For a minute, let’s forget about that beautiful profile pic of yours. Instead, focus on the picture that employers paint in their heads when they discover you in the online world. A world in which – no matter who you are – everything you do and say online contributes to how others see you… the social you.
In this world:
- A Google search can put you on a pedestal, or bury your credibility
- 140 characters can be your best friend, or your worst enemy
- Your career can change in a click of a button (just ask Justine Sacco)
And within this digital world, job seekers must carefully craft how they want to be seen online. You can start painting a positive self-portrait by considering these three factors:
1. What You Post
As we all know, one ill-advised post can be the bad apple that ruins the bunch. So many of us choose not to post; we clamp down our privacy settings or go socially celibate. But in our new hyper-connected world, the only thing perhaps as bad as fostering a negative image of yourself… is creating no image.
To walk the line between invisible and obnoxious, here’s what I ask myself before posting anything online:
- Is it relevant news to those I want to connect with?
- Does it fit with my vision for my personal brand?
- If it stirs emotion or crosses the line – can I back it up?
- If a mentor, customer, partner or potential employer asked me about my more controversial posts, could I confidently explain why I clicked ‘send’?
Remember: when others see the social you, they want to gain a sense of what you stand for and how you represent yourself. They want the authentic you, not the version you think they want to see. Be bold, but be yourself.
2. What You Have Created
We’ve all been brought up to believe that certain level of experience means we’re employable – that we are capable of doing the job. We think, “I’ve been interning for two years now. I’ve done everything that I’m supposed to do. Why aren’t employers noticing?”
But in today’s world, merely doing the job isn’t enough.
Employers and customers don’t care that you have experience; they care what you’ve produced during those years on the job. What have you created? How did you provide value? Where’s the proof of that value? Most importantly, how can you bring that same value to their organization?
When answering these questions, the social you is immeasurably stronger than the person presented on your resume. Online, you have a chance to show employers your work. You have the opportunity to provide evidence of your track record. You have social proof – and you must confidently display your work online.
3. How You Engage
The most important part of the social you? How you choose to engage with others online.
For instance, recruiters on LinkedIn receive hundreds of connection requests from candidates every month; each person reaching out to the recruiter is interested in the same thing – a job. And yet how do they connect? With a generic “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” Fail!
Nobody wants to hear from an “add you to my professional network” guy. They want the “I can’t wait to connect” guy. They want someone willing to start a mutually-beneficial relationship; not a robot incapable of original thought.
When you’re connecting online – on LinkedIn or anywhere else – Show you aren’t afraid to approach anybody, anytime. Make the connection. Build the relationship. Today, those are the people recruiters, hiring managers and customers are attracted to most.
The social you is painted far before the “real” you can make an impression. The social you is also one click away from making an employer aware of your brand. Make that click count. Be clear and be different.
How are you painting yourself?
About the Author: Mack Watts is heading into his junior year at The Ohio State University. He currently works in strategic partnerships and business development at YouTern. When out of the office, Mack loves frequenting the nearest Chipotle and watching his Buckeyes. In addition to blogging for TheSavvyIntern, he also manages and writes for 6 Rings Sports. Follow Mack on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn!