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Five tips to strengthen your online brand for the professional world

Students can use social media to strengthen their professional online presence and bolster their chances of landing a co-op or full-time job, says Mike Ariale, assistant director for social media outreach in Northeastern University’s Career Development office. Here, Ariale offers advice on how students can leverage these opportunities.

Mind your social image
Ariale points to a 2014 Jobvite recruiting survey, which found that 93 percent of recruiters say they review candidates’ social media brands before making a hiring decision—and more than half of those recruiters say they’ve reconsidered hiring someone based on what they’ve found online.

“It’s important that students know what’s out there about themselves,” Ariale says. He advises students to review the privacy settings on their social media accounts and to Google themselves to see if they’re comfortable with what the results say about them as job candidates. He also suggests checking out a Web tool called Reppler, which allows users to monitor their social image across all their social media accounts.

Engage with other brands to build your own
“When employers are reviewing your online presence, they are looking for professionalism and a culture fit,” Ariale says. He advises students to build up their LinkedIn pages—Northeastern offers workshops to help with this, but more on that later—and to consider starting a blog where they can present more about themselves and their professional interests.

Part of building that brand, Ariale says, is to follow and interact with people and organizations on social media. He suggests finding people you look up to in the industry and then engaging with them on social media—whether it’s sharing or retweeting their content or responding to their posts.

Ariale says following and engaging with a company on social media—particularly one you’re interested in working for—is also a great way to learn more about that organization. “Seeing what a company is posting on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn may give you more insight into the company than going to its website,” he says. “If you’re being considered for a position there, the hiring manager may also notice that you’re retweeting their stuff, and it shows you’re an engaged job candidate.”

When employers are reviewing your online presence, they are looking for professionalism and a culture fit.
— Mike Ariale

The power of LinkedIn
Ariale says that many students are initially surprised to learn how much using LinkedIn can help them stand out from the pack. “One thing we tell students as they’re creating their LinkedIn pages is to think of it as a personal portfolio,” he says. “It’s a central hub for an employer to find out more about you—not only your work experience, but your social media accounts and blogs too.”

Students don’t have to pay for the premium service, either, Ariale adds. “LinkedIn’s basic subscription is free and offers students pretty much everything they’ll need at this stage,” he says.

LinkedIn, like other social media platforms, can be a great networking tool as well, he says. But he advises that if students find someone they’d like to connect with—be it to inquire about applying for a job or to learn more about that person’s industry—that they always let that person know how they found them, whether it be via LinkedIn, Facebook, or another platform. “The connection should be brief,” he adds.

One thing we tell students as they’re creating their LinkedIn pages is to think of it as a personal portfolio. It’s a central hub for an employer to find out more about you—not only your work experience, but your social media accounts and blogs too.
— Mike Ariale

Don’t miss these campus workshops
Students can go to the NUCareers website to sign up for a variety of workshops offered by Career Development, and the entire Spring 2016 calendar of events can be found here. The office offers three LinkedIn workshops: LinkedIn 1 is a beginners workshop for setting up an account and learning the basics; LinkedIn 2 is designed to help use the platform as a networking tool; and LinkedIn 3 focuses on taking a profile to the next level and building it as a personal portfolio.

The office also hosts “All That Twitters Is Not Gold” workshops, where students can learn about what employers are actually looking for when Googling them and how to take control of their online image and use it to their advantage in the job search. “This is a really interactive workshop, where students can talk with our staff and each other about building a professional brand,” Ariale said.

Chat in person or online
Ariale also suggests that students take advantage of the office’s walk-in hours and follow Career Development on social media—Facebook (including the Graduate Student Career Development Facebook page), Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram—to learn more about career advice and events.