Creating your Online Brand through Social Media

Social media allows you to advertise your personal “brand” and demonstrate your skills, values, and professionalism in the digital space. However, it’s important to remember that your branding efforts must work together as a cohesive and coherent ‘ad campaign’ that highlights why you are a great candidate.

You can also use your brand to establish credibility. Tweeting, blogging and commenting about on industry-related content or areas of interest will increase your visibility; when an employer searches for you online, they’ll find a knowledgeable individual who can fit well into their company.

Step One: Find Your Brand

“Personal branding” refers to a broad set of options for marketing your name, personality, expertise, style – in short, your “brand.”  Personal branding is an ongoing process of marketing yourself to others in rich, interactive ways. Like most components of the job search, start by looking inwards.  A coherent, explicit understanding of your career goals as well as your strengths, passions, and specialties is your best tool in developing a personal brand. To find the right brand for you, you need to focus on what makes you unique.

If you have difficulty determining your personal brand, here is an exercise to help:

Personal Brand Values Exercise

  1. Identify 5 product brands you distinctly like, and write them down. (e.g. Nike, Apple, Coca-Cola etc.)
  2. Write specific attributes of the brand that you like.
  3. Circle or identify common themes across all five brands.
  4. These traits that come up repeatedly are your personal brand values.
  5. Jot down a few ways you could advertise these personal brand values to advance your job search.

Step Two: Promote Yourself

Social media widely expands your network. Instead of only having your friends and family to reach out to as contacts, social media allows you to see the friends and family of all of your connections. You can see who they are, where they work and how you know them. Social media also allows you to make a more personal connection with a potential employer who may not recruit on campus or be near your current location. By interacting with them online, you can get their attention in a way that you wouldn’t previously be able to.

Alternatively, employers use social media to vet potential candidates. If they can’t find you online, you may be eliminated from an applicant pool before you even have a chance to interview.

Step Three: Don’t Overdo It

It’s crucial not to “saturate the market” with an overwhelming number of different methods of personal branding and job searching online.  Some people might find it more effective to make a concerted effort in only one or two strictly professional social networks, whereas others might focus their efforts on an industry-specific blog that highlights their specialties.  Take the time to get familiar with the more professional social networks such as LinkedIn before moving on to the next new technology.

With each new thing that you try, always remember your strategy – to convey your skills and values to potential employers and networking contacts. If you can’t achieve that on a certain network, don’t feel bad about moving on to something else that works for you and makes good use of your time.

Step Four: Maintain Your Network

It’s important to continue using social networking sites and in-person networking even after you have secured a job. First, you should maintain these connections because you may be able to give back to another job-seeker either through sharing information or direct leads. If there weren’t generous people like this online, you wouldn’t have been as successful in your job search.

In addition, you never know when you may need that network again. Maintaining throughout your career ensures that you have it available whenever you may need it. You don’t want to re-build your network from scratch every time you decide you want to move to a new position.