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What is an online professional persona and why is it important?

An online professional persona is the way you conduct yourself publicly and the impression that you give to others when engaging professionally online. It's your online or digital presence.

Having a positive persona can help you when networking, job hunting, or building your business. On the other hand, having a negative persona could cause you to be overlooked for certain opportunities.

How To Manage A Professional Persona Online

An online presence includes your current activity, but can also include things like reviews or comments you've left on websites, public YouTube playlists, forums like Quora or Reddit, or old accounts that you no longer use. Legacy content is still visible unless you delete the account.

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To keep your online persona professional and positive, consider searching for yourself, setting your social media sites to private, acting professionally online, creating a website, and maintaining a LinkedIn profile. Read more about each of these below.

Do A Search

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Search for your name on common search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing, or consider using DuckDuckGo. Use incognito mode so your results aren't influenced by what you've previously searched for. And make sure to look at images, too!

Conduct several searches using different variations of your name as well as locations, organizations, or universities you are affiliated with. Take steps to remove any negative or unprofessional results.

Go Private

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Set your personal social media sites, such as Facebook or Instagram, to private. On Facebook, consider controlling who can tag you in content and post on your page.

While your profile picture doesn't necessarily need to be professionally taken, make sure it's one that you would be okay with employers and colleagues seeing. Keep it clean and friendly.

You may want to consider using a different name on your personal social media sites. Or, if you don't use the sites, delete your profile.

Keep It Professional, Always

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Be aware of posts you share, the comments that you leave, and who you accept as friends. Although your page may be private, others can see what you post on public pages. You never know who (a potential employer, perhaps) might see your activity and judge you from one picture or comment.

Create A Website

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Consider creating a professional website. Include your resume and, if applicable, a portfolio of projects you've worked on. If you are an entrepreneur or freelancer, a website is a way to market yourself and show the world who you are. It's an opportunity to create the professional persona you want others to see.

Maintain A Linkedin Profile

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LinkedIn continues to grow in both membership and engagement. And about 90% of recruiters use the site regularly. So if you're job hunting or looking to network, LinkedIn is the place to be.

Update your summary, experience, and accomplishments. Share posts that relate to your professional interests, connect with others in your field (or the field you want to be in), and comment on interesting posts.

Quiz

When managing your professional persona online, which of the following should you do?

Share content related to your career.

Make all social media accounts public.

Follow your boss on Instagram.

Post vacation pictures on Linkedin.

Summary

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Whether you're searching for a new job or looking to grow professionally, it's important to maintain a professional persona online. During the hiring process, 70% of recruiters use social media to screen candidates. And about 43% of employers check on current employees via social media.

Think About It

  • How do you want others to view you?

  • What impression do you want to leave online?

List 5 words you want people to think of when they think about you. Use those words to guide you when deciding what you will post online and when creating your persona.

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This Byte has been authored by

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Stephanie Booth

"I've learned that I still have a lot to learn." Maya Angelou