Although we spend a lot of time here at Elite Reputations talking about hard copy CVs and cover letters, there’s a growing sense that there is a new set of tools in the job search that may be just as critical.
Your business acumen, accomplishments and your first impressions are now filtered through your online profile, the imprint you’ve made on the web.
According to this article by Business Insider, it takes a potential employer around three seconds to decide if you’re likeable and the right fit.
Nowadays, hiring managers most often gain that first impression of you online. You may feel that you have little control over how you’re perceived in the digital landscape – it’s just words and images on a screen, after all.
The good news is you can control your digital reputation and your online presence can and should be as stellar, charming and impressive as your in-person personality.
Business outlets turn to sites like LinkedIn to discover who you are and whether you’ll fit within their company culture. Your LinkedIn ‘connections’ are now your references, while your virtual resume is much more thorough than the old hardcopy one-pager.
Why is your LinkedIn Profile so important?
LinkedIn is not only a CV-generator, it’s a personal branding tool. And in this digital age, you truly are selling yourself as a brand.
According to Forbes, some of LinkedIn’s benefits include:
- its membership (it has over 225 million members, making it the largest professional network in the world)
- its top ranking in Google searches (when anyone Googles your name, the first or second ranking will be your LinkedIn profile)
- its resources (connections to experts, clients and potential partners)
- its visibility (via keywords and linking to social networks) and finally,
- its efficiency (employing tags and the easy-to-use contact database allows you to link to people it might otherwise take ages to find).
To put it simply, LinkedIn enables you to stay visible, current and connected.
William Arruda, founder of Reach Personal Brand and contributor to Forbes, says of LinkedIn, “It’s the ultimate personal branding platform…Now that you can add videos and images in your summary and experience fields. This help you round out your brand and paint you as a real person. Using all the features of this powerful online tool will help you illustrate the value of your skills.
What are Employers Looking For?
According to Monster.com, interviewers consider five major areas when making a new hire, and 24% of their decision is based on your first impression.
Take that in for a moment – nearly a quarter of your potentiality for hire is based on the employer’s gut instinct about you.
Other areas that factor into this equation include work experience (36 %), education (12 %), professional qualifications (10 %) and references (9 %), all of which are highlighted in your LinkedIn profile.
What Factors into a Good First Impression?
To break down first impressions even further, Monster.com also outlines which areas factor into making a stellar first impression. Their research found that the strength of your handshake is important to 55% of employers, quality of small talk to 60%, personal appearance to 73%, ability to hold eye contact to 82%, level of interview preparation to 93% and timekeeping abilities to 96%. While not all of this can be demonstrated in your LinkedIn profile, conveying your personality, abilities and skills most certainly can.
How to Make a Stand-Out Digital Impression
Produce a knock-out LinkedIn profile
As mentioned, LinkedIn is one of the top-ranked sites for Googling, so when employers research candidates, they’ll likely end up at your LinkedIn profile first. Greet them with a knock-out punch of awesome!
Create a “read all about it!” headline and share yourself in an authentic way in the summary box. Remember, just like a cover letter, you should show rather than tell, presenting experiences with active detail. And don’t forget to nail down some fabulous recommendations from your LinkedIn contacts.
Post the best profile photo
You may look slamming in your Facebook or online dating profile pic, but it’s probably not the best choice for business. Consider our blog on How to Get Your LinkedIn Profile Right, Part One – The Photo.
Be an aware and active participant in your network, following company employees and brands that connect with your work. Interact with contacts professionally and be knowledgeable about your area of expertise when communicating.
Skype it up
Not only are CVs going digital, so are interviews. Video-communicating apps, like Skype, make interviewing from any location a snap! Just like an in-person interview, you must make a brilliant first impression through dress, preparedness and professionalism, via your username (no ‘cutegirl83’) and ensuring your connection is strong. Make good use of video
In fact, Skype is not the only app you should utilize for digital presence. LinkedIn has video capabilities, so you can upload a short introduction of yourself and your brand. Or consider uploading a short video biography to your own personal YouTube channel.
Purchase your domain name
Whether or not you’re at a place in your career to create your own website, if you have a domain name in mind, purchase it. This way, it’s ready and waiting for you to further imprint your web presence. It will also be amongst the top ratings when someone Googles you. We’ve written about this more in blog article Should You buy Your Own Domain?
Show off tactfully
The great thing about an online presence is you don’t have to show off with a list of “accomplishments,” you can display them through images and PDFs. If you were published, you can post the article. If you spent a year volunteering in Africa, post a pic of your experience. Anything that you’re proud of, you can post to make your LinkedIn profile more colorful and more YOU.
Review your online presence
Now that you’ve got everything up and running, you should check in with yourself once in a while. Google yourself to review your online presence. See what your potential employers, business partners, clients or colleagues will see, and make changes if you don’t like what you find. To make things easier, you can even set up a Google alert for your name.