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Just like you’re power washing your patio and organizing your closet this time of year, it’s a fitting time to spruce up your digital footprint, too.
“A healthy presence online is not static and should reflect professional evolution,” said Manhattan-based Murielle Mobengo, co-founder of the Polymath Agency, a career-counseling practice for poets and artists. “Even if you aren’t seeking new opportunities, tracking your progress and expansion is important for you and for your future business partners. Employers not only respond to skills development but also durability. Visible durability creates trust and genuine professional connections.”
Gone are the days of simply submitting a resume to dozens of companies and crossing your fingers.
“With 58 million companies and millions of actively searching recruiters on LinkedIn, having a professional presence online is a key way for companies to find and hire you,” said Daniel Lorenzo, the marketing director for Let’s Eat, Grandma, an Austin, Texas-based group of professional resume and LinkedIn writers. “You need to leverage your network and show your full professional self to stand out from other candidates — and branding yourself online is the best way to do both.”
Below, exactly how to do just that from pros who have seen and SEO’d it all.
Consider a blog
Establish yourself as an authority figure in your industry by the simple act of putting virtual pen to paper.
“Blogs are versatile, and most blogging platforms like WordPress or Medium have freemiums,” said Mobengo. “Your online visibility can benefit from their SEO strategy.”
Blogs also help establish expertise with little to no maintenance.
Or, make a website
To impress recruiters or hiring managers, make it fast and simple to get to what they are looking for on your professional website, said Amy Feind Reeves, founder and CEO of JobCoachAmy, which she founded in 2012 after 25 years as a hiring manager.
Feind Reeves noted that Squarespace is a very intuitive, inexpensive website builder and leaves you with a professional-looking product. You might want to consider Wix and Bluehost, too. “Keep it simple,” said Feind Reeves. “The navigation should be easily visible from the landing page and only have the essential elements of what value you offer, why a customer should choose you and how they can take action.”
Update your LinkedIn headline
Here’s a spring tune-up you can do in five seconds (OK, maybe five minutes including headline-contemplation time), especially if you’re looking for a new gig.
“It’s crucial that you don’t leave your headline as your current job title,” said Lorenzo. Instead, he suggested using this space on your LinkedIn profile to create a catchy branding statement with keywords that relate to the jobs you’re targeting. “It should show what you specialize in, what sets you apart and what companies should hire you for,” Lorenzo said. “Your headline appears with your profile in searches, so it needs to entice recruiters to click on your profile.” Doing this is sure to make you garner the attention of recruiters amid a sea of “bland, default” titles.
Improve your LinkedIn page
“Use the ‘About’ section directly under your profile photo to showcase your skills and accomplishments, not just what you do or your current title,” said Feind Reeves.
A summary that is not too vague (“I make cash-flow magic happen”) and not too specific (“My focus is on reducing accounts receivable days by 2% to 3% each year”) can really attract attention. Her happy medium: “Corporate treasury professional skilled in identifying and implementing strategies for increasing cash flow.”
Lorenzo recommends using as many of the 2,600 characters as needed in the “About” section to tell a compelling story in first-person about your most impressive qualifications, professional values and career journey.
“The extra space and more personal tone of your profile will allow you to paint a more complete picture of who you are as a human being than on your resume, which helps show recruiters that you align with their company,” he said. “And while your resume’s ‘skills’ section should stay concise and be tailored for each job, you should fill up your LinkedIn ‘skills’ section with as many relevant skills as you can (up to the max of 50), since this will increase the odds of recruiters finding you in their keyword searches.”
Get some recommendations
“Seek out recommendations now, even if you’re not actively job searching,” said Lorenzo. “Recommendations are a key part of your profile because they add valuable social proof. To recruiters, the only thing better than seeing evidence about your skills is seeing other people verify that evidence.”
The best way to get recommendations is to give them.
“Determine a few colleagues, bosses or partners who have seen you use the skills you need for the jobs you want,” said Lorenzo. “Then write genuine, thorough recommendations for them that refer to a specific example of your time together (not just ‘Jane is a great co-worker’). Then ask them to do the same for you.”
Regularly maintain your online professional persona
Your digital presence is often the first impression a hiring manager or recruiter has of you.
“Use your social media to show that you are interested, engaged and knowledgeable about what is happening in your industry,” said Feind Reeves. Join relevant professional groups on LinkedIn or share insightful articles related to your field of expertise on Twitter, for instance.
Digital profiles are not “one and done.”
“Google yourself every once in a while,” said Feind Reeves. “Update accomplishments, even if you are not looking for a job. On social media channels, use a different name if you don’t want to be connected with your religious or political affiliations,” she said, since in today’s increasingly polarized world, even a publicly professed brand loyalty or your taste in music can cause someone to form opinions about you.
This upkeep takes a little time a few times a month, but “it’s an investment in yourself,” said Feind Reeves.