In an age when social media and the web have made it easier than ever for potential employers to learn about the people they are considering hiring, it’s essential for every college student and new graduate to be proactive when it comes to his or her own reputation. Developing and maintaining a strong personal brand is one effective way to ensure that potential employers are getting the right impression about you. Everything you do or say online has an impact—positive or negative—on your personal brand. To start investing in your personal brand, follow the recommendations outlined below. Doing so will set you apart from the intense competition that exists in the job market today.
Have Professional Photos Taken
There’s nothing worse than using a bad photo when creating online profiles. Your photo is often the first thing employers will see and notice when they are searching for you online. When choosing photos for your online profiles, avoid photos that look unprofessional, outdated, fuzzy, include a lot of other people, include no people, or could in some way come across as inappropriate to a potential employer. Consider having a few professional portrait-style photos taken of you to use on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. In many cases, you can eliminate any costs commonly associated with hiring a photographer by contacting a photography student at a local college. Photography students will likely be willing to take professional photos of you for little to no cost as long as you agree to let them use the photos in their portfolios.
Use Social Media Sites Proactively
Every social media site has privacy options that allow you to hide as much or as little information as you desire from people outside of your network. Instead of using these settings to hide compromising content from potential employers, consider deleting the compromising content from your profiles entirely. After you have “cleaned up” your profiles, open your privacy settings up and use your profiles as personal branding tools for potential employers to see. Share information that helps employers understand who you are, what you’re passionate about, and what value you can provide to them. Being proactive with social media sites in this way will let your potential employers know that you have nothing to hide.
Purchase YourName.com and Start Blogging
If you haven’t already, check GoDaddy and find out if YourName.com is available to purchase. Buying and using your own domain (i.e. your first and last name) can help you maintain a strong personal brand. Once you have your domain, set up a blog and start writing and sharing interesting and valuable information about the industry you’d like to work in. You can connect your domain to blogging sites like Tumblr or WordPress and easily set up a free blog to aid in your personal branding efforts. Blogging about your industry will help you leverage yourself as someone who is knowledgeable and passionate about the field you intend to work in. Illustrating this knowledge will impress your potential employers, who will come across your blog when they search for you on Google.
Share Your Value and Experience
Don’t be afraid to share your value and experience on social media sites and the web. Employers are looking for people who go above and beyond what is expected of them. Take time to read up on the industry you’d like to work in. Discuss various trends and news that relates to your industry on your blog, Facebook profile, or Twitter feed.
Maintain a Positive Online and Offline Reputation
If you have to ask yourself whether doing something might impact your chances of getting a job if an employer were to see or hear about it, don’t do it. When building your personal brand, it’s essential that you maintain a positive reputation—that applies to online and offline. You can spend hours crafting a positive reputation for yourself online, but it only takes an employer finding out about one bad decision you made offline for them to pass you over during the application and interview process. Everything you do online and offline applies to your personal brand.
Employers are looking for passionate people. A big part of building and strengthening your personal brand involves expressing the passion you have for the career you hope to develop for yourself. Use every tool and opportunity online possible to share your passion so that employers don’t have to question if you have what it takes down the road.
Have a Plan
The biggest step you can take to develop, maintain, and strengthen your personal brand is to have a plan. Decide what you’re going to do to differentiate from your competition and follow through with your plan. Maintaining your online and offline reputation takes work. It’s important that you take time to sit down and figure out what your goals are, where you’re going to invest your time, and how you’re going to succeed.
Create a profile on Collegefeed
Create a profile on Collegefeed. We act as your personal career assistant, and offer the ability for you to create a simple, yet effective personal brand profile to share with employers. We’ll give you the tools to showcase all your work, accomplishments, skills, and interests, and we’ll send your completed profile to hundreds of great companies.
Maintaining a personal brand is an investment, but it’s worth your time. Presenting a strong reputation for yourself will help you stand out from other applicants when applying for jobs, and will put you on the right path toward your career.