What does your online presence have to do with your career success? Years ago, I might have said, “Not much.” That’s no longer true. LinkedIn’s emergence as a powerhouse has intensified the process, but it didn’t start it. The explosive growth of the internet has played a huge role in how we gain information, make decisions, and more.
Build Your Online Presence to Increase Career Success
Some people seem to easily build an impressive, professional online presence. They appear to act almost effortlessly as attention-magnets! However, most of us don’t fit into that category. If you’re not an online superstar, don’t despair. You still have options.
Over the years, I’ve had several opportunities to gain attention as a résumé writer and business owner. That included two short clips aired on the late evening news of network TV stations in California. What I didn’t do was create a plan to capitalize on those media connections and take other steps to improve my online presence. For example, I didn’t engage as actively on LinkedIn as I could have.
Are Missed Chances Gone Forever?
Should you worry if you have missed opportunities to attract attention to your professional accomplishments? Consider this important concept: what you focus on tends to get done. On the other hand, what you ignore doesn’t. In other words, what you prioritize happens more often than not.
That being the case, you gain ground when you refuse to stew over the chances you might have missed. Instead focus on the options still available and find ways to make the most of them.
How Can Your Online Presence Impact Your Career?
As I’ve said, your online presence can influence your career success in substantial ways. If potential employers find you easily online and like what they see, you gain an advantage over competitors who might not be so easy to find or impressive. What’s more, that presence reaches people who might not be potential employers but who can indirectly enhance outcomes in your favor.
What harm does a weak online presence do? Employers quickly move past you to someone who does a better job of standing out as a potentially valuable asset. As the saying goes, “You snooze, you lose.” So lose the excuses and put energy into increasing your presence.
The Importance of Your Online Presence During a Job Search
Understandably, employers value their time. They won’t waste it on candidates who don’t maintain an active online presence. Consequently, you ignore this fact at your peril. You can lose out by having a profile that is either “missing in action” or weak or that shows lack of care and attention. For example, you haven’t updated it in a year or more. If you can’t be bothered to present yourself professionally where you know employers will look, why should you expect them to bother with you?
You Can Start Small and Grow Over Time
You don’t need to create an empire online. By the same token, you can build an online presence in small stages. Too often, we hold ourselves back from achieving a goal because we believe we have to do it all–and perfectly–right out of the starting-gate. If you never start because you think your online presence must be stellar at the outset, you won’t build much of a presence.
Some time ago, a professional colleague asked to interview me as part of a series that highlighted diverse individuals in our industry. Was it a huge (e.g., national news) event? Not even close. But it gave me a chance to make a small effort toward increased online visibility . Plus, it didn’t cost me anything except a few minutes of my time. Here’s a link to the initial, full-sized result (a mini-version appears next to this text).
What Do Employers Look for in an Online Presence?
Of course, your online presence involves more than your LinkedIn profile. For example, it includes articles you publish, comments you make on others’ posts, and items you share. However, the profile marks a key element of your presence. It ranks as a must-do aspect.
Here are a few clues to what hiring managers look for when they review someone’s LinkedIn profile or LinkedIn recommendations: A hiring manager generally wants to find candidates who have many if not all of the most-needed or desired qualifications. They want to see what you did, for whom, when, for how long—and with what results. Their specifications can range from the job titles you held (Experience section) to the specific skills you’ve listed (Skills and Endorsements section). Depending on the job, they might have criteria that are job specific. However, they could also look for someone who has established a reputation as a subject matter expert in a particular industry.
Three Important Points to Remember
- Your online presence doesn’t spring into life by magic. You must create, launch, and sustain it over time.
- If you don’t do this, the lack of a healthy online presence could deter your career success.
- The choice is yours. Other people can advise you, provide active help when needed, and cheer you on. However, they can’t take over your responsibility.