For recent and soon-to-be college grads, social media is a common tool for communicating with friends, but are your personal accounts acceptable for your future boss to see? The way you come across online may need to involve developing a professional identity more than you would think. Branding yourself has to do with knowing who you are, making connections with who you’re trying to reach, and connection with them by choosing the proper networks. Since branding is the way you present yourself from whatever angle you choose, you are in control of everything you say.
Jacob Share of PersonalBrandingBlog gives great tips on branding yourself online include showing your expertise as much as you can, promoting your brand-related accomplishments, making yourself easy to communicate with, following other people in your industry including influential accounts, and including personal brand information in your email signature among other places.
No matter which social media outlets you decide to use, make sure you have no grammatical errors when posting and sharing. This may immediately indicate to potential employers that you aren’t professional or careful online. You’ll want to think of how you can stick out from the crowd and make impressions by being unique. Your personal profiles can reflect your ability to use social media and even indicate your personality traits to employers. With that being said, you should represent yourself the way you would in a job interview and consider what will pop up when your name is googled or mentioned in conversation.
Based on a study done by Harris Interactive for CareerBuilder.com, 45 percent of employers questioned said they use social networks to look up job candidates. 35% of the employers admitted they found content to make them not want to hire the candidate. Alcohol and drinking references as well as inappropriate photos were the most common reasons not to hire the candidates. It’s important to realize that anything online can be seen by future employers so make sure you don’t post anything that would bring something negative to their company. Use common sense because you will be noticed based on what you say and do.
There’s a line you shouldn’t cross between your personal and professional life online. Jessica Miller-Merrell of Brand-Yourself suggests that your posts should be at least 70% business related, but the other 30% should still be wise and thought-through. Getting feedback and input on what you post should be a goal to help establish your online presence. .
Twitter is a great resource to look for jobs. There are hashtags made up especially for job hunters such as #jobhuntchat, #HFchat, and Hirefriday. Ginny Toll of GinnyToll.com says, “If you can create a targeted community of followers who will retweet your message to their community then you are hitting your market place.” She also mentions that it’s not about quantity in terms of followers, but quality.
Use Facebook to build relationships, take advantage of the “LIKE” button, and follow companies that you’re interested in or are brand-related. Once you’ve contacted them remain excited and interested in their company because sometimes great opportunities will arise. You can use sites such as VisualCV for recruitment and career management, and search for job posts on LinkedIn. You can even make use of LinkedIn Groups. The more involved you are with groups, the more you’ll get out of it in this professional and formal setting by getting your name out there to as many employees as possible.
Writing a blog is also a good way to connect with employers to make them want to hire you by offering new, relevant content in addition to sharing knowledge and experience you’ve accumulated in your interest areas. If you research blogs similar to yours, you can engage with audiences on forums that will gain you more exposure. It may be wise to invest time and/or money into social media platforms that will make you stand out rather than having low quality websites and risking bad impressions. Getting a head start on branding yourself may pay off sooner than you think.
Kristina Lopienski is a junior at Goshen College where she is studying Business. Since June 2011 she has been and currently is an intern for Freshlime. She has been using social media marketing working on projects for several clients that range from a popular cafe in Downtown Chicago to a large Agricultural Irrigation Sales & Service company. Kristina’s work has included social media strategy and management, research, email marketing, website design, and more.