The Busy Academic’s Guide to a Better Digital Profile
By Clare Condon
When you type your name into a search engine, what comes up? Your social media accounts? A Wikipedia article about someone by the same name? An arrest record (not yours, of course)?
As a professional, and especially as an academic, it is crucial to take control of your online profile – your online “brand,” as it’s commonly called. Prospective employers, collaborators, students, and journalists will likely “Google” your name at one point or another. Shouldn’t the first thing they see be material YOU created? Having a personal professional website is an easy way to ensure the integrity and professionalism of your online brand.
Here is an example of a well-done personal professional website, which was created using wix.com: http://www.ecosmith.org/
Tips for Creating Your Personal Professional Website
- If you are a beginner, try a user-friendly site such as weebly.com, web.com, wordpress.com, or wix.com. Weigh the pros and cons of each site at http://www.top10bestwebsitebuilders.com.
- Before you begin, make a list of keywords that will lead people to you when they type these words into a search engine. Ex: “ecology,” “wildlife,” “biodiversity.” Then, be sure to use the words on your website.
- Create a professional url – one that makes sense and includes at least some part of your name.
- Create a homepage that is visually pleasing, well organized and free of unneeded text. The background should not be distracting, and there should be no pop-up ads or sidebars.
- Be sure to have your name, title, and and contact information right on the top of the homepage.
- Have a link to your curriculum vitae (CV) on your homepage.
- Mention organizations with which you are affiliated (e.g. UF/UFAS Wildlife Ecology and Conservation) on your homepage.
- Include plenty of relevant photos (ex. You in the field, your study species, you with an award). Make sure they are not grainy or pixelated.
- Give your page personality. Be sure to have an “about me” section, and, if applicable, a separate section for your hobbies or interests (including photos). These sections help convey who you are as a whole person and not just an academic.
- Link to relevant pages such as your lab’s web page and your LinkedIn or ResearchGate pages at minimum.
- Make sure the page is easy to navigate.
- Add the link to your finished website to your email signature, and anywhere else it should go, and physically pat yourself on the back for taking control of your online profile.
Henceforth, you will never be mistaken for a podiatrist or an actor from a Lifetime movie.
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