Your Professional Online Profile
Things have changed since the rise of the internet and they continue to change. At one point you would open the Yellow Pages when you needed something but today you simply search for it online. The companies with the best online presence will have the greatest chance of getting your attention. If I see a company out there and they do not have a website, I am less persuaded to give them my business. The same goes for an individual trying to appeal to an employer. You need to sell yourself just as companies sell themselves to the consumer. Your paper resume is like Yellow Pages: you still need it. But in order to stay current and competitive, you need to move to the new medium. You need a professional profile on the internet.
There are many advantages to having a professional online profile. It will give you a leg up when looking for a job. Even though an online profile is becoming more and more popular, it is still not the norm. If you are one of the few applicants that have an online presence then you will have a greater chance at landing the position.
In addition to helping you apply for jobs, an online presence will allow employers to come to you. Many companies use the internet for recruitment and they will only be able to find potential employees with an online presence. Aside from this advantage, your site will be open for business 24 /7, with little or no effort from you. Even though you are sleeping your resume is still out there working for you. Having a resume online will allow you to reach a global audience and may lead to opportunities you did not expect.
When developing an online presence the most important thing to remember is this: keep your personal online presence private and have a separate location for your professional profile. Double-check the privacy settings on your Facebook account so you don't share personal life details with potential employers.
Once you've locked down your personal details, you're ready to develop a professional profile. Consider beginning with Linked In ( www.linkedin.com ). This online networking tool is fast to sign up for, easy to use and free. Once you are all set up you can make your page look like a resume. The site also allows you to network with other professionals using the "connections" feature. Even if you are not planning on immersing yourself in the social networking aspect of the site, keep a profile page to house your resume.
Linked In is a great resource but if you want to impress the computer Computer science Science industry you need your own website. The first step in this process is securing a domain. There are many ways to get a domain, and there are even some free options. Most ISPs provide a webspace. For example, in Manitoba both Shaw and MTS provide a domain for their customers. The clear advantage of using your ISP's webspace is the price: it's already included with your internet service. But there are a few drawbacks. One drawback is the limited size per webspace account. If you want to have a lot of media on your site then you could run into trouble. You could link many webspaces together to increase the size, but the URLs will start to look messy. This brings up the next disadvantage which is the limited URLs you have access to. This can be a problem as people are more impressed with a website in the format of www.yourname.com .
Another solution is to register your own domain name. You can think of this as an investment as many common personal domain names will become scarce and valuable assets. Most common first and last names have already been registered but if you act quickly you may be able to get your name or some variation of it. In addition to your own domain, most come with personal email addresses. It looks very professional when your correspondence uses email@example.com as opposed to something like firstname.lastname@example.org .
There are many places you can go to register a domain and a really popular one today is Go Daddy ( www.godaddy.com ). For about $15 a year you can get your own personalized domain and email address. The price changes depending on the features and the top-level domain (e.g.: .ca is cheaper than .com). If you register for your own domain you can host a very professional looking website which doesn't have the same restrictions as, for example, Shaw Webspace.
Once you have your own domain there are several tools you can use to develop your site. You should research popular web-design programs. And don't forget there are some great online development tools if you don't want to invest days learning a program like Dreamweaver.
Once you have your site up and running you will want it to stand out over other profiles. One feature that will help you do this is the video resume. It is not actually your resume but a quick video snap-shot of who you are and what value you bring to your profession. Making a top-rate video will grab recruiters' attention and give them something to listen to while browsing your site. Video resumes are becoming more popular and will compliment your profile nicely. An example of a well-done profile with an embedded video resume can be found at http://www.firedupcareers.com/eFolios/leila.htm .
Regardless of which route you decide to take I highly suggest getting something out there on the internet. Making your profile now will allow it to grow as you do. As you work your way through school you will do some pretty amazing projects which you can publish on your website. Then, when it comes time to look for work, you will have a mature, professional online profile.