In today's competitive job market, it is difficult for job seekers to stand out.
One good way to differentiate yourself from the crowd is to build up your online profile.
This is the presence (both personal and professional) you create on the Internet as well as online interactions with other people and organisations.
Most employers will, at the very least, perform an online search of your name to verify there are no situations that may cause embarrassment.
A good online profile is useful for more than just recruitment purposes.
It can help you to improve your visibility, make the right connections and reach out to potential customers.
Here are some key steps to build a better online profile for your professional aspirations.
1. SEARCH ON YOURSELF
Start by Googling yourself and see what comes up.
Put on a recruiter's hat and objectively examine whether any of the results that pop up are inappropriate.
For example, photos on social media platforms of you at a wild party may not go down well in a corporate setting. If there are any unsuitable posts, take them down or ask the owner of the post to remove them.
Search for people with similar qualifications and background to see which websites they appear on. You can also search for specific employees in the department of your prospective company or those within the sector who have made significant achievements.
This will often lead you to relevant communities, such as news sites, forums or discussion platforms.
Joining these sites allows you to start networking with relevant people online.
As professional conduct applies at all times, it is wise to use a consistent name across different online platforms - your full name is generally better than a nickname - and ensure that your spelling and grammar are up to standard.
2. LEVERAGE ON LINKEDIN
LinkedIn is one of the best and most widely-used professional sites in the corporate world so upload a good LinkedIn profile.
This includes a well-taken, professional photo to help people remember you; writing a summary to highlight your capabilities, expertise and what you are interested in doing; and including the right keywords for the industry.
If you have achieved certain accomplishments, indicate the details under the work experience section.
Be genuine and do not overdo it. Strong recommendations from well-regarded people in the industry boost your reputation significantly, so after you have completed a project well, do ask for recommendations.
Recruiters or employers who go to LinkedIn do not want to read lengthy essays so keep your post succinct and relevant. If you need assistance in creating the right LinkedIn profile, you may wish to seek expert help or find a mentor.
Having a professional-looking profile can sometimes be the deciding factor that makes recruiters take a second look.
For example, a friend of mine recently spruced up his LinkedIn profile by making the summary more interesting and shorter. He wrote several articles over a few months, which were published in an industry e-magazine, and included the weblinks in his LinkedIn profile.
With a greater online presence, he succeeded in establishing himself as a thought leader in the sector.
His next LinkedIn update announced that he had clinched a senior role in a sought-after organisation.
3. KEEP ACTIVE
Maintaining your online profile is an ongoing activity so stay active on the right online platforms. When posting your thoughts on a topic or interacting with other people, remember to come across as real and approachable.
The more aloof or commanding you sound, the more apprehensive other people will be to get in touch with you.
When others comment on your posts, reply by thanking them for their opinions or clarifying your idea if necessary.
As your career progresses and you take on new responsibilities, remember to update these on LinkedIn and other profiles. One word of caution in being active online - do not go overboard. You still have other priorities in life so do not live in the online world.
All in all, building a reputable online profile takes time and consistent effort.
However, it is definitely worthwhile as it helps you to get ahead in your career by encouraging people to find you, interact with you and build lasting relationships with you.
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