Branding yourself online

Make a plan to create your own personal brand online.

Branding yourself online

This is the second in a series of articles related to job search and the use of technology. If you use social media, whether you like it or not, you are making a first impression. How do you want to present yourself publicly? What kind of personal brand do you want to create? What skills, personality traits, values, interests, experiences or affiliations do you want to be known for? Create a plan for developing your own personal brand.

What does your profile picture say about you? Your profile picture should show a pleasant facial expression. Make sure to appear confident, capable and likable. Does your photo reflect someone people would like to work with? In addition, your photo should be recent and appropriate for the field you want to work in. It should be well focused with good lighting. Delete the “selfie” and have someone (preferably professional) take your photo.

Do your posts, tweets, blogs, pins, pictures, videos or website reflect the reputation you want to build? Social media is a great way to showcase articles you have written, projects you are involved with, skills you have developed and your volunteer efforts. Including related and appropriate pictures, infographs or videos will increase your posts visibility. Even your email and voicemail are painting a picture of you. What do these emails portray: “hot babe,” “littleprincess,” “coolcat,” or “stud10?” If it is not professional, recreate it.

If you are looking for an internship, job or even a promotion, you need to decide how you want to be portrayed online. Have you ever “googled” yourself or your business? Make sure to search your name, email and phone number. Employers will. In a recent study, 80.5 percent of employers are using social media in some capacity. Employers use social media as a recruitment tool by searching for and contacting potential candidates. They also use it as a potential screening tool, reviewing information on the candidate’s profile. According to a 2014 NACE survey, the social media sites used most by employers responding to the survey were LinkedIn (92.6 percent), Facebook (73 percent) and Twitter (69.4 percent).

To inhibit employers from “googling” them, individuals often set their privacy settings on high, only allowing friends or family members to see their online information. By doing this, you become faceless and brandless online. Your personal search engine optimization (SEO) results will be extremely low. If you have undesirable items on your online networks, high privacy levels are a must! However, if you are intentional and strategic about what you post, social media is a tool that can greatly enhance your job search and help you land your next position.

For additional trainings, articles and resources to help people look for work, check out the Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development websites.

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