Picture this: you just met a fascinating person at a party who has the exact services you’ve been looking for. Maybe it’s a photographer. Maybe it’s a writer, a life coach, or a sound healer. They have the skills you’ve been looking for for a long time, and they seemed competent and interesting. You’re thrilled to meet them.
“What’s your Insta?” you ask them. They don’t have one? Ok.
“Do you have a website?” you ask. They don’t. Okay…
They have email, or text, or at best, a portfolio. That’s okay. That’s fine — but how does it compare to the sleek, professional, expensive-looking website you saw for another life coach/writer/sound healer? Not so well.
The fact is, in the world of the internet, we do judge a book by its cover. So if you don’t have a great, professional, even expensive looking (you don’t actually have to spend much money on it) site, you have a far lower chance of making a good impression.
Simply having a professional presence isn’t the only thing you need to consider. You also have to be very mindful of what your personal profiles convey. Even worse than no website is a social media footprint showcasing debauchery, unsavory lifestyle practices, or offensive material.
Employers are no longer basing their decisions solely on a well-thought-out, professional resume. They’re digging deeper — across your social media history and overall web presence. They want the real story of who you are, not the premeditated one.
Whether you’re an administrative assistant, a marketing manager, or an IT professional, you need a solid, positive online footprint. That means first having a presence and second ensuring it’s consistently conveying the image of a professional and respectable. Not sure how to do that? Read on.
Think Before You Post
We’ll go ahead and state the obvious — you need to think before you post. Of course, this goes for your professional profiles, such as your business Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, or Instagram account. But you should also be careful with your personal accounts — or at least change the settings.
This is incredibly important. According to Business News Daily, three-quarters of hiring professionals think that social media is an appropriate way to vet candidates. The last thing you need is for someone’s personal bias to get in the way of you — a competent, reliable, talented professional — and your dream job.
If you have a strong presence and enjoy sharing your ideas and posting about your personal life, you can still protect yourself by changing who views your posts on Facebook. You should always ensure that they’re only viewable by friends. You can do this by going to “privacy, safety, and security settings” and clicking on “audience selector.”
Do you have colleagues who are friends on Facebook? Protect yourself by creating a custom audience — you can select specific people who will not be able to see your posts. You can do this for each post if you have some you’re concerned about, or you can make these the default settings.
When in doubt, always opt for more privacy. You never know who might be offended by something you feel is innocuous.
Create a Personal Website
These days, everybody has a website, and the smoother and nicer it is, the better. Just think about how annoying it can be to stumble upon an outdated, lackluster, or poorly designed site for someone who otherwise appears to be highly competent. It seems a bit unprofessional, right?
It’s sad but true — you could be an incredibly gifted person, but without the right packaging, you risk being seen as a less desirable candidate. We can’t speak for everyone — and certainly your experience, references, personality, and skills matter so much more than a website — but there’s a slightly unconscious bias that most recruiters have about websites right off the bat.
Plus, people need a way to find you or find out more about you. When you’re up against the competition, you need every advantage you can get. The more you can show who you are, your personal brand, what you believe in, what type of work you’ve done, and more, the better your chances of getting hired.
You don’t need to spend a ton of money or be a tech whiz either. There are so many website builders nowadays that you can really take your pick.
Squarespace is excellent for creatives, entrepreneurs, and wellness professionals.
WordPress is free and is practically limitless in its capabilities — it’s perfect for professionals of any kind who have moderate tech skills or are willing to put in the time.
Wix is very easy to set up and has over 800 templates, plus it’s easy to customize.
Weebly is a great basic website builder that you can set up quickly.
Your site doesn’t need to be complicated, but it should look polished and professional. Some suggestions for what to include are:
- Information about your services
- Background information and past work experience
- Skills and expertise
- Testimonials, referrals, and other forms of social proof
- Examples of your work if applicable
- A description of your values, ideals, and what drives you to do what you do, which are important for personal branding
Establish a Social Media Presence
We get that there’s an ever-expanding array of social platforms out there, and it would be impossible to get on all of them. Simply picking one or two that will be most beneficial for your industry is sufficient.
If you’re a designer or visually oriented creative, you’ll want to go for Instagram. That platform is also hot for healers, entrepreneurs, life coaches, or other wellness professionals, so keep that in mind if that’s your jam.
