Preparing for a job search? Many of us start by pulling together our resumes. But resume content is only a piece of how we present ourselves. Who are you and how do you want to portray your persona to potential employers? Think about this and take the steps to ensure your personal brand tells an authentic story. Here are some suggestions for getting started:
1. Find yourself.
Run an online search for yourself and see what comes up publicly. Adjust your privacy settings to showcase what you want an employer to know before meeting you. It isn’t always possible, but if content appears that you don’t feel will resonate well, do what you can to remove it.
2. Think about your voicemail, email and texting.
Your contact information, which includes a professional e-mail address and voicemail, should, of course, be listed on your resume. Stick with a contemporary domain like Gmail and avoid seeming out of touch with an AOL address. Sidestep email addresses with obvious dates that may be associated with age or graduation dates.
Keep your voicemail greeting succinct and professional, and don’t record background noises. Include your name and request the caller’s name, purpose for calling and contact information. And don’t forget to actually listen to your voicemail messages!
Texting has gained popularity with recruiters, so during the interview process, ask if this is a viable communication option. Keep messages professional and concise and avoid emojis or abbreviations like TTYL, LOL or WTF.
Texting is ideal for things like coordinating an interview or requesting a callback. Like a phone call, keep the timing of your text messages to normal business hours.
3. Harness LinkedIn’s branding power.
Choose the right photo.
Include a strong headshot. Avoid obvious looking selfies or cropped photos from a group picture. Be sure your photo is up to date and looks like you. Dress appropriately as if you were going to work and smile for the camera! Be sure there’s brightness is in the room – you want people to see your photo and not be distracted by poor quality.
Use LinkedIn to build your professional, personal brand. Who you follow, what you post and what you share says a lot about you, so make it meaningful and worthwhile.
Post relevant content. Follow individuals and organizations related to your career, your goals and your interests. Engage by commenting and liking posts and commentary. Share other people’s posts with your thoughts included. In return, your network will be more likely to engage with you.
Ask for recommendations.
I like reading recommendations from supervisors, direct reports, client and peers. Ask for recommendations and be sure to offer them in return.
Expand your network.
LinkedIn is a great tool to keep in touch with people, so build an authentic network with real connections and groups of interests. Start with individuals you’ve worked with, friends and family, then move onto interest groups, alumni organizations and companies you want to know about. Avoid over-adding people you don’t know – this could result in LinkedIn restrictions if you’re flagged as “I don’t know this person” too many times.
4. Check your other profiles.
What about Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? Review your profiles and content and ask yourself what they say about you as a person. Do they reveal an amount of information and the kinds of detail you are comfortable with? Again, check your privacy settings and avoid sharing content that makes you look in any way unprofessional.
During your job search, take the opportunity to craft your personal brand. With the critical roles of social media and technology in the recruiting process, it’s more important than ever before.
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