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Personal digital curation for the Millennial professional

In the dawn of the tech revolution, Millennial professionals have had to find new ways of navigating their personal and professional presence in the digital space. From privacy settings to approaching your online presence as a composition, we look at the creativity, foresight and introspection that goes into making personal digital curation work for you.
Personal digital curation for the Millennial professional

Slow demise of the traditional CV

Slowly but surely, we are witnessing the demise of the traditional CV. With the rise of personal/professional websites, LinkedIn and other recruitment platforms, CVs are becoming archaic. We increasingly find that they can be replaced by a link or a list of links facilitated by an elaborate online presence or professional digital portfolio. Your prospective employer will most likely find a Google search of you more telling than your CV document.

Why it’s not as simple as adjusting your privacy settings

It’s become so easy to gauge a person’s essence by the contents of their social media profile: Instagram gourmet food pictures, excessive relationship posts, a million religious memes, fitness progress pictures, or a timeline full of puppy and kitten videos… We all know the types.

Whatever your online fancy is, you’ve probably asked yourself: How should I manage, filter or censor my social media presence as a prospective employee? The general answer is to adjust your privacy settings. Conceal rather than curate.

What many fail to realise is that your online presence can also serve you, not only in the job market, but in the professional space generally. It can be hugely beneficial to publicly convey an idea of who you are online: your personality/persona, your achievements and your interests.

Curate, don’t conceal

Who and what you follow, like and share, as well as the content you create, is your digital identity. Content encompasses textual, visual, audio and video elements. Consider creating quality over quantity, and be deliberate about composing your content. It’s equally important to be deliberate about your use of platforms. In the same way you would differentiate between a post on LinkedIn and Snapchat, so should you differentiate for all your channels. Most quality online content is tailored according to what works best for a chosen medium.

Of course, you have the option of untagging posts and pictures you no longer want associated with you. This will require consistent curation. In the same vein, online presences that are too sleek can compromise authenticity. People appreciate a degree of sincerity. Find the sweet spot between bearing every vulnerability and being completely fabricated, glossed over and too polished.

Online presence as a composition

Composing your online presence is a skill and an art. It requires introspection, foresight and creativity. Given how interwoven our lives are with the digital, curating your online presence verges on curating your existence. It encompasses tailoring your history and your personal identity. This includes adapting your online identity as your personal identity shifts, grows and outgrows certain elements.

As most Millennials are incapable of experiencing a significant moment or life change without manifesting it online (whether overtly or more subtly), you most likely already curate your online presence to be consistent with your current identity. As such, your online presence is an extension of yourself.

Doing the same thing for professional purposes is not too different. Your professional online identity needs creative, introspective tailoring too. As it’s linked, if not synonymous with, your personal online presence, elements of branding, aesthetics and voice come into play.

After all, you’re allowing someone to walk through the gallery of your life.

Aspirational identities

The Gen Y fight to stay relevant has led to aspirational identities being constructed online. Many online presences take the form of personas, through which people project themselves as they want to see themselves – until they get there. Some examples of aspirational identities include:
  • Fashion bloggers
  • YouTube make-up tutorial personalities
  • Pinterest food aficionados
  • Travel photographers or wanderlust bloggers
  • Instagram artists
With a big enough following and enough personal and brand development, it’s possible to become a tastemaker in an industry. We’ve seen this everywhere from the make-up and beauty therapy industry to the social activism space.

Aspirational identities can motivate personal and professional development, up-skilling and further education. They can also become an online portfolio of your work. While this trend is somewhat incited by the celebrity factor and the idea that your following is your worth, it does deserve some serious consideration. Digital influence is invaluable. It’s possible to become established on and paid for your digital influence.

So, should you compromise for a prospective employer?

Having a blog, website, Facebook page or Instagram account devoted to a certain element of what you do (yoga, travel, art, etc.) is a great way of extending your presence and showcasing that you are a multi-faceted individual and a multi-talented professional. An employer that encourages growth will value that.

6 Sep 2016 12:50


About Mia Arderne

Mia Arderne writes blog posts and press releases for Oxbridge Academy. She is also a freelance columnist and fiction writer based in Cape Town. She enjoys exploring themes of marginalisation, identity, and the virtual world.

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