These days, when you apply for a job, one of the first things employers will do is look at your social media profiles. We hear the horror stories all too often – people missing out on jobs because the employer has gone online and seen something that has caused them to instantly remove the candidate from the shortlist.
This is where we see the true importance of personal brand when you’re looking for a job; you need to present yourself in a professional manner, both in person and online. Throughout my recruitment career, I’ve seen many examples of personal branding for jobseekers (the good, the bad and the ugly), so here are my tips on getting it right.
Developing Your Personal Brand Online
What employers see on social media can make or break the outcome of a job search. While positive and professional-looking content can create a good impression, it’s the negative things, such as unfortunate images from parties, venting about past employers or controversial comments, that tend to stand out the most.
Candidates need to be more aware of what they’re posting on social media – whether that’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or anything else; whatever the medium, everything you share publicly online contributes to building a personal brand in one way or another.
To get an idea of how you’re currently coming across on the internet, start by auditing your online presence. The simplest place to start is to Google yourself: are you easy to find, or does it take a little digging? Check your privacy settings and identify what kind of information is easily accessible, making sure you’re comfortable with an employer seeing anything that is public.
One of the most valuable social media platforms for job seeking is your LinkedIn profile, so is it up to scratch? When doing an audit of your online presence, don’t forget to think about LinkedIn basics, such as having an appropriate photo of yourself and providing clear, specific and up-to-date information. Networking is a key aspect of personal branding on LinkedIn; in addition to building your connections, try to join and contribute to industry-relevant groups. Engage in online conversations, comment on discussions and share content that matches your professional interests and goals.
Just remember, it’s not all about LinkedIn; be sure to review your other channels too, even if they aren’t intended for professional use – and make anything private that you don’t want to share with the world.
Offline Personal Branding
While your digital footprint plays a critical role in presenting a personal brand to the modern world, what you do offline still has an impact. In-person networking (particularly for more senior roles) is an incredibly valuable tool, as it allows you to take control of who you connect with and how your image comes across. Engaging with the community is a key step towards making the most out of your personal brand, securing recommendations for roles and getting a foot in the door of new opportunities.
Putting aside time to attend industry events will provide an excellent chance to meet new people and keep up to date with trends in the job market. Not only will there be many prospective employers to interact with, but the knowledge and insights gained will give you more ideas for future engagement. However, if an industry event seems a little too formal for your tastes, joining local meetups can be a great alternative. Keep an eye on online notice boards and announcements on social media sites such as LinkedIn to see when the next one is in your area.
Catering Your Approach
Aside from utilising the community to forge strong connections, the way that you approach the job search itself can likewise help to shape how employers perceive you.
Some candidates will send their resumes off to hundreds of jobs just because they’re out there, thinking that the sheer numbers alone will guarantee a greater percentage of positive responses – but it’s always better to apply for roles that are targeted to your core strengths as a candidate. That way, it saves time wasted on both ends and is more likely to have a desirable outcome.
An effective CV should be carefully curated to reflect your personal brand. That means highlighting your most relevant skills and catering it to the individual roles applied for. Ultimately, whatever information you choose to include, remember that direct and straightforward is best; hiring managers need to be able to get an understanding of candidates in a short space of time, so keep it concise and put the most recent and relevant information first.
The way you present yourself both online and offline, as well as how you interact with people in your industry can make a world of difference to your professional reputation. Even if you’re only planning for the short term, it’s always best to ensure your online presence accurately reflects the persona you wish to present to employers, giving you the best chance of landing your desired role.
For more personal branding tips or support with your next job search, feel free to get in touch with me.