[This is my latest article as Job-Hunt.org’s Personal Branding Expert]
Like it or not, getting involved with social media and building your personal brand online have become essential components of today’s job search.
If you’re NOT out there – building your online presence, and positioning your unique ROI (Return on Investment) and good-fit qualities in front of recruiters and your target employers – consider yourself invisible to the very people who can help you achieve your career goals.
Your goal should be to continuously build diverse online content about yourself, to provide those assessing you with plenty of information supporting your brand.
But always remember – If you’re in a confidential job search, be very careful of your activity on social media, and any content you post anywhere online. Don’t write or do anything that will “out” your search.
Here are 10 of the best ways to build your personal brand online.
Monitor and Prepare To Build Your Online Presence
1. Make Self-Googling a Routine Practice
Track how many results come up for you when you search “your name” and what they say about you. Is someone else with the same name in the top results?
Are the results about you accurate and consistent with what you want people to know about you? Is there anything unsavory about you that is likely to discredit you and jeopardize the impression you will make on decision-makers? If you find “dirt”, start working to bring positive, on-brand results to the forefront, pushing negative results down to the bottom, where they’ll be less visible.
Your search results can literally change overnight, so it’s wise to get into the routine of monitoring results at least once a week. As you incorporate the suggestions below, check to see how quickly your actions yield search results and where they land in your list of results. This will help you determine whether your efforts are on target.
2. Set Up Google Alerts for “Your Name”
This free service lets you know when people say something about you online. Once you set up an account, Google Alerts will send you an email whenever a search term you’ve provided (“your name” or whatever other words you want) is published on the Internet.
3. Claim Your Name Online
Purchase the domain name “yourname.com” (example, “johnsmith.com”), or a variation.
Your personal URL is the perfect address for your website and/or blog. But even if you don’t plan to launch a website or blog (see #8 below) or don’t know what to do with your personal URL, secure it before someone else does. Many registrars offer domain names for as little as $10-15 a year.
A single Internet destination for all your career and job search marketing materials is becoming a widely-used tactic.
At some point, consider going live with the personal domain name you’ve purchased and set up a website or, even better, a blogsite. Establish a home base for all your career and job search marketing materials, and social media activity. Recruiters and hiring decision makers can easily gain access to everything they need to know about you in one place, with one click.
Embrace Social Media and Build a Consistently Branded Online Presence
4. Create a Brand-Charged Email Signature
Along with your contact information, include an abbreviated version of your personal brand statement, or brand tagline. Add links to your personal blog, website/career portfolio, and/or online social networking profiles (LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) – only if you’re active on those sites. Make it easy for people to get to accurate information about you online.
With more than 300 million users and potential viewers of your profile – most likely including hiring decision makers at your target companies – LinkedIn is undeniably the most important social network for personal branding, job search, and career management.
In fact, not being there can negatively impact your brand and search efforts. If recruiters and hiring decision makers don’t find you there, they may never find you. And lack of a LinkedIn presence brands you as inept or disinterested in social media, which is not acceptable in today’s Internet-driven job search landscape.
At the very least, you need to use LinkedIn for passive job search and building your online presence by creating a brand-reinforcing, fully complete LinkedIn profile, populating all the sections that apply to you . . . even if you don’t take advantage of all the social networking features. But that would be foolish!
6. Google Plus
The overarching value of Google Plus should be obvious. It’s a Google platform, so your profile is likely to land high in your Google search results.
Many job seekers are just beginning to use Google+ to build their brands, so having a strong “About” page with keyword-rich, branded tagline at the top really pushes you ahead of the crowd.
My strategy for building personal branding and online visibility for my clients using a Google+ profile includes writing biography-type content (which is more storytelling-driven than a resume) that includes somewhat different content from their LinkedIn profile.
Along with building another search result for “your name”, a Google+ profile provides diverse information about you, to those assessing you as a potential employee.
7. Get Busy on Social Networks
As noted above, go beyond just using social networks and social media to build your online presence. Show that you’re social media savvy by participating on a few social networks, building an online personal brand communications plan that is realistic for your schedule, and extends across several social networks.
Here are the Big 4 social networks, and tips to leverage them:
→ LI Groups – Join relevant Groups and those where hiring decision makers at your target companies are active. Look at their profiles to see which Groups they belong to. Demonstrate your subject matter expertise and thought leadership by starting discussions and contributing to existing ones.
→ Google+ – Check out the many features offered to help you network, including Circles, Communities, Photo Sharing, Hangouts and a mobile app.
→ Twitter – When leveraged in a professional manner (not merely for chitchat), Twitter can cast a far-reaching net, positioning your personal brand and building visibility and evangelism around your unique promise of value to employers. Even if all you do is retweet hiring decision makers at your target companies and thought leaders in your industry, you’ll gain benefits from Twitter.
→ Facebook – You may think that Facebook is just for catching up with friends and rekindling lost friendships, but many job seekers network their way into jobs using it.
8. Get Involved in Blogging, in Some Way
Search engines love blogs because the content is relevant and constantly updated. Comment and guest blog on relevant blogs and/or consider starting your own blogsite.
Blogging is a great way to share your expertise, build community, and position yourself as a niche expert. It is probably the best way to build credibility and will exponentially increase your search results and visibility.
In any blogging activities, offer useful information. Avoid blatant self-promotion and negative or off-color remarks. Remember that anything you post will become part of the blogosphere. Don’t write anything you may regret later. As a guest blogger, be sure to post an on-brand profile of yourself.
9. Write Book Reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.
Set up an account and personal profile on top booksellers’ sites. Review books that are relevant to your field and areas of expertise. Your bookstore profiles translate to more search results for your name, and your reviews will also land in your search results, and may be picked up and published on many other bookseller sites, greatly increasing your search results.
10. Join and Participate in Professional Associations
Take a look at Job-Hunt’s Directory of Professional and Industry Associations, over 1,100 professional associations to find relevant groups and associations with strong online presence. Choose websites that are being read by your target audience.
Get involved in the associations’ networking opportunities. Contribute to online discussion forums, write blog posts and articles, present teleseminars and/or webinars. Basically, get involved with projects that will receive online press.
More Information about Online Personal Branding
How Strong is Your Executive Brand Online for Job Search?
LinkedIn, Personal Branding & Executive Job Search: Perfect Together
LinkedIn Groups and Personal Branding: Showcase Your Subject Matter Expertise
How Google-Friendly is Your Personal Brand?
Is Google Plus Useful for Personal Branding and Executive Job Search?
How to Use Twitter for Personal Branding and Executive Job Search
Best of Blogging Your Personal Brand for C-level Executive Jobs
Your Email Signature: Another Personal Branding Tool