Your online identity is constructed by any content on the internet that is attached to you as an individual. Having a strong visible online identity is often a positive thing for a job-seeker, and especially helpful for applications for industries such as marketing. An online identity is portrayed through social media profiles and content, blogs or news items, and any other online content that is attached to you.
Social media is now one of the easiest and most common ways of identifying and strengthening your personal brand. It is therefore very important that you consider how you promote yourself online, or opportunities may pass you by.
Google your name, right now. It's often important to step back and assess where you are in terms of personal branding and exposure, especially if you are actively sending out job applications. Make sure that your privacy settings on your various social media accounts are strictly viewable by your 'Friends', or if set to public, the profiles remain 'clean' and non-controversial. You might have strong and polemic views, or go out every weekend, but employers don't need (or want) to see this. Using social media these days comes with a huge degree of responsibility, particularly when looking for employment. Think about it this way: if you don't want it on the front page of a newspaper, don't put it online.
Use the same name and photo (if you can) for all of the social media accounts that you use and/or want to be associated with your online brand. Employers don’t normally spend long trying to find individual social media profiles for candidates, so having a uniform name will make their job easier. If you want to have both public and private accounts, that's fine, just make sure the private accounts are actually private and preferably don't reflect badly on yourself.
How can you stand out?
Think about the online brand and voice that your social media accounts already provide (i.e. football fan, music lover, tech fanatic etc.) and how you can capitalise on your interests and or achievements within your online persona. If there's something impressive about you online, link to it, or at the very least, mention it in your bio. LinkedIn offers many way in which you can flaunt your achievements, and attach these to your profile, so make the most of the go-to social network that recruiters use.
It's so very important to portray yourself on social media as something close to your real self. Everyone knows (or should know) that your online persona is polished, edited, and shows the most interesting aspects of your life; but there are still in-between bits. Just ensure that the version of yourself that you present to the world is genuine, and not over-inflated. After all, you will get caught out at interview stage, so save yourself the hassle.
But equally, don’t sell yourself short online. Describe who you are, be candid and certainly not self-deprecating. Recruiters are looking, so give them something real.