Today, I talked to Today’s THV about recent college grads looking for jobs in a tough market when everything you can do to stand out makes a difference.
It is time for college grads to start their job searches and the competition is stiff for the number of jobs compared to the number of candidates. Standing out among the competition is more important than ever. And an online brand can make all the difference in getting the call for an interview.
When it comes to an online brand for these candidates, there is a seeming indifference. They are restricting their professional lives and online representation to LinkedIn, then write and post about anything and everything but their career of choice. The bottom line: your are getting Googled before you get called for an interview. And searched on Facebook and Twitter. And the potential employer is definitely looking you up on LinkedIn. Do you know what they will find when they perform these searches? What do you want them to find? It is time to think about yourself through the lens of an potential employer. This isn’t just about removing embarrassing moments, but also about showing that you are curious and intelligent. Think about who you are and what job you want; this is your personal “brand.”
Here are some tips for getting started:
- Build online profiles in places and with content relevant to your personal brand. Determine where to do this and what to talk about based on the searches you do related to your industry, your specific career interests and your location. Look up the people that you admire in your industry and those that you would likely be interviewing with: what are they doing that you can emulate?
- Google yourself. What do you find? What would you like an employer to find? Google your likely competition for the job. What are they doing that you can learn from?
- Get your LinkedIn profile fully completed. Too many LinkedIn profiles have only a name and the school from which they graduated. Fill in all the fields. Tell your personal, professional and educational story. Think about it like telling a story.
- Create a “professional” blog around your interests in the industry in which you want to work. While a personal blog is great and can help potential employers get to know you, if you are writing about the industry relevant to your degree and the job you are seeking, they can see that you are really interested in the work and know what you are talking about. Use Google Alerts, Twitter searches and blog subscriptions (RSS feeds, Google Reader) to stay on top of your industry, then write about it. Create original content; writing about your own discoveries shows that you’re processing the information you are reading.
- Create a public Twitter profile for sharing industry and professional news. If you have a personal Twitter profile that you don’t want potential employers to see, go ahead and protect that and keep using it as you have before, but make sure you have all the privacy settings adjusted. Respond to thought leaders in your industry via Twitter. Show that you have an opinion and a backbone.
- Adjust your privacy settings in Facebook so that only friends can see your content. Be wary of friending potential employers, employers and co-workers. Consider the content that you post to Facebook and what you want them to see. Facebook has sophisticated privacy options: if you are not comfortable not friending someone, consider categorizing them to only see certain content. If there are pictures that others have posted of you that are not flattering, consider un-tagging yourself (once you have untagged yourself from a picture, you can not be retagged).
- Consider creating a website for your resume where you provide links to all of your online presences, making it very easy for an employer to see all that you are and all that you are doing. How can you be creative in the way you display your resume? Think about using video as a way to personalize the resume.
Keep in mind that the differences between a personal brand and professional brand online are blurring. You can have separate profiles, but it is hard to maintain and mistakes can be made. And Google can find almost anything. It is better to assume that everything you put online will be seen by a potential employer or employer and be mindful of what you put out there.