Creating a Personal Profile That Works
Employers are changing the way they search for new recruits. Today your social media
accounts and personal blogs are just as important as your resume, so your digital
footprint could be the difference between an interview or rejection. Are you making the
right impression, or does your online presence feel like an embarrassing tattoo? If you
want to complete the transformation from graduate to professional, it might be time to
reassess your web profile - and create the most employable version of yourself.
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our digital presence matters
when making the transition from
student to professional. A strong
online profile can signal to potential
employers that you’re the right person
for the job; a weak or nonexistent online
profile might lead them to move on to the
So what are recruiters doing when they
check out your digital footprint? They’re
using the web to assess your ability and
character outside the restrictions of the
traditional interview process. Potential
employers want to learn more about your
skills, qualifications and experience. They
might want to see professional insight,
connections, and a portfolio of work.
Prospective employers take to the
internet to see if you present yourself
professionally. Would you be a good fit
for the company culture? The people that
endorse and recommend you on social
networks can be just as crucial as your
Recruiters are also looking for reasons
not to hire you. Be under no illusions: a
bad digital footprint can make or break
a job application. For many aspiring
professionals, a combination of
neglected privacy settings and years of
carefree online posting has made them
But don’t panic! Those frat party photos
on Facebook need not haunt you forever.
It’s not too late to build a credible
professional profile. Here’s how to clean
up your digital presence and create a
strong, lasting impression online.
IntroductionApplying for jobs has never been easy, but the evolution of the social web has made
it more complicated than ever. Recruiters are now researching candidates online long
before they ever get to an interview, so it’s vital that they like what they find.
Charlie Sanchez is an AVG
senior content specialist. He
manages the brand blogging
platform and writes about
student culture and digital
The recruiterAround 37% of companies admit they use the web to research job candidates. But what are
they actually looking at? Here’s where recruiters go after they’ve read your initial application...
Be Safe Online Creating a Personal Profile That Works
Blogs Images Google +
22% Lied about qualifications
28% Discriminatory comments
33% Bad-mouthed previous employer
35% Poor communication skills
45% References to drinking/using drugs
49% Inappropriate photos/info
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First impressionsHow does your digital footprint influence recruiters when they investigate you online? The
good news is that 29% find something positive that contributes to hiring the candidate.
The bad news is that 34% find information that causes them not to hire a candidate:
34% Great references
49% Good communication skills
51% Well rounded; lots of interests
54% Professional qualifications
55% Professional image
58% Good feel for personality
find something positive online that
contributes to hiring the candidate29%find information that causes
them not to hire the candidate34%
Statistics taken from a 2012 US survey of 2,300 recruiters and HR professionals by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder.
Search for yourself
You want to know what recruiters find when they look for you.
Search results are influenced by your browsing history, so clear
your cache and log out of all your account profiles before you
search for yourself.
Review the results for your name, but don’t bother going more
than a few pages deep. What are your initial impressions?
Results can also vary on different search engines, so use a mix
of Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Hide and delete
Do any of your social media profiles make you look
unprofessional? Be sure to hide or delete any offensive or
embarrassing photos and posts. Think about how ‘hilarious’
posts might be interpreted by recruiters who don’t know you.
Reevaluate all the people and organizations you follow, pages
you like, groups you belong to and lists you subscribe to. It
might be time to selectively manage your social connections
Systematically go through your different social accounts
adjusting privacy settings and limiting any sensitive
information you’re giving up. Decide which social network
posts you want to be public or private (although assume
anything could end up in the public domain).
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Look through your search results for dormant blog profiles,
article posts and messageboard posts you’ve forgotten about.
It may be best to delete old, inactive accounts that clutter up
your search results. If you don’t control the sites contact the
editors or admins to remove the content.
ne of the first things a recruiter
does when your application lands
on their desk is check out your
LinkedIn account. The internet seems
to have decided that LinkedIn should
be everybody’s default professional
account, and it’s now the go-to place to
promote yourself, find jobs and make
new professional connections.
A strong and well-crafted profile on the
site tells recruiters that you understand
the importance of presenting yourself
professionally. But having a weak,
messy or empty LinkedIn account will
underwhelm potential employers. And
not being on LinkedIn could undermine
your credibility as a candidate.
