Students, it’s never too early to pay a little attention to your personal brand.
You may think, well I have a long time to go before I need to worry about resumes and interviews and the job hunt in general. But your online presence begins from the moment your fingertips touch the keypad (or touch screen) so the earlier you start thinking about building a powerful online presence, the better.
Employers Google individuals before they call you in for an interview, and the most damaging thing is having a whole heap of negative things show up as the first results. The same goes for absolutely no information coming up about you at all.
The results of this Google search, determine whether you get the job. So one damning Tweet for example could ruin the opportunity. Your online presence on your social media profiles says a lot about you. They reflect your personality, likes, dislikes and abilities, and recruiters are making life changing decisions based on what they find.
Its important that high school and university students get on top of this early and establish a strong and professional online presence. But where do you start.
Here are 3 steps to get students started on building their personal brand:
1. Know what is out there about you
Do your own Google search. What comes up? Are their things on there that will sway a hiring managers opinion of you? Make sure that you deactivate all the accounts you no longer use, and for the ones that you do, ensure that you activate your privacy settings, and that your profile photo/s that are visible are professional. The best way to determine whether something is appropriate or not is to think, ‘If your mum or grandmother was to see it, what would she say?’.
2. Create your personal brand
Be sure that your name is showing up on Google when someone searches for you. You can do this by putting all of your social media pages and your personal website in your own name. If someone with the same name as you has managed to secure those handles, add in your middle name or initial.
The idea is that you own and control as much of your personal brand as you can and the first place to start is by owning your name online.
Next you want to figure out what your message is going to be. What are you going to be known for? And ensure that this is consistent across your social media pages and your personal website. So what does your message consist of? It should reveal your interests and strengths, experience and future intentions. The idea is to show employers who will look at your social profiles in the future, that you should be considered for the position. By completing this step you are putting yourself ahead of the rest, and separating yourself from the pack.
Be careful about what you say, do and share publicly. Mind your spelling and grammar as well. These seem like simple mistakes, but it would be a travesty to be put in the ‘no’ pile after one spelling error.
3. Take advantage of social media
Use social media to connect with others and share your interests. You really want to stand out and be unique. Twitter is a great starting place to build your following and become a thought leader in your area of interest. Get started by following people of interest and comment on what they are sharing.
Be sure to engage at a minimum twice a week (not during class time!) but if you really want to build your engagement then daily updates are the way to go. Read about what’s happening in your area of interest, listen to opinions and share your findings and thoughts. Social media is a great way to keep up to date with the latest happenings in your industry of interest, it is a powerful learning tool.
You can also think about starting a personal blog to become a thought leader. This will also help to increase your visibility and create more of a following. It’s a place where you can share more about yourself and your passions, eventually you can attach your resume and share your portfolio.
Today it’s easier to build your brand and get noticed than ever before. At a young age you can start to build your online presence and more importantly your credibility, and you also have a window into the workings of companies that generations before you did not. Use this information to your advantage, be the best that you can be, be active online, craft your personal brand and send a strong and professional message to recruiters in the future.