EX10 - Online Persona

Cleaning up Your Digital Self

When everything you do is online, everything you’ve done becomes an issue. Taking steps to address the potential problem is required before the search can begin.

Updated September 04, 2020

There was a time when our personal and professional lives had clear lines that divided them. What you did on your time was your business. That changed when we started posting our lives in great detail out in the open for everyone to see online.

Whether it’s fair or not, everything you’ve broadcast to the world is attached to you professionally. In fact, according to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers are using social media activity to screen applicants.

Because it’s impossible to rely on context for protection, you must take steps to elevate certain online outlets while cleaning up others. While updating up your online persona might take some time, the platforms are not equal in stature. The items below are ordered by importance to your job search. Spend your time accordingly:


No single site is as vital to your job search as LinkedIn. In fact, not having a LinkedIn account is a red flag for many hiring managers.

For years, I didn’t understand the value proposition of LinkedIn. To me, it was an online version of my resume — which seemed pointless.

That changed when I needed to use the site as a hiring manager. Suddenly, I could see who my applicant connected with, what people said about them, and the candidate’s conversations. All things I couldn’t get from a resume.

While LinkedIn remains an afterthought for many, it’s an easy problem to fix using the following steps:

  • Provide complete summaries for each position you’ve held.
  • Add featured projects to your profile.
  • Engage in meaningful industry-focused conversations.

Job summaries are essential because job titles are fluid from one company to the next. Without an explanation of your duties, it is unclear whether you have the experience required for the new role.

Featured projects act as a gateway into your portfolio and allow you to quickly add new elements that might not already have a home in your portfolio.

Taking these steps will address what most employers are looking for, but there are still endorsements and recommendations. I don’t believe you should specifically ask anyone to provide either of these for you. However, I do think you should be a generous giver of endorsements and recommendations — when deserved. You’ll find many former colleagues appreciative of your gift, and many will reciprocate the favor, which addresses the issue without the awkward begging.

Traditional Social Media

Every questionable comment or photo you’ve ever posted is a mere Google search away from discovery.

In short, if you are an active Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram user, you might consider setting your profile to private for the duration of the search. This adjustment allows you to function without worrying about what might be lurking in your social media posts from years past.

Should you want to maintain some form of public persona on one of these platforms, consider creating a second account. Doing so provides you with a valuable outlet to create a professional persona that can remain public. More industry leaders than you might imagine have taken this approach in recent years, so you’re in good company if you choose the route.


While Dribbble isn’t a media platform in the same way the sites above are, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important to you as a designer.

The problem with most beginner Dribbble profiles is that they lack enough work to be useful for your first job search. So if your account is sparsely populated — refrain from linking it to your job search assets until you’ve built it up more.

The good news is that unlike your portfolio, Dribbble is a fine place to post all of those Spotify clones that you might have made at a boot camp. While those projects carry no value for a portfolio, as an asset showing your visual skills, they fit right in your Dribbble profile.


When applying for positions where coding is a core component of the job, it isn’t uncommon for the job application to request your GitHub account.

If you don’t have a GitHub account, that’s a strong signal that the job might not be a great fit. For applicants with a GitHub account, this is a great time to do some project pruning.

I’ve built a ton of junk projects in the past. Testing new ideas and trying new bits of code can leave your GitHub account littered with useless projects.

Just as you would clean up your house before having a guest over, deleting or changing lesser projects’ visibility is the first step to improving your GitHub presence. I rarely throw projects away and prefer to do my project pruning only by changing the visibility.

The next logical step would be to update the README.md files for each project that remains visible in your account. Updating README.md always seems trivial when you’re actively working on a project, but the value becomes clear when it helps you figure out what the project was. If the update is helpful for you, imagine how helpful it is for people who never worked on the project.

Resources for review

Article Source/Author
How Social Media Can Help and Harm Your Job Search Hannah Morgan
How to Leverage LinkedIn Posts for Your Job Search Ed Han
How to optimize your GitHub profile Pavel Malos


While most of the items listed above are optional, giving your LinkedIn profile a glow up is mandatory for anyone searching. Follow the outline below to best position yourself and your online persona for the hunt ahead.

Part one: Edit the About section to reflect your current job search. Add a clear photo to your profile if you do not already have one. Finally, update the banner at the top of your profile with an image reflecting what you do. Consider constructing an image from past projects.

Part two: Update all listings under Experience with a paragraph summary of your duties in that job. Depending on the number of jobs you have listed on your profile, you may delete older entries that no longer fit your career trajectory (waiter, delivery driver, etc.).

Part three: Under the Featured section, provide a link to each case study in your current portfolio. Depending on the metadata attached to your case study, you may need to make a slight update to your portfolio for optimum results.

Part four: Request to connect with me if you haven’t already so that I can review your updates.

Bonus: Because elevated activity on LinkedIn is the easiest way to drive traffic to your profile, commit to commenting on at least one design post per day. If you are unsure what to say, consider asking a question as a way to get started.


Once complete, update your Program Journal with links to the assets produced for this exercise. Post your Journal in the #Feedback-Loop channel for review.


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