Whether you are beginning your career journey, making a career change, or considering applying for scholarships to extend your education, your online presence will play an important part in your future endeavors. Online presence is how you are representing and leveraging yourself on the internet.
Whenever you apply for a job, internship, or a scholarship, organizations will want to do their due diligence and look you up online. Depending on what they will find, your online presence can either be a point in your favor or completely undermine your professional image. Therefore, it would be wise to plan and start building an online presence that will set you up for success. I would suggest that even if you didn’t choose a major or a specific career path yet, you should start “building your brand” from the bits and pieces you do know – your passions, hobbies, accomplishments, the overall picture will give you an idea of what other pieces are yet to be discovered, just like in a puzzle.
Uncover your online footprints by doing a Google search of your name. What type of pictures and comments can others find about you? The adage that a picture speaks a thousand words is true indeed. Be wary of what you make public, how you portray yourself, and filter out anything you would find unappealing including words and phrases you use in replies and any photos you’re tagged in.
Be proactive by maintaining a positive online presence in multiple social platforms such as Handshake, LinkedIn, Indeed, Twitter, and Facebook, etc. Consider them as additional bio space on your resume and some you may wish to incorporate in your resume. Tailor each profile type to reflect your personality, hobbies, and engagements.
Keep it authentic. You don’t want to be overly sterile and squeaky-clean as it will mask your personality and raise questions. Do your best to make your own personal voice come through in each profile. You can be less formal in your personal profiles but always be aware that everything you post and say online is public, not private.
Share your knowledge and competencies by participating in public online forums, commenting on other platforms, and leaving thoughtful reviews. Think of them as more online footprints that will help establish your reputation and validate the claims you make about yourself.
Use the virtual ‘showrooms’ to exhibit your projects, articles, presentations, speeches, volunteer projects, accomplishments, and certifications. These can help set you apart in a pool of applicants or be a conversation starter once you land an interview.
Ask for recommendations and reinforcements from your instructors, employers, and other professionals in your network to validate your competencies. Recommendations posted on your LinkedIn profile will strengthen your resume and can help lessen the strain of having to ask for them every time you apply for a new job or a scholarship.
Build your connections. Develop relationships with others in your areas of interest or expertise. Don’t just reach out when you need something though, this will generally make people feel used. A real relationship with people in your field can be personally enriching, intellectually stimulating, and can help open doors to opportunities to advance your career.
Speaking of building connections, WSU’s Virtual Career EXPO is taking place just next month on February 9th and 10th where a selection of leading employers will be hosting one-on-one appointments and group sessions to help you get a feel of their job market and their expectations. To participate, complete your Handshake profile, make your resume public and register for the event. Once you register for the EXPO, check the schedule and sign up to speak to the employers of your interest. Here is a quick tutorial.
Learn more. There are lots of resources out there on capitalizing on your online presence and building online connections. To get you fully prepared for this upcoming Virtual Career EXPO, the Academic Success and Career Center will be hosting a Career Expo Prep Week featuring workshop sessions and lectures on Handshake on topics like recruiter insights on virtual presence (Feb.1), resumes and preparing for Career Expo, (Feb.2), making the most of the online career fair (Feb.3), build your brand and network (Feb.4), and interview preparation (Feb.5). You can also check out the Career Personality Assessment webinar on Feb. 9th!
Always rooting for your success,
Yuliya Gerasimova, WSU Global Campus Virtual Mentor