Top Tips: The best ways to present yourself online

Top Tips: The best ways to present yourself online
Published: 9 February 2022

It’s no secret that headhunters regularly use social media to find candidates for their searches. Our latest Poll showed that more than half of recruiters use sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to find new talent, and unsurprisingly more than 90% use LinkedIn. Online interviews are here to stay, so how do you present the best version of yourself in an increasingly competitive candidate market?

This new era also means that people will be doing all their job interviews and appraisals for the jobs they already have, online. So, everyone needs to quickly deepen their understanding of how to come across well onscreen for those important occasions. With all that in mind, we share tips on how best to present yourself online.

1. Clear and concise communication

You probably also need to make more of an effort with your communication and make sure you articulate yourself clearly – explain how you feel about projects and decisions where appropriate as your physical reaction may not be immediately obvious. How you appear is also very important. I would ensure your laptop or computer allows you to sit in a comfortable position, so you do not appear hunched over on the other side. Additionally, the lighting needs to be flattering. Regardless of how well you interact, if there are shadows and you cannot be seen easily, your efforts will be in vain.

When we are ‘in the room’ it’s relatively easy to read an audience. Expansive gestures, constant fidgeting or readjusting of camera and screen all distract from delivery of clear concise communications. Similarly, being positioned too far away from the screen, or slumped back in a chair, arms folded, can project a degree of disinterest or distance which similarly detracts away from your content delivery. As a rule of thumb, you should ask yourself whether your body language would be appropriate if you were in a face-to-face meeting?

2. Dress to impress

For any interview, we would always advise a candidate to dress in accordance with the dress policy of the company they are meeting. Most organisations now have a more relaxed policy than what we have traditionally seen in the corporate world. Fewer people wear a tie, and it is more common to wear a smart dress or a blazer and shirt with casual trousers at interview. While it is difficult to overdress you must be comfortable, otherwise you are unlikely to project ‘you’. Too casual is just a product of poor planning.

An air of professionalism should always be maintained in any work setting. Just because we are working from home, it does not mean you can or should conduct video calls in your pyjamas or dressing gown! You should always be mindful of how you come across to your peers and seniors.

3. Camera position, lighting and posture

Much of posture is influenced by the setup of your camera, which needs to be positioned so that you can look directly into your screen and camera at a natural angle. This will enable you to sit comfortably and engage easily with the person on the screen in front of you for the duration of the call. No one wants to be looking up your nose for the entire call!

Body language is clearly an important part of communication; it is more difficult to pick up on non-verbal cues over video conference, so we suggest a more smiley appearance, strong communication and greater interaction. Most people have very quickly established whether they are a waver or not. It is a nice way to open a call and indicates you are pleased to see your colleagues.

Don’t forget about lighting – there’s nothing worse than glaring sunlight or it being so dark you look like you’re locked in a basement. Ensure you have a large, soft light – window light during the day and as much light as you can at night.

4. Create a professional backdrop

What sort of objects would be great to have around you onscreen - as in furniture, decor, pictures on walls etc - that will lend you authority and clout? Or should you go with very sparse, or even blank, surroundings?

When you are on a video conference what people will be able to see is whether you have a neat, organised background. That is likely to have more of an impact than any particular type of décor. If you are unable to find an area which fits these criteria, most video applications provide virtual backgrounds allowing you to change what people can see. If you don’t have an uncluttered, neat space these can easily be utilised.

Avoid clutter or anything which may be deemed to be controversial, visible in the immediate area around you. When you are conducting a video call you want the focus to be on you and what you are saying or presenting. Any sort of distraction will take the attention away from you and your colleagues’ interest will be diverted. Be aware of your surroundings and ensure you present in a positive and professional manner to those you are speaking with.  

5. Building a relationship

When meeting someone new, communicate interest in getting to know them. A pithy and personable introduction can naturally evolve into conversation, paving the way for additional communication and the beginning of a relationship.

Knowing how to introduce yourself virtually is essential. Don’t miss the opportunity to make a great first impression that can influence business relationships. Consider your introduction as a conversation starter, not an elevator pitch. (A pitch, by definition, means you’re trying to sell something; this is not what you should be doing when first meeting someone.) Instead, with confidence and precision, share key information to spark further conversation and drive new relationships forward.

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