10 steps to creating an authentic online professional profile

Nowadays social media is ubiquitous and serves as a platform for personal as well as professional networking. Whereas the recruitment process used to involve a CV and an interview, today users’ online presence comes into play, and the CV becomes the final stage in the process rather than the first. Even the numbers point towards this direction with 93% of recruiters stating that they will review a candidate’s social profile before making a hiring decision  (Jobvite).

The most popular professional networking platform is LinkedIn, with over 400 million members.  As illustrated in Figure 1, recruiters are extremely fond of LinkedIn, whereas job seekers seem to be more active on Facebook.

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Figure 1-Statistics from Jobvite

In this podcast, LinkedIn specialist Sarah Santacroce, underlines the importance of this specific platform. She states that it has a particular purpose, which is to connect with other people in business and to offer services. It’s not about selling products; Facebook or Pinterest would be more suitable for this purpose. Thus, digital portfolios are more relevant for some types of jobs than others, and different platforms serve different purposes.  It is evident, however, that having an online presence is considered beneficial by most recruiters. A healthy social presence also improves search engine optimization, which is of great importance seeing as 30% of Google searches are related to employment.


Developing an authentic online professional profile is not an overnight achievement. It takes careful planning, maintaining and networking in order to create a successful profile. Users will most likely be required to act more as “digital residents” in order to keep their profile up to date. However, one must start somewhere, so after doing some research I have gathered the main tips on how to create an authentic online professional profile. This is primarily based on LinkedIn as it is the most used professional networking platform by recruiters. I was also lucky enough to attend a LinkedIn workshop which was held on campus, where I was given great feedback on my own profile. So without further ado here are 10 steps to building a successful professional profile:

  1. Google yourself and make sure your digital footprint is acceptable. Remove any inappropriate content.


 Image Source: Jobvite 

2. Network by sending a personal message to people you wish to connect with. Reach out to people you have previously worked with and ask them to recommend and/or endorse you. Remember to also do the same for them.

3. Join relevant groups and follow people you look up to in the industry you are interested in.

4. Link your twitter account and personal blog to your profile. Make sure you do not have any inappropriate tweets like Justine Sacco. Your personal blog can demonstrate your creativity and can verify your authenticity.

5. Upload a professional looking picture, preferably with a neutral background. It should portray what you would look like in a job interview. No selfies or overly dressed up pictures allowed.

6. Include a professional summary where you summarise information on your current situation, qualifications, interests and your desired next step. Ideally somewhere between 150 and 300 words targeted towards the role of interest. Remember to keep it authentic by adding your personal touch. For some examples click here.

7. Add projects and certificates with links to them. You can also include the members that worked on the project with you, thus making it more likely for them to endorse you.

8. When stating your previous work or volunteering experience, make sure to include the transferable skills that you gained. This is crucial as employers may use these skills as key-words in their search for potential candidates.

9. Include your phone number and email address so recruiters know how to contact you.

10. Don’t go overboard! Make sure you only promote what you do best, in the right places. Sometimes saying too much can put off a potential employer.


5 Templates That’ll Make Writing the Perfect LinkedIn Summary a Breeze. (2016). Themuse.com. Retrieved 8 March 2016, from https://www.themuse.com/advice/5-templates-thatll-make-writing-the-perfect-linkedin-summary-a-breeze

(2016). Retrieved 9 March 2016, from https://www.jobvite.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Jobvite_SocialRecruiting_Survey2014.pdf

(2016). Socialmeep.com. Retrieved 9 March 2016, from http://socialmeep.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/social-recruiting-pocket-guide_infographics.png

Building online professional profile. (2016). Slideshare.net. Retrieved 9 March 2016, from http://www.slideshare.net/lisaharris/building-online-professional-profile

How blogging can help you get a job. (2014). TheEmployable. Retrieved 9 March 2016, from http://www.theemployable.com/index.php/2014/10/28/blogging-can-help-get-job/

Job hunting: How to promote yourself online – BBC News. (2016). BBC News. Retrieved 8 March 2016, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25217962

Jobvite Infographic: 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey. (2015). Jobvite. Retrieved 8 March 2016, from http://www.jobvite.com/resources/infographics/jobvite-infographic-2015-recruiter-nation-survey-2/

LinkedIn: numbers of members 2015 | Statistic. (2016). Statista. Retrieved 9 March 2016, from http://www.statista.com/statistics/274050/quarterly-numbers-of-linkedin-members/

Ronson, J. (2015). How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life. Nytimes.com. Retrieved 9 March 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html?_r=1

Santacroce, S. (2014). ‘Using LinkedIn the Right Way’ – Podcast – Simplicity. Simplicity. Retrieved 9 March 2016, from http://simplicitysmallbiz.com/2014/03/usinglinkedintherightway/

11 thoughts on “10 steps to creating an authentic online professional profile

  1. vickygilson says:

    Hi Melinda. I enjoyed reading your 10 steps, it definitely gave me something to think about on how I can improve my online professionalism. Persoanlly I have my facebook settings set quite high so as for it to appear as my “social profile” and my LinkedIn to appear as my “professional” profile. If I do have pictures of me having fun, I would obviously share these on Facebook or maybe even twitter because these are memories that I wish to share with my friends. I do think however that employers can be quite “invasive” if they’re seeking out my facebook to find out what else I get up to. I’m obviously not going to post a photo of myself studying or posing at the library looking “inspired”.

    On the JobVite survey, they reported that 55% of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate based on their social profiles. Do you think employers have the right to “judge” social profiles? Or do you think they should invest their time in doing something else more practical/pragmatic like actual assessment days?


    • melinalinden says:

      Hi vicky! Thank you for your comment (its Melina btw 😜) The way I see it, social recruitment is cost-effective. Setting up assessment days would be costly and time consuming. Do they have the right to “judge” social profiles? Don’t we all “judge” anyway? Trying to see it from a recruiter’s point of view, looking at someone’s social profile can give more insight on what the candidate is like. Obviously recruiters do not base their entire decision on social media, but I believe it serves as a good indicator and can facilitate the recruitment process 🙂


  2. Tom Leese says:

    Hi Melina! I really liked your blog post, especially the ten steps. It gives a really clear outline of exactly what you should do to make sure your profile is professional and authentic. What do you think about using other social networks as well as LinkedIn? I know you talked a bit about the digital portfolio, but seeing at 60% of employers also look at Facebook and Twitter, it could be just as important as LinkedIn, and yet those sites don’t really encourage you to make your profile as professional as possible.


    • melinalinden says:

      Hi Tom! You make a very good point. I primarily based my tips on LinkedIn as it is the most popular platform amongst recruiters, but you are very right is saying that they use facebook as well. I believe other social networks can be very helpful in the recruitment process too, as long as the user is aware of the privacy settings and is careful not to share inappropriate content. I specifically think twitter can be beneficial as you can follow people you look up to in your industry of choice, thus staying in the loop 🙂


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