Just like companies need to maintain their public image and protect their brand, so does anyone with a career in technology -- or any industry, for that matter.
"Your online identity is a form of capital, much like your intellectual capital and financial capital. To that end, it can be grown slowly and steadily over time, which will eventually produce the positive results you want," says Ford R. Myers, career coach, speaker and author of Get the Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring.
Technology has changed the way people find jobs and that it's become easier than ever for hiring managers and recruiters to search for top talent, rather than wait for them to submit a resume, according to Myers. That means, your dream job could easily come knocking at your inbox, but that is only true if recruiters and hiring managers can actually find you. By taking time to carefully craft your online identity and brand, Myers says you will stand out as a "tech-savvy, smart self-marketer." He offers six critical steps in crafting your online brand, so you can put your best professional foot forward and create the career you want.
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Register a domain
A great first step in creating your online career brand is to register a domain with your name. Meyers says this is a great way to build your portfolio and to identify yourself as an expert in your field. Also having a personal website makes you far easier to find in a quick Google search. You might have to get creative if you have a common name, but you'll find a personal website will help set apart your cover letter or resume from other candidates.
"It says that you have a voice and a presence, and that you have something unique to offer. It projects the message that any client or employer who gets to work with you will be very fortunate," says Myers.
And if the thought of creating a website seems daunting, don't worry, it's actually easier than ever. There are plenty of platforms out there that will guide you through the process to create a visually impressive and easy-to-navigate website for your career portfolio.
Establish credibility with a blog
You can include this in your website, or host it on a separate platform, but Meyers suggests that if you want to build recognition in your field, you should start a blog. You can choose to write about your thoughts on industry trends or use it as a way to document your accomplishments. Maybe you want to include testimonials of your hard work or from clients and customers to help demonstrate your expertise in the field.
"What employers want is thought-leaders and experts. They need problem-solvers and solution providers. A strong career identity, when handled correctly, distinguishes you in such a way that employers start chasing you instead of you having to chase them," says Myers.
Creating credibility this way helps inform employers that you're not only an accomplished self-marketer who has a firm grip on technology trends, but it also shows that you're confident in your industry-knowledge and skills.
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Create an online resume
If you haven't already migrated your resume to an online platform, it might be time to consider using a platform like LinkedIn. LinkedIn has built-in features that guide you through the process of outlining your accolades, skills, education and expertise in a reader-friendly format. If you want to get a little more complex, Myers says you can also include your resume on your professional website instead.
And if you're worried about your employer seeing you active on a networks like LinkedIn, Myers says not to worry. He notes that, perhaps back in 2005, an employee might be considered disloyal for doing this or might have even been fired, but that in recent years, that attitude has shifted.
"Five or 10 years later, employers understood and accepted the notion that every working professional would have a LinkedIn profile," he says. It's just another example of how career trends have shifted in the last decade as technology becomes a mainstay in our personal and professional lives.
According to Myers, networking is not optional if you want to have a long-term successful career. "If you don't breathe, you die. If you don't network, your career dies," he says.
And luckily, networking is easier than ever thanks to technology -- you can keep up with colleagues, old classmates and industry leaders on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. Leveraging these tools for networking is a great way to bolster you online brand to make you an even more marketable candidate. Not only can you use these platforms to stay in touch with your current network, but they're also valuable resources for expanding your network, says Myers.
"Optimizing your online identity positions you for networking success because it sets you up to be pre-known, pre-trusted and pre-liked. Which means your one-on-one networking meetings will be far more productive and profitable," he says.
Keep it professional
There's one major caveat to taking your professional brand online -- and that's keeping it, well, professional. Remember that everything you do on a public platform can be seen by anyone, so it's important to think twice about what you share and who you connect with, especially if your profiles are open to the public.
Some things Myers says to avoid include bad mouthing your employer, coworkers or clients or searching for a new job during work hours on a public account. He also says that if you second guess something you're about to post, trust your gut and hit delete. Also avoid posting anything that might cast doubt on your industry-credibility and don't forget to leave political, moral or religious posts for your private social media accounts.
It might seem counterintuitive to track yourself online, but Myers says it's vital to maintaining your online image. Myers suggests setting up a Google Alert that will notify you anytime your name pops up on the internet; that way you can keep close tabs on anything that is written about you or even your company if you're a business owner. This gives you more control over your public image and lets you ensure everything that comes up when someone searches your name will remain in line with your personal brand.
"To optimize your online identity, the key is to build and maintain a consistent, positive and compelling message about who you are and what you're about professionally. Anything that disturbs or sidetracks this effort should be avoided," says Myers.