Topic 3: Online Professional Profiles – It’s All About the Brand

Unfortunately, our online behaviour is socially and culturally judged – how we are viewed by others is determined by our online conduct (Costa and Torres, 2011). This, along with increasing numbers of employers using the Web to search for employees, has led to sites such as LinkedIn becoming increasingly popular. By expanding you online presence through sites such as LinkedIn, you appear visible, relevant and more attractive to employers.

A recent study conducted by OfficeTeam, found that one third of employers believe that social media profiles will replace CVs in the coming years (Schawbel, 2011). LinkedIn has over 300million users and as a result is the preferred site for developing an authentic professional profile.

Why LinkedIn:

  • Job email alerts.
  • Connecting with professionals – both nationally and internationally.
  • Conducting company research.
  • Getting recommendations.
  • Allowing companies to find you.
  • Connecting with other students.

Through LinkedIn you can create a dynamic profile, it acts as more than just a CV as you’re able to upload files and presentations, which showcase your portfolio and individuality.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 21.48.21

Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey, found that more than 93% of employers view the social media sites of their employees before recruiting them (Jobvite, 2014). However, they also found that these sites go beyond platforms such as LinkedIn – 52% now use Twitter. Twitter offers users unrestricted access to other members, including possible employers (Le Viet, 2014). By interacting with their posts you will encourage further communication, through this you stay in the forefront of their mind when hiring.

However, when using sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter to develop an authentic professional profile, it is important to be active and relevant. It is all about self-branding. My current LinkedIn status is static – it barely contains any information, as a result I don’t appear particularly relevant or attractive to employers. This video, of the lecture given by Helen Standing at Leeds Metropolitan University, discusses how individuals can successfully build a professional profile.

A Few Tips from the Video:

  • Transparency in key.
  • Tailor yourself to different audiences.
  • Create a niche.
  • Use social media as a research tool.
  • Keep your finger on the pulse.
  • Be sure to maintain your personal brand.

About.Me is a particularly useful site to manage various professional platforms; it acts as an E-Business card or social hub, allowing you to compile information such as a short bio and images, as well as connections to your blog, Facebook, LinkedIn and other profiles. This makes it more efficient for individuals when searching for you, as all of your connections will be in one place. Similarly, the more active you are, on LinkedIn for example, the higher you’ll rank when explored on search engines such as Google. However, with this increased visibility, it is important to remain safe and secure online – only provide necessary personal information and limit the amount of contact information, such as your address and phone number.


References:

Costa, C. and Torres, R. (2011) To Be or Not To Be? The Importance of Digital Identity in the Networked Society, University of Salford, UK.

Jobvite. (2014) Social Recruiting Survey, Accessed: March 2015.

Le Viet, S. (2014) Twitter’s Redesign Makes the Platform Ripe for Recruitment, Accessed: March 2015.

Schawbel, D. (2011) 5 Reasons Why Your Online Presence Will Replace Your Resume in 10 Years, Accessed: March 2015.

Standing, H. (2012) Social Media Personal Branding, Accessed: March 2015.

Undercover Recruiter. (2015) 7 Ways College Students Can Benefit from LinkedIn, Accessed: March 2015.

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17 thoughts on “Topic 3: Online Professional Profiles – It’s All About the Brand

  1. Very good and informative post; I particularly enjoyed watching the video, as well as the clear tips you stated from the video. I will be taking these tips on board so thank you. Nevertheless, I wasn’t aware that such a large proportion of employers (52%) now use Twitter to view potential candidates. Though I see no major problem with this since I personally keep my Twitter account modest and clean, which represents who I truly am, do you think it’s fair for employers to base a candidates chance of employability on both LinkedIn AND Twitter, even though they are practically for different purposes? One being professional and the other being used for leisure and personal uses. Furthermore, wouldn’t you agree that the purpose of an interview is for the employer to get to know the candidate on a more personal level than to rely on a perhaps bias Twitter account?

    Like

    • I’m glad you liked it. I really liked the video as not only was the presentation informative, but the question and answer session highlighted some interesting points.

      In regards to your questions:
      I agree that there should be a distinction between platforms used for social and professional purposes. However, using LinkedIn is perhaps too similar to receiving a CV. For example, though on LinkedIn you are able to upload files and videos, it is still somewhat tailored toward self-branding – you use the site to highlight your best attributes to employers. Twitter on the other hand is perhaps more of a natural platform, whereby you are able to relax and be yourself.

