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How to create a strong online profile when job hunting

By Jocelyn Chapman, 14th March 2013

More and more of us use the internet to job hunt. In this age of online job portals and social media, I want to show how you can create a strong online presence that effectively captures who you are and what you have to offer an employer.

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Job hunting used to be about calling agencies to register and having 1-2-1 interviews after which judgements and opinions would be formed on both sides.

With the advent of the internet, it is all too easy for employers to form judgements before even calling candidates for interview.

So how can you make sure that pass this new stage of the interview process?

Step 1 – Google Yourself

The very first step is to Google yourself and check what your online presence looks like right now. I bet like for most of us it is a mix of personal and work information. ‘To save the time of googling me’, mine is mainly focused around my Linkedin profile. But had you googled me a few years ago it would been a different story. You see, I like so many others had entered the world of online dating. Now, not to say that this is a dark secret, but do I really want my boss and any future bosses to know that my type is ‘tall, dark and handsome’? Possibly not. Of course, since then I have learnt the benefits of privacy settings!

So what does your Google search reveal about you? Do you seem like a bit of a party-animal on your Facebook page? Or perhaps you seem like an adrenaline junkie, tweeting all about your latest sky diving adventure? This of course could work well if you want to work nights or in adventure sports, but what if you want to be something else? How is a potential employer going to view someone who is out all night partying if the role you are doing starts promptly at 8.30am?  We all have information that won’t help us get the job of our dreams. I for one am not sure what my current boss would say if he had known when I was hired that I’d been captured on film dancing on a table. In my defence the dance floor was very crowded but still, it might have raised some questions. 

Step 2 – Brand You

So once you have Googled yourself, what do you do now? This should be the time to familiarise yourself with your Facebook privacy settings. After all, your downtime with friends and family should remain private. So with Facebook and your personal life out of the picture of you, think about how you want you an employer to view you.  Think about how you can create a homogeneous profile and your unique skills. When we think of leading brands, we can identify them by colours, ad styles and the culture they represent: do you have a specific skill that will get you recognised?

Creating an online profile is about attracting employers and raising interest in your work using your profile on Linkedin, twitter and blogs. So whether you are established in a career or just starting out, speak to peers, family and friends and get them to describe you in 5 words. You can use these to write your profile for Linkedin and also your CV. I did this with a friend who described me as honest, professional, dedicated, conscientious and reliable.  These all are helpful words which create a picture of me for the online world and if you go on to my Linkedin profile you will see that I have used these extensively. Too many employers make judgements from your online presence nowadays so it’s common sense to tailor this content for your benefit. 

Step 3 – What are the best online tools to use?

Job Portals: Online job boards are a good tool for job hunting. It is a one stop shop where you can post your CV, sit back and wait for the interest to come flooding in. However, how many times have you been contacted about a role that to be plain just isn't right? Please don’t get me wrong, online job boards are an integral part of any job search but you can only present your skills and history in one way; the way that the job boards want you to. So by all means post your CV on one or as many as you like but this should only be one of the ways you reach out to potential employers.

Linkedin: This is a great networking tool for candidates across a broad range of job disciplines but it requires a strong profile and consistent usage.  As I mentioned in Step 2 by creating a brand around your skills and career history you know what your unique skills set is. Step 3 is about getting this online.  If you have a Linkedin profile but don’t use it often apart from when job hunting, I would say get networking. Linkedin is a way to build relationships with peers in your field and also for people to get in touch with you. If you are a sales professional within a niche field why use Linkedin not only to generate sales for your current employer, but use it as a way to see where you want to go next. Key words are essential in your profile for Linkedin, if you look at mine you will see digital marketing, recruitment and brand as strong keywords to make sure that when candidates and potential employers (just to state for the record I am not looking) know what I do. Linkedin allows you to control what information goes out into the business world about you. It allows you to post recommendations on your work and can if used correct add depth and character to your offline CV sat in front of Recruitment and Hiring Managers.

Blogs / Subject Expert: If you have a strong knowledge of your industry or job sector, why not start a blog giving advice and opinions on key topics? It is an excellent way of showcasing your knowledge and by tying this together with your Linkedin account, you can create a homogeneous profile allowing multiple potential employers to see what you have to offer (www.blogger.com is a useful starting point for creating a blog template).

Twitter / Facebook: Using these tools for job seeking depends on how much you want to share. If Twitter andFacebook is where you connect with friends and families, it may be best to leave this out of your online strategy for job hunting. Never however underestimate the negative stigma which can be created if a potential employer sees unprofessional content in these areas. If you're insistent on keeping those tweets and pictures showing, make sure you use the privacy settings to minimize who will actually see them.

Step 4 – The Offline World

Of course whilst employers and recruitment agencies are keen to prioritise social media and the online world, you still have to pay attention to and link your online profile to what happens in the offline world.  There is little value in having a strong online profile, if you are not able to interview well and co-ordinate your online information with a strong CV   Also use your everyday work to network with new people and by connecting with them in the online space you can build an online address book of people with interesting skills and valuable knowledge you can tap into.

These are all areas that I will go into in further blogs to make sure that you have all the skills to present well and build a valuable web of relationships across the on and offline worlds. If you have any questions, please do get in touch jocelyn@parkstreetpeople.com).

Tags: brand, PSP, Park Street People, Personal branding, Brand you, Personal brand, Online branding, candidate advice, Sales & Marketing candidate, Digital & Technology candidate, Languages candidate, Office Support Candidate, assign Jocelyn Chapman

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