Education

8 tips for creating your personal brand

For the best results in job hunting, you need to act as your own marketing expert and create and advertise your personal brand. Here are eight great tips for putting your best foot forward online.

Remember back in the old days when deciding what color paper to put your resume on was the one of the most challenging tasks in your job search?

The good news is that there are now 4,126 zillion new tools for getting the word out on your amazing accomplishments and your general brilliance. The bad news is, well, the same as the good news.

LinkedIn, Facebook, personal branding Web sites, search engine optimization... it's all there for the taking. The problem is utilizing all of these tools can be a full-time job if you do it the right way.

I found some good tips on U.S. News & World Report's Web site for the eight best ways to buff your professional image. So, put on your PR hat and take notes. Here's the synopsis:

1. Google yourself. You should Google your name to see what others will see if they do the same. They say this helps you circumvent a doppelganger whom people might mistake for you, or other material that clutters the career-enhancing results you want people to see. (For example, in my case, the other Toni Bowers is a PhD from Stanford who specializes in eighteenth-century British literature and culture. I'm not above riding her career coattails, but she might want to distance herself from me.) 2. Choose the right professional name. If you have a common name, like Jane Smith, you can start differentiating yourself by adding a middle initial every time you refer to yourself online. 3. Use credentials consistently. Be sure to add all MCSEs and CCNAs to your résumé, bio, business card, and so on, and do so consistently. 4. Create public profiles. The author of the piece, Eileen P. Gunn, makes a great point when she says that sites like LinkedIn and Facebook let you promote your professional credentials in popular places without running the risk of having your boss see your resume on job-specific boards like Monster or HotJobs. 5. Build a Web site. This is a good idea if you do a lot of public speaking or technical writing. 6. Create links. Gunn suggests that you drive traffic to yourself by using hyperlinks "to guide users from your corporate bio to your LinkedIn profile to your blog, and vice versa -- creating your own self-referring network." 7. Become an expert. Gunn recommends that you start your own blog or contribute to others. I was feeling kind of ahead of the game until she added this part: "Be insightful and thought provoking (without burning bridges). Be smart, and keep within the bounds of good taste." (I think that ship may already have sailed for me.) 8. Push the bad stuff out of sight. By "getting the word out on yourself," we mean professionally. Potential hirers don't need to see that picture of you from the Kentucky Derby infield holding a mint julep as big as Secretariat.

Bottom line for IT professionals

Think of yourself as your own PR staff. If you have a lot of career accomplishments under your belt, now is the time to make sure the word gets out.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

25 comments
jeremial-21966916363912016372987921703527
jeremial-21966916363912016372987921703527

Googling yourself, in my opinion, can bring mixed results sometimes. You could find someone who is in the same field and doing MUCH better than you are, or you could (as is true in my own unfortunate case), find that your doppleganger is a well known gay porn star. Either way, I prefer directing people to my own website, so I can control the content.

El Guapo
El Guapo

What about the good old fashioned professional networking? Getting the guts to extend your hand, introduce yourself to people and talk face to face? What about improving communication skills by joining toastmasters or something like that? Increase self esteem?

OH Smeg
OH Smeg

Not such a good idea if you have to include everything particularly Uni/College Credentials. It is quite often the fastest way to get dropped by HR as the candidate is considered as Over Qualified and unlikely to stay put when a better offer is made. Col

smithley83
smithley83

I think that these are great suggestions and will help in creating a personal brand. Its important to know what your brand is online. Tip 5 is a good one because that is the best way people can know who you are without having to google you. I have found a site that encompasses everything I need in a website in regards to personal branding and creating an online identity. For those who want to know its personavita.com

rafaelm
rafaelm

I think that the "in between the lines" portion of this is to keep your personal life separate from your professional life as much as possible. The other portion, in my opinion, is don't lie.

malcolm davis
malcolm davis

Examples: One of the most important items for you ???BRAND??? is your job. Good developers want to be around other good developers, bad developers tend to cluster together. You need to pick your positions carefully. Working for a commercial startup cares much more weight than a government position. Build a Web site? What a junk idea. Building websites means your going to keep it up-to-date. You are much better off working on your professional credentials. More time focusing on your career path, becoming a subject matter expert, reading a book, spending a little more time at the office, all those extra items that everybody notices. Your boss is most important thing to your brand! Spending an extra 30-minutes at work will have much bigger impact than a website.

