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Online Profile

Employers are online and they use the internet to engage with, evaluate, and screen potential job candidates. Over 90% of recruiters will look up a candidate's social media profile on platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter before making a hiring decision. As a job seeker, you can no longer afford not to have an online presence or profile.

When creating a professional online profile, it is important to express your personal brand. What do you want to be known for? How do you want others to perceive you? Reflect on your skills, values, experiences, and qualifications to help you determine the components of your brand. Every time you interact with a contact in person or online, you are contributing to your personal brand. For your online presence, your brand will be conveyed through your content: text, images, videos and posts.

Manage your online presence and brand by staying active.  Make your profiles searchable by including keywords, and regularly updating your information with new experiences, skills, achievements, and credentials. Join and follow groups to share and receive the latest information related to your industry.

Different online platforms will have profile parameters that vary. However, the following sections are common profile requirements online:

Username / Handle

What's in a name? The username or handle that you select is a searchable tag that allows others to find your profile online. It is often what you distribute (e.g. a Twitter handle) or where you direct people. To help maintain a consistent personal brand, choose a professional username that you can ideally use across different social media platforms. Ideas include using your:

  • First and last name; if you have a popular name, include your middle name, use initials, and/or include a number

  • Company name

  • Industry-related nickname or online pen name. For example, "EcoFriendly_Dan" or "MarketingMaverick15"

Profile Photo

Having a photograph or headshot puts a "face" to your profile, and increases the likelihood that your profile will be viewed. For your profile photo, upload a professional looking headshot of yourself and use a high resolution .jpg or .png image taken with a DSLR camera.

Dress professionally for your target industry, and remember to smile! Your profile photo should allow a viewer to clearly see your face and the top of your shoulders/clothing, but not your entire torso. To prevent your image from looking like a passport photo, add dimension by slightly turning or angling your head or shoulders. Avoid very dark or busy backgrounds, and do not use a photo that is cropped from a group shot. For personal branding purposes, consider using the same professional photo for your different online profiles.

Dress Options

  • Men: Suit jacket or sweater or vest, dress shirt, tie (solid colour or minimal pattern) — depending on your target industry

  • Women: Tailored jacket, blouse or dress shirt — depending on your target industry

  • Solid, mid-tone coloured shirt (e.g. blue, green, brown, etc.)

Dress Options to Avoid

  • Busy patterns

  • Neon colours

  • Colours close to your flesh tone

  • Wearing a white shirt on its own (if wearing white, consider pairing it with a dark suit jacket)

  • Strapless dresses or revealing tops

Hair / Accessories / Makeup

  • Keep your hair natural-looking, frizz-free, simple, and clean

  • Men: Clean shaven or nicely trimmed, if you prefer facial hair

  • Women: Avoid excessive amounts of jewelry and/or makeup, as well as overly glossy or shimmery makeup (it will catch the light and be distracting)

Background Photo

A picture is worth a thousand words. Many online profiles will allow you to include a background or header image. Be strategic — use this space to upload an image that represents your personal brand and/or the field that you wish to enter. Some ideas and examples:

  • Upload a photo of you demonstrating a skill that is important to your field (e.g. You delivering a presentation to a group)

  • Industry-related image (e.g. An image of a keyboard for individuals in computer science)

  • Generate a word cloud containing keywords from your target industry

  • Use a company logo or design (if you are an entrepreneur or freelancer)

Headline / Tagline

Online profiles will typically have a section for a short headline or tagline about you. These fields often have a character limit. For instance:

  • LinkedIn headline = 120 characters

  • Twitter bio = 160 characters

Headlines are a fantastic, quick-hit personal branding opportunity. Maximize your character limit by adding industry keywords, your position/role, and professional or personal interests to showcase your abilities and personality.

Summary / About Section

Your summary or about section (i.e. on your personal website or blog) should provide an overview of who you are as a professional and individual. You can come across as more personal to your audience by writing this section in first person. The summary should clearly articulate your personal brand and encourage others to continue reading your profile.

  • Highlight relevant experiences, skills / strengths, qualifications, achievements

  • Include industry keywords

  • Indicate field-related interests and career goals

  • State your “specialties” — indicate core skills and strengths that set you apart, and demonstrate your potential value
Updates & Posts

Updates and posts can help support your personal brand and can indicate your availability, career goals, and new training or qualifications. Apply the 80/20 rule when sharing information — 80% of your updates should help others while 20% can be self-promotional. Keeping your network informed about your job search is a good thing, but avoid over posting about looking for work.

Vanity URL

On most websites, you can change the default URL to a customized or "vanity" URL. To maintain consistent branding, use your username or handle for your vanity URL. If you would like, you can share your newly-claimed URL through your email signature, resume, business card, and other online profiles (i.e. especially for LinkedIn, Twitter, personal websites).


E.g.) LinkedIn

Default URL =

Vanity URL =


If you have a profile on LinkedIn or Magnet, check out the one to one appointments for 'Online Profile Advising' available with a Resume & Online Profile Advisor at the Career & Co-op Centre, and learn how to make your profile effective and how to network with employers.

For more tips, read: 'Building Your Profile - Online & Hard Copy' in CAREER COMPASS

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