As more and more industries adopt an online presence, the need for you to have an online profile becomes very important. Connecting online is the most efficient way to promote your skills and experience for future employment opportunities.
When you begin building your online profile, it is a good idea to research the platform that is right for you. Choose a network that will give you the most value for your career goals and growth interests. If you do use multiple sites, be consistent with the profile and member information you post, such as your username and photograph or avatar.
The benefits of having an online profile means that employers can find you more easily, and this can potentially lead to interesting and different career opportunities. Take the time to learn about and create your online profile.
Things to do
Google yourself to find out what information is or could be available about yourself online. Where is it and what does it reflect about you?
Hint: this is a good time to look at privacy settings for any online community that you belong to.
Be a real person. Use your real name and a current photo of yourself as your profile picture.
Use keywords to highlight valuable skills and achievements. Your online profile must be searchable, pointing to all your good information so future employers can find you.
Have a reliable email address domain. If you are using free webmail accounts like Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail remember that some of these domains can be marked as spam by organisations and missed by employers.
Include your phone number in your professional online profile. This will increase the chances of an employer contacting you directly.
List all your key skills and competencies. Step outside the box and think about how your experience makes you employable across many fields.
Hint: use existing job descriptions from job ads to map your skills – you might find you have more skills than you know!
Join professional associations and add them to your profile.
Hint: find other industry professionals, organisations, authors, researchers, CEOs and public speakers relevant to your field and follow them on social networks.
Use your life story to show other skills you have developed. For example, do you do volunteer work or belong to other organisations? By including these attributes you show a prospective employer the type of person you are.
Hint: create a professional reading list that reflects your knowledge and add that to your profile.
Keep it current. Once you’ve taken the time to create it, make the time maintain it. Your online profile should reflect your emerging professional identity, career aspirations, and ability to make a contribution to your fields of interest. Showcase a combination of relevant experiences, achievements, skills and qualities.
Hint: research other people’s profiles to help you get started.
Knowing where to create your online profile can be daunting with so many sites to choose from. It is important to research and learn about the platform you will be signing up to. Avoid signing up to all of them because this will not only be time consuming on your part, but will also mean you have to ensure your information is up to date and protected across multiple platforms.
Ask yourself what is your purpose? For example, if you are looking to connect for your career then using LinkedIn would be better than Instagram. Find out what social media platforms your industry uses and start from there.
Look at the use of the social media platform. Is it image based or text based? Does that match what you want to to do? Also look at how many users it has. You wouldn’t join a network that offers you less opportunity for exposure! Remember these networks are about connecting.
Facebook claims that they are now the largest country in the world with 1.39 billion people logging on every month, compared to LinkedIn who worldwide has about 396 million users – but their purposes are very different. Facebook is to connect socially and LinkedIn is to connect professionally.
According to Social Media News here are the top ten platforms representing Australian usage only:
- Facebook – 14,000,000
- YouTube – 13,900,000
- WordPress.com – 5,700,000
- Instagram – 5,000,000
- Tumblr – 4,200,000
- LinkedIn – 3,600,000
- Twitter – 2,791,300
- Blogspot – 2,700,000
- WhatsApp – 2,400,000
- TripAdvisor – 2,150,000
Social networking sites help you connect with people and their privacy settings will mostly default to the bare minimum, which means everyone can see everything about your profile. They also don’t make it obvious how to change your privacy settings, therefore you must be pro-active in learning about the different privacy settings. Remember that social networking services are free because they want open access to your information.
Managing privacy settings will vary across the different platforms, so research how to set up these settings. A simple Google search will help with that. Here are some important settings to look for:
- Who can read your profile.
- Who can see your posts and activities.
- What information is shared with external sites and businesses.
- Who can see your pictures and/or location.
- What information your friends can share about you.
- Which apps can access your data.
- Which sites integrate with your social network (for example, Facebook’s Like feature).
The internet offers many benefits, but there are risk associated with using it. Our online privacy is closely linked with managing our online security, so it is important to be aware of the potential risks you face and the measures you can put in place to protect yourself.
- Don’t share your birthday, age or place of birth. Identity theft is a real thing so protect yourself.
- Keep software and web browsers updated.
- Use antivirus protection.
- Use a strong password and have a separate password for each account.
- Create security questions that others would not know about you.
- Consider creating a unique email address to use for social networking sites only. Often social networking sites will ask for your email account password to ‘connect’ you with your contacts. This is purely for marketing purposes so they can solicit your contacts.
- Don’t feel you need to fill in all the information they ask for.
- Avoid using apps through social networks, they want access to your personal information.
- Be very cautious of pop-up windows, especially any that state your security software is out of date or that security threats and/or viruses have been detected on your computer.
- Delete cookies regularly.
- Don’t accept friend requests from strangers.
- Regularly cull your friends list.
- Always log off from social networking sites on public computers.
- Remember that nothing that you post online is temporary. Anything you post can be cached, stored, or copied and can follow you forever.
- Never do banking or financial transactions when using a free public WiFi service.
- Don’t save your password or select keep me logged in for any sites at all but in particular where your personal information can be accessed.