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Questions: 1) How exactly does one define personal branding, and 2) How important is it to your job search?

Answers: 1) Consider that with every job application and interview, you’re marketing yourself: your skills, your experience, your personality. And your professional identity in this digital world needs to occur on the Internet — trust without a doubt that potential employers will look at your online presence to see your posts, your interests, and your links. Leading to 2) Pretty darn important.

So how can you best control your online presence and present a positive personal brand to an employer?

1. Be careful what you post. This may seem easy, but many people still don’t think about it. If you have too much fun at a party and your friend takes pictures and tags your name, someone may be able to find them and get the wrong idea about you. Additionally, if you did something when you were younger (joined a political group, got a tattoo that you now regret), that may be on the web as well. This is the kind of negative personal branding that you want to delete if possible (or not post in the first place). It’s usually best to ask the creator of the content to take it down — you can even do this with major search engines like Google. If something is on Facebook, either ask your friend who added your name to take your name off or, if you created the post, you can delete it yourself. Just think of this: If you don’t want employers to see this part of your life because it makes you look bad, don’t put it online.

2. Make a positive online presence. With your social media accounts, make sure you have items posted that will make you look best. As someone looking for a job, LinkedIn is a great place to have employers see where you have worked in the past and what you have done in past jobs. Be sure to fill in your profile as much as possible so anyone looking can see what positions you have held and duties you performed. (You can also “Customize your public profile URL” on LinkedIn to make it easier for people to find you.) A site like Twitter can give a future employer an idea of your thoughts, and you can and should link to sites and articles you find interesting, especially ones that are in the same field you want to work in. You can do this on Facebook as well.

If you don’t have time to go as far as creating and updating your own website or blog, you can always write comments or even full posts on sites you respect and want others to know about.

3. Make sure you update everything. With your social media sites, make sure you do keep posting. If you have a blog or a Twitter feed but never use it, that will not help show who you are. But if you make sure you let everyone know when you get a new job, read something interesting in your line of work, comment on a website that connects to your career, or go somewhere that helps you learn something, the record of it will be there, and an employer will get to see who you are and what is important to you.

Much of the world is online today. Monitoring your online reputation is a great way to ensure that your online presence sheds a positive light on you and presents you as a strong, professional candidate. For more information on personal branding or any of your job search needs, reach out to our experienced recruiting team today!

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