By now you should have realised that all these tools and resources can help you to develop and progress. You should be well into the habit of writing and you should be part of a thriving community of researchers, both within your institution and outside. You will have a considerable online presence.
In order to make all of this really work for you, you need to be able to tie it all back to a single website that tells the world who you are, what you do and what you can do.
This is your number one professional tool in the digital age. After thinking about your professional brand very early on, you should have set a nice tone for your online presence. Your website is the place where you really define the professional you.
You have several options about where to host this website and you may well find that you end up with several profile websites. However, you should ensure that all of them link back to the one that YOU consider to be the most important.
Here are some websites you may wish to consider using for your profile website, with some examples where possible:
There are pros and cons to each of these. In particular, you may feel limited by the fields that you can fill in for some of them. Conversely, having an ‘About’ page on a blog or a personal website can be freeing but difficult to set up and to make ‘professional looking’.
Having one does not (and should not) preclude you from having others. However, the one that you choose to focus on will probably set the tone for what you are trying to achieve. We will talk about some of these in more detail.
If you are looking to continue in academia, obviously you should have a good staff profile page on the University of Surrey website that clearly outlines your research interests. You can also use this to attract the interest of local businesses for collaboration/consultancy purposes, etc. It is relatively easy to modify your profile yourself, using the University of Surrey’s website content management system, Rhythmyx. There are guides available here, and there are some instructions here for making necessary changes to Java settings on your computer before you can use it. You can contact the RDP for more help in developing your Surrey online profile. It is also worth mentioning that websites with .ac.uk suffixes also have the highest search engine optimisation, so Google searches for you will always feature your staff profile page highest. You can use this fact to link to your preferred profile page, if not this one.
You may be surprised that I have included LinkedIn here. Traditionally this is considered to be a ‘networking’ website, and ‘networking’ is obviously not a professional aim (but a professional means). The reason for inclusion is that this website tends to also have search engine optimisation, which means it also returns higher in Google searches (not as high as .ac.uk websites). If you aren’t sure what you want to do in the future yet, LinkedIn is a great place to start your professional profile because it is so generic. There is a lovely guide for students here on using LinkedIn. There are some advantages to using this website as your main profile page because it has built-in functionality to link to your other sites, and it will post updates on your behalf. Other websites might require more attention from you. However, you can also be more selective with the things you choose to present about yourself.
Whether you’re using the university website to create your profile page, or any other for that matter, your profile website should include the same basic things:
- A professional profile picture. Not just the nicest snap of you, something where there is good lighting.
- Your name, or the name you go by.
- Your current role. If you want to sound less like a student, call yourself a postgraduate researcher or a doctoral candidate.
- Your qualifications. No, you can’t say you have a PhD if you haven’t finished yet (as in, Viva-ed), but you could give a projected qualification date.
- Your professional contact details. This doesn’t have to be your university email address, but equally it doesn’t have to be your mobile number. If you do use a personal email address, PLEASE make sure it’s professional sounding, for example email@example.com and not firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A biography. A short paragraph (~250 words) written in a personable way that tells readers who you are, where you’ve come from, and where you’re going in life. In research. What motivates you. Tell us your story.
- Your achievements. By this, I really mean the things you want to show off about yourself. In academia this might be publications or collaborations. On LinkedIn, it might be a project that you’ve participated in. It might well be your successful blog, or a particular piece of writing. The key thing is, shout about it here. Link to it. Don’t make your readers hunt for it.
If you’re going to have a professional profile page, it should look good or not exist so I won’t ask you to create one right now. Do spend some time looking at great examples though and make some decisions about what you would like to include in yours. What sort of tone do you want to set? What things do you want to include? Do you have all the necessary resources and information to create it? If you’re stuck for examples, think about the people that influence you, and see if you can find their profile pages.
Week 11 blog post
This week we’d like to hear about your experiences with this week’s Things or your thoughts on using them.
Or, you could use your blog to hone your thoughts about your profile website. Perhaps you have some ideas about what things to include/not include for specific purposes.
Don’t forget to tag your post Thing 21, Thing 22.