Career Q&A: Creating an online profile

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I am looking for a new career in fundraising (I am in finance at the moment). My question is about profiles to put on social networking websites. I don’t want to misrepresent myself, but if I put my finance experience, it will be difficult to get a job in fundraising. I must note that I would still consider a job in finance too, if it was a good opportunity. What should I do? Thanks!

Welcome to the new world of job search!

Social media has provided an exciting new way to network into the “hidden job market”. In a few short years it has grown exponentially, and more and more recruiters and employers are using these sites for employee recruitment purposes, so you are right to make it a part of your job search strategy.

Many people make the assumption that when social networking sites are just an online resume, and so, copy from their usual resume. Be cautious with this approach – just as you wouldn’t blanket the whole world with your resume, you should keep in mind that, since the whole world can see your profile, you must act accordingly.

Keeping it relevant

There are two major purposes for using social networking websites from the job seeker's perspective.

The first is to allow recruiters and employers to find you on the web through the website's search engines. This is becoming a very important tool used by HR professionals to connect with potential candidates. Because they are looking for keywords in order to narrow down their focus, it is vital to know the most important keywords for your profession and make sure they are on your profile. The best way to determine keywords is to look at the job ads from a website such as CharityVillage. Employers and recruiters state what they are looking for on their job ads, so take note of the key words.

HR professionals can also filter other information through social networking websites, such as your geographic location.

Virtual network in a box

The second reason that these sites are so important to job seekers is that they serve as a great tool to mine the contacts you have gathered over the years. Search through and see if there are any contacts or colleagues of contacts who can help you to network into a fundraising role. The usual rules about networking still apply, of course – there is no way to automate that. Telephone calls are preferable to emails, since they add a personal touch.

Split personality

One strategy for people in your situation is to create two profiles – one for your finance role and one for your prospective fundraising career. Just be very careful to be consistent between them and NEVER misrepresent material facts. You may choose, however, to highlight different accomplishments, qualifications, or education.

Good luck!

Mitchell Stephenson M.A., CPCC, is a senior partner and a certified professional career counsellor at Catalyst Careers, a career transition, counselling, and outplacement firm. Mitch has been involved in human resources, career counselling and coaching in the health and legal sectors for many years. To contact him, visit:

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