Twitter is excellent for media professionals such as marketers, PR professionals, journalists, editors, and writers. Follow thought leaders in your industry to find out about the latest media opportunities on this platform.
For many people in traditional office jobs, LinkedIn will be your best bet. Don’t underestimate this tried-and-true platform. It has an incredible reach, and you don’t need to worry about mixing business with pleasure, as it’s a strictly professional platform.
Facebook is another staple. Between Instagram or LinkedIn and Facebook, you should be well on your way to establishing a social presence.
Establish a presence through regular posts as well as by joining industry groups. Hang out at the virtual water cooler in professional groups, be helpful, add comments, and give more than you ask for. Answer questions and provide tips, showcase that you’re not just there to get something.
This will help you establish an online reputation that goes beyond job hunting — it will help you make critical contacts in your field.
Commit to Consistency
You have a website. You have social media accounts. Now post to them!
Now, this doesn’t mean getting overwhelmed and overcommitting. Consistency is more important than frequency, so it’s better to set a schedule you can handle and then follow through with it than to go whole hog with a bunch of posts and then drop off because you’re overwhelmed.
It’s better to post once a week than several times a week and then go for weeks at a time with nothing. You can always amp up your posts as you get the hang of it or if you hire a dedicated social media marketing professional to do it for you.
As for the posts themselves, keep them interesting by switching up the content. You might work in some personal posts that give a (polished and professional) behind-the-scenes look at your personal life, then showcase the work you’ve done, highlight a cause you care about, or give a shout-out to thought leaders or colleagues in the field.
Switch up the type of content, too — embed a video, share a podcast you’re inspired by, or link to your blog.
Not everyone’s a writer, but starting a blog or guest blogging shows employers your writing skills and knowledge of your field. When you optimize it for keywords, you also drive traffic to your site, which is helpful during a job search.
Blogging is a part of a content marketing strategy, which is one of the best ways to establish an online presence. Great content marketing involves creating something interesting, engaging, and helpful for your readers. You want to anticipate their pain points and solve them proactively. You want to educate them and inspire them. You want to do all of this without an obvious direct ask or a direct sell.
The same strategy that works well for drawing in clients is also excellent for recruiters. Leaders in your field will take note just as much as any client or customer would, and if you do it right, it’s quite an impressive show of authority.
For example, if you’re a doggie wellness professional, you’ll want to create posts about a range of topics about pets. You could do “10 Tips for Bonding With Your Pup,” “How to Travel With Your Pet,” and “How to Pick the Right Place to Leave Your Pup When You’re on Vacay.”
In terms of potential clients, it may seem like you’re giving away a lot for free — including tips about the things you’d like to get paid to do. But you’ll draw in quality clients that stick around for the long haul. This is because people are generally very jaded and cynical when it comes to marketing, so they truly appreciate it when you keep their interests in mind.
And once you’ve established yourself as a trusted authority, they’re likely to go to you for services anyway because who really has time for a DIY approach to everything?
As for your job search, showing you can write quality content demonstrates a solid grasp of business strategy, which is a boon for any employer.
Go in For the Long Haul
Building a strong web presence is just the beginning of your personal branding and career journey.
It’s very important to maintain your online presence long after you’ve landed your dream job. Keep your social media platforms, blogs, and website up-to-date indefinitely so they’re ready just in case you ever need them.
Your online presence is a perfect time to stand out from the crowd. You have a unique opportunity to sell yourself and show employers that you are the best candidate for a job in a sea of possibly mundane but highly qualified applicants.
Social media isn’t just for socializing. It’s for strategy. Being omnipresent online means your name can show up in all the right places and at all the right times, so you are more likely to be seen by recruiters.
Amplify Your Presence With DotConnect
Are you ready to step into the career you’ve always wanted? Don’t hold yourself back from taking the next step. Crafting a killer online presence is just the beginning of your journey towards = a role that’s fulfilling, stimulating, and aligned with your gifts. Dot’s recruiters will bring you to that next step.
And if you’re looking for your dream team, we’ve got you covered too. We’ve helped visionary job seekers like you make their career visions come true, and we’ve helped businesses like Beautycounter, Samsung NEXT, and Zendesk find their dream teams.
Connecting the dots is what we do!