As a college student, you more than likely have a Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. But would you really want any potential employers seeing those social media sites? At this point, probably not. You may have something like #WhiteGirlWasted in your Twitter bio, or you may have some pictures of you partying on Instagram, but so what? Right? Wrong. On the internet, it is very easy to find things and very easy for employers to find things you may not want them to find. This is why creating and maintaining your personal brand is important.
One of the first things you can do in creating your personal brand is setting yourself up a LinkedIn account. LinkedIn is a social media site for professional individuals and a place where you can showcase your skills and experience. It’s a place where you can post about the awards you’ve won, the accomplishments you’ve made, the classes you’ve taken and the jobs you’ve had. A place where your profile picture is a professional head shot, not a picture of you doing a keg stand. LinkedIn is a great way to connect with friends, coworkers, professors and industry professionals. Its also a great way to follow major companies, important people and news.
Another thing you can do to establish your own personal brand is to go to brandyourself.com and check out your “grade”. This website allows you to essentially Google yourself and filter through the results, determining what is a good result for your name, a bad result and what isn’t even you. This makes it so instead of seeing your MySpace that you created at 13, employers or professionals will see your blog or LinkedIn account.
Barry S. Saltzman has a good understanding of why personal branding is important:
“At this point, it’s established that personal branding is important for a number of reasons. It provides a clear focus for personal development while establishing yourself as a thought leader. It also works wonders for career success, allowing individuals to pursue whatever it is that they’re passionate about. The mutual relationship between career success and personal branding is a truly unique dynamic that, when understood, has the potential to launch a person to new heights”
Personal branding is just as important as branding a product. For example, when you think of Apple, you most likely think of iPhones and Macs, not the actual fruit. That’s because Apple has established itself as a brand and has distinguished itself from the competition. That is exactly what you want to do for yourself. Make yourself noticeable in all the good ways.
An article on Forbes.com written by Jarrett McCraw talks about the 5 essential characteristics of a strong brand, stating the following:
- Digitally Savvy
While all of these characteristics were intended to be used for product branding, they could also be used for personal branding as well. It’s important to make sure your experience is listed when trying to brand yourself. That could mean not including absolutely every experience you’ve had, if necessary. Meaning, if you’ve had a job for two days then quit, you most likely should not include that as experience. It’s also important to be digitally savvy in this ever-changing world of technology.
Last but not least, it is especially important to make sure your personal branding feels real and not fake or forced. You want people to see who you are not who you’re pretending to be. You want to exaggerate your good qualities that make you stand out and make sure those qualities outshine your bad ones. You also want to make sure your personal Facebook is hard to find, not deleted, and so on. You can read more about that aspect of personal branding here.