Want to launch a successful career someday? Make sure your online presence portrays you in a positive light. According to a recent Penn State study, 70 percent of job recruiters said they look at a candidate’s social media profile before making a hiring decision, and 60 percent eliminated candidates based on what they found. Here is How to create a professional online persona.
Headhunters and job recruiters aren’t the only ones who are interested in your online presence. If you’re planning to go to college and apply for college scholarships, your social media profile could impact your chances of getting into your dream school and winning scholarship dough.
However, the solution isn’t to delete your social media profiles altogether. It’s important to have a voice in the digital world, not only for self-expression but also for career opportunities. That’s where a professional online persona can be extremely useful.
What Is a Professional Online Persona?
Your professional persona is essentially your personal branding. It’s how you present yourself to the world.
A professional online persona is important for several reasons. It can lead to all sorts of professional opportunities, from high-paying internships and jobs to business partnerships galore.
By developing a strong professional online persona, you can:
- Stand out in your chosen field.
- Make yourself indispensable at work.
- Control your online reputation.
How to Create a Professional Online Persona
Creating a professional online persona isn’t difficult. First, it requires figuring out who you want to be online. Then, you simply create content that shapes people’s perceptions of you.
Step 1. Figure Out Who You Want to Be
Now that you know why a professional online persona matters, it’s time to develop one for yourself. So, where do you start?
First and foremost, figure out who you want to be. In other words, what do you want your professional online persona to communicate to the world?
To answer that question, you need to get a little introspective. Ask yourself these questions:
- What are your passions?
- What are your talents?
- What are your personal and professional goals?
- What are your core values?
Your next step will be to figure out how to effectively communicate these things to the world.
By the way, don’t get too hung up while trying to answer these questions. Your answers will likely evolve over time as you gain more experience and advance in your career.
Step 2. Clean Up Your Social Media Profiles
Be warned: The next step in the process of creating a professional online persona — scrubbing your social media profiles — can also be the cringiest. It involves going through all your social media profiles and hiding or deleting posts and images that don’t reflect the online persona you want to communicate.
NSFW Halloween costume? Delete.
That childish rant about your parents? Delete.
Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to delete these photos. If you had an amazing time at that Halloween party and want to remember it, you can archive photos on Instagram and other social media platforms. It will be your little secret!
Step 3. Create a Personal Website
The advantages of having your own website are vast. Unlike social media platforms that can change on a whim, you have far more control over your personal website, especially if you build it yourself and don’t hand everything off to a third party.
A website is also a great place to express yourself as a professional and draw attention to things that help you advance your career goals. For example, let’s say that your goal is to map out a career path in the marketing field. You could use your website to highlight your marketing experience, blog about topics that interest you, and share industry-related news.
For many professionals, a personal website is simply a good place to showcase who they are and what they have to offer the world. Consider what value you bring (or hope to bring) and let that shine through your website.
Step 4. Google Yourself Regularly
Everyone has Googled themselves at some point. While some people refer to this as “ego-surfing,” it’s actually a smart strategy that helps you keep tabs on your professional online persona.
Googling yourself on a regular basis — about once a month — can help ensure that nothing is tarnishing your online reputation. If something negative appears on the first page, you can take action quickly before potential career opportunities are lost.
When Googling yourself, make sure that you’re using a private browser window. Otherwise, your search results will be based on your location or search habits.
First Impressions Matter
Whether you’re just starting your career or searching for internships, a professional online persona is your best bet for making a good first impression and maximizing your career opportunities. You can position yourself as the best potential candidate while showcasing your amazing personality on social media. If recruiters are having a difficult time deciding between you and another candidate, your online professional persona could easily be the thing that tilts their decision in your favor.