The world is fast becoming a place where people, not just corporations have a brand to nurture, maintain and build. It could be said that people are in fact much better at building their own “Personal PR” than companies who pay marketing leaders huge salaries to do it for them. So why has personal branding become so important? With the rise of social media, your online reputation can be your biggest asset, especially to gain a competitive edge. Companies nowadays often hire based on information found about you online, rather than your CV or experience. So, if you’re looking to grow your own business, nab your dream job or just take your career in the right direction, personal branding is the ultimate requirement.
Your brand should be an outward reflection of who you are and who you want to be. It should reflect what you want to accomplish, the path you currently are on and where you want to go. Your brand is a strategic outward expression in words and pictures of your purpose, and helps you communicate what you can contribute to your future employer. A negative online presence can impact on your employ-ability.
When building your online presence, think about your “brand persona”; are you creative innovator or an industry leader or a niche expert? Use a variety of social media outlets to share your persona via examples of your work, your blogs and your successes. Become an active member of relevant groups and network with the right connections. Avoid uploading anything that may be a negative reflection of you, such as pictures on nights out and steer clear of using offensive language when replying to comments. Most importantly, always make sure to align your brand persona with yourself; don’t hide your true self because maintaining a fake image will not serve your values or goals and will become a difficult chore.
Huffington post recently released statistics around how employers use and value online information about potential new recruits. It revealed that 75% of HR departments reported that they are required by company policy to check information online; 90% of recruitment agents said they conduct online research regardless; a total of 85% of recruitment agents and HR professionals said that an employee’s online presence affects their decision to hire to some extent, with 50% saying that a strong presence influences their decision to great extent and across both HR departments and recruitment agents, 75% have rejected candidates based on information found online.
Successful companies not only want stand-out employees, they want employees that get involved in the marketing and branding strategy by sharing branding messages onto their own platforms. Individual’s brands and pages are more powerful than corporations, with individuals having 561% more reach when sharing messages than the company they work for. Further, employees on average have 10 times more followers than their company social media and brand messages are shared 24 times more frequently when posted by an employee versus the company’s social media channels. Not only will this increase a company’s outreach, but will help them gain more trust and creditability because people are more likely to trust people more than corporations and they want to engage with people more than corporations.
So use your online presence as a springboard to highlight your skills and make you stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons. Employers don’t want to “catch you out” they just want an insight into the person they are employing, so ensure that insight is one that they want to spend more time exploring.