I’ve spoken to a few people lately who felt that their job search and career aspirations were preventing them from participating in social media. That really got the gears in my brain turning, primarily because my job search and career aspirations were directly in line with my personal social strategy. I firmly believe that a well-cultivated personal brand can land you your dream job, whether that job is working in media and communications, or working in sales, human resources, or the trades.
In fact, let me insert a total humbebrag: most of my clients have admitted that they chose to work with me based on my personal brand and social media profiles. So what’s the secret; how can you harness the power of your personal brand on social channels?
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Let’s be honest, potential employers might be looking up your social profiles to screen you before they call you in for an interview. Even after you ace your interviews they may look you up to make sure that you’re going to be a good culture fit for the office. Instead of fearing it, why not take the opportunity to reinforce why you would be an amazing employee by building a visual resume of your awesomeness?
Not only do I anticipate people looking up my social media profiles or my blog when applying for positions or pitching clients, I basically expect it. I make sure that my blog is in tiptop shape and my networks are polished before applying, just in case.
Not having a digital presence at all is worse
than having one with a few blemishes.
I like to think that my profiles help potential employers and clients get a real sense for who I am and what I’m all about. I can be a bit quiet and introverted, especially in a first meeting, so I depend on my social profiles to vouch for me and the fact that I do come out of my shell and can be a real powerhouse.
I’ve developed my own (totally arbitrary, but likely useful) rules to personal branding:
1) Be appropriate – remember, this is a profile that potential friends, partners, employers, and family members may look at. Those photos of you doing keg stands in college? Depend on the industry you are hoping to work in, chances are those will have to go.
2) Be informed – if you’re looking for a job in a specific industry, your social profiles and online brand should show your passion for that industry. Become a resource on that particular topic and take the opportunity to connect with professionals in that industry. You will have the opportunity to network with the people you might only dream about getting an interview with.
3) Use SEO and content to your advantage – sure, there may be some things online that I posted when I was in university that I wouldn’t necessarily want potential employers finding. But guess what – I can control that by publishing current content that gets more views. Essentially, since my blog rates really well in SEO, that less desirable content is buried somewhere way in the back recesses of the Internet. Is that ideal? No, not really. But the chances of an employer or client finding that is slim to nil, and if they do, hopefully the value of all of the positive content you’ve posted will weigh over those rookie mistakes you made years ago.
4) Be a personality – but more importantly, be your own personality. While your profiles are likely to include some industry-specific professional content, you also want to be a person. If you’re a sports fan, talk about sports. Or if you’re me, post lots of photos of your pets.
Above all, be authentic. While your personal brand online may be a slightly more crafted version of yourself, it should still speak to your core values and personality. This is really important to me because I want the Jamie-Leigh that people meet to be the same version of Jamie-Leigh that they interact with online.