The social web has empowered us all – it has given us a voice with which we can share and consume knowledge, promote our work and create a name for ourselves within a given industry.
Unfortunately, it has also given us the ability to render ourselves completely unemployable with the touch of a button.
A recent post by our Account Executive, Tom – ‘Sound advice for securing that SEO graduate job’ – got me thinking about how a good online presence could mean the difference between potential employment and an extended stint on the dole.
So, job seekers, here’s a few things you can do to optimise your web presence for the greater good.
It’s no secret that many prospective employers search for interviewees online prior to meeting them, if you think they won’t, then you’re very naive.
It should probably be noted at this point that not all employers do this just to catch you out, but more so to find out about you as a person and to get a feel your general level of ‘web-savvy-ness’. Especially so in the digital marketing world, I’ve found.
Take a moment to Google yourself and see what comes up – Facebook? Twitter? Dodgy forum post? You need to be aware that this is also what other people will see.
Now, that said, if your name is ‘Thomas Cook’, ‘Fred Perry’ or ‘Steve Jobs’, for example, the chances are you’ll be all but invisible in search engine results pages, for obvious reasons. Good if you’re a web nuisance, not so much if you have something worth finding.
If you’re a young graduate, or new to the social web, the chances are you won’t have much of a ‘web presence’ as such, other than perhaps a Facebook profile, a MySpace page or a Twitter account. If this is the case, then make sure these are suitable for employer consumption. If not, ensure your privacy settings hide the bad stuff.
It goes without saying that a profile picture of you drunk and/or naked won’t win you a job interview.
The thought of a future employer searching for you on Facebook can be a worrying prospect, but it can actually work in your favour. When adjusting your privacy settings, you have the choice to leave your contact details, likes & interests and a website link viewable to the public. This is a great opportunity to highlight your hobbies (providing they’re all above board), interests (likewise) and provide a link to a location you want them to see.
Which leads me nicely on to my next point;
Have a ‘hub’
You already know that employers are looking for you online, so why not help them out by directing them to where you want them to go. Somewhere you can showcase how great you are / how much of a cretin you aren’t. If you have a website or blog, link to it from your public social networks. Also, put the link on your CV.
If you don’t have a website or blog, consider setting up an About Me page. It’s free, takes no time at all and it’s a great place to add information about yourself that maybe you didn’t have room for on your CV, or to demonstrate expertise in a certain area, list skills and so on. Be sure to think about the content you use and choose a suitable image. This also shows you care about your online presence and have made the effort to demonstrate that.
Try to optimise your sites or profiles to reflect your experience and industry. For example, if you own a website and are applying for SEO roles, make an effort to SEO your site. If you’re applying for a social media role, show you’re familiar with a wide range of social networks and up to date with key trends. If you’re a graphic designer… you get the idea.
The icing on the cake
Having a non-incriminating web presence is one thing, but having a good web presence is a different kettle of fish. My dad has a non-incriminating web presence, as does my cat, but I wouldn’t employ them on that basis alone.
A good web presence, in my opinion, should demonstrate who you are and what you’re about. Other than the big social networks, what other places do you hang out online? Where do you get your knowledge?
With the digital industries in particular, it’s important to demonstrate that you like to get involved with that type of community and show an interest what’s happening within it. As I mentioned above, your own website, blog or about.me page can be a great find for employers, but it’s important to show you can contribute as well as create.
Forum discussions, blog comments and Q&A sites like Quora are all great places to share knowledge, ask questions and generally demonstrate enthusiasm for your craft. Many of these sites can lead to good Google rankings on your part, so make sure you use your real name when posting stuff.
If you have a LinkedIn profile, make sure it’s open, up to date and coincides with your CV. Pester past employees for recommendations where possible and join some relevant industry groups. LinkedIn may not be the answer to everyone’s unemployment problems, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
In summary, a good web presence alone probably won’t land you a job, but it will certainly help.
A bad web presence definitely won’t land you a job and could even lose you the one you already have, like so: