Here's what science blogger Anne-Wil Harzing writes about professional online presence:

An excellent resume and cover letter are no longer enough to compete in a job or further education selection process. It is crucial that you build your personal brand online to stand out from the crowd and ensure potential employers remember you.

The challenge may be that you never thought about the importance of your professional online presence and how to draw and manage the boundaries between your already existing personal image and your required professional image.

Having talked to many established academics about the persona and professional boundaries on social media, I can assure you that it can be a challenging task for anyone. The first thing to do is to be aware of the need to be professional online and to understand the impact your digital footprint may have on your image and your career. From that point, you may want to apply a few of the following strategies to develop and execute your digital brand successfully.

Clean up your old accounts – be strategic

If you already have personal accounts on digital platforms (like social media), I suggest you review your accounts’ history and content for appropriateness. You may want to double-check your privacy setting and only make necessary content public. If you notice that there is too much inappropriate content, you may wish to delete your account and set up a new one. Consider making a strategic plan when managing your persona and professional online presence. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Decide which accounts to keep and which accounts to delete.
  2. Review your digital footprint until you are sure it is professionally appropriate.  Your digital footprint may be traced back to a myriad of digital sources such as social networks (like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter), online purchases, online memberships, data shared about you by others or anything else that may have been written or shown about you.
  3. Consider keeping certain accounts only for personal matters and others only for professional communication.
  4. Consider using your digital platforms only professionally until your career is more established and you have reached the job you want.
  5. Follow good practice to have the same profile picture in all your professional accounts. The photo needs to be professional and of high quality (see below).
  6. Use the same background picture in all your professional profiles to display consistency when recruiters are looking for you.
  7. Have a clear goal of what you want to reach with your digital online presence and what your priorities are to build your future.
  8. Use careful and appropriate language when communicating personal and professional issues online.”