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The recruitment model is broken.  And we all know that. I’m sure most of us have sent a CV through a job board wondering if we’ll get a response or received LinkedIn InMails from multiple recruiters for the same job.

I know it’s frustrating, as a recruiter I have to run this wheel a lot. If you do feel this way, it’s important to think about what you can start doing about it, even if it seems like getting beyond the faceless online recruitment churn is an insurmountable challenge.

There absolutely is something you can do to swing things in your favour, to start taking more control over the process, and that’s investing in your ‘Professional Cyber Self’. According to Dr Mary Aitken in her book The Cyber Effect, we now have 2 selves:

a) Our real self that shows up to work every day, breathing and in the flesh
b) Our cyber self, who is moulded by us while existing in many worlds online, all at the same time.

Aitken explains that “almost everything we do online generates a digital exhaust”, a digital footprint that lasts forever. And this is what makes our cyber self potentially very powerful.

I actually believe we currently invest too much into our cyber selves; on my commute this morning I saw a guy with ninja thumbs chronologically post a selfie of sitting on a train, to swiping right on Tinder 3 times to liking a few Instagram photos all in the space of 20 seconds. This is our social cyber self though.

The Professional Cyber Self simply doesn’t get enough investment from most of us.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

Firstly, the platforms are limited to LinkedIn or a job board. (There are other platforms for example that Software Engineers use, like GitHub, but by and large still limited)

Secondly, there is sort of a self-stigma associated with posting content professionally. How often have you preconceived the opinions of an ex-colleague, classmate from college or a distant relative when considering posting content on LinkedIn? I know I have numerous times.

The truth is there is a low probability any of the above will ever be involved in your future career, so stop worrying about them – they’re not your audience! You should be aiming to connect with those you share the same core values with, because if you work with these same people, it will lead to greater subjective well-being.

There are 2 main ways you can start developing a Professional Cyber Self:
  1. Like or Share other content that you resonate with
  2. Produce your own content through a blog or video

All of this leaves a permanent footprint in cyberspace and gets you 1 step closer to a meaningful connection. If you feel this is out of your comfort zone, just start small. Start by liking 3 articles per week for 1 month straight and I’m sure you’ll see positive results. Ensure you’re liking or sharing content you actually care about. It doesn’t feel abnormal when it’s authentic.

If you need more convincing, here are a couple of ‘the world is ending, robots are coming’ reasons:
  1. With the advancement of Natural Language Processing, I’m sure we’re not far off seeing a bot that can jump from one platform to another analysing your sentiments and formulating a far more accurate profile of you than a CV ever could.
  2. In about 10 years’ time, over half the workforce will be Digital Natives a.k.a humans who prefer navigating through many platforms before deciding to connect with someone. I know which side I want to be fighting on.

I understand my innovative, ground-breaking tips of developing your professional cyber self might well lead to someone not needing to use a recruiter and that’s great, but unfortunately most still won’t do this. And the world’s population is rapidly increasing. So, to quote Carl Weathers, “There’s still plenty of meat on that bone. Now you take this home, throw it in a pot, add some broth, a potato…baby you got a stew going”

Short bio and headshot for James Alexander, Emerging Technologies lead recruiter at Azon Digital

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