Your personal brand represents how people perceive you—who you are, what you do and how and why you do it. On the web, it can be distributed across a range of platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter and maybe your own website or blog. This puts the burden on you, the job seeker, to make sure your online personal brand is up-to-date, accurate and reflective of your professional objectives.
Personal branding is essential to career success because it allows you to define who you are, and position yourself in your chosen area of expertise. The personal branding process is focused on taking your knowledge and skills and sharing them in such a way that you’re sought-after and possibly hired. It makes applying for jobs a lot easier.
It’s important in business, especially when job hunting, to put forth your best professional self and it’s equally important to manage your online personal brand in the same fashion.
Employers are now more than ever conducting social media checks on candidates, which means you want to ensure that your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles adequately reflect your best professional self. Some stats say as many as 8 out of 10 recruiters will check your online profile.
So, where to start?
First step, Google yourself: Type in your name, and variations of your name, into Google to see where you are being mentioned on the web and in what context. You can also set up Google Alerts to see what’s popping up when.
A picture is worth 1000 words: So consider getting a professional photograph taken to use for your social media avatars, LinkedIn especially. For Facebook and Twitter you can be less formal but you still want to ensure the photo is professional and representative of your objectives.
Showcase your talents: Ensure your credentials are online, highlight your successes and achievements, and interact with industry peers. Participate in forums, answer questions and share your knowledge. Interaction is essential.
Do the granny test: Don’t post anything online that would embarrass your granny. This includes profanities and inappropriate photos. Don’t let anyone tag you in pictures taken socially that don’t mirror your professional image.
Even your email address is a reflection of your personal brand: Get rid of the firstname.lastname@example.org address and create a more professional address using one of the many free services or better yet, invest in your own email address at you@any-name-you-want for about $12 a year.
Be authentic and intentional: One of the most important aspects of personal branding is authenticity. Be yourself and be intentional. You want to be seen as an expert in your community, as someone who can be trusted. Focus your activities to a relevant niche and don’t always be selling yourself. Offer to help others and watch your online reputation grow from there.
Consistency: When you commit to personal branding, you commit to having one identity, one voice that’s consistent across all media and all channels including your physical and online actions.
Communication: Ensure your online communications are well written. All your hard work and credibility can unravel with bad spelling and poor grammar. Don’t sabotage your personal brand, proofread before sending that sentence out into the World Wide Web.
Update: Keep your profiles up to date with any job changes, promotions, or new accreditations. And this goes for your photo as well; don’t use a picture that’s more than 5 years old. Brand maintenance is an ongoing process.
Privacy: If you want to keep your social media profiles private, check on them from time to time as social media policies are always changing.
The internet has a photographic memory so be diligent when posting anything online. As a job seeker you want to emphasize the value you will bring to a potential employer so manage your online reputation as you would your offline one and keep them in sync. I don’t want to see any pictures of you funnelling beer on spring break