Personal Dynamics In Having A Professional Identity

I discussed how the concept of an”online presence” or “professional identity” is going to replace the resume in the last blog (based on an article by Dan Schawbel). In the article,  “Ten simple steps to create and manage your professional online identity”, Susanne Markgren thoroughly describes the important characteristics of a professional identity and their influence  on our personal dynamics. Managing how you are perceived personally and professionally on the pervasive internet is a difficult undertaking. Ms. Markgren breaks it down into 10 basic steps (the following list is in her words only).

Ten simple steps to create and manage your professional online identity

I think this is an exceptional summary of the personal elements involved in developing your professional online identity. People will conduct online searches about you, whether or not you are prepared for it and there is almost no delineation between personal and professional content.  Therefore, you should have a strategy as you develop your online identity and it should be professional in context and resemble how you want to be perceived – your personal brand. I suggest substituting what she calls an “online portfolio”, with a more advanced and functional professional website, and carry on with the same ideas of promoting it in your social media profiles.

I would make one addition to her list: setup your own SEO campaign, where you optimize your professional website so that it performs well in search engines – ranking high in areas where you want to represent yourself. For example, you want your professional website to appear when someone searches on your profession and where you live or the title of an article you wrote or the company whose website you built. Moreover, in the near future, I envision a search engine that indexes only personal websites which would make a SEO campaign even more effective.

Survey: Employers Seeking Employees, Not A “White Collar” Phenomenon

Using web services to advance your career is not limited to “white-collar” or IT and business professionals. I sent a survey, Employees Seek Employers, to HR professionals from 20 different industries/services and 30 US states and there is a clear majority of respondents using web services to find candidates (75%) and every respondent is willing to accept other types of media for employment evaluations (to compliment or replace a standard resume and cover letter).  This tells me a few things.

For many careers, it is necessary to get references to validate your experiences and skills – what LinkedIn calls endorsements. To accomplish this validation, LinkedIn has built a sophisticated, networked interface where your connections can endorse you.  However, I find a few difficulties with their approach: early career professionals simply do not have many connections and have not yet developed many skills; there becomes a “popularity contest” where the number not necessarily the quality of endorsements and connections defines you (why else are the number of connections so prominently placed); and the interface is so impersonal – essentially anyone can endorse you and view your profile without consent. What am I driving at?

You cannot fully rely on a single web service when you are seeking employment, and some web services will work better for you based on your career type and stage.  According to the survey, HR professionals are primarily using LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, and MonsterJobs to find candidates. As discussed above, LinkedIn works great for mid-career, higher-paid professionals (average age of a LinkedIn user is 42 and the average household income is over $88,000). MonsterJobs and CareerBuilder have a service with a more traditional resume approach and therefore might cater better for early career professionals and careers that require less professional networking. Echoing a suggestion in other blog entries, use your professional website as a landing page in each of these web services.

Most HR professionals would agree that the best way to represent yourself while applying to a job or getting found by a potential employer is to provide as much content as you can. Take an inventory of what content you can create and relates to your profession and provide it on your professional website. This might seem difficult if you have little employment experience, but with some self-reflection you should consider the following:

  • If you are a recent college graduate, share sample papers, presentations, and projects from your courses that are a strong representation of your capabilities (74%)
  • Create a video resume (53%)
  • Write a blog (44%)

In parenthesis, the number of HR professionals willing to use it in an employment evaluation according to the survey.