An online brand refers to your professional image on the internet. From visual marketing tools like portfolios and infographic resumes to social media tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter your online brand is comprised of any and all information created by or about you online and plays an important role in the employment process.
The Importance of an Online Brand
Having an online brand is critical to your job search. Employers may look to your brand when recruiting candidates or when making hiring decisions. A recent report found that 92% of employers use social media to recruit talent and 73% have hired a candidate identified or introduced through social media. If a prospective employer is unable to find you online, they may pass on your application. Your online brand allows employers to learn more about you, your experience, skills, and expertise.
Identifying Your Existing Online Brand
Start identifying and building your brand by assessing your existing online presence. Any information accessible to search engines could be visible to future employers. Google yourself, remove any objectionable content, and update any outdated information. It is worth the effort to regularly clean up your online presence because doing so can improve your candidacy.
Building Your Online Brand
An important part of building your online brand is understanding how to use social media and visual marketing tools together. Used effectively, sites like LinkedIn and Twitter and visual marketing tools like infographic resumes and online portfolios will enable you to create a polished, professional image that helps you connect with others; demonstrate key knowledge/expertise; and allows employers and other key contacts obtain the most recent information about you. Use the brand building tools below to help you start building your brand.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest online professional networking site with more than 175 million members in over 200 countries and territories. It is a critical brand-building tool that allows you to:
Build and manage your professional presence.
Connect professionally with classmates, faculty, family, work or internship colleagues, and other key contacts.
Find new career opportunities.
Manage and maintain your list of professional contacts.
Most professionals use and take LinkedIn seriously. While an established presence on Facebook is good, a strong, polished presence on LinkedIn can set you apart in the job market. Use the information below to start building your brand on LinkedIn.
Your profile is a summary of your professional experience, interests, and capabilities. Prospective employers may turn to your LinkedIn profile in response to your application or as they look for potential candidates. Take the following steps to create a professional profile:
Once you complete your profile, you should build your “connections". Consider connecting to AU classmates, internship colleagues, and your personal network of family and friends. Maintain your connections and learn who in your network works for organizations of interest to you. When building connections, be sure to personalize your invitations to connect.
Example: “Hi Peggy, I enjoyed working with you during my internship at the ABC Company. I’d love keep in touch and connect with you here on Linkedin. Best, Mary.”
Expand Your Network
Grow and engage your network with LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn groups allow you to connect with like-minded people, professional organizations, alumni, and causes that interest you. Use groups to identify and engage in trending topics, follow influential people, and search for career opportunities.
Researching companies is another great way to grow your network. Following companies can help you identify contacts for informational interviews and learn about news and job openings.
Twitter is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions, and news. If you are looking to obtain internships, full-time jobs, or networking opportunities you should use Twitter to improve your industry knowledge and social media marketing skills.
Active job seekers should follow a targeted list of companies on Twitter and send tweets regularly. A professional tweet should engage employers and industries of interest. Your professional tweets should include questions, address trending topics, and/or demonstrate your subject-matter knowledge and interest.
Following a targeted list of employers allows you to stay connected to companies of interest to you; market your social media skills; and learn about news, job openings, and important contacts. You can often find a company’s twitter handle (or username) online, on promotional materials, in the news, or on a business card. Remain active by retweeting and replying to employer tweets and asking questions. Staying active on Twitter can make you noticeable and boost your professional credibility.
In managing and maintaining your presence on Twitter, it is important that you regularly monitor activity. Doing so allows you to maintain your contacts, improve your professional knowledge, and could turn you into a subject matter expert. Take advantage of Twitter's activity tab to review the latest favorites, retweets, and follows from your Twitter followers. Stay up-to-date on the latest news and information from employers or industry experts and share new ideas and insights.
Track Your Impact
To track your impact and professional progress on Twitter, use the interactions tab to see new followers, retweets, favorite tweets, or users that have added you to a list. The interactions tab allows you to easily follow up and continue conversations with employers or important followers.
Remember to use hashtags before a relevant keyword or phrase to categorize your tweets and make them more accessible in searches. An employer or organization of interest could retweet or share your content.
Facebook is more than a social outlet; it is also an important career tool. According to a recent Jobvite poll, 44 percent of all social media job-seeking activity happens on Facebook. With this in mind and depending on your use, you may wish to keep your Facebook account public, private, or grant certain individuals access to certain sections.
Alternatively, you may consider creating a separate account for professional use. It is important to remember, however, that anything you post on Facebook could be visible to future employers, so be mindful of your content.
Include a professional picture and build a compelling, professional profile that includes your recent education and job history. Your profile should demonstrate what you've accomplished, your strengths, and what you can offer future employers.
Remember that anything you include in your profile may be visible to future employers so keep your content professional and make sure that your privacy settings reflect the content you wish to share.
Build Your Network
Facebook professional and alumni groups or pages are a great place to start building your professional network. Many professional pages advertise conferences and networking opportunities on Facebook. If you’re interested in working for a specific company or organization, “like” their fan page to learn about career opportunities and company news.
Start discussions with people and organizations to which you subscribe by answering questions, making introductions, and linking to informative content through wall posts or status updates.
Building Your Brand: Visual Marketing
An infographic resume is a visual timeline that details your work history and professional skills and illustrates who you are as a candidate. Infographic resumes often contain images, data/charts, text, and color that describe your experience and expertise in a visual way. Infographic resumes are appealing in certain industries and to many employers because they are a representation of your creative skills. Some of these industries include public relations, marketing, and graphic design.
You can create an infographic resume entirely on your own or use online tools that assist you in building one. Several applications including visualize.me, Re.Vu, Kinzaa, and Brazen offer free tools that allow you to create dynamic infographic resumes.
While many employers find infographic resumes appealing, it is important that you create a traditional resume as well. Learn about other resume formats and choose one appropriate for the industry and position for which you're applying.
Online portfolios traditionally come in three forms: a blog, a website, or a dedicated solution. Your portfolio can include your resume, writing samples, digital images of your graphic design work or artwork, and/or video and audio files. An online portfolio is designed to showcase your work and should be tailored to your target career goals and audience. It is an important tool to use if you are applying for positions in film/video, design, journalism, or other positions that require examples of your work. Here are some important things to keep in mind when preparing and designing your online portfolio.
Showcase Your Best Work
When preparing your portfolio, choose your best work (quality over quantity) and, if applicable, showcase a variety of mediums including print, broadcast, and online.
Organize Your Work
Organize your work in a way that is simple enough for employers to understand; make it easy for them to skim the page.
When designing your portfolio, make sure that you emphasize the results of your work. Demonstrate how you wrote or designed the materials and discuss the impact of your work.
Create an “About Me” Page/Section
The importance of an “About Me” page/section cannot be overestimated. Potential employers will visit this page or section to find out who you are, what qualifications and experience you have, to assess your trustworthiness and reliability, and/or for more information about your work. Creating this section or page is an important part of building your brand.