Preparing for the world of work: Creating a digital profile
27 February 2017
As a student, you work towards a career that would enable you to meet your life goals – whether professionally or personally and although this is just one step towards the perfect opportunity to turn our career dreams into reality, the process requires a lot of preparation. You have to create an identity that is attractive to prospective employers. Changes in the job market occur frequently, and keeping up with the knowledge and skills required for entry-level positions is crucial to building the career you want and keeping your career goals in sight.
Prof Gené van Heerden from the Department of Marketing Management at the University of Pretoria calls this process your 'personal brand strategy'. It entails aligning your knowledge, experience and skills with prospective employers, developing a professional CV, and managing your social media profiles.
You have to familiarise yourself with the various positions and roles available, and properly prepare for what lies ahead. Positioning yourself ideally and presenting a competitive, yet professional image to employers requires time, effort and energy.
'When you position yourself, you need to develop a message that will appeal to your audience in a positive way. Preparing for your career, your personal message about your knowledge, skills and experience should be used in a creative way to illustrate how you will add value,' says Prof Van Heerden.
You can properly engage with prospective employers if you understand their needs and requirements and align your abilities accordingly. Submitting a CV is one means of communication whereby you present yourself as a potential employee.
Digital platforms have recently made a huge impact on how we present ourselves. We spend a lot of time online – particularly on our phones – and much of that time is dedicated to social media activities where we post, like, share and comment. Most social sites are based on sharing personal data. All these bits of information make up your digital identity and it is important to manage and align them with your personal brand in a way that supports a professional image.
'One of the most appropriate networking sites for helping you work towards and manage an entry-level position is LinkedIn,' says Prof Van Heerden.
LinkedIn is currently one of the largest professional networking platforms and primarily focuses on building professional networks online. As a student, LinkedIn offers you the opportunity to start building your professional identity and provides a step-by-step process to develop and manage your profile effectively. You can position and differentiate yourself in such a way as to draw the attention of prospective employers.
LinkedIn differs from other platforms in the types of activity and content shared. Presenting yourself professionally, linking with other professionals and following particular influencers in your area of interest, contribute greatly to your professional profile. This is critical when reflecting on the nature of activities you participate in on LinkedIn (and other platforms).
So, what can you do to manage your digital identity more effectively? Prof Van Heerden gives a few tips:
- Develop a good understanding of various digital platforms and make a concerted effort to monitor your identity accordingly.
- Be vigilant in reviewing your digital identity across all the platforms you use when applying for entry-level positions.
- Start developing your professional identity as soon as possible to assist you in managing your personal brand strategy.
- Align your needs and the requirements of the career you have always dreamed of. Your digital identity tells a story and sends a message about who you are.
- Take up further training to boost your skills and add to your portfolio of professional traits.
Technology has influenced the way we manage our lives in general and also our careers. Social media has created a space for us to present and connect with each another, but it has also created a number of challenges when it comes to managing our online identities.
It is your responsibility to start managing and updating your online profiles, setting your privacy settings and analysing your digital identity by critically reviewing the messages you send out. This can be done by considering why you use particular platforms and what your intentions or objectives are with each.
Register for the free online module in Digital Profiling, part of the Ready for Work campaign launching in March 2017 and presented by Career Services in collaboration with Enterprises University of Pretoria. Alternatively, start your personal brand strategy today with the Kick-start your professional network using LinkedIn short course. For more information, send an email to [email protected] or phone +27 (0)12 434 2500.
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Last edited by Sean BooysenEdit