We live in a digital age; a time where news is at our fingertips and employers are using Facebook to research if you are employable. As daunting as having your information online can sometimes seem, to an extent it is necessary. If properly curated and maintained, an online portfolio can help you put your best foot forward, and help you land the job of your dreams.

An online presence affords you the opportunity to connect with others and establish your personal brand. This is especially important for job seekers, as employers today are doing their fair share of online research to determine if a candidate is a good fit. If you’re currently job hunting, or could be in the future, it is helpful if your online identity positively reflects your experiences and marketable skills. Not only will this help convey your knowledge and qualifications to a potential employer, but it could also help prevent any potentially damaging or misleading content from making the wrong impression.

It is important to put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter and consider what it is they will be looking for in a potential candidate. Is it a certain personality trait? Specific skills? Once you have considered this, you can use this information to begin shaping your online presence and positioning the type of content that will effectively showcase your skills and personality. Job seekers should consider a few things in particular:

Review Your Messaging

Social media is a common channel used by individuals to express themselves online and a common location that employers perform research on you. Your messaging is unique to you and sets you apart from the competition. Depending on what you have posted, it can either help earn you a position or deter employers from hiring you. Keep in mind, social media profiles generally give you creative control of the messaging. Therefore, you assume full responsibility for what is posted. Be mindful of what you have posted on these channels, as your views may have changed over time and something you wrote in the past may not accurately reflect your opinion today. It’s helpful to go back through and update your messaging to ensure accuracy and remove the possibility of something being misinterpreted. Inappropriate photos or a particularly impolite tweet could give a potential employer the wrong impression before you even sit down for an interview.

Convey Your Experience

Some platforms are actually designed to help professionals highlight their skills and experience and connect with colleagues and potential employers; LinkedIn is a great example. LinkedIn is more professional compared to Facebook and it is users focus more on sharing industry-related articles as opposed to content that is more personal. Therefore, it can be a more useful and trusted resource for employers. Aside from job experience and skills, LinkedIn also allows users to post long-form content, providing an opportunity for professionals to give their opinions on industry trends and share projects they have completed. By hosting an individual’s professional background and skill set in one, easily searchable location, LinkedIn is changing the way employers research and recruit future employees.

Showcase Your Work

In addition to highlighting your professional background, it may also be beneficial to provide examples of your work. A variety of platforms exist to showcase writing, design and development skills, depending on your industry. The importance of showcasing your work will vary based on which industry you are in. Content like this, combined with a comprehensive look at your education and professional experience, can help give a potential employer a clear understanding of your qualifications for a job opening.

When it comes to shaping your professional image, it’s no longer a question of why establish an online presence, but when. It is important to market yourself online just as you would in person. Consider what a potential employer would want to know about you, and then use this information to fill those voids online.