5 tips to ensure your digital footprint makes a great first impression

Colourful image of many different footprints

In Part 2 of her series as a guest writer for Ribit, Fiona McLean, CEO of The Social Index, shares her tips on how to make a great first impression to support your career growth.

First impressions matter and your digital footprint can be one of your greatest assets to land the job you want. It can help you get noticed online by employers looking for talent for your dream job. It can help you connect with important decision makers and create a memorable reaction before you meet in real life.

There are 5 key things that successful people do to ensure their digital footprint results in career conversations that matter. Based on our research of what works well, our top 5 tips for making a great impression and hopefully getting hired are:

    1. Have a professional and personable profile picture.

Make sure your Ribit and LinkedIn profile photo and other professional sites have a consistent photo. This helps people recognise you online across various channels and when you arrive for interviews.

Tips to take a great photo for your digital footprint are:

  • Wear clothes that fit with the workplace you want to join. For example, a 3-piece suit may work for a more conservative workplace but not a creative, innovative startup. 
  • Look at the camera and smile (or at least avoid frowning!) and have good lighting to make sure you can be easily seen and not lost in shadows.
  • Check the background setting is appropriate and flattering, i.e., a workplace-related setting and not the local pub. 

At the start of your career ask a friend with a smartphone on a ‘portrait’ setting to help you, there’s no need to invest significant money in a professional photo.

    2. Have a great summary on your professional profile

This can be 2-3 sentences that help employers, future teammates, and your network quickly understand the value you can create and what motivates you. 

Think of this as your elevator pitch when you’re asked about your experience in interviews and in networking meetings. Get feedback from friends and colleagues so that you can see how others would interpret this.

    3. Showcase your skills, capabilities and interests.

Your digital footprint can be a great way to amplify your skills and capabilities and help future employers understand how you operate over time. 

We often see professionals underuse LinkedIn sections for skills, not following thought leaders and companies they admire, and leaving key sections incomplete. As recruitment searches are increasingly automated, having relevant keywords in your profile as well as specifically called out in the skills section, for example, can increase your visibility to be seen. 

Following companies and thought leaders can help you get up to date on recent company announcements before your interview.

    4. Include any awards, training, and academic achievements.

Awards, recommendations, completed training and academic achievements can be highly regarded as part of a competitive hiring process. These show a commitment to learning, and on-the-job training can be as important as other formal qualifications. They highlight how you added value by seeking out new knowledge and how this was recognised by peers, community events or your company.

    5. Consistently engage in conversations, repost and celebrate company achievements or share insights that matter.

This is easy and yet is often the one most people are nervous about. In many cases it’s due to not knowing where to start. So to get started, we suggest following people in your organisation or organisations you want to join and engaging with their posts in a professional and respectful way.  This can be as simple as ‘liking’ the post, making a comment on how you enjoyed reading it, to resharing to your network. All of this helps reinforce your interest in workplace issues that matter, build your network and be found more easily for your dream job. 

All this can be something you do over a coffee, once a day or once a week or even once a month…it’s about being part of the conversation in a consistent way.

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Fiona is an innovative, commercially savvy and strategic HR Executive who shares our passion for helping students become more employable and build rewarding careers. To hear more from Fiona, check out her first Ribit blog, 3 tips to build an effective career-growth network.

Follow Fiona on @thesocialindex on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for more insights.

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