6 Ways to Build a Professional Presence Online Without Giving Up Your Privacy
It is no secret that your resume is not the only thing that potential employers look at.
The majority of employers not only look up job candidates online, but are also looking for specific types of content to help them make hiring decisions. While they do pay attention to problematic content (such as photos displaying inappropriate behavior), most HR managers are also searching for evidence that you are actually qualified for the job.
Your digital reputation can thus break or make your chances at your dream job.
Most people are, of course, already aware of this fact. After all, the Internet is filled with various blogs, courses, think pieces, and even services aimed at developing a professional online image.
But what does this mean for privacy? If everything you do (or don’t do) online is potentially scrutinized, how do you balance your online presence with your privacy? How can you ensure you have a professional presence online for potential employers and customers to view, but still keep your personal life private?
While it may take some time to fully find that balance, it will be well worth it. To get you started, here are six ways to start building up a digital presence while safeguarding your privacy.
1. Do some freelance or volunteer work
If you are looking to build your reputation online and make some money while you do it, freelancing is the way to go.
By joining freelancing sites like Upwork or Fiver, you can create a space where your expertise is on display. The more work you do and customers rate it, the more attention your profile will get, and the more positive (and professional!) your online reputation will become.
Even if you work a stable 9-to-5 and are not in need of the extra cash, freelancing has its benefits. It can help you expand your business network, practice new skills, and diversify your portfolio. In fact, if you have job security, freelancing can be a rather low-stress way to build up your professional image online over time and separate it from your personal life.
Alternatively (or perhaps even at the same time), you can explore volunteer opportunities. While you probably will not get any monetary compensation for your work, you still get the benefits of networking and skill acquisition. Plus, you can give back to a cause you are passionate about and actively demonstrate your interests outside of your career without having to share too much personal information.
2. Write blogs and article
Don’t have time to dedicate to freelancing or volunteering? Write an article or start a blog!
Simply pick a topic related to your career field and write about it. Explain a complicated topic or help newbies out with the basics. Share your experiences in completing a project or write about the mistakes you made in trying to teach yourself a new skill.
Worried that you are not experienced or knowledgeable enough to write an article? Sharing your experiences and teaching others can be a wonderful way to combat imposter syndrome. Moreover, even just demonstrating your interest in particular field, such as through book reviews, will prove that you are someone who is always looking to grow and learn.
As an added bonus, writing articles on particular platforms can help you direct people to particular places where they can learn more about you. For example, writing articles on LinkedIn can help you expand your network by increasing the number of people who view your profile. Similarly, by blogging on your own website, you can make sure more people view the resume you include on your website.
This means more eyes on your professional work and less on your private accounts.
3. Build a digital portfolio
Fortunately, having an online portfolio can also help you maintain your privacy.
Since 58% of employers are actively seeking proof of your qualifications online, actively presenting this information means highlighting your professional side and drawing attention away from your personal social media activity.
Additionally, if you choose to create a website portfolio, you can set it up as yourname.com. Most likely, search engines will then display your website as the top result for searches of your name.
Setting up a website this way will also allow you to create an email with the same domain. This can help you look more professional and protect your privacy by hiding your personal email from the public eye.
4. Create separate public social media accounts
Fake social media accounts are not uncommon. We all have that one friend who uses a fake name on social media. Around the time university applications are due, many high school students change their names to aliases.
But while using fake names on social media will not necessarily protect your privacy, creating separate social media accounts for private and professional purposes can have its benefits.
For one, creating separate professional social media accounts is another great way to demonstrate your expertise and involvement in your field. It also helps further separate your private life from your professional life. HR managers can be satisfied in knowing you did not lie about your qualifications without digging deep into your online presence.
Keep in mind that you do not have to create a separate account on every social media network. In fact, this may look suspicious or strange. Instead, choose a few sites to create professional accounts for, such as Twitter, Reddit and LinkedIn. The rest can remain private.
5. Be selective about how you publicly engage with content online
Of course, creating a website or professional social media accounts will not necessarily stop HR managers from reviewing your personal social media accounts. That is why it is important to be conscious of how you publicly engage with content online.
Not only is it important to make sure you do not post very personal information publicly online, it is also a good idea to actively and publicly engage with professional content online.
While you probably want to keep your posts about your dating life or birthday celebration private, you should consider occasionally posting publicly about topics related to your industry or work. This could be as simple as a repost of an interesting news article about your field. The point is to have a digital footprint that is professional and positive.
If you are uncomfortable posting publicly on your personal page, you may want to explore posting in professional groups (e.g. Facebook or LinkedIn groups). That way, you demonstrate your involvement in particular communities without posting on your personal page.
Just do not forget that commenting on public page or in public groups is viewable to everyone. There is some content you probably just should not publicly engage with.
6. Change up your usernames
How many different usernames do you regularly use? If you are like most people, you probably have one or two main usernames that you actively re-use on all websites.
However, re-using the same username everywhere can put your privacy at risk.
Re-using the same username all the time means that you are that much easier to track. In terms of employers, this means that an HR manager can also search you by your username. Depending on what type of sites you use that username on, this may mean bad news for your reputation.
Instead, you should consider creating separate usernames for professional and personal purposes, just like with social media. Or better yet, change up your usernames regularly to further protect yourself from scammers.
However you choose to build up your professional image online, the important thing to remember is that you do not have to compromise your privacy. By taking a few extra precautions, you can demonstrate your expertise and keep your personal life private.
If you are interested in learning more about how to balance your professional life and personal privacy, as well as other ways to protect your privacy, take a moment to follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.