We are living in a world where nearly 80 percent of employers scan the online reputations of potential recruits. Yet most people, especially students, don’t think about their online persona in professional terms. When they do, it’s generally for defensive reasons. Recruitment agencies and career counselors consistently warn job seekers, “Be careful with your online actions because they could make or break your chances of getting hired.” While it’s critical for job seekers to understand that your digital footprint is absolutely a factor that could potentially sabotage your career path, it’s just as likely that your digital footprint can land you the job you’ve been searching for.
So, instead of being freaked out about your online image and trying to keep it squeaky clean, focus on how you can strategically create content in the social media space that shows the kind of value you will add to a team and/or an organization in the field in which you seek employment. Let’s talk about that.
Just Being Social Savvy Won’t Cut the Mustard
In today’s hyper-connected knowledge-sharing era, just having a presence in the social sphere is not enough to get you hired – especially if you want to work in the tech space. A majority of Internet users spend a significant amount of their online time in social media channels, and the tech-savvy bunch? They are more connected than you can ever imagine. So while you may be active on Facebook and Twitter and may or may not be using LinkedIn beyond looking for a job, know that your competition is stiff. What you’re saying, what you’re doing, what you’re sharing, and the comments and interactions you have are what you’re likely to be evaluated on. Are you reading industry-specific blogs and leaving comments on them? Are you sharing content that’s relevant to the industry you want to work in? Are you identifying the influencers in that industry and paying attention to what they say and/or how they act online and emulating them? What about building relationships with them?
Those things are infinitely more important than how you use social media to chat with your friends and can go a long way toward getting you the opportunities you seek in the job market.
Show ’Em What’s Best in You
Modern job seekers have a unique opportunity, as their ability to understand and use digital media can cast them in a favorable light for potential employers. Don’t get me wrong. By no means am I asking you to fake an online image. In fact, I recommend highlighting your talents and successes for others to see in a genuine manner. For instance, if you’re good at working with code, you could help other coders via YouTube videos. This will add to your digital footprint and will impress potential employers.
If you’re comfortable with video as a medium, there’s no better time to shoot and share videos, as most companies are very interested in rich media content. The ability to do this well could definitely set you apart from your peers. If video isn’t your thing, start a blog and write about what you know and/or what you’re passionate about. Or maybe it’s podcasting you want to tackle, or animation – whatever it is, dive in and use technology to help you make a name for yourself. Before you know it, potential employers might well be knocking your door down.
Technology companies in particular are always seeking people who are agile in their thinking and experts in their field. One of the best ways to show your worth is to use digital media as a platform to provide value, knowledge and expertise in your field. This can be a great resource for companies assessing how they can benefit from your skill set.
Grow Your Digital Footprint
It’s also important to understand that in today’s workplace, your value is largely defined by your network. A large digital footprint can go a long way toward enhancing your credibility. Here are some ways to grow your digital footprint:
Create content. As mentioned above, creating content, any kind of content, is an important component of establishing yourself and your digital footprint. Having a personal blog is great. However, blogging on topics related to your niche or area of expertise is even better. You can share non-proprietary findings, write articles, create videos or podcasts that pass value along to the target demographics of your industry.
Participate in digital communities. Tech giants like Apple, Microsoft, and Google all have online communities. This is where end users post their problems with products and services. You can offer solutions, suggestions, and guidance to help solve user problems. These actions contribute to a positive digital footprint and also are a smart way to highlight not only your problem-solving skills, but your personality and willingness to share.
Get involved in hashtag discussions. Get involved in conversations happening in social media channels in your tech space. Jump in on Quora, Reddit, or LinkedIn Groups. Comment on posts about industry thought leadership. These are all great ways to build a digital presence that shows expertise. Find out if there’s a Twitter Chat that’s relevant to the industry you seek, and tune in to those chats and participate regularly. Not only will you find new friends who are also interested in the things you’re interested in, you’ll be building a reputation for yourself in the process.
Hopefully these are some ideas to get you thinking about how to create a digital footprint that can set you apart from the crowd and help you with your job search.
I’m compensated by University of Phoenix for this blog. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.