jpjones23
jpjones23

Sorry, one more thing. Create a throw away email ID somewhere and use ONLY it on your public pages. I didn't think of this until I had the distinct opportunity to "make money from home, start my own business, sell insturance, and a great many other things that were out of scope." I also won megabucks in many lotteries based in Nigeria. Use a throw away email ID!!!!! Jeff

jpjones23
jpjones23

Hmmm, I took early retirement last December 3rd. Not being done, I started searching for a new position. I did every one of these things and successfully found a new job by March 3rd. I will admit that credential consistency was a bit of a challenge. I placed NDGA after my name at times. That stands for "No Degree, Good Anyway." The only things I would add would be to research firms that interest you and then via LinkedIn or whichever site you're using to display your propaganda, do a search for that firm to find currently employees. Then take a few minutes to call those up who have posted public contact information to ask them what challenges, problems, or needs they see in your chosen area of expertise. Then tailor your cover letter/resume to their specific needs prior to getting it to HR. I???m not searching for a job but here???s a link to my LinkedIn page. http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreyparkjones Maybe something I???ve done or said will help others. Jeff Jones

tungstendiadem
tungstendiadem

It's not my fault that people I knew through my brother (and my brother) tend to have pictures and names that suggest they like to get drunk and do things to each other's naughty bits. I don't have frieds online anymore. I should do something about that. If anyone wants I am on facebook in ACM, Kaplan University, & Sarasota Florida networks.

mark.mitchell61
mark.mitchell61

Thanks. I'm looking for work right now. I will give some of these a try.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

If you include only a partial list of your credentials, be consistent about using that same partial list across all resources.

ben
ben

You've hit it on the head: don't lie. Finish the quote: "Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive" The truth is most simple, plausible, believable. We will all be very impressed with the three Nobel prizes but might someone might be POed to learn you single handedly cured cancer. I've also learned that apparently in the mainstream IT world, Boss' are generally disrespected, not trusted and generally treated badly which drives them to a miserable, bitter existence centered primarily on finding reasons to fire people. The best PR is a good reputation built on solid and consistent performance. Be able to tell the boss you'd like to go to the ball game Friday if that's OK, and expect it will be because every critical deadline has been made, like always, nothing or no-one will be left hanging while you're de-stressing, and your boss and coworkers know they can always count on you in a pinch (and even call you at the Ball Game in an emergency). How does that work for you? -B

chas_2
chas_2

Another thing that wouldn't hurt would be to have someone proofread what you write before sending it out. I found several spelling and usage errors in your piece, none of which should EVER occur in a cover letter or application: "Examples: One of the most important items for you 'BRAND' is your job." You meant "for YOUR 'brand' is your job." Simple typo. "Good developers want to be around other good developers, bad developers tend to cluster together." Technically, you don't need to say "together" after cluster. "Cluster" means together. "Build a Web site? What a junk idea. Building websites means your going to keep it up-to-date." It should be "means YOU'RE going to". "Your" indicates a possessive, as in your time for an interview, your ticket, your car, etc. Just because a word sounds a certain way doesn't mean you can spell it any way you like. A company that wants detail-oriented individuals would pass on you over something like this. "Your boss is most important thing to your brand!" Should be written, "Your boss is THE most important thing to your brand!" Hastily written sentences lead to errors like this. "Spending an extra 30-minutes at work will have much bigger impact than a website." No hyphen is needed between "30" and "minutes". A hyphen is usually used to create a compound adjective - such as "product-driven" or "goal-oriented". "Minutes" is a noun, an object. Now, some folks might think that details of this sort are pure nitpicking and mean-spirited ego games. They're not. Especially in the information technology field, it's important to be able to get details right. If someone can't write grammatically or spell words correctly, can they really be expected to respect the rigors of a programming language's syntax, or other protocol? How about if the position in question is technical writer? Would a company want someone's glaring writing deficiencies to be a reflection of that company? Sorry for seeming like I'm harping on this, but it seems that in our rush to be profitable we're not paying attention to the basics of communication ... and we're shooting ourselves in the feet in the process. Find someone - preferably educated - to look at your job search materials before you send them out. It could spell the difference between getting an invitation in for an interview ... and not hearing anything from a company, ever.

