Professional online profiles, how can we get it right?

How is the job market changing with new technology? What does that mean for my own career? These days it seems that a job search is as much about LinkedIn and Twitter as it is about CV and cover letter. Therefore, it’s vital that your professional identity is reflected on the Web. Here are some thoughts that’ll help you maximise your potential online.

Relationships > spam

A LinkedIn message I received recently, would you reply? (own creation)

When we use the Web professionally, it’s often to achieve something like a new job. If that’s the only time you use it, people know you’re after something. For example, as I’m a final year student, I’m fairly frequently sent job descriptions from recruiters, which I’m
likely to ignore (see a rather more opinionated piece by Zeller 2014).Instead, why not use the web to build longer term relationships? Recently I’ve been conducting research for my dissertation. As I’d build up my network previously, I was able to ‘activate’ it and generate an impressive response.

The response to my post on LinkedIn for my dissertation (own creation). Notice that most of the views came from my network sharing to theirs.

Take the long view

This is not an easy thing to achieve. Building and maintaining a network requires time and effort. All of the time you should making a conscious effort to add people to your network and maintaining existing relationships (see Don Tapscott 2014 for more detail about this). However, whenever it’s needed your network will pay dividends in unexpected expertise and insight. You might not even need to use your network, they might find you!

Differentiate yourself

What makes you, you? It’s a cliché but very relevant to your professional self. For example, I’m an undergraduate student, there’s 1.75 million of us (Universities UK n.d.). At the University of Southampton? 17,485 (Higher Education Statistics Agency, 2016). Studying Web Science? Around 20.

The point here is to understand what makes you unique. Give reasons why someone should become part of your network. What interesting projects have you worked on? What causes are you passionate about? In essence, why should they spend time on you? Take a look at some ideas William Arruda (2015) has for standing out. The answers to these questions are what your online profile should focus on.

Years to build a reputation, seconds to destroy it

Finally, a note of caution. You may have heard of the Justine Sacco case (for more background, see Ronson 2015, Pilkington 2013). In brief, she sent a racist tweet and became a worldwide sensation as her life was torn apart. My point from this example is that you have to be consistent and careful with your online profile. It only takes one tweet…

I hope these ideas are helpful to you. The key thing is to not give up, this is a long term process.

bullding a professional online profile
An infographic that sums up these ideas, why not share it with your network? (own creation)

Word count: 418


Arruda 2015 ‘10 Outstanding Ways To Stand Out In A Job Search’

Higher Education Statistics Agency 2016 ‘2015/16 Students by HE provider, level, mode and domicile’

Pilkington 2013 ‘Justine Sacco, PR executive fired over racist tweet, ‘ashamed’’

Ronson 2015 ‘How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life’

Tapscott 2014 ‘Five ways talent management must change’

Universities UK n.d. ‘Higher education in numbers’

Zeller 2014 ‘Stop the Recruiting Spam. Seriously.’


10 thoughts on “Professional online profiles, how can we get it right?

  1. Thank you for the useful l advice on using profiles in a professional manner. I have only recently realised how important a well considered online presence is to success in finding a job and progressing in the modern workplace. Do you think that more could be done to promote and bring equality in the use of online tools for a wider range of groups of job-seekers?


    1. Thanks for your comment and kind words baby boomer.

      I agree more could be done to promote equality in the use of online tools for professional purposes. Indeed, online tools are becoming more and more vital in many areas, not just for professional use (even those who are ‘digital visitors’ see Therefore, further education and skills development in digital technologies would be a worthwhile thing to do and would also help job-seekers.

      Also, you raise the range of groups who are seeking jobs. This suggests that such training should be provided at a range of life stages (school, university, job centre etc.) to ensure that every age can access the same information. Geographic and social-economic groups should be considered too, particularly those without access to the Web (i.e. remote and rural locations, or those without the resources to get online).

      I hope these ideas help, thanks again for your comment!



  2. Hi Mark,

    The key ways to create online profiles professional were explored well, particularly in the infographic: destroying reputations stood out, similar to points I discussed about online collective shaming, and how avoiding inauthenticity helps create authentic professional profiles.