      Similarly, I agree with your point regarding the purpose of an interview. However, perhaps this again is tailored toward impressing the prospective employer. I imagine it is difficult to gage an individual’s natural personality during such a staged, formal setting.

      On a side note, I think that employers being able to see your Twitter account can definitely help and not just hinder. For example, there is an option to integrate Twitter to your LinkedIn account, which would aid networking and highlight further interests through who and what you follow. Personally, I would rather an employer saw my LinkedIn and Twitter account than my Facebook profile. Facebook, in my case, tends to be more personal and I use it for more social purposes than Twitter.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Hayley
    Good summary on the key points of creating an online profile. You discuss the prolific use of LinkedIn and its dynamic ability. This article(1) explains why LinkedIn will make traditional CVs redundant, thus taking your discussion a step further. Interestingly, it suggests that LinkedIn limits an individual’s ability to lie about their qualifications and experience on their CV. I wonder if you think that LinkedIn actually forces us to be more authentic online. The article further discusses that you lose control of your data once you hand your CV over, whereas LinkedIn tends to prevent this. Since you discussed privacy and security online, I was wondering how you feel about this?
    Do you think that having LinkedIn email you every time someone sees your profile should apply to all other social media sites, because it is important to know when people look at your information? Do you think this will deter employers from using social media to exclude candidates?

    (1)http://wisemansay.co.uk/2010/08/5-reasons-why-linkedin-is-a-cv-killer/

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    • Thanks Leigh. By the way, I had at look at your post this week – very witty title ☺.

      You make a lot of interesting points. So I’ll take each question separately:
      1. Does LinkedIn force us to be more authentic?
      I think that often an individuals CV contains embellishments and exaggerations in order stand out. LinkedIn and the use of blogging for example, can make you stand out through the demonstration of passion and motivation. As your article suggested, on LinkedIn the information you enter is public and open to challenges. A previous employer or colleague will be able to see you profile and attest to any discrepancies, thus making it unwise to lie.

      2. Does LinkedIn provide more privacy and security than handing over a CV?
      You pointed out that once you send your CV to an employer, you lose control. You have little say in how it is used, where it goes or who sees it. LinkedIn on the other hand, as the article suggests, is a “network of password protected profiles”. Each profile holder has sole authority in creating and managing the information stored under his or her name. It is LinkedIn’s high security that makes it the most popular professional platform, as stated in my post. Nonetheless, LinkedIn can be subject to hacking, the Web is never completely secure.

      3. Should other social media sites have to email you when someone views your profile?
      This is a tricky one. There are various points for and against this – though I admit I would be curious to see who had viewed my profile. Yet, I believe that numerous individuals use Facebook to ‘snoop’. I would imagine that due to the large number of profiles on Facebook, the number of emails that you would receive would be numerous and not all of the people known.

      I wondered whether or not you thought that receiving these emails would deter employers from using social media? I am not sure that it would, especially as many claim that it’s worthwhile in providing authentic information.

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      • Hi Hayley
        Great points and I agree with you in terms of the fact that LinkedIn is still an online platform, so will ideally be affected by online security breaches which traditional CVs would not. I find the comment section is always a great place to look with articles like this. A comment by Steve Ward highlights the exact point about how Cvs are private material produced only when necessary while LinkedIn is data anyone can see and use, this clearly links to topic 2 and the discussion about online privacy and security. In regards to employers being deterred by their social snooping becoming transparent- I don’t so. However, I do think it may force them to be clear about the fact that it may take place at the beginning of the recruitment process. Do you think that the authenticity of our profiles would be influenced if we knew that specific recruiter would be looking at them? In other words, do you think that we would start to tailor make profiles and does this reduce the authenticity of our online professional profiles?

        Like

  3. Hi Hayley,

    I think you provided an interesting insight into creating an online profile and that is something I will take on board when improving mine. You discuss the role of LinkedIn and its dynamic abilities, admittedly as a LinkedIn user myself I was not aware of this and I will definitely look into adjusting my profile to include the elements you previously mentioned! You also spoke about a recent study showing how a third of employers believe that social media profiles will replace CVs. This is fascinating and due to the great increase in popularity toward social media it is also not that surprising. Given what we have been discussing in Topic 2 about online identity along with your fact about social media becoming ever more present in the professional world it is clear that job seekers are having to be more attentive regarding their actions on their social medial profile (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc). Have you considered whether your social media profile would appear authentic and professional by potential employers?

    Like

    • I’m glad you liked it.

