These days, you’re not just selling yourself on your resume.
When you’re applying for a job or an internship, there’s a 100% chance that your future employer will be Google searching your name, digging across your social media accounts, to see what comes up.
While you should know by now that your reputation has to be clean online, with every slightly risque picture untagged or removed; with every lazy, cursory or cursing tweet deleted; and your criminal background expunged. If those tactics alone make you sweat -- start there and stop reading.
But if you’re already done the foundational work when it comes to reputation cleaning, then you need to focus on reputation-building. And that’s your personal brand.
You’re selling yourself on every social media platform that’s listed as publicly viewable. While your Facebook profile should be clean and demonstrate your personality, who you are and how you present yourself across LinkedIn, Twitter, and your own personal website matter most. What are you saying about yourself, and how are you talking about yourself? Are your skillsets, professional overview, areas of training or expertise positioning you for the positions or internships you want? If not, it’s time to start at the destination and work backwards.
Think about where you see yourself in five years. What’s your dream job -- then and now? Think long and hard about how and where you see yourself employed in the future, so you can start building the blocks that make it easier to get there -- in your online profiles.
For instance, if you’re hoping to go into digital media, social media management or other, what do you need to be doing now? Not only do you need to have engaging social profiles yourself, you need to make sure you’ve honed your “voice.” Do you write in a way that’s uniquely, identifiably you -- and is it interesting? Start by developing a voice that extends across your online platforms.
Then, develop your expertises. What do you need to be really good at? See how you can start adding courses, projects and experience across your accounts that provides evidence of your expertise. Looking at the digital media example, that means you would want proven experience in writing. Are you in any extracurriculars or clubs that let you get published? Post those clips to your LinkedIn profile and personal portfolio or website. Did you take any unique writing courses? List those as well.
Show you’re a jack-of-all-trades. Today, specializing matters less than being good at many things. In entry-level positions, you’ll likely be doing more than just one role or responsibility, and you very well may be working across silo’s within an organization. Show that while digital media, for example, is your expertise, you’re also skilled at multimedia content creation (you’re a photographer! Budding videographer! Prolific creative nonfiction author!), backend digital know-how (you know how to work your way around Google Analytics and you’re ahead of the curve when it comes to SEO tactics), and public relations (you’ve been pitching journalists and online media outlets since high school!). Play up these secondary and tertiary areas of expertise.
And maintain professionalism. Go get professional pictures taken of yourself, and we’re not talking Sears Portrait Studio. Ask any of your buddies with a DSLR, or an iPhone with Portrait capabilities, to take a professional picture of you -- even better if it’s you in your element or working at your craft. If your LinkedIn profile picture is a cropped party picture because you think you looked your best there -- ditch it.
Once you’ve got all that down, work on your elevator speech. In your LinkedIn overview, you should be able to write about who you are, what you’re good at, where you’re hoping to go or what you’re hoping to achieve, within three sentences. And don’t use the standard cover letter jargon and cliches and overused words terming yourself a “passionate go-getter” or the like. Get original, and don’t be afraid to be a little edgy -- it’ll help you stand out.
But remember, only ever in a good, clean way.