Professionally Digital

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In some ways I think we have an unfair advantage over the previous generation when it comes to employability. In another way, if everyone has the same advantage is it still really an advantage?

You’d think that being able to make your greatest skills, achievements and ambitions readily available to anyone waiting to snap up someone with your competitive skillset is a miracle of the modern age, but in reality the pitfalls of an unprofessional ‘professional’ digital profile can truly hinder the progress of a good professional reputation. We’ve all heard the tragic tale of Justine Sacco.

In a way this topic ties in nicely with last week’s discussion about online identity, as there are many key overlapping themes of digital responsibility and presentability. As I mentioned, it will always be important to monitor how you present yourself online, and this clearly applies to the professional world. Jobvite make it clear that social networks are one of the most important recruitment tools in the modern workplace.

This hopefully clarifies the obvious: that conducting yourself well online is the most basic foundation in creating and developing a professional online profile. Unsurprisingly, my approach differs from most. I still believe that if you are indeed a professional, this should be reflected in everything you do online.

However, if it was this simple then everyone would do it, and not everyone has an authentic, marketable digital professional profile. It is generally accepted that LinkedIn is the go-to platform for employability and more ‘professional’ social networking, which makes it a good place to start. The video below is a thrilling informative guide to establishing a successful and authentic representation of yourself.

Now that you’re on LinkedIn, you’ve unlocked the door to the magical garden of online professionalism. However, the garden will look rather lacklustre without some impressive embellishments.

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Developing your professional online presence is not a series of defined instructions and rules because a good professional profile should be integrated with who you are. As you can see from my own about.me page, I ensure that all of my social media accounts come as a package deal, meaning they can be cross-examined to build confidence in the fact that I am who I say I am.

Coincidentally, blogging in a form such as this very outlet can also be a stroke of professional genius. The ability to engage articulately, knowledgeably and passionately about a range of topics is one of the most desirable (and dwindling) in any online professional’s arsenal. Not only that, but it’s hard not to offer a genuine, authentic opinion in such a refreshingly unfiltered medium.

Gone are the days of a paper CV handed out one-by-one to reluctant recipients. With everything at the fingertips there’s no reason not to make your digital professional profile immaculate.


 

Works used:

Counts, S. and Stecher, K. (2009) ‘Self-presentation of personality during online profile creation’, ICWSM Conference. Redmond, Washington, March 2009. Available at: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/counts/pubs/icwsm_2009_selfpresentation.pdf (Accessed: 10 November 2016).

The Employable (2014) How blogging can help you get a job. Available at: http://www.theemployable.com/index.php/2014/10/28/blogging-can-help-get-job/ (Accessed: 10 November 2016).

Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey

Qualman, E. (2009) Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business. Chichester, United Kingdom: Wiley, John & Sons.

Ronson, J. (2016) How One stupid Tweet blew up Justine Sacco’s life. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html?_r=2 (Accessed: 11 November 2016).
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16 thoughts on “Professionally Digital”

  1. Hi Will,
    This is the first time I’ve been on your blog and read one of your posts. I found it was easy to navigate and your post is well structured. I appreciated the way you linked the articles into your writing so that it was a smooth reading.
    You mention that you think everything you do should be reflected online if you are a professional. I understand it’s so that your professional profile reflects who you truly are, but can people not have multiple accounts without significantly changing their online identities? Do you think that people should have only professional profiles but control what they post? I believe people should be able to voice their thoughts and opinions on personal accounts without the fear of being fired or thrown hate at just like Justine Sacco.

    Nicole

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    1. Hi Nicole,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post, I’m glad you found it insightful.

      I’m not sure I entirely understand your question about having multiple accounts without changing your online identity, but to clarify, I believe that there is no reason why having multiple accounts online should change your online identity. As I mentioned to Tobie, Emma and Nikhil, I consider individual discretion to be the most important factor in this debate. If you consider yourself to be a professional, you should aim to take a professional approach to your online identity, as you would to your true identity. This does not mean censoring every aspect of your lifestyle, but using good judgement will always be important.

      I also haven’t stated and do not believe that people should have purely professional accounts across social media and the online world. There is a definite distinction to be made between being professional to a fault and being responsible in the way you use and interact with the online sphere. I wholeheartedly advocate having personal online profiles such as Instagram and Facebook, but there is no reason why anyone should feel the need to post something inappropriate, to the extent that they must keep it a secret from their ‘professional’ lives.

      Finally, I completely condemn the witch hunt and public crucifixion that Justine Sacco was a victim of, particularly as the entire situation appears to have arisen from a simple case of misunderstood sarcasm. At the same time, however, it’s clear that it is important to err on the side of caution, particularly where such contentious topics are concerned.

      I hope this gives you a better understanding of my position on this topic, and thanks for your comment!

      Will

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Will,
    Your blog this week has been delightful to read – it is very well written, I like that you’ve made links to the past topics and your arguments are very well-developed, they all flow in a reasonable manner, with a personal touch.

    On the other hand, I found your thought on ‘whether an advantage remains an advantage when everyone has the same’ particularly thought provoking. I think that while making your professional digital profile appear as desirable as possible to potential employers, by displaying all your greatest skills and more ‘professional’ side of things, it is crucial to also show who you really are, as a human being different from everyone else – not just another talented person who is very good at maths, or amazing at negotiating.

