Exploring Online Identity Through LinkedIn

Picture on linkedin logo with people in front of it
A realistic portrayal of my LinkedIn experience
I'm about as good at operating LinkedIn as my grandmother is at using Facebook. To put it simply, I'm not the best at LinkedIn, which is why I attended the LinkedIn Lab workshop at the Career Centre. I recently made a profile a few months ago when I realized that building an online brand is extremely important when finding a job. It's kind of unfortunate: young professionals nowadays need a solid resume, a unique LinkedIn profile, a blog, and a good online footprint in order to get a job, while other professionals who didn't grow up with the Internet just needed a good resume. One of the first topics we touched on at the workshop was building an online brand. As an exercise, we paired up with another person in the group, and we googled each other. Surprisingly, I found this exercise the most insightful one we did at the workshop, even though it didn't directly deal with LinkedIn, because it made me reflect on my online identity. By googling another student (aka a non-famous person) for the first time, I felt like I was put in the shoes of an employer. In a world where your online footprint is so vital to standing out amongst other professionals, as an employer, I'm not sure if I would have picked my partner from a pool of candidates. This made me reflect on my own online footprint: did I have enough content popping up when my name was googled? And was this good content that showed my skills and interests? Luckily, the career educator leading the workshop recommended that we start blogs to show our personalities and skills that a resume might not convey. She also recommended that we use keywords in our LinkedIn profiles so that employers can quickly find them. In summary, a good online brand should show your interests, skills, and goals. I think a good way to build my own brand is through a(nother) blog. It would directly convey my writing skills and relevant interests to employers, which would perhaps organically convey some of my other skills and goals. Once exams end, I'll make starting a blog part of my summer career goals. But for now, my current career goal is to perfect my LinkedIn profile. The rest of the workshop was about how to use LinkedIn, and some tips for making the most out of it. Since I had previously used LinkedIn, this part of the workshop wasn't that helpful to me. But I did find some of the tips insightful. At first, I tried to make my LinkedIn profile super professional. But as we discussed in the workshop, your social media should convey your personality and interests--aspects of yourself that aren't usually shown in a resume. During the workshop, we were shown creative and/or humorous LinkedIn headlines and summaries, which stood out to me way more than my own headline and summary. As a young professional building her professional identity, I'm still unsure of how much of my personality I should inject into workplace interactions, both online and off. I usually try to keep reserved and professional when it comes to interviews and networking, but I'm starting to rethink that approach. As competition grows more and more intense for positions as I move up in my career, sometimes showing your personality or sense of humour can distinguish you from another candidates. Throughout my career, it's also been drilled into me that employers are cold, no-nonsense dictators, when in actuality, all of them are people with a sense of humour. I'm still trying to figure out and build my professional identity both online and off. Through my LinkedIn account (and other potential online content, like a personal blog), I'll hopefully be able to communicate my skills and interests to employers, while also conveying my personality and making an impact.

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