Job seekers today are advised to take advantage of the online tools available to them to build their personal brand, attract employers and demonstrate their value in the marketplace.
Not having any presence online is certainly a strategy deployed by some active-duty service members and transitioned veterans, particularly those in high-security fields, but the pros and cons of not being findable online must be weighed carefully.
Often, the reasons for not having any online profiles or accounts include:
- Belief that staying off social media preserves privacy
- Desire to remain hidden from dangerous people
- Concern that it takes too much time to be successful online
- Fear that you will lose control over content
- Lack of understanding of the strategy and tools to build an online presence
10 Reasons Job Seekers Should Have an Online Presence
Admittedly, engaging with others online carries unique security risks for military personnel and veterans in the world we live in today. Balancing this risk with the advantages and rewards must be made on an individual basis. Reasons job seekers should be online include:
- Online profiles tell more about you than your resume can. Your resume is a historical reference of your work, skills, certifications and accomplishments. It doesn't tell an employer who you are or what you are necessarily looking to do with your life.
- Recruiters look online. Eighty percent to 90% of recruiters scour the internet for job candidates. They look for individuals who have the skills, credentials and experience to do a specific job for their client. If you are not online, these recruiters are not finding you.
- Hiring managers look online. After the recruiters find you online and refer you to the employer, oftentimes hiring managers will look at your online profiles, conversations and photos to decide whether they will interview you or refer you on. They look for consistency in values and behavior, and will take note of anything offensive or inappropriate that could disqualify you from consideration.
- It is easier for your contacts to refer and recommend you. If someone in your network wants to forward your information for an opportunity, it is much easier to link to your online profile, or refer to your website, than to write a long introduction for you. Recommendations and endorsements are also ways that your network can attest to your values, work ethic and interests in promoting you for a new job.
- Online activity shows your interests and hobbies. Your resume will highlight what you did and what you can do, related to work. Online profiles, photos, content and engagement show your passions, hobbies and interests outside of work. This lets the employer see a more holistic view of you as a potential team member, instead of just a job applicant.
- Makes you findable. Having profiles and content on several social media sites can make you very findable to an employer. Limiting your online activity to just one platform assumes you know (for certain) that you are on target. Being findable means collaborating, sharing, celebrating success and encouraging others across different conversations and forums.
- Empowers you to correct misinformation. What if someone with your same name committed a crime in your same industry and community? Having an online presence gives you the ability to talk about your values and highlight your offer, differentiating you from the "other" person who shares your name. This is a great way to help you correct misinformation.
- Showcases your personality. Have a great sense of humor? Your resume is not the place to be funny or lighthearted, but some social networking sites are. Your personality is a reflection of how you will be on the job. Let employers see your character, values and personality online so they have a more well-rounded view of who they will be meeting in the interview.
- Use of focused keywords. Certain industries are more competitive and crowded than others. Strategic and focused keywords allow you to make yourself findable and relevant in a more intentional way. Instead of listing "human resources" on your online profiles, you might choose to list yourself as a "human performance specialist". Instead of "aeronautical engineer," you might list "aviation specialist with passion for quality" to stand out from the sea of profiles that are more generic-sounding.
- Tell your story. Transitioning from a military to civilian career is challenging. Employers want to know who you are, not just what you have done. They want to know why you are interested in their company and the position they are seeking to fill. They are curious about what you value and hold dear. They are trying to assess whether you'll fit in with their company, culture and team. Telling your "why" online helps employers looking for someone like you.
Maintaining your online presence returns rich rewards of information sharing, collaboration and support from contacts near and far. And recruiters and hiring managers have an easier time finding you.
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