August 25, 2011

Build Your Personal Brand, Get Hired

Personal Branding on StagePersonal branding isn’t exactly a fresh concept – the term has been around for at least a decade. It’s generally understood that by building up your personal brand, you position yourself as a desirable resource to others.

Thanks to technology and social media, the concept has been steadily evolving, and the strategy behind building your brand has changed significantly since its inception. At its most basic level, personal branding has become inseparable from your Internet reputation and social media presence.

So what does all this mean for job seekers? Making your name stand out amongst the faceless masses seems like an incredibly daunting marketing task for the average person. Looking for employment is a full time job, and most job seekers don’t have the time to spend all day on Twitter and LinkedIn spreading their influence (or building it from scratch the minute they need a new job.)

But job seekers don’t need to fully immerse themselves in the craft of personal brand building to reap some of its most important benefits. With few simple, easy steps, job seekers can gain creditability and increase their overall exposure to recruiters and hiring managers – leading to more job opportunities. Try these steps as part of your job hunting strategy:

  1. Get your name out there: It’s likely you already have a Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+ account. If so, you’re already on your way to establishing a strong Internet presence. Make sure you set at least one of these social channels as “public” to increase your visibility to recruiters and employers. You want to be found as easily as possible – within the top ten results of a Google search is desirable. Having a blog or an online portfolio of work will also help you stand out. Use very descriptive words to describe what you do – your skills and accomplishments.
  2. Build up a reputation:When you apply for jobs, its very likely that you’ll be screened based on your web presence. The first thing an employer will do is check your credentials and information online. Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for unsavory information – reasons not to hire you. Take advantage of this fact by filling the Internet with positive examples of yourself. LinkedIn recommendations, intelligent forum discussions, and insightful article posts all make a great impression when you’re trying to get hired.
  3. Manage your web presence: Now that you’ve left a trail of breadcrumbs for recruiters to follow, it’s time to sit back and relax, right? Not a chance – you need to regularly, or at least semi-frequently update you web presence to stay relevant and appear actively engaged in your industry. The online persona you’ve been building is the start of your personal brand – a reflection of you as a solid candidate for hire. Going forward, the amount of effort you want to put in is up to you, but you’ve already laid the foundation of a great career platform
  4. Think like an employer: When crafting your various profiles on social media and places like your website, be sure to think like an employer. For example, if you are a software engineer specializing in Java, do you think employers are looking for software engineers? No, they look for Java Developers in New York (for example.) If you’re a pharmaceutical salesperson, don’t call yourself a business development specialist or other names – load up your profile with the most commonly searched for titles – Pharmaceutical Sales Executive, for example. Try to view your profile as someone would who is quickly scanning for keywords – like a recruiter or employer.

With a little attention, your personal brand is easy to manage. If you haven’t spent the last five years building up a follower base, don’t worry – it really won’t hurt you unless you are applying for a job in social media. Instead, think of your Internet presence and profiles as a business card, a simple placeholder to get attention that you normally wouldn’t. Be sure that your social profiles are focused, highly detailed, and professional. Good luck out there!

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Marie is a writer for covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.