Hand holding a phone that displays a folder called Social Networks and contains nine different social media apps.

Building your best online self; a professional presence

This article covers some of the steps and suggestions you can take to dress up your online persona and make sure you put your best digital foot forward. 

Picture this.  

You’ve made it through a three-to-five-year degree.  

You’ve received your degree in your sweaty little mitts.  

You feel a momentary burst of relief as the pressure that hung over your head disintegrates! 

And then…  

You are aware of the looming presence of your next challenge- getting a job. 

How do you prepare to enter the job market and make yourself a more competitive applicant? 

A good place to start would be to look at your online presence and think about yourself from the perspective of a prospective future employer. Yes, it may mean deleting that funny joke photo from when you were fifteen or that in-joke meme that you and your friends made one night.  

We live in an internet age and the reality is that most of us have grown up interacting with the internet, leaving a digital footprint. It is important to consider what yours could potentially communicate to a future employer.  

A cartoon strip showing a man sitting in a guidance office, where a poster on the wall says "drinking photos + angry posts = no internship"
“What’s your point” sourced from smizdrak on WordPress.com

First impressions do count to employers and that doesn’t just start with when you meet them for an interview. By taking a proactive approach and curating your digital presence, you can ensure that you are one step closer to securing the job of your dreams.  

Let’s start with the basics: 

1. Take an inventory of your social media accounts 

Are there any that you don’t use anymore, downloaded on a whim or used for a project once? Marie Kondo those bad boys. Have a deep dive through the posts, tagged photos, shared memories and old statuses.  

2. Consider your privacy settings 

How accessible do you want your real and digital life to be- whether that’s to bosses, students or other employees? This can also mean changing usernames or handles to something more appropriate or adjusting your name slightly to make your profile slightly harder to find.  

3. If you haven’t already, consider creating a LinkedIn account 

There is a popular misconception that only business people, lawyers and politicians use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is quickly becoming a popular way for users to promote their career progressions, achievements and network, making it a valuable tool in your employment toolkit. Start conversations with colleagues, peers and mentors and engage with LinkedIn Learning to upskill yourself.   

4. Create an online portfolio 

You can treat your LinkedIn as an online portfolio and strong addition to your application toolkit; having an up-to-date and engaging profile could attract potential employers to your door, as well as those that you apply directly to. Use it as a place to post note-worthy achievements, connect with other people in your degree and field, as well as following relevant organisations and interests. Take your time to add voluntary commitments, work placement, skills and availability, your past job history and certificates. 

5. What’s a headshot? 

It’s like a passport photo- except you can smile in this one! Your profile image can be a good opportunity to communicate your professional personality, so plan accordingly and incorporate something personal, like your favourite earrings or tie! Graduation photos can be a good start also.  

So now that you have looked over your social media and polished up your LinkedIn profile- what next? Don’t forget to curate your resume with the same attention you would dedicate to an Instagram feed- add your unique LinkedIn hyperlink, adjust any outdated information (such as high school related content, date of birth, and a photo – it’s not necessary) and add any projects, placements or internships that demonstrate your job-ready skills.  

Utilise the University of Newcastle’s Career Hub service and their LinkedIn resources, or reach out to the University’s dedicated Career’s Service for advice.  

Hope to connect soon on LinkedIn!   

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