Owning Your Future – Developing Your Career In The New World Part 2

Developing your online presence post-Covid

We continue from part 1 of our recent collaboration on CIH’s Owning Your Future 2020 series, Developing Your Career in the New World, where Dan Short and Barry Forsythe discussed the current industry landscape and jobs market post-Covid, and how candidates and organisations are adapting to the changing market trends.

In part 2, Alma Sheren, Greenacre’s Marketing and Comms Lead, offers insight and advice on creating, developing and maintaining your online presence, carving an individual online space to stand out from the crowd, navigate the post-Covid jobs market effectively, and stay ahead of the competition.

At least for the foreseeable future, much of our interactions with prospective employers, partners and professional peers will be happening remotely. Whereas before we would be filling our diaries with different face to face meeting and networking events, 2020 has thrust us into the world of online professional dating, and with it a whole new set of skills and engagement tools are required in order develop ourselves professionally. Establishing and maintaining a virtual presence has become an essential tool to ensure you are not left behind, and it’s important you create an effective online profile that aligns with your professional goals, reflecting your strengths and values to those who matter.

What do we mean by a personal online brand?

Much like a company brand, what we put out about our professional selves online and on social media is really important, as it will not only affect how we are perceived by key industry peers, but can help us identify and take advantage of professional opportunities. It’s  imperative that we make sure we are clear about how we want to be seen in the online professional world, that we are giving the best impression, and doing it consistently.

Here’s a fun fact: nearly 90% of recruiters currently use LinkedIn to vet their potential candidates when assessing whether to consider them for a role. Other social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram are also now being used more than ever as a tool for communicating with candidates, customers, clients and potential partners, so it is important you make your professional virtual presence a top priority, especially as nearly everyone post Covid is currently living at least a portion of their professional lives online.

Start by defining your goals

Work out where you want to be in your career over the next couple of milestones. Does your online presence reflect this? Are you connecting with key influencers and bridge makers that can make your goals happen? Which organisations are you engaging with that align with your personal values? These are the first essential questions you need to ask yourself.

The Don’ts

Once you’ve set out your goals, ensure the main platforms you are engaging on are up to date and reflect how you wish to be seen and your career development aims. Your LinkedIn profile will probably the most influential, so make sure it is current and up to date. Here are a few things recruiters will be put off by:

  • Incomplete profiles – Your LinkedIn page is not your CV, but it is a useful extension to your CV, so it should stand out and be engaging. If you haven’t made the effort to keep your page updated with your current details, any recent projects you’ve been involved with and your current professional role then you won’t come across as someone who is switched on, active or present. Just as in real life you would not turn up to work without your trousers, make sure you don’t show up professionally online only half dressed!
  • Lack of engagement – LinkedIn shows not only who you are connected to, but also who you are engaging with, in your activities section. If you’ve not been actively engaging with your network, then, effectively, who even are you?
  • Unprofessional profile pictures – Much like when you turn up to an interview, you’re going to make a much better impression if you look the part, and look smart, reflecting the type of role you want to be seen in. Very few people can carry off that ‘selfie you took at a party with a big drunk grin’ on their professional profile, and it’s really worth investing in either a professional headshot, or even using a smart phone that can create a profile image that will give you a professional appearance.
  • A copy and paste of your CV – You want your online profile to be current, up to date and to the point, nobody wants to read a full copy of your CV, or even worse, a copy and paste of your current job description. Don’t use any ‘jargon’ or buzz words either, as these are a real turn off and can create a bad impression. Just be authentic and showcase any projects and parts of your professional journey that reflect your key strengths and interests rather than a complete list of duties.

The Do’s

So those are some of the turn offs, but how do you make the best impression and stand out amongst the crowd? Here are my Top Ten:

  1. Firstly, its essential to brush up on your communications skills, no matter how great you are at face to face communication and how senior your current position, you may find you come across very differently remotely. Ask for feedback, and, if necessary, you may wish to enlist the help of a coach to help you put yourself across in your best, most authentic way. Many established and up and coming industry leaders swear by this development tool to help them engage effectively with staff, potential collaborators and their wider network online.
  2. Build and Engage with your network – You should be regularly chalking out a bit of time each week connecting across different social media platforms with people in your industry. Look out for key players having the important conversations and don’t be afraid to connect and join the conversations they are having or start one up yourself. Calls to action are great ways to attract and build engagement from your wider network.
  3. Try out different ways of communicating with your network, through LinkedIn, Twitter, even Facebook and Instagram, if this is where portions of your key contacts are engaging. Even if you are very busy it’s important to carve out a bit of time each day or week to engage with your potential audience and keep yourself on the public radar. Using a scheduling app to post regular content can help you manage your time effectively.
  4. Videos are another scary prospect for many but attract huge online reach and are becoming a really great way of grabbing attention from your network and usually get a lot more engagement than simple two-dimensional posts. Adding hashtags gets even more traction, and hashtagging key words can help build your reach to those with interests similar to your posts.
  5. Promote your values – Ensure what you are putting out there is consistent and shows your value as an industry player. In other words, what are you passionate about, how can this be promoted to put you forward in the best light and show you are an engaged professional and have shared values with your network?
  6.  Align your content to your desired professional environment – It’s not just about self-promotion, it’s about aligning your online presence to the professional environment you feel best suits you. Be clear on what unique value you possess, what sets you apart from others, what are your strengths, your passions, and your goals? Which organisations do you align with?
  7. The place you ultimately want to end up professionally should always be in mind. If your passion lies in Tenant Engagement or Asset Management for example, and you are hoping to attain a role at a specific level in that environment, how can you promote yourself online to attract this?
  8. Be stealthy – You are five times more likely to be accepted as a connection on LinkedIn if you send a short intro message, and the best time to send an InMail is between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on a weekday, to statistically have the highest change of a positive response. Use your online time effectively.
  9. Get involved in webinars and other online collaborations. Make sure you are visible by actively attending and engaging with online events. In the real world you will ideally be showing up at events and volunteering to take part in joint projects to get you noticed and this should be no different in the online world. You’d be surprised how many candidates get introduced to their future employers through key interactions online. In the new virtual business world this is more important than ever.
  10. Feel the fear and do it anyway – Everything seems scary when we are forced to travel outside our comfort zone, and even the most senior professional in your industry will be having to adapt to these changing circumstances and likely feeling some level of anxiety as we all transition into a more remote-led professional existence.

Although you may have had to transfer much of your professional activities online, don’t let this put you off your career development goals. If you keep taking consistent steps towards your desired destination, check regularly you are aligning with your objectives, engage with your network and remain committed to developing your online presence, success in reaching your career development goals should not be out of reach, and you’ll be building some great new contacts and learning some essential skills along the way.


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