Careers advice

The importance of your online presence when job hunting

Your online presence could be a great asset or a big problem in your next job hunt. Here's how to get it right.

21st century job hunting in New Zealand is an online activity.

In some ways, this is great. Applying to roles digitally is a lot faster than skimming through newspapers or stomping the streets with your CV, like in ye olde times.

However, the internet is also home to your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter profiles (just to name a few). And, because employers do check these platforms, there’s scope for cyberspace job seeking to go wrong.

So, we’ve created this article to make sure your online presence is doing your job hunt a favour, and not harm. We’ll look at some FAQs, and show you the steps to take for a pitch perfect digital job search.

Be systematic when reviewing your online presence.

1. Do I need an online job profile?

In a word, yes.

Here’s why:

1. Employers like them

Recruiting is time consuming and expensive – so if an employer can cherry pick ideal candidates from online profiles, and save lots of money and hours in the process, they will. Even if they’ve already received a bunch of great applications, hiring managers and recruiters like using profiles to get to know applicants better.

For example, a complete Trade Me Jobs Profile contains a candidates’ skills, qualifications and work experience, meaning businesses can approach you with great opportunities you may have missed in your hunt.

  • How often should I update my online career presence?

There’s no single answer, but obvious opportunities to refresh your profile include when you change roles or take on additional responsibilities.

Ultimately, the more recent the information on your Trade Me Job Profile, the better chance you have of a business finding you and sharing a great opening.

2. They speed things up

Online career platforms benefit you, too. Our profile allows you to download a professional-looking CV in seconds, using the personal details, skills and experiences you’ve already entered.

What’s more, when you have a Trade Me Job Profile, you can apply to roles listed on our site much faster than those who don’t. That’s because all the info you’d normally input is already there in your profile.

3. They help build your professional brand

Your professional brand means who you are as a professional, and how others see you. Your online job profile is a major piece of the puzzle.

Interested in learning about your current professional brand? Try Googling your name and analysing what comes up. Now, put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter – are you happy with what you see? A job profile helps boost the professionalism of the search results, otherwise all they’d see are your social media handles.

Online job profiles help recruiters and hiring managers learn more about you.

2. Should I have an online portfolio?

Wait, didn’t we just talk about this? Not quite. There’s a difference between a job profile and a portfolio.

Think of an online job profile as a digital CV – somewhere the reader can find out what you’ve done, the qualifications you have and the skills and interests you bring to the party.

An online portfolio is a little different, and is more relevant to some sectors than others. These platforms let you bring together real life examples of your past work, and tend to be used most by creative job seekers.

Careers that really need an online portfolio of work include:

  • Photographers and videographers
  • Journalists and writers
  • Graphic designers
  • Website designers and computer programmers
  • Models
  • Make-up artists
  • Interior decorators

3. Can employers look at private social media?

It depends on your privacy settings. If you have your social media platforms set to ‘public’, then yes they can – and you should assume they will.

Why would they? There are several reasons:

  • To look for red flags – shockingly, employers aren’t keen on people who post offensive material on social media. This includes ‘jokes’, photos or links to content from other users that might cause upset distress.
  • To verify who you are – sometimes, all employers have to go on is a CV and cover letter. Before shortlisting a candidate, they’ll want to check you are who you say you are.
  • To learn more about you – while not as concerning as insulting content, employers can be turned off by posts ranging from images of excessive alcohol consumption to bad spelling and grammar.

4. How do I clean up my online presence?

If that info has raised your heart rate, relax – your social media presence can be easily polished.

The quickest way to do this is by changing your accounts to ‘private’. Now only people you’ve approved can see your posts.

But if you want to stay public, we’d recommend:

  • Reviewing your posts – delete anything people might find offensive or inappropriate.
  • Untagging awkward photos – don’t just look at your own content. If other people have posted less than ideal images of you, it’s time to untag.
  • Thinking about your profile picture – this is the first thing anyone sees, so choose it with care.

Remember the Googling yourself technique we talked about earlier. You may come across that YouTube account you forgot you had … or even your epic SoundCloud raps.

You might find some interesting memories when digging through your social accounts.

5. Can I use social media to my benefit when job hunting?

We’re glad you asked – yes, you can.

When used well, social media can be a great tool for boosting your job search. Have a go with these tried and tested techniques:

1. Engage in industry conversations

Twitter is perfect for this one. Follow some relevant industry folk, and get involved in their discussions and debates. This activity looks great to potential employers as it shows an interest in your sector outside office hours.

2. Grow your network

Even if you don’t get involved in conversations, by following like-minded professionals on social media you’ll still start to expand your professional network. This can be great for seeking advice, or even enquiring about openings.

3. Let people know you’re looking

You need to be careful with this if you’re connected with your current manager on social media.

However, a simple post that states you’re open to new opportunities, with a link to your Trade Me Job Profile, can prompt a recruiter or hiring manager to check out your skills and get in touch.