    However, these key strategies do not appear to directly discuss authentic online professional profiles: I wondered why you believe these strategies will assist authenticity?

    You mentioned Zeller’s opinionated piece, seemingly implying identifying other profiles unauthentic content, such as inauthentic SPAM emails, makes your professional profile authentic.

    In previous comments, you mentioned more could be done to ensure recruiting tools provide equality, but imply content should be treated unequally (in automated selectivity through SPAM filtration). I wondered what your views were around whether filtering SPAM, effectively regulating inauthentic online e-mail profiles, creates authenticity inequality, or is this simply part-and-parcel of digital literacy skills, like information literacy, JISC outline:



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Wil,

      Thanks for the comment and kind words!

      I think that these approaches taken together create an authentic profile. It feels that if your aim is to make an authentic profile then you’re likely to seem inauthentic (i.e. emphasising some things and leaving others out) if you understand what I mean?

      With regards to the spam point, I was using such emails as an example. So if you were looking for a job I’d avoid doing similar things. I don’t think that pointing out such things makes you any more or less authentic, particularly as such activity is private. Do you think that this is a function of authenticity?

      Your point about inequality is interesting. My understanding is that access to such tools should be equal, i.e. that they can be leveraged by all ages, classes, geographies etc. However, this does not mean that they are all used in the same way. As you say, spam is part of the online experience, and dealing with it is required as part of using these platforms, professionally or not. As always, spam is very much a blight on the Web, and it’d be great if it didn’t exist. How do you think that these email profiles should be dealt with?

      Thanks again for the great comment.



      1. Hi Mark,

        Thanks for your reply and for comments on my blog:,

        I believe I understand what you mean; an authentic-inauthentic dyad spectrum, involving balancing activity, behaviour and engagement to appear authentic, is needed: highlighting how authentic balance is not just about quantitative content volume (discussed with Harriet regarding oversharing versus undersharing but also the qualitative nature of shared details, such as balancing professional versus personal content (per cases the BBC document where users have overshared and undershared professional details, against cases Ronson outlines around oversharing personal dimensions or undersharing important contextual detail:

        I think SPAM examples are useful, highlighting how authenticity can be constructed through content intended for positive responses (SPAM senders expect replies, as we discussed previously where Veitch responded to inauthentic SPAM job offers within a TED talk that shows how SPAM profiles maintain authenticity through propagated content trying to construct and demonstrate authenticity when actually inauthentic.

        Identifying other inauthentic content is an authenticity function, to ensure you do not become entangled in a Web of inauthenticity, as Bouckley outlines strategies through which inauthentic profiles can be avoided, to develop your profile towards authenticity. The Hydra example Zeller outlines is pertinent, cutting off one SPAM feed often creates two others.

        Debates around equal access and equal use involve distinguishing the two terms, hence why the House of Common library suggests a difference between ‘services [having] equal and open access’. I wonder, however, per discussions we have had within my blog around McLuhan, if shaping the medium (ways access is treated) will shape the message (ways we use platforms) evident in net neutrality debates:

        SPAM profiles could be dealt with through filters, but this is curative, not preventative: multiple profiles and identities could be constructed to work around this. SPAM could be prevented before sending, but this may prevent content erroneously considered as SPAM from being received Therefore, I believe a range of strategies can be in place, from filters, preventative mechanisms, to enhancing digital literacy globally to prevent SPAM profiles in the first place: I suspect such strategies will take a great deal of time to come to fruition.

        Thanks for your replies, I would be happy to provide a further elaboration, should you be interested?



        Liked by 1 person

  3. Para todos que estão a ser enganados e para alguns que se deixam ser enganados. O Senhor Jesus disse: "Vede que ninguém vos engane. Porque virão muitos em meu nome, dizendo: Eu sou o Cristo, e enganarão a muitos" Mateus 24,4 e 5. Disse mais: &q;u£oEntÃto, se alguns vos disser: Eis aqui o Cristo! Ou: Ei-lo ali! Não acrediteis; pois surgiram falsos cristos e falsos profetas… Marcos 13.21,22


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