The first thing almost any employer will do is search for you online. This should be assumed to be a fact. Just ask anyone you know who has participated in the hiring process. And why wouldn’t they? It’s easy, fast and provides a whole lot of information about who the candidate is as a person.
At first, the novice job searcher may be offended at what seems to be a gross breach of privacy. “What I do in my free time is my business,” they might say.
Regardless, the practice isn’t likely to go away, so you may as well embrace it.
In fact, managing your web presence can be just the thing to put you ahead in today’s job market. Thanks to modern technology, you have the opportunity to show how multi-faceted, experienced and talented you really are.
Gone are the days of simple résumés and cover letters. Huzzah!
Well not really, but it’s a start.
Here are some things I wish that I had done more of along the way to manage my own web presence.
Get your blog on
Your blog is the hub of all that is your professional identity and could serve as a way to tie all of your online efforts together via linking.
Blogging shows employers that you are relatively social media-savvy and that you think about more than the average, drunken bear.
The content on your blog should be kept relatively professional, yet still human. Show that you have thoughts about the industry that you are interested in. Discuss your opinions on trends or cool pieces of news. Reflect on relevant issues and experiences.
Don’t be afraid if you’re not the greatest writer or feel like you don’t have much to say. Those skills will come with time – and this could be a way to develop them. WordPress is my platform of choice.
And then there’s Tumblr, the alternative.
This is something that I’ve only very recently been exposed to by a speaker in one of my classes. I thought it was really neat.
For those unfamiliar, Tumblr is a blog where you post images or quotes that essentially stack on one another like puzzle pieces to fill the webpage. The viewer clicks what catches their eyes to view in more detail. It is very simple in design.
Tumblr is a great tool to showcase your work. The obvious use would be for those working in photography or Web design, but the possibilities are much greater.
Many things can be presented with an image: stylized spreadsheets to show how well you present data or pictures of you doing volunteer work or designs for a structure you built in AutoCAD or almost anything else. Use everything from school projects to things that you’ve done at an internship – just blur any sensitive information.
Think of Tumblr as your running portfolio that you continuously add to throughout your collegiate career.
Follow the leaders
Twitter, in my opinion, is better as a news network than as a social one. Professionals tend to gravitate toward Twitter as a way to speak about their industry and this has given Twitter a professional skew.
Any intern or job seeker should be aware of this and accordingly keep the heavy social activity on Facebook, while using Twitter to promote their professional brand and ideas – tweet out your blog posts, for instance.
Because of the high concentration of professionals on Twitter, it’s a great way to understand what’s going on in an industry. Make sure to follow the opinion leaders and news sources for your industry. You may even find yourself getting involved in the conversation.
Link yourself in
Don’t use LinkedIn like a résumé. That’s redundant because you already have a résumé. To stand out, focus on your skills and development.
Write succinct paragraphs about your experiences and various lessons learned while serving in a given position.
LinkedIn is also an effective way to catalogue professional contacts that you may need to call on in the future. When scouting positions, look to your network and see if anyone you already know has insight into an organization.
Don’t be an idiot
We are forever being told to beware what we put online. This message is old and tired, I know. But like a warning label stating not to iron clothes while wearing them, it has to be included or someone is going to do it.
Unless you are aiming to possibly work in some sort of entertainment industry, putting pictures – or even worse, videos – online of yourself doing a keg stand or stumbling around Old City at 3 a.m. is not a good look.
Keep specific social mediums exclusively for your social life and others for professional networking.
Still, watch what you put out there because it ultimately is public.
These suggestions are intended to be used on an ongoing basis, sort of always just running in the background. And doing them can even help you understand yourself.
John A. Dailey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.