A brand is a powerful thing. Without branding there is no way that high-end fashion houses could get away with charging as much as they do for their products, it is why you choose certain drinks and snacks over others, and it is as much about a lifestyle as it is a name. However, it is not just companies that have a brand identity these days. With your online presence you are something of a brand yourself – but have you ever thought about how your social media and other online activity creates and forms your personal brand? Employers, universities, and other institutions can and do search online to see what sort of a person you are – so looking at your online presence and understanding what sort of social media user you are – are important.
- Google Yourself
Have you ever put your name into google and seen what it comes up with? Give it a go (as well as searching with your name alongside any past employers, schools, your home town, etc). If you find anything that could be embarrassing or harm your prospects, it is worth seeing who you can contact to have the offending post or picture taken down. Even if you can’t change what is out there, if you at least know, you can at least prepare for any awkward questions! Don’t forget to do an image search too!
Facebook may not quite be the all-powerful social media forum it once was, but a lot of companies and institutions use it, so you will need to check your account too. This is especially true if you think there is anything problematic on there – including photos that others may have posted and tagged you in. Remove unwanted posts and untag yourself from potentially embarrassing pictures. You should also make sure your privacy settings are as private as possible so that your employers can’t see your whole profile and all your images.
- Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest
Be sure to remove any controversial comments and content or embarrassing pictures from these sites. What may have seemed like some harmless fun or banter among you and your friends could easily prove to be insulting or offensive for others. It is fine to have a personality – but keep it professional!
While it can be a problem, you can also use social media to get a job. One social media site that you may want to get started with is LinkedIn. It is the professional side of social media and should be treated as such when you put your own profile together. You can use it to sell yourself professionally to any potential employer or apprenticeship provider, so get someone to proof-read it for you, and make sure your profile picture is professional-looking too.
Your online presence isn’t just based around social media – you might have written an article for a blog or online magazine – if it is relevant, then by all means highlight it in your CV. Writing a good covering letter is one thing, but why not also use your online writing to help promote yourself? You could show an interest in a particular subject or industry, for example. Of course, on the other hand, if your blogging could prove detrimental to your career prospects, you might want to address that too!
These days, employers and institutions will expect you to have some sort of online profile. The trick is using it to your advantage and making sure there are no unwanted posts or pictures hidden away ready to trip you up!