Why is it so crucial to blow recruiters
away on LinkedIn? Haven’t you already
sent them your resume? Comparing a
resume to LinkedIn is like comparing
an analogue phone to a smartphone;
LinkedIn is interactive and can tell
recruiters far more about you than one
or two sheets of paper; it lets recruiters
see if your posts, groups, endorsements
and recommendations support your
Crafting a good LinkedIn presence isn’t
that hard. Upload a clear, professional
headshot and keep your summary clear
and concise. Don’t use jargon or esoteric
industry language. When you write
about your experience, follow the ‘show,
don’t tell’ principle and avoid adjectives
and hyperbole. And be honest about
your qualifications and achievements.
But without social engagement your
LinkedIn is little better than a resume.
The best way to build up ‘social proof’
is to be generous yourself: join groups;
connect to people; endorse their skills
and write recommendations for them;
like, share and comment on your
Finally, be sure to post interesting and
relevant things yourself, and remember
to keep updating your LinkedIn with new
skills and accomplishments.
Linking inIn a short space of time LinkedIn has grown from a niche social network into
the most important professional network on the planet. If you want to be taken
seriously by recruiters, you need a profile - and a good one.
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Upload the same professional-looking headshot to all your
social media accounts. Set the image as your Gravatar and use
it for Google Authorship too.
Edit all your social network bios, locations and interests so
that they’re consistent and read professionally. Make sure the
content and tone is relevant for the industry you’re targeting.
Follow the right individuals and organisations for the job you’re
interested in. Follow and share the posts of industry thought
leaders and successful businesses. Create your own lists and
groups. Follow the company you want to join and engage with
Demonstrate to recruiters that you’re digitally engaged in their
industry by posting timely, insightful and relevant opinions,
and sharing awesome content you’ve found. Use strict quality
control; try to avoid reactionary updates, and proofread
everything before posting.
Create a nameplate domain on WordPress or Tumblr and use
it as a portfolio or blog to showcase your best work, interests
and personality. Sites like Seelio work great for showcasing
student project work. You could even start posting your own
think-piece blog posts to show your working knowledge or
passion for the industry.
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So you’ve cleaned up your act and created a winning LinkedIn profile. How do you
now craft the footprint of a digitally engaged professional and convince recruiters
you’re the real deal?
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Things to do Things to avoid
Now that you’ve actually got the job, what should you start or continue doing
online when you actually get hired? And what should you avoid?
Don’t let your momentum grind to a halt. Make sure you don’t neglect
your shiny new online persona and become digitally stagnant.
Don’t lapse back into old habits by posting unprofessional, reactionary
thoughts or sharing inappropriate content - especially if your boss is
Don’t get drawn into controversial debates on Facebook or Twitter -
especially if it’s about your new profession or with a coworker.
Don’t post updates or comments you know some colleagues might
find offensive - even if you’re not connected to them. They could
easily hear about it.
Don’t mix up work and personal social media accounts. It’s easy to
switch between corporate and individual profiles, so be sure to avoid
posting personal views as a company status update!
Don’t get carried away posting photos or videos taken at work - you
might accidentally be sharing sensitive or confidential information.
Continue developing your professional footprint - stay engaged and
make sure you’re aware of any industry news, developments and trends.
Push yourself to learn everything about your new professional
role; use your newfound knowledge to build a reputation in the
Segment your friends from bosses, colleagues and connections on
your social media profiles.
Find out if your employers have a social media policy. If they don’t,
get a feel for what level of social media use is appropriate within the
Try to figure out the social network etiquette at work - does everyone
automatically Friend everyone else on Facebook or do you have to
Remember that your company may consider you to be ‘representing’
them even on personal social accounts outside work hours. Be careful
about posts that could reflect negatively on your employers or
jeopardize your job.
Get a jobYou’re now ready to make the transition from digital student to digital
professional. And as you can see, it’s not that scary. Just think of it as a new
thing you need to get right to land a job, in addition to the application and
interview. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is not to sanitize your
digital footprint - don’t stop being the interesting, engaging and creative person
that people want to hire!
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