Managing your personal brand online

5 minutes
Tracey George

By Tracey George

You would almost certainly research a potential employer online before an interview

but have you ever considered that they are most likely going to do the same? In fact, 93% of employers said they will search for your social media profiles during the interview process. Even if you ace the interview and are a perfect fit for the role, if any employer sees something about you online that puts them off, they may think twice about offering you the job.

The good news is that spending some time cleaning up your online personal brand can really pay off in the long run. Not only does it mean that interviewers will like what they see, but it can also establish you as someone at the forefront of your profession, so future employers and recruiters are more likely to headhunt you.

Take control

The first step in managing your online brand is to audit what’s currently out there and lock down anything you don’t want made public.

Google yourself and see what results come up (don’t forget to do an image search as well). Does it make you sound professional and dedicated? You may be able to get any unflattering photos or comments removed by the site’s owner.

Most social media sites give you the option to view your posts and profile as a member of the public would see them. If you’re not happy for everything you post to be made public, use the privacy settings to control your content.

Many professionals now choose to have some accounts, e.g., Facebook or Instagram, limited to family and friends only, while keeping others, such as LinkedIn or Twitter, available to everyone, including potential employers. Separating your private and professional accounts in this way makes it easier to control your personal brand.

Write an elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a short, succinct statement (ideally one sentence) that sums up who you are, what you do and how you do it better than anyone else. The idea is to gain someone’s initial attention, so you can go on to give them more details.

You can use your elevator pitch to introduce yourself on your professional online profiles and capture a potential employer’s interest. Condensed even further, it can also help you write a great professional headline on LinkedIn – far too many people leave this as their current job title and miss a great opportunity to make themselves stand out.

Create an online portfolio

Although you can use LinkedIn to create an online portfolio, it’s usually far better to have a standalone dedicated website. There are loads on online platforms like WordPress that make it super simple and cheap to create a basic personal website, just make sure you register your own domain name.

You can use your online portfolio to showcase examples of work you have done, or projects or campaigns you have contributed to. Include any appearances in the industry press, professional awards, articles you have written etc. You can even include quotes from your annual reviews. Portfolios have traditionally been used to showcase creative work, but they are a great way to give more context to practically any role.

Use a professional photo

It is absolutely essential to include a professional photo with your social media profiles – LinkedIn profiles with a photo get 21 times more profile views and 9 times more connection requests than those without.

One of the most common online branding mistakes is to use your favourite photo of you on holiday or a night out. Instead, you need a headshot of yourself professionally dressed and smiling in front of a plain white or coloured background. If you can’t afford a photographer, ask a friend to take one instead.

Build your connections

To improve the chances of your professional online profile being seen, it’s important to connect with as many other relevant professionals as possible. The more connections you have in LinkedIn, for example, the higher your profile is going to appear in searches for people with your job title or skills.

Make sure you’re connected to people you’ve worked with, peers and contacts and keep adding people as you encounter them in real life.

Create some content

Once you’ve made sure all your professional social media profiles are up to date, it’s time to prove your expertise in your field by adding some content. Pick a popular topic in your field and give your opinion on it or share some ‘how to’ tips around work you’ve done recently. This shows that not only do you know what you’re talking about, you’re also willing to share your knowledge with others and help your discipline to evolve.

One of the simplest ways to start is to find a quote on a hot topic in an industry publication and briefly give your take on it. Do you agree or disagree? Do you have personal experience of that topic from your own job you could share?

Once you’ve posted your thoughts on your website, blog or LinkedIn, make sure you share links to the article on all your professional social media channels. Including relevant hashtags when you post can help your content to reach even further.

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