Developing Your Online Image

With social media becoming a crucial part of your professional presence, it's important to understand how to use it to your benefit. Your online image is as much a reflection of you as a resume or interview. Learn how to clean up your profilesleverage social media and brand yourself to find jobs, internships and connections. Questions about your online professional presence? Schedule an appointment with a career advisor by calling, stopping by or logging in to Handshake.

Leveraging Social Media

Connect Your Profiles

Develop a cohesive online presence by connecting all of the digital profiles you want potential employers and contacts to see. Include links to your blog, website and/or portfolio on your social media profiles and vice versa. This allows employers to view you from many different angles. In addition to social media sites, it's helpful to add your LinkedIn or professional website to your resume and email signature. The more exposure you can give your professional online presence, the better.

Research Companies, Search For Opportunities and Find New Connections

Social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter offer unique opportunities to connect with professionals in the field and search for jobs and internships. Find professionals in areas of interest and request informational interviews to learn about the industry or specific job and discover new job leads and connections.

To find new connections on LinkedIn stay active in groups and browse your contacts for their connections - it doesn't hurt to ask for an introduction! Additionally, LinkedIn has a job board on its homepage and targeted job boards in groups.

Twitter offers a wealth of information for job seekers. Consider searching by targeted hashtags to find relevant jobs or companies. For instance, if you're looking for jobs in New York, consider searching #NYjobs. This is also a way to find companies of interest.

These resources are great for finding new connections and job leads, but they are also an avenue for conducting employer research. Always check a company's social media sites before applying and interviewing for insider information on current events within the company.

Personal Branding with Social Media  

Build your brand online and network with professionals in your field using social media that reflects your career or professional goals. The tips below, from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, provide you with tangible steps to building your brand online.

  • Use a professional-looking picture; you can use the same picture on all of your social media pages
  • Add the following to the "about" section: internship, job and other educational experience, a short bio, and links to other professional social media
  • Follow organizations you're interested in to discover intern and full-time job opportunities, company announcements and potential organizational contacts
  • Use a professional profile photo
  • Customize your headline with keywords and phrases related to your desired industry or profession
  • Submit requests to connect with professionals you've worked with or met through networking channels and personalize your request by offering some information on why you would like to connect
  • Don't just connect and leave it at that; build relationships with your network to cultivate stronger professional ties
  • Use a professional profile photo and your cover photo can indicate your interests
  • Choose a Twitter handle that will be recognizable as you
  • Tell your story in your bio, include university, class year, major, and keywords describing your career interests
  • Add a link to your LinkedIn profile, your personal website, blog, and/or online portfolio

Cleaning Up Your Online Image

1.) Step 1: What is your image?

The first step to cleaning up your image is determining what your online image is. A great first step is to Google yourself - have friends, family members and others do so too. What appears? Unsavory photos? Negative tweets? If you're not happy with what appears it's time to change it. Clean up the negative and build on the positive.

Have a common name? The best way to combat a common name is to brand yourself under a variation of your name. Use your middle initial (or name, if necessary) to brand yourself. On your resume, business cards, nametags, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and anything else that represents you, consistently include this name. For example, Ashley Smith may include "Ashley M. Smith" on everything that represents her. This makes it easier for employers and your connections to find you.

2.) Step 2: Clean it up

One of the best things you can do for your professional image is to scrub your profiles and stay on top of everchanging privacy settings. In general, delete or untag anything that might be seen as unprofessional. This could include pictures, posts or tweets. Sometimes it may take asking a friend to take down a picture of you.

A great tool on Facebook is the "View As" button which can be found in the lower right hand corner of your cover photo. This tool allows you to see what the public sees, which can give you an idea of what privacy settings you have set - and may need to change.

3.) Step 3: Make it better

After you've determined what your image is and have cleaned up any questionable content, make your profile better. Be conscious of what you're posting; consistently convey positivity and professionalism. Avoid negative posts and content that may seem questionable to potential employers. Would they want you representing their company?

Being conscious of your posts and thinking twice before you hit send is the best way to maintain a positive image. Sometimes posts that may not seem negative can actually hurt your job search. For instance, tweeting "Just sent out 20 more resumes! #jobsearching" may not seem that bad but an employer might think you are not conducting a focused search and will take any job that comes your way. Before pressing send, ask yourself how a potential employer might view your post.