Your CV may be your professional calling card, but your online personal brand will also tell employers something about you.
Employers want to be sure of who they’re hiring, and a strong, consistent, positive online identity can give you an edge over other applicants, especially for positions in industries like marketing and public relations.
Our online identities are mosaics of everything written by or about us online, but they are chiefly formed by our social media presence. With that in mind, let’s look at a few steps you can take to build a personal brand out of your existing online presence.
As soon as you finish reading this article, google your name. You might be surprised at how the world perceives your persona—your personal brand. And you might want to make a few changes, especially if you are actively sending out graduate job applications.
Review each of your social media accounts with an eye toward what they tell the world about you. What posts and other material are out there for the general public to see? Do they support the impression you wish to make on employers? If not, they may be detracting from your personal brand.
Some of your public posts may be best shared with your private network. There’s nothing wrong with going out each weekend or lacing your political opinions with invective. But those things don’t bear directly on your qualifications for a job, and they can only get in the way of an employer’s attempts to learn about what kind of employee you’ll be. That sort of personal communication is best shared with your private network. For that matter, have a think about how you present yourself even among friends that will reflect on your personal brand. If you wouldn’t want to see it quoted in the tabloids, it’s probably not a good idea to post it online, in any context.
Your name and image are more than just inheritances: they are personal brand assets. Where possible, use the same name and picture on each public-facing social media account you hold. This is good advice for anyone, but if you have a somewhat common name, or discover that you share a name with someone else with a prominent online presence, it is especially important. Employers won’t spend much time distinguishing one online profile from another, and it’s in your best interest not to be confused with anyone else. If you maintain active private accounts, try to distinguish them as much as possible from your public persona.
Set Yourself Apart
Consider how you portray yourself in your public-facing online accounts, you want your personality to shine through to graduate employers. Everything about your personal brand matters, even the factors that mean a great deal to you but might not have an honest connection to your job search. Your love of music, for instance, might not seem to have anything to do with your career path, but the way you discuss music can tell employers something about how you make a case and respond to varieties of opinion.
Each of your significant achievements says something important about you, and your online personal brand should reflect them. LinkedIn offers a highly visible way to underscore your skills and accomplishments. Recruiters tend to make LinkedIn one of their first stops when researching applicants, and a well-rounded profile can go a long way toward moving your candidacy forward.
Be True To Yourself
We’ve all encountered people online who seem a bit too eager to impress. Resist the temptation to follow their example: your public online presence should reflect who you really are. We all stylise our online personae somewhat, and employers will take that into consideration. Just don’t overdo it. Putting your best foot forward is understandable and even expected. Claiming experience or skills that you don’t actually possess can damage your job prospects. Don’t claim anything online that you’re not prepared to explain in an interview.
A Mentor’s Help
Take advantage of having a mentor, if you don’t have one already – book a session with one! A mentor can give you the tools to start planning your personal brand or give you some great tips on how to improve your personal brand. One of our very own mentors’ have created a Personal Branding Workshop for you to get started straight away!