By Wayne R. Bodie, MBA, SPHR
Nowadays pretty much everyone is personal branding savvy, even non-techies. Very much like a product on a store shelf, the way we dress sends a strong message to those around us. So, obviously it pays dividends to invest in the right clothes, personal fitness, and to exercise presentable grooming techniques.
But You Are Smart, You Already Knew That.
So, let’s segue into much more topical issues. How much thought are you putting into your digital footprint? If you are in Human Resources or Operations, you already recognize how prominently social media factors into sourcing and researching potential talent. What your social media presence says about you today will have a huge bearing on your future employment successes.
The days of using a passive approach to social media have come and gone. If you don’t have a social media presence, you better get one. The absence of an online presence can be almost as detrimental to your future job opportunities as having a poorly presented brand. Resisting social media will affect your marketability.
At a bare minimum, if you haven’t done so already get a LinkedIn account up and running. To blow away the ever-expanding competition, consider spending money on the most important facet of your profile, a professional headshot. That investment pays off when that positive first impression entices the viewer to read further.
But, how do you leverage your personal brand into a much larger brand? Keep that LinkedIn account current with your most recent educational and professional history. Fill out as much profile information as you can include skills, achievements, and certifications. Once the basics are in place, you can regularly work the account. This means soliciting endorsements, writing and sharing industry relevant content, and arguably the most important strategy will be developing key relationships. This isn’t your social account, this is a business network. Avoid collecting connections that serve no strategic importance.
Start conversations, interact and join groups. Carry those relationships offline and meet for coffee to talk shop, or plan an after-hour networking mixer. Take a little time each day to work on your social media account and establish professional, valuable, and strategic business partnerships, not just “connections.” Meet a vendor or two that can undercut a current price or provide a better service. This justifies time well spent.
Don’t Stop There!
Consider a piece of digital real-estate to call home. A personal website and a custom URL is not just for graphic designers or amateur photographers anymore. Regardless of your industry, a personal website is the new norm that delivers wonderful opportunities to further develop your brand and be creative too. Don’t believe me? Fill out a couple of online resume’s today in any industry and see how many now ask for your Linked-In URL and your personal website.
A Final Suggestion
Take the time to tidy up your personal Facebook account.Even if your privacy settings are set to: (1) not show on search engines or (2) can only be seen by friends, don’t be shocked if your interviewer, a recruiter or hiring manager asks you to log into your Facebook account. It is happening with greater frequency every day. Don’t let pictures of a seemingly innocent night out with an old friend end up costing you a six-figure job opportunity.
It’s no secret traditional networking is a huge advantage in a job search. Personal connections land most jobs. The good old-fashioned way still gets results so pick up the phone and dial a friend. But the remaining 20% of positions available that everybody battles for will be online. In this heated arena, only the very best branded online candidates will triumph over those poorly represented or worst yet, those having no online branding at all.