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The importance of your online presence during a job search

quicksandala for MorgueFileSocial networking sites are doing much more these days than connecting people over the Internet. According to the Jobvite 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey, only 4% of recruiters don’t use social media in their recruitment efforts. Having a noticeable presence can put you ahead of the rest in your job searches.

Employers may look at your social networking sites for many different reasons. When they check your profile, it can be a reminder of all of the positions you’ve held and how qualified you are, as long as you create an effective social media presence.

Creating your online presence: Setting up an account

The first and easiest step to begin creating your online presence is to establish accounts on the social networking sites that you think will be beneficial in showcasing your past experiences and skills. Some of the most popular social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, can definitely be valuable, but blogs and professional websites, such as LinkedIn, are where employers really look for you to showcase your abilities.

On any social networking site, your profile usually includes an area to describe yourself. Use this section to highlight your qualifications for any position with your education, career objectives, a current position that you hold, and your skills. For example, your bio on Twitter could read, “Psychology student at Penn State World Campus,” or “Interested in Criminal Justice field/opportunities.” Other sites, like Facebook and LinkedIn, have sections of users’ profiles specifically designated for past employment.

Online portfolios

Online portfolios can be beneficial to show potential employers schoolwork you have done, assembled for viewing in one place. Many websites make creating an online portfolio very simple. You can create your portfolio free at such websites as:

Another effective way to display your work online is to create a blog. All Penn State World Campus students can apply to have their own web space through sites.psu.edu. Other external sites include WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger. Design your site, or blog, with a title and creative content that you want to use. Feel free to use samples from class projects or previous work projects. Don’t forget to include an “About Me” section on your portfolio that details your interests and goals. Also, include a “Contact Me” section with your name, email address, and other professional social media accounts. The next time someone asks you for a sample of your work, you’ll be able to share a link to your online portfolio with them.

Effective use of social networking

The next step in managing your online presence is to interact with different groups and professionals that are in the field of your interest. The simplest way to do this is to “like” their pages on Facebook or follow their accounts on Twitter or LinkedIn. This is a way for you to stay updated with all of the company’s news.

A lot of organizations utilize social media to interact with their consumers. When this happens, take advantage of it! Tweet back your response, post on their wall, or like their updates. If you ever land an interview with the company, you will have plenty to talk about with them.

Joining LinkedIn groups that pertain to your field of interest is a great way to network online. Professionals in the field will often post updates and job opportunities to the group.

Protecting your online presence

No matter how many social networks you belong to and how much experience you post on your profiles, you’ll lose many opportunities if the material you post online is inappropriate. Many times, employers will check the social media profiles of potential employees as a way to judge their character. If you’re posting complaints about how much you dislike your current position, a recruiter may think you’ll do the same thing once you work for their company, too. Once you do have a solid online presence, it’s important to keep your reputation positive at all times.

You should also perform an online search of your name often to see what comes up. If you don’t like what you find, then start to make the changes necessary on your social media sites. Consider setting up alerts to notify you when anything about you is posted online. Always scan your photos, posts, and conversations that you have with people on every social media platform to make sure the right messages are being sent about your character. If you ever doubt anything, delete it or un-tag yourself.

Privacy settings

The key to protecting your online profiles is to understand how to use each site’s privacy settings. Spend sufficient time on each site learning how to best protect yourself from people outside your immediate circle. Sites are always changing, and that includes the privacy settings. Check often to make sure that when you search for yourself as a recruiter, you like what you see.

Final tips

Keep in mind that with any job search you want to diversify your efforts. According to Jobvite, recruiters find their best candidates through referrals (78%), social media (56%), and intern-to-hire programs (55%). Try multiple approaches in your job search.

Don’t feel like you have to master all possible social media that exists (unless you are in PR, marketing, advertising where it is needed). Think about what you are trying to accomplish first then select the right social media for your needs. The important thing is to get an online presence if you don’t already have one.

 

If you need help with your online presence or want other help with your career, contact Penn State World Campus Career Services at careercounseling@outreach.psu.edu for assistance.