your brand. For instance, as video becomes more important in professional settings, you may want to create content on YouTube or Vimeo to attract a following. Most importantly, leverage the experience and knowledge you have gained so far in your career.
three tips for strengthening your online personality:
1. be consistent and authentic
When building your online brand, focus on the subject matter that you are an expert in. Avoid sharing or commenting on topics that are not your area of expertise because that will only make you appear inauthentic and detract from your strengths.
2. embrace video
The future of online content is in video so become comfortable with creating content that leverages this media. Not only will prospective employers get to know you through the small screen, it will also prepare you for the anticipated explosion of video interviewing in the future.
3. be judicious with your posts
Sharing great content and ideas online will help elevate your professional brand, but always think twice about what you are sharing before you press that publish button. Is it appropriate for your intended audience, and is there a risk of offending them unnecessarily? Remember, online thoughts are indelible so they will live on forever.