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Creating a basic online identity for job search

establish an online identify, create a powerful online identity
Creating a strong, business-like online identity
can help you impress hiring companies.

Need an online identity? Here’s how to get started.

The goal is to find a way to increase your visibility to potential employers without it becoming overwhelming or difficult to maintain. Thus, we'll start simple using LinkedIn and Twitter. Next time, we'll cover blogging and Facebook.

Before you begin, have the following identity elements in place:

  • An updated LinkedIn profile with several good recommendations and five or more group memberships relevant to your profession
  • A Twitter account, ideally with the same user id as your LinkedIn profile.
  • An appropriate "head-shot" photo.
  • A good idea of the type of online identity that you want for yourself.

A note about these tools:

  • LinkedIn is where your primary online professional profile resides.
  • Twitter is where you find interesting items from people (or organizations) and where you let your thoughts be known.
  • Gravatar is where your online identity (picture and personal information) resides. If you are even thinking about creating a blog, it's a good idea to have a Gravatar account.

Let's get started ...

1) Customize your LinkedIn profile URL – If your name is Fred J. Smith, your LinkedIn default profile URL will be something like "www.linkedin.com/in/fredjsmith/12345". You can edit the default URL to eliminate unnecessary numbers or characters, so your profile URL can read something like "www.linkedin.com/in/fredjsmith". Learn how.

2) Work your status bar -- If you are actively looking for a new position, use your status bar to remind connections you are seeking a job. For example, state something like, “Seeking an electrical engineering position in Lansing, MI. Please send leads!” However, if you have a job and are looking on the sly, don’t say you are seeking a position on your status bar. Remember, this information will be emailed to many of your connections as part of the "recent updates" emails that LinkedIn distributes, so your manager (or one of their friends) could read this information.

3) Upload your "professional picture" to your profile. Everyone likes to see who you are.

4) Add the Twitter application to your LinkedIn profile.
Select "Edit Profile" and then scroll to Applications. Select "Add Application" and then Twitter.

- Enter your Twitter user id (if prompted).
Note: There are two settings for Twitter … I recommend that you opt “yes” on both:
1) Display on my profile
2) Display on LinkedIn homepage
- Navigate to Twitter by selecting the "Go to application" link (above the Twitter bird icon).
- Select “Update Settings” to save your choices.

A potentially large amount of information from your Twitter account will be displayed. Check the upper left hand corner of the "Overview" tab. There is a small checkbox labeled "Share on LinkedIn status". If you check this box, your most recent tweet will be displayed in your LinkedIn status bar. If you are using your status bar exclusively to remind connections you are seeking work, don’t check this box. However, if you are conducting your job search on the sly and want to pump up your social media presence through interesting tweets, check this box so you can share them with your LinkedIn connections.

Select the "Settings" tab and review the options. If you are only going to tweet about professional items, select the "Display all tweets" option. If you plan to tweet about a wide variety of subjects, select the other option so only those tweets that include "#in" or "#li" will be included on your LinkedIn status bar. The pound sign "#" (known as a "hash tag" in Twitter-speak) identifies tweets that belong to common subjects so people who are searching for that topic can find your tweet.)

Note that I'm suggesting that you display Twitter tweets on your LinkedIn profile. I’m not saying to broadcast your LinkedIn status information on Twitter. Why? Your LinkedIn profile should be the center of your professional identity, not Twitter. However, if you want to share your LinkedIn information on Twitter, it's your choice. To enable this capability, click the Twitter “T” next to your LinkedIn status bar before posting an update.

Your LinkedIn profile is now set to display your tweets, so next we move on to Twitter.

Remember our discussion last time about the type of online identity you want? Well, here is where your actions need to match your goals. For simplicity, we'll call this your "online identity definition" -- because it defines the type of online identity you want.

1) Login to your Twitter account and find people (or companies) to follow. For example, if you are interested in social media, search for people who tweet about it regularly. Select "Follow" to begin receiving a person’s tweets. Remember that people will evaluate you on who you follow, so don't pick people or groups that clash with your online identity definition.
2) Create a new tweet or re-tweet an existing tweet. The resulting tweet will be listed on your Twitter home page (and included in your followers’ tweet listings and after a few minutes, will also be displayed on your LinkedIn profile.)

3) Double check your Twitter profile. Navigate to "Settings." Pay special attention to the following settings:
- Tweet Location – if you don't want people to know exactly where you are, don’t enable this option.
- Tweet Privacy – if you do want potential employers (including those you don't know yet) to find you, enable this option.
- Email – if you do want others to find you using your email address, enable this option.

4) Navigate to the "Profile" sub-section of "Settings" and complete the following information:
- Location – Enter your location, such as “Greater Boston Area,” which should be consistent with what you have on LinkedIn.
- Web -- Enter the URL of your external LinkedIn profile page.
- Bio -- Enter a short sentence or two about yourself. Ideally, use the same information as on your LinkedIn summary.
- Picture -- Use the same one as on LinkedIn. If you have a Gravatar account, link it to your Twitter account and all of your profile information (including your picture) will be shared between Gravatar and Twitter.

5) If you follow many people, you may wish to organize them into "Lists." Also consider an application like HootSuite so you can view different sets of tweets at the same time.

6) Now comes the hard part -- start tweeting! Tweet every so often about what interests you. You don't have to tweet every hour, but tweet regularly enough so people see you are "active." A good first goal is to create one tweet every other day. Remember to write things consistent with your online identity.

7) Warning: It is very easy for someone to distribute (retweet) one of your tweets to a wide audience. Thus, you'll never know everyone who has seen one of your tweets. So don't tweet things that are unprofessional or inappropriate. Even if you hate your boss and your current company stinks, don't tweet about it!

That's all for now, but we want to hear from you! Add your comments and then go find that next great job.

Next time, Dave will talk about how Facebook and a blog can contribute to your online identity and very soon ... Kathy will reveal reader answers to "Which generates a better response ... a chronological resume (with accomplishments under each position) or a capabilities resume (with accomplishments in one place and positions listed separately)?"


A guest post by David Fulton

David Fulton is a Boston-based software product management professional for enterprise, web-enabled applications. He enjoys wood-turning and fresh-water fishing.

What comments or suggestions do you have about establishing your online identity or about aspects of this post? Share your thoughts!


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