Back when I was taking Co-op and Careers in high school, we learned how to write a cover letter and resume. I applied for part-time jobs by walking around the mall and downtown and that wasn’t even that long ago. If you take a moment to think about the job application process and how it's changed over the past ten years or so, you quickly realize that almost everything has moved online. And it's not just the application process that has gone digital, but also how you build your network and maintain a public profile to get your name out there.
A hiring manager will likely look into a candidate’s work experience, education and skills by reviewing your resume, an interview (or multiple interviews), references, and they’ll likely check your online presence as well. The problem for many people entering the workforce now is that we didn’t learn how to manage our online presence in school. And just because we grew up connected to the internet doesn’t mean that everyone is an expert in personal branding or developing an online presence.
With all of this in mind, we’ve put together some tips for you to bring your online presence up to speed to compete in today’s job market –and the good news is, you don’t need to be a web developer or dedicate a ridiculous amount of time or money to become a champion of your online brand.
Step 1 – Review your current online presence
According to a 2015 Workopolis report that surveyed Canadian employers, 63% of employers look up potential candidates online and through social media. A hiring manager can search for a potential candidate’s name online to get a feel for who they are, verify credentials, view project experience, and more.
Pretend you’re an employer, use another browser or log out of any personal profiles and use a search engine to look up your name, and view your social media profiles from a public perspective. What do you see? Are you proud of the results or do you see room for improvement? Would you hire you based on what you see? Take some notes on the things that you can work on.
Step 2 – Determine your objectives
You should have a good understanding of why you are investing your time into building your personal brand. Decide on some goals and objectives, taking it a bit further than, “I want to get a job”. You know you want to portray your personal brand online, but try to identify what points about your personal brand – such as certain characteristics or skills – you want to showcase.
Some examples of objectives could be: I want to have an all-star LinkedIn profile to stand out to employers, or I want to start my own blog to show I am gaining experience in my field.
Your objectives should dictate what types of platforms you’ll use to revamp your online presence, since each digital tool has different strengths. Instagram would be a great platform for those wanting to display a creative portfolio, for example, and a blog would be a better tool for someone who wants to flaunt their writing skills.
Step 3 – Take action: Work on your online presence
Here’s a checklist of things you can tune-up your social media accounts:
- Change your privacy settings
Review your privacy settings on social media platforms and delete any public posts that should not be public. Besides the glaringly obvious (e.g. don’t post a photo of yourself doing something illegal on Twitter) there is no black and white list for what should or shouldn’t be posted publicly. It is up to you to decide what is appropriate to share publicly online based on what your personal preferences and goals are.
- Set yourself up to stay on top of news
You can use social media to show that you are interested in and actively engaged in your field. What kind of relevant content or news items can you be sharing? Follow accounts that would be good sources of this content and share items, adding your own commentary, as you see fit.
- Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date
LinkedIn is intended to be the go-to platform for professional networking. Make the most of it by ensuring your profile is up-to-date and accurate, including having a professional photo. If you’re just starting your career and lacking the experience to fill your profile, take a look at what you’ve done in school and see if there are any projects you can feature. Design portfolios, marketing plans, and similar projects can be posted, just be mindful of redacting any personal information such as student ID numbers.
Now that you’ve addressed your social media presence, you might want to take building your online presence to the next level with a blog or website. Social media platforms are a powerful tool when building up your online presence, but you may find that creating your own personal website gives you more flexibility and control over your personal brand. It doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive – there are many products on the market, like one-page website templates, that you can choose from and publish in no time: WordPress, Wix and Weebly are some examples of platforms that are easy to use for beginners.
Why choose .CA? There is a Canadian presence requirement for individuals registering a .CA – so anyone visiting your website will immediately see that you are proudly Canadian. It can also help your website rank better for related searches performed in Canada – a nice bonus if you’re looking for a job in Canada!
If you’re interested in creating a personal website, you can get started by searching to see if your .CA domain name is available today by using our handy tool below. Try searching your name, or a combination of your name plus a word that describes you, or even a keyword for your industry. If your desired domain name is already taken, or you need some help with the process, you can see our tips on securing your personal domain name.
Once you’ve found an available domain name, you can choose a Registrar to complete the transaction. To pick a Registrar, shop around and see what deals they’re offering coupled with a domain name – prices and packages vary, depending on your needs (like if you’re interested in setting up a customized email address as well).
Secure this .CA domain name by registering it through one of the certified providers below.
On your website you can include anything you want – take a look at your objectives and see how a website can help you achieve them.
Once you have a domain name, whether you use it for a customized email address, create your own website, or just forward it to your LinkedIn, putting it on your resume is a nice professional touch that can help you stand out.
Step 4 – Maintain your online presence
You may decide to do a complete overhaul of your online presence, or work at it bit by bit. Whichever you choose, don’t let your online presence get stale – continue to add experiences, publish blog posts regularly, keep your contact information up-to-date, etc. As you work on new projects or start a new job, keeping your audiences informed will give your website visitors or social media followers a reason to stay interested. Also it is worth noting that having out-of-date information can be confusing to your networks and detrimental to your objectives.
Whether you’re gearing up to start writing your own weekly blog, or just want to refresh your social media profiles, any time invested in building your online presence is well worth it. There are many online tools and platforms that can be used as an opportunity to portray your unique personal brand and give potential employers the chance to learn more about you. And keep in mind that a good hiring manager will weigh your online presence as a part of their decision – they’ll understand that it’s not a complete reflection of who you are, but a window into your personal brand, and this is something you can easily seize as an opportunity to improve your job prospects.
Want to learn more?
Download our free ebook, Digital Me: Personal branding in the social media age.