Online personal branding can help you stand out when applying for jobs.
While on the job search, college students are learning the importance of a “personal brand.” That is, an accessible image, personality and digital presence that will get you noticed by the right people for the right reasons.
So you’ve created your social media accounts and perfected your resume. Make sure you pay attention to these three areas of personal branding to make your name stand out.
Right off the bat, you need to determine what you want your personal brand to say about you. Who is your target audience? What tone is going to speak to those people?
Social media is a double-edged sword; we have the power to communicate with huge audiences even before we’ve established ourselves professionally, and that can make for a great head start. However, effectively using social media to cultivate a personal brand identity requires a commitment to a consistent persona across platforms.
Being yourself makes things a whole lot easier — determine the “you” that you want to employers and colleagues to know, and then post in that vein on all of your accessible social media profiles. That doesn’t mean you have to be perfect or robotic; the advantage of social media is it gives people a chance to see the personality behind the resume.
But if that personality isn’t consistent throughout your online presence, it loses credibility. So, say you have a well-connected LinkedIn account that promotes your outstanding portfolio, but your Facebook profile picture features your red Solo cup more than you? Well, a red cup is a red flag, so ditch the party pics and treat your Facebook with the same attitude as your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.
Tweet, tweet, tweet
Speaking of Twitter! Sure, it’s great for finding the latest cat meme, but Twitter is also a great venue for interfacing with professional contacts. Start following influential people in your field. Organize them into a Twitter list so that you can isolate them from your friend’s tweets and start interacting.
It’s simple: Tweet back. Reply to their posts with opinions, questions, observations and relevant links. Get a dialogue going; it’s both an opportunity to learn and to gain some clout.
The most common mistake that people make when trying to create an identity on their Twitter is posting exclusively on their own page. Get your ideas out there on other people’s posts, especially those whom you admire. Don’t let your age or lack of experience dissuade you from making those contacts. They’ll love the chatter, and pretty soon they just might follow you.
Stories of employment gained over serendipitous social media interactions are becoming more common by the day. Just this month, one college student landed an internship on the new randomized video chat service, Airtime.
After scoring the gig, Daniel Wein told Mashable, “I didn’t approach the conversation as a proposition for an internship. I approached it as talking to someone who had a mutual interest and we just talked.”
Take note: Opportunities don’t typically come to those who hunt the feeds. Build relationships and let those professional contacts take you where they may. Whether it ends in a hire or just a quick chat, it’ll rarely be a waste of your time.
Search engine optimization
We all do it. Of course, usually it’s alone in your bedroom and you turn on the private browser. You know what I’m talking about: Googling yourself. Throw your name in the search bar and evaluate the links that appear on the first and even second page. Put yourself into a stranger’s shoes and decide if you like the image they’re patching together from those links.
If not, start with a LinkedIn profile — it’s got great SEO power and will fly to the top of your search results. Make your professional and academic credits easily accessible.
Next, make an About.me page. It’s both free and easy as KidPix, giving you a clean and crisp personal page that acts as an interactive business card on the Web. Like the LinkedIn profile, your About.me will be one of the first Google search hits so you can take some control over what people see when they Google you.
And since chances are you aren’t using it anyway, turn your Google+ profile into a professional launch pad. It’s easily searchable and can double as a visible blog for ideas and aspirations.
Ultimately, a personal brand is about promoting a strong and consistent personality that clearly articulates your strengths, your goals and your relatability.
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