The internet offers a wide range of opportunities to help you find work or a job that weren't possible in the past. While not everyone may want to be vocal and active online, it is still important to consider your online presence. You want your talents to be found, don't you?
A strong and professional online presence also can help you unlock opportunities you never would have otherwise known existed, and help you connect with other designers while you build your network. You never know when or how someone may discover your work, so it's also essential to connect the dots.
Let's break it down!
Create a professional profile on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is an international platform that features profiles of professionals across all industries, not just designers. In addition to being able to manage your own professional experience, activities, and professional contacts, LinkedIn is also a good place to look for jobs. You can change the status of your profile if you're looking for work, which allows you to search job listings, but also allows recruiters to discover you more easily.
When writing your profile, it may help you to look at others for inspiration. You'll quickly notice that some people put more effort into how they manage them. If you're looking for work, you definitely want to study polished, well thought out examples, that are very intentional in how they describe their work. That's what's going to help you land a job! Write about your experience in a way that will help get you noticed by recruiters, hiring managers, and other professionals in the industry.
Like with a résumé, the way you talk about your experience can be written in paragraph form (as long as it's clear and direct), or using bullet points. If you're working with bullet points, start each one as a means to highlight your accomplishments. Integrate keywords that will help you come up in searches, but also that are relevant to the industry and will appeal to those looking to hire someone.
Like all platforms, LinkedIn is regularly adds new features which can help enhance how you present yourself. You may want to consider how you can personalize your cover image, headline (what job title do you want to give yourself?), and summary. Look to other profiles, other designers, and those in other industries for inspiration. Create a profile that works for you, but also appeals to those looking to hire.
Connect your accounts
Let's say you've spent hours creating a portfolio you're super proud of, built out an in-depth case study of your favorite project on Behance, wrote about your unique journey into UX on Medium, tweeted tons of your favorite resources on Twitter, or posted a series of your best UI work on Instagram. People won't necessarily think to look to your other accounts.
One way to take your work to the next level is to think how it can be it can be shared and discovered by others. To do this, you need to think about how your accounts are connected. In a portfolio or on LinkedIn, make sure you list all of your websites or account handles. But maybe someone happened upon your Instagram account randomly, you need to consider how you can help them find more of your work. You'll probably want to link to your portfolio on your profile page and make sure you write a short bio that describes who you are or the work you do.
Just because you design an experience to work a certain way, doesn't mean people will follow that route. You may think they will go to your home page, and find your social media accounts. But let's consider a different scenario and flow. Maybe a healthcare provider who is looking to hire a designer randomly Googles "UX in healthcare" which lands them on a page of your website with a case study about a medicine management app you designed. They're excited, but there is nothing about you as a designer (where is that "about page" when they need it?) or clear contact page for them to reach out to you. This frustrating experience makes them forget you when they get distracted by a call. This scenario shows why it's important to connect your accounts and make sure that you're not trying to be too clever, or hard to find. You never know how people may find you, so help make it easy for them.
Finally, when it comes to connecting accounts, consider what information you want public or private. It's fine to share sides of your personality, but consider what may be seen as too much by the person looking to hire you. A series of unflattering drunken pictures with friends will be a red flag for potential employers. You don't want a silly picture that could be misinterpreted to keep you from landing the job of your dreams. Know what is public and what is private.
Some social media accounts—like Facebook—are best kept personal. Think about double checking your settings to make sure it is indeed private. As you build your portfolio, consider creating a separate Facebook business page for your work. Keep in mind it's another thing to manage (and nurture). Then again, you may not feel the need to be on certain platforms at all.
Know your limits
Just because you see other designers on multiple social platforms, don't feel like you have to have an online presence everywhere. Prioritize what works for you, fits your personality, the work you want, and what you have time for. Also, prioritize platforms which are relevant to the industry you're in.
It is also important to block out time for management and upkeep of your portfolio and profiles. Good design tends to look easy and simple, but you know full well that a lot of work went into getting it to that point. Make sure you build in time to nurture your online presence if you have one. Old accounts that haven't been updated in years are less appealing, but if your website is linked through the account profile, people can still find you.
Schedule time to update your website and portfolio regularly. This may be easier said than done as you take on more work and have less time. Set a calendar reminder and block off a day every six months. Not only will you be able to get your work updated, but it's also a good way to help you reflect on everything you've learned and accomplished while giving you a sense of progress and growth. You may also want to revisit your bio to see if you're still happy with it. By returning to your work regularly, you can keep refining it and make it even stronger. With every professional experience you have, you'll be able to think more and more about how you want to present your own work. Be inspired by your own experiences!
Be aware of your online presence and put your best foot forward. First impressions matter.
Connect your accounts and project so that people looking can more easily find your talents.
Focus on making the online presence you do have strong, don't stretch yourself thin trying to do too much. It's about quality, not quantity.
Look to the industry you're in to help decide where to focus your energy in terms of platforms and communities.