    After learning how most online social platforms are now largely involved in recruitment, meaning that we have to be extra cautions in our actions online, I thought of a rise in the need to be wearing a mask even in the digital world – to display less genuine opinions in order to appear more professional. Anyhow, after reading your blog, I reckon blogging, as you have suggested, might be the best way to offer unfeigned opinions while expressing who you really are.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Hei Lam

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  3. Hi Will,

    Great post (again)! You covered a vast amount of points on the topic despite the word limit, with great structure and all backed up by sources, which really impressed me. I agree on almost everything, especially the power of blogging as well as the importance of constantly considering each footprint you leave on the online landscape.

    Although I respect your statement: ‘I still believe that if you are indeed a professional, this should be reflected in everything you do online’, and believe that this may enhance your professional online profile in many ways, I wonder if you have considered the idea that in some cases it may actually hinder it.

    One of the elements from the Jobvite survey that I included in my infographic was the amount Linkedin and Facebook were used to establish a potential candidate’s cultural fit to the organisation – the results (80% Linkedin and 46% Facebook) indicate that this is indeed something that is highly important to employers. Remaining too ‘professional’ across all platforms may not give employers a chance to understand the real you. Pictures and posts from holidays, festivals and even nights out can demonstrate how social you are, your music tastes, hobbies – things that may be important in their organisation and the specific role.

    Personally, I believe there is nothing wrong with showing you have fun in a non professional context, as this ties in with the topic of authenticity, it is just crucial to know where the line is drawn and not come across like an idiot.

    I look forward to reading your next post!

    Tobie

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    1. Hi Tobie,

      Thanks for your comment – as usual I find it hard to disagree with you. In terms of ‘maintaining professionality’ my opinion (which I may not have properly conveyed) is that using your own discretion when maintaining your social media presence is the most important factor. For example, I completely agree that it’s incredibly important to show that there are other features in your life other than work, and I would never advocate hiding evidence of ‘having fun’, as you put it.

      I believe that it depends on what you as an individual seek from your professional life. Personally, I know that I will never want to work in an environment in which I will be judged for having a few drinks with my friends, and therefore have no qualms about uploading a picture of this to Facebook, say. To me (as with you), it’s about where to draw the line between ‘fun’ and ‘irresponsible’, and this is the same line that you should aim to draw online. However, this case:
      https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jan/03/snapchat-selfie-robbery-suspect-victim-california
      … highlights what I would call ‘stepping over the line’. Admittedly this is a fairly extreme case but you get the picture.

      Hope this helps to clarify where I stand, and thanks for the feedback as always!

      Will

      Like

  4. Hello Will,

    Once again a great blog. I agree with you that your online presence is no longer an advantage but the norm and can actually act as a potential hindrance.

    I remember reading your blog last week and seeing the slideshow of different social media sites you are on. Due to you having quite a significant digital footprint, I would like to know what do you believe are the main features that validate the authenticity and professionalism of your online presence?

    Furthermore, I would have to question you the comment of keeping your online presence professional throughout. How would you define the barriers? Is it acceptable to post a picture of you and a friend in bathrobes? Having alcohol in your picture? Is this limiting our enjoyment of our online presence as we have to keep considering what is professional? stopping us from interacting with the online twitter banter!

    Nikhil Anand

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    1. Hi Nikhil,

      Thanks very much for your feedback. I’m glad you remember the powerpoint, it’s true that my footprint on the web is probably larger than most. I think my own authenticity arises from, as I describe in my post, the fact that all of my social media and online accounts are essentially linked together, meaning that there are many different ways for me to validate my online existence. Having such an intricate existence on the web would be very difficult to forge, so you can be relatively certain that my online identity accurately reflects who I truly am.

      I personally believe that personal discretion is essential in defining the barriers of acceptability. Clearly everyone who looks at my online presence has their own idea of what is acceptable and what isn’t, so I use my own discretion to judge each online footprint I leave and consider who may highlight it as questionable.

      While you could argue that this may ‘limit out enjoyment’ of the online world, I would reply by asking why we need to be ‘controversial’ to enjoy the online world. As I discussed last week, validation from social groups seems to me to be an unnecessary justification for online irresponsibility. I do agree, however, that the monitoring of online activity is and will continue to become increasingly intrusive.

      Will

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Will,

    I agree with you when you say that we have an unfair advantage over the last generation, but since everyone has this advantage is it really an advantage. I personally think that this ‘advantage’ has made it really hard to stand out to an employer without exaggerating skills or experience, which potentially could get you in trouble later on. Do you agree?

    You also say that “I still believe that if you are indeed a professional, this should be reflected in everything you do online.” Do you really mean everything online? I have to be honest, I do not monitor what I post on my Facebook as much as I should, and I am sure there are things which a potential employer may not find as amusing as I do. However, I have my security settings as high as possible to prevent anything like this from happening. Out of interest, do you think that having a Facebook for social and entertainment purposes which is not monitored very regularly makes me less professional?

    Emma

    Like

    1. Hi Emma,

      As I mention, it’s hard to call it an advantage when we are all increasingly in the same boat. I’d have to agree that only the most exceptional online profiles will truly stand out and it’s hard to do this authentically. However, in this regard I think it becomes more important to impeccably present the skills and attributes that you can indeed justify, as this is what can make the difference.

      And I do really mean everything online. I also have extremely tight security settings on my Facebook account to control who can view it, but I am under no illusion that this is not a flawless plan, and a large company with the technical capability to view my profile regardless would probably be silly not to do so. Obviously I know that this wouldn’t necessarily be legal on their part but my cynical mind tells me not to take the risk. Clearly I can’t judge whether or not you personally are more or less ‘professional’ without seeing exactly what you are posting but I have no doubt that you know where to draw the line when it comes to who finds what funny and so forth, as it’s clearly a trap that catches many people out.

      Thanks for your feedback!

      Will

      Liked by 1 person

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