Building a personal brand

For many it may feel cringeworthy, but with employers checking social media before recruiting, the time is now to build a personal brand.

If the thought of creating your personal brand makes your eyes roll, or creates visions of Instagram wannabes posing endlessly as they try to convince advertisers to sponsor them, you’re not alone. The idea that everyday people need a brand seems far-fetched. However, our obsession with social media means it is now almost a necessity to brand ourselves, as our lives are now on display for all to see.

If you’re not planning on ever changing jobs then you don’t need to worry. But it’s not just employers who are looking at your online profiles, it’s also potential employees and people who might want to connect with you online. These people are making value judgements on your posts. So if your online image is not reflective of who you really are, you may have to invest some time tidying it up and conscientiously managing your content.

Many companies now withhold job offers until they have completed an analysis of your digital life. It’s one reason why there is a growth in companies offering to delete people’s digital history. Schools are running education sessions to explain the effect your teenage digital brand can have on your career, with an emphasis on the negative side.

There’s no cause for panic. You don’t need to hire a brand consultant or even a makeup artist for a photo shoot. You just need to be honest and not appear to try too hard to be something you’re not. If you’re not sure what to post, the best place to start is with what you like to do, as it will be more authentic. Let your personality shine through and don’t apologise for being yourself. This means you won’t be palatable for everyone, but it definitely helps you build a deeper connection with the people that are the right fit for you.

You could ask family or friends that are close to you for a candid assessment of your profile and content. They can help guide you, as they know you best. Just don’t get caught up on vanity measures such as ”Likes” and “Shares”. Life is not a competition for digital gratitude. Try to keep your tone and content consistent, even if your content is random.

Your LinkedIn profile will obviously be more about your business personality and may have to include specific keywords for the search bots. Use a professional photo, never include an image of you holding a drink of any kind, or a shot with part of another person partly edited within the frame. The body language of a lazy images speaks volumes to people viewing it.

You’ll need to invest in your network, connect with people and join groups. You can collaborate with others by forming your own group for discussions on common topics. The key is to be active and use the LinkedIn tools if you want recruiters to find you, or not, as the case may be.