LinkedIn. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. There’s no shortage of opportunities for students and fresh graduates alike to establish their personal brand online.
There’s also no shortage of opportunities for them to embarrass themselves. What a lot of people forget is that when you post something on the Internet, it’s there forever. Stupid tweets, embarrassing Instagram photos, inflammatory Facebook posts…these are all things that have gotten people fired from their jobs or worse.
Never mind the fact that employers very much examine the social media accounts of prospective hires – we’re even seeing them increasingly hire candidates through social networks.
Where we’re going with this is simple. The job market these days is highly competitive, and you need to take the necessary steps to make yourself as attractive a candidate as possible. A big part of that involves curating your online presence so it reflects exactly the sort of professional you want to be.
Much of that can be taken care of on social media. Scrubbing embarrassing content so it can’t be seen by employers. Setting up a LinkedIn profile complete with endorsements and a thorough work history. Signing up for web hosting.
Yes, you read that last one right. If you’re looking for a job, you want to stand out. A well-designed, professional-looking website is a perfect way to do so. This is especially true if you’re in a creative field like marketing or graphic design.
In that case, you aren’t just creating a website. You’re building an online portfolio, complete with a body of rapidly-growing work. That looks way better than a stack of papers shoved into a manila folder, or an attachment-laden email.
Even better, if you play your cards right, your website can be more than a portal for prospective employers to learn more about you. It can end up being a business opportunity on its own. You can build an audience of dedicated readers by sharing your expertise.
You can generate advertising and affiliate marketing opportunities. You can sell products and services through a digital storefront. You can potentially kickstart your career before you even graduate, and earn some valuable experience in the process.
Basically, there are a ton of benefits to maintaining a website as a student, and very few drawbacks.
A lot of people don’t realize just how public the Internet really is. They treat it as their own private social club, saying and doing whatever they want, heedless of the consequences. There’s certainly still a place for that, of course – but if you’re a student who’s serious about finding a decent career after graduation, there’s no time like the present for you to start curating your online presence.
You can still enjoy yourself, of course – but keeping a squeaky-clean public profile and maintaining a professional website can help ensure that doing so won’t put your future at risk.