13 March 2016

The Way You Look Online

We regularly receive emails from students who apply for internships or as field assistants. At DBC we have very few positions available and they fill up quickly, so we normally have to say no.

We sometimes try to give advice to the applicants and posted a few tips at the link below:


Though much of the advice is simple and even obvious, some students don't seem aware of what makes them more likely to be accepted, should any position become available.

A few days ago Giovanni added the section below (his sister Maddalena provided edits and valuable advice):

The Way You Look Online

You submit an application to be accepted as a student, be recruited as a field assistant, be hired for a job, etc. You add an elegantly-written, error-free cover letter. You attach a stylish and informative CV, carefully prepared to let your skills come through. You list your conference presentations and publications, formatted according to a consistent and standard citation style. Is that enough?

Perhaps not. Those who receive your application may want to know more about you, and they are likely to google your name to look for additional information that may help them understand who you are. They may search for your Facebook profile and look at your timeline, check who your friends are, browse your posted photos, the groups you joined, your music preferences, the books and movies you like. That is when they find that image of you looking slightly drunk, that politically-incorrect statement, that link to a gross or stupid video.

You say: 'but that's my private life! I can do whatever I want!' Yes you can, but by the time that part of you is posted online it also becomes a part of your professional profile—as soon as it is spotted by someone who has to evaluate you professionally. Anything that you would not want to have included in your CV should probably not be posted online. Unfortunate as it may seem, those things become 'part' of your CV, or at least it's how they may be perceived by those expected to evaluate you as a potential candidate.

Needless to say, individuals will never be defined by the way they appear on the internet, let alone by the way they look (beautiful, ugly, the colour of their skin, the way they dress). The culture you belong to, your religion, spiritual inclinations, sexual preferences and so on, should not matter to your employer (and if they do matter, then it may be a good idea to look for another employer). However, your personality, attitudes and skills are relevant. Be aware that those expected to evaluate you can only come to a decision based on what they see and find, including online. So make sure they find something interesting, which helps you make a good impression.

The way you look online has become increasingly important. Marine biology is a competitive field and to make sure you stand above the crowd you may want to improve your online profile, too. It isn't just about you: in a selection process your data will be compared with whatever is available about others, your competitors. If your competitors look better, one of them will be chosen. A professor or an evaluator cannot be blamed for wanting to know as much as possible about the people who asked to join their team.

How can you improve the way you look online? Consider starting a Blog if you don't have one yet, or post your best photos on Flickr. Show yourself 'in action', doing something interesting. Let your skills, your style, your creativity and your passions become apparent. Show your desire to engage and commit to what matters to you. Balance and fine-tune all that as carefully as you can: you don't want to be viewed as someone who just wants to show off. In some cases, you may consider posting a selection of your essays, your music and artwork, anything. Even your CV, no matter how short, may be posted online with the addition of photos and links complementing the text.

You are really marketing yourself here: focus on the bright side. Smile. Try to imagine being one of those who receive your application amidst a bunch of other applications, and make clear why you should be someone's first choice. Should anyone write your name on Google, something really appealing and unique should come to surface. You want them to say 'Wow! This is the person I would love to have as a student or collaborator!' Try that, try anything creative, and see if it works.

-- Giovanni Bearzi

Photo: G. Bearzi and S. Bonizzoni the way they should not look online :-)

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