How to look more professional online
Taking care of your online reputation is more important to your job hunt than you probably think. Here's a list of top tips to help you create the perfect professional profile.
Think creating a professional profile online is as simple as deleting those drunken selfies? While your CV and covering letter should always be your main priority when applying for a new job, don't forget that your entire online presence now plays a major part in the recruitment process, too.
The trick is not to make yourself invisible, but to to craft an online profile that will really impress future employers.
Do employers Google your name?
The short answer is, most likely, yes. It has been reported that up to 80% of employers Google applicants before inviting them to an interview.
This doesn't mean you should panic and try to erase yourself from the internet completely - although you don't want them stumbling across any embarrassing photos, of course.
However, if recruiters can't learn anything about you on the net, they'll a) wonder why and b) not get a good feel for your personality and who you are as a person.
In fact, many even admit they'll often bin applications from candidates they can’t find online!
What is a digital footprint?
Your digital footprint is basically a record of all your online activity - from Facebook posts and Tweets, to blog posts and comments. Of course your employer isn't going to conduct a thorough search into all your online activity since the beginning of time, but you need to be aware that all the information is out there.
The solution is to take control of your public online image by creating professional content that recruiters and employers can access, and be super impressed by. Here's some tips on how to do it well...
8 ways to look super professional online
Craft the perfect LinkedIn profile
As you can probably guess, your first port of call when it comes to professionalising your online image should be LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the platform for recruiters assessing potential candidates, so it's crucial you do what you can to perfect your page and stand out from the crowd. From the image to the headline, and all the experience you choose to put on there, make sure you construct your page in a way that really sells yourself.
We've got a great guide on how to upgrade your LinkedIn profile page to impress potential employers, including how to make it easier to get headhunted.
Create your own professional website
While a strong LinkedIn profile is great, an even more impressive way to take ownership of how you appear in Google searches is to create your own website to display your professional profile. It doesn't have to be anything complicated, just a simple website where a recruiter can find out a bit more about you.
We've got a great guide to setting up your own site in less than 20 minutes, which you can then use to create an interactive profile with buttons for your CV, an 'About Me' page and an online portfolio (if applicable).
Google your name or email address and see what comes up - are you happy with the results? Creating professional content will increase the chances of someone seeing that instead of things you'd rather they didn't see.
Try to purchase your name as a domain (e.g. www.jessicasmith.co.uk), as this really increases the chances of your personal url appearing when a recruiter searches for you and looks really professional!
Get a personalised email address
And no, we're not talking about a Gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail account - every man and his dog has one of those!
What we mean by a personalised email is one that's hosted on your own personal domain name.
Once you've bought the domain you’ve used to create your online professional profile (see above), you’ll be able to create your own email address to go with it (e.g. [email protected]).
Having your own personalised email looks pretty slick, and also prevents anyone from stealing it from you in the future!
Start a blog
The great thing about having a blog is that it’s not directly job related, but can offer employers an insight into the more personal, non-professional ‘you’ (or the side that you’d like them to see, anyway!).
It doesn’t matter if you’re applying for a job in construction or journalism, good communication skills are always really important, and a blog is a great way to demonstrate yours.
Make sure you really take the time to make the content on your blog top notch and error-free.
You can write about pretty much whatever you want, such as a hobby or personal interest, but if you can find a way to relate it back to the industry you're seeking work in that's an extra bonus. It shows an employer you're really passionate about the subject area and up-to-date with any current developments.
Just be careful not to use your blog as a platform to rant, otherwise you might come across as a potentially difficult employee.
Don't forget that employers can see your Facebook page too
Facebook is likely to be one of the first results a recruiter will see when googling your name, so it’s definitely worth taking the time to alter your privacy settings to make sure they can only see what you’d like them to see.
There are loads of ways you can employer-proof your Facebook, and if you're really keen to keep social-you and professional-you separate, you could make a fake profile for friends using an alias (but make sure there's no way employers can see that you have two accounts, or this can look pretty suspicious).
Try changing your Facebook username to include your middle name, or to a shortened version of your name (Jessica to Jess for example), to keep it hidden from employers searching for you.
Make sure to keep your profile picture semi-respectable too, and remember that you can set your privacy settings so you're always asked permission to be tagged in photos, and even verify tags before anything is added to your timeline.
This is another reason why you should never add people you don’t know to Facebook - it could well be that they’re a recruiter going undercover on a mission to dig dirt on potential candidates!
Strike a balance
The hardest thing about managing your online presence is trying to strike a balance between showing your personality and looking professional.
While it's super important to come across as a great employee, it's also important to show you're human too.
Employers care just as much about whether you'll be a good team fit as they do about your experience and qualifications - so try to show a bit of your personality.
Twitter is a particularly good platform for this - but while we're on the subject...
Be careful with twitter
Going on mad rants about celebrities you think look crap these days doesn’t exactly look good to potential employers, and neither does having arguments with people on the platform (unless you’re JK Rowling shooting down Trump supporters, of course).
Just remember that if an employer has your Twitter handle, they can see entire threads of Twitter action at a glance, including if you decide to take to social media to whinge about your delayed Asos delivery!
Avoid coming across stroppy; have fun but keep it professional.
Protect your passwords
Having your online channels sabotaged after getting hacked is about as unprofessional as it gets!
Imagine this: your email account gets hacked and a spam mail is sent out to every person on your contact list, including the companies you’ve just spent ages sending tailored CVs and covering letters to. Doesn’t look great, huh?
Not to worry though - our guide on how to avoid getting hacked will have your online accounts superbly secured in no time.
You don't need to be terrified of posting things online; social media is a huge part of our daily lives now after all. But staying switched on and savvy about how you could appear to potential employers will mean you won't lose out on any job opportunities for a silly reason.