      As I am not as dedicated to social networking as a ‘Digital Resident’, for example, my Facebook profile is rather uninformative. Similarly, my LinkedIn profile has barely any information. As I am now aware that employers use sites such as these to vet candidates, I am somewhat dubious to start adding my personal informational, ready to be judged and discussed. I am aware that it is in my interest to highlight my best attributes using these sites, but I want to make sure that I do myself justice, so to speak.

      To answer your question, I believe that my social media profiles are authentic in that the information provided is accurate and doesn’t present me negatively, However, as it is incomplete it is perhaps not professional, I doubt that the information provided would currently sway employers into hiring me. Due to my previous lack of multiple identities, I am somewhat inexperienced at having to keep multiple professional and social profiles up to date. Yet, having researched this topic, I am inclined to be more proactive and develop my social media profiles so that they are both professional and authentic.

      Do you think that your current profiles are all authentic and professional, portraying you in the best possible light to possible employers?

      Like

      • Hi Hayley,

        Thanks for your response, in answer to your question I think that my LinkedIn profile is pretty informative to any potential employers as I saw it as my “only” professional profile. After doing this topic I have taken the necessary steps with my Facebook and Twitter account to ensure that if anyone was to stumble upon it, it would portray me in what I consider a “positive” light.

        Something that I will definitely have to bear in mind is my Facebook activity as I was not aware of how unless your settings are changed all your “likes” etc are shown to the public and not just your friends!

        I look forward to seeing how your social media profiles progress!

        Like

  4. Hi Hayley,

    This is an informative blog post. The inclusion of the video was a great way of bringing in just how important it is to be aware of how we, as soon-to-be graduates, can successfully ‘brand’ ourselves through our professional profiles. I’m sure many students on the module found it very useful!

    What first struck me about the post, though, was the fact that you start it with the word “unfortunately”, when talking about how our online activity is judged.

    While thinking about and reading up on this topic, I initially thought of online professional identity as being a bit of a ‘chore’. All of these potential employers could be looking at my online profiles (not only LinkedIn, but Twitter and even Facebook too!), meaning having to constantly take care of how I’m presented on there.

    But then I started thinking about how, in fact, being judged professionally online is a great opportunity to stand out. This article (http://www.theemployable.com/index.php/2014/10/28/blogging-can-help-get-job/), for example, shows just how beneficial blogging can be for getting employed.

    As an aspiring journalist, this really made me consider how beneficial social media is for me as a way of getting my writing out there and ‘showing off’ to potential employers.

    Do you think our generation should start embracing professional online identities as a positive opportunity for getting ourselves out there and showing employers what we’re made of, instead of simply making sure we fit into the basic ‘authentic profile’ bracket?

    Like

    • I’m glad you found it useful, I definitely did.

      I agree that an online professional identity shouldn’t be a chore; it is instead a great opportunity. The article you referred to highlights the various benefits of blogging in making you more attractive to potential employers – it demonstrates: creativity, dedication and motivation.

      I think that our generation is not fully aware of these benefits, and the benefits of developing a professional online identity. In order to truly stand out, authenticity isn’t enough. Blogging for example, allows you as a hopeful journalist, to demonstrate your writing skills and initiative. Though I am sure you have lots of experience, which you could highlight on your LinkedIn profile, the creation of a well-maintained blog highlights your passion. I think that this can be applied to other job sectors and does not have to be limited to blogging. This article(1), suggests alternatives to blogging which can be equally useful at “showing employers what we’re made of”.

      I wondered whether each of your social media platforms are completely professional? For example, though you may attach links to some of your writing on Facebook, is the rest of your profile professional? Or is it private as a result?

      (1) http://kaleidico.com/content-marketing/hate-writing-heres-3-alternatives-to-blogging-81063

      Like

  5. Leigh,
    I feel that I should respond that the authenticity of our profiles wouldn’t be influenced if we knew a specific employer was viewing them. However, I am not sure that this is true. For example, I tailor my CV depending on the employer. I highlight different points depending on what the employer is looking for. Though I don’t lie and include qualifications and interests that I don’t possess, I do research and make clear the qualities I possess that they’re looking for. However, if you begin making drastic changes to your LinkedIn profile eoyers may get suspicious. As long as the information is still accurate, I believe that your profile remains authentic.

    We discussed last week about the use of multiple identities for social and professional purposes however, as CVs become increasingly redundant, and employers become increasingly reliant upon social media profiles, will any platform be purely social? As previously discussed, if you start to make your profile settings private, it may be questioned and perceived inappropriate.

    Liked by 1 person

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