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.