Creating a professional online presence
Last week I was invited to speak to friend Paul Rodger's class at Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy about leveraging the web to find a job. The students in this class were second year seniors (they are in a two year program) and most will soon be seeking their first real job.
In preparation I found it fairly easy to put together an outline. I solicited input from colleagues and researched relevant topics online. What I also realized is that I could stand to follow my own advice! Several of the topics that I discussed during my presentation focused on creating and curating a professional online presence. Following are some of the topics I discussed.
It's amazing how social media has come to play such a prominent role in our personal and professional lives over the last few years. It is sometimes useful, often distracting, and rarely carefully considered. One concept that I discussed was putting your best online foot forward. It's easy to forget that most of what we say online becomes part of our "permanent record" through search engines and online networks. My advice: carefully consider privacy settings and what you share - make sure you know who you're sharing what with.
Create a complete and consistent online presence
What are the first results from a Google search for your name? This is also what potential employers are going to find. If you have a LinkedIn profile, I bet it is in the top five. Established sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ make it easy to create a personalized URL (e.g. linkedin.com/in/toddreifenrath) and profile. If you don't have a profile on a few of these sites you're missing an easy opportunity to create an online presence. My advice: create a profile on a few popular sites using the same profile image and biographical information.
Network and connect
It can be fun to reconnect with former colleagues and friends that you've lost touch with. It can also become the basis for a very powerful network. Whether you're actively looking for work or not, making sure that those in your personal and professional circles know what you do may lead to unforeseen opportunities. However, don't overreach! My advice: connect with people that you know and have or have had a positive relationship with.
But don't forget the real world! Your networking efforts should not be exclusively online. Find events and opportunities to mingle with others in your industry - join a professional association or attend meetups for topics of interest.
Create a blog or personal website
A portion of my classroom presentation demonstrated how to create a WordPress blog. As you may know, it's very easy and literally takes just a few minutes. But, creating a blog is the easy part! Creating and posting content on a somewhat regular basis is much more difficult. My advice: if you cannot commit to regularly posting content, at least while you're searching for a job, don't create a blog.
That said, a personal blog can be a great way to demonstrate your passion, knowledge, and experience. Even topics indirectly or unrelated to your career can reflect positively on your ability to take an interest in something and follow through.
I also discussed using a blog platform or custom website builder to create a personal website. Many of the students I spoke to were studying videography and could benefit from an online portfolio. We discussed several websites that might be used to create an online portfolio...many of which could be presented through a portfolio page on a personal website.
Seek out targeted job boards
When hiring at Webitects I've had much more success using specialized job boards like careers.stackoverflow.com than large and often generic job boards (e.g. CareerBuilder, Monster, etc). Professional associations often have highly specialized job boards with a built-in audience. My advice: post your resume and look for job opportunities where you know the audience.
In closing, be creative and find ways to demonstrate your capabilities. At Webitects I say finished work sells future work. Much of our business comes from referrals and word of mouth, having an online portfolio that prospective clients can use to measure our capabilities and experience is often what earns us the opportunity.
Finally, just for fun, check out this creative online resume that has received a lot of attention recently.
Todd Reifenrath on Google+