dregeh
dregeh

I'd agree with your first point that WHO you work for is important to your brand. However, deriding the website idea is just plain wrong, and promoting the "boss helps your brand" idea is only helpful if you're looking for promotion within your organization. One of the good things about creating and maintaining your own website is that you control the content that potential employers will see rather than the small segment of information that job sites collect info on. Of course you have to keep it up to date...that's part of managing your brand. It's no different than updating your Linked In profile or Monster, CareerBuilder, etc. And of course this ties in with the other suggestion from the original article about linking to yourself. The more links out there to your website, profile, etc, the higher your brand shows in search engines. And so when a potential employer Googles you, your chances of having your own website at the very top is better than average. Relying on your boss to help promote you is something that most of us won't be able to do when it comes to finding a job at another organization. As for moving up in your organization, if you do a good job most bosses will not want to let you go to another part of their organization unless your position is easy to fill. Maybe we've had vastly different experiences, but these are the trends I've noticed personally.

wendy
wendy

the many sites out there that feature a profile of you without your input. Do a deep web search such as Pipl to find these auto-profiles, claim them, and make sure they are correct. I review my clients on-line rep as a undisclosed bonus when writing their resume and find that inconsistent on-line information can be the tie-breaker for loosing final consideration. Ex.: One client had on resume a position title of 'manager, network administration' while Zoom.info had the same position listed as 'network administrator' culled from an on-line news release.

Shaun.G
Shaun.G

I have heard only bad reports about them with regards to employment and people getting fired, or not getting employment. Employers tend to 'check up' on their employers. The privacy or confidentiality line wont apply as the social networking is in public domain, and accessible to anyone that has an account, in some cases to some who do not have accounts. These sites are targets for those wanting to steal identities, and according to several experts, social networking are security risks. The best advice is to stay off social networking sites. They are not safe. They are not conducive to good employment relations and can be used against a person in search of future employment.

Toretto84
Toretto84

Well, not literaly, but I've read the story of a young man who didn't use his Facebook in a smart way. He told his boss he had to leave for a day or three, due to family related issues. Later, the boss found his employee's facebook and saw pictures of him, dressed like an idiot and partying when he was supposedly "dealing with family business". He got fired AND became a legend of that company - in a bad way. So yeah, Facebook and it's friends can be a help but be careful with them. Bosses / recruiters know to surf the web too, these days, and a bad impression from your facebook / whatever account can cost you that job...

OH Smeg
OH Smeg

Depending on what job applications that you make. I would say it's better to list the applicable qualifications and ignore the inapplicable ones. Col

davidota
davidota

I agree with Chas. Reading an article with poor grammar and misspelled words detracts from the information and shines a harsh light on the author. I have rejected resumes based on poor spelling. I get the feeling the author struggled through high school.

zclayton2
zclayton2

Those sorts of errors are hard to spot on your own. Since most of them are grammatical or homonyms, Bill's speller won't find them for you. Its important to express yourself with some fluency, and anything published, even on a website, should reflect positively. "Your" for "you're" or "past" for "passed" is the type of error which drives me crazy when I am reading something.

thejendra
thejendra

A website with proper stuff can definitely help improve your brand and image. I have recently started a website of my own that contains my books, articles and some useful stuff. And it has definitely helped me elevate my brand inside and outside the workplace. Rgds Tej www.thejendra.com

M.W.H.
M.W.H.

All it takes is one of your 'friends' to post the question... 'How was the ball game on Friday?' on your 'wall' when you were supposed to be at work and you're a gonner! Your 'friends' have no idea what your situation is and so they can't be held responsible for getting you in trouble. It gives new meaning to the phrase 'Oh what a tangled web we weave...'

GiMMeABreak
GiMMeABreak

"Its important to express yourself with some fluency" should be "It's important ..." and I think it's "oneself" not "yourself"

byoung
byoung

Hiring professionals DO look at the social networking sites, and not using every tool at your disposal is... well... what would you call it? The solution, my friends, is to live a clean life. If you don't lie and skip work, and if you choose your friends wisely, you can be proud of what others see.

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