A startup health and wellness company was looking for young graduates to hire. They wanted people that have natural interests on wellness – eating right, exercising often, with positive attitude. What did they do? They asked for the usual resumes, but followed up with searching the online presence of the shortlisted applicants. Those that looked good on paper, but showed minimal online activities on health and wellness were eliminated. The ones with deep online interests in this area, though not strong on paper, were shortlisted for further assessments.
At the early phase of my firm, my colleague handling the team building had a strategy: she connected online with potential interests. She wanted to know the person’s interests. Are you an engineer that will come, and we spend time to train, and once a new bank teller job (a great job, please) comes, you jump?
If the guy likes engineering, you will see from the feeds. That is not the whole strategy. But I can tell you the the best time to audition for some jobs is when you are not planning to apply.
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Indeed, across the world, technology is redesigning global commerce and how firms recruit talent is changing. Though the typical resume still matters, professional online network is becoming a more compelling factor for most hiring managers. A blog post could provide a hiring opportunity, just like some media firms have hired excellent blog commentators. Through twitter feeds, Facebook profiles and blogs, potential applicants can be easily evaluated. So, developing a professional online brand has become as important as crafting that resume. It is building a reputation to showcase skills and capability in a field, and telling hiring managers that you can add value in a team.
While thirty years ago, one needed a journal or conference, to present an idea, today, a free blog account is few clicks away. A professional online engagement could help build trust and followership while crafting a web personality. In this team oriented 21st century, not having an online presence, could imply disengagement and most employers will notice. Your professional web presence, i.e. your webinality, is strategic.
The following are some suggestions on how to build a professional online persona:
Presence: Open at least one social media or blog account.
Specialize: Define an area of interest and build around it. A five-minute online search should reveal what you represent. You need to differentiate yourself and showcase your core skills and unique capabilities to potential hiring managers.
Accuracy: Always remember that once that post goes online, you may not control who sees it. Make it accurate – always, otherwise, you will destroy your persona.
Comprehensive: While blog should be short, once in a while, develop comprehensive articles in your field and post them online. It could mean expanding a class project you worked on, adding more contents, and fully proving your expertise. Half-baked contents will not take you too far.
Judgment: What you post or share online defines who you are. Your profile defines your values, interests and reliability. For employers, they want reliable team leaders and you must not offer less in your web personality.
Vertical Integration: Seek to connect with people ahead of you professionally while building a horizontally network.
Generosity: Share and exchange good ideas. Invite people to your network and be generous to promote good ideas from others. Write professional reviews on books, journals and articles. In no distant time, people will reward you.
Policy Matters: If you are working, ensure you adhere to policies on using the company’s name online. There is a threat that you could be a source of data leakage that can hurt a place you work. Your profile must not be another portrait of your employer – you must be wise to separate both, where necessary.
Continuity: Professional online branding is a continuous work-in-progress that requires constant tune-ups of networks, contents and profiles. It must be constantly nurtured.