How to Craft a Personal Brand that Will Get You Hired

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On the hunt for your next job or internship? Take a look at your social media profiles. When crafted right, your online presence and personal brand can be the factor that finalizes an offer. Alternatively, social media profiles can work toward your disadvantage if they portray unprofessionalism.

70% of Hiring Managers use social media to screen potential candidates, and nearly half of employers use it to routinely check on employees.

A resume and cover letter, no matter how carefully and professionally constructed, only share a small portion of information about a candidate that recruiters need to know to make an informed decision. With the rise of importance on company culture and long-term employee retention, employers are increasingly leveraging social media as a source to learn what’s beyond the education and professional experience listed on a resume: they want to see who you are as a person and whether your online presence reflects their company values.

Human Resource teams investigate online profiles for signs of profanity, overuse of alcohol or drugs, and mistakes in grammar - but aside from the obvious faux pas that can ensure you won’t receive a job offer, building a strong personal brand can be the key to impressing your dream company. Think of your social media channels as a digital resume: they are an opportunity to display your personality, creativity and strength of character.

“Every post, tweet or picture builds up or tears down your personal brand.” -Josh Burnette, Co-Author of Adulting 101: #Wisdom4Life

Not sure if your online presence is making the right statement? Here are a few ways you can instantly improve your personal digital strategy and improve your chances of being hired.

Re-evaluate Your Content

Before perfecting your online persona, the first step is to re-evaluate the content that’s already published with your name behind it. If you’ve been active on social media for years, there’s a chance there’s something in your personal feed that doesn’t show off your best self. If your accounts are public, scroll through each post and delete or archive anything that doesn’t serve the person you’re becoming. If it’s not something you’d be proud to show your colleagues, eliminate it.

Leverage LinkedIn

As the most popular social networking website for professionals, the best place to start building (or improving) your digital resume is through a strong LinkedIn profile. Even with minimal experience, there are ways to create a well-rounded profile by adding courses you’ve completed, extracurriculars you’ve participated in, and accomplishments or interests.

Employers don’t expect years of professional experience from entry-level candidates, so focusing on a dynamic summary, engaging headline, high-quality profile photo and positive references will make your LinkedIn stand out from the competition. Once your profile is up to standard, start joining and actively participating in industry focused and alumni groups. Share (or better yet, write your own) articles relevant to your career path that your peers will find valuable. Remember: when you reach out to connect with professionals in your industry, always include a personal message with a short elevator pitch introducing yourself.

Focus on the Platforms that Showcase Your Skills

Having a strong digital presence doesn’t mean you need to be active on every popular social media platform. Aside from a well-developed LinkedIn profile (which should always be included on your resume) focus your efforts on 1-2 channels that best showcase your skill set. Starting a blog or Twitter are excellent ways to demonstrate writing and communication skills, while a carefully curated Instagram can display creative aptitude and act as an extension of your online portfolio. By using related hashtags to allow others to discover you, social media can be a great opportunity to network and find job opportunities.

Build an Online Portfolio

Online portfolios aren’t exclusive to those in creative fields. The key is to think strategically about who your audience is, what they want to see from potential employees, and what you’ve accomplished so far. Keep in mind that your portfolio should display your best work, not all of it.

Don’t know how to code? Don’t worry. Websites like Squarespace and Wix offer user-friendly templates and customer support that allow even those with no web design experience to showcase their achievements like a professional.

While an online portfolio is the industry standard for some career paths, like graphic design or digital marketing, having your own personal website to add to your resume and social media profiles will reinforce your competency and level of professionalism in the eyes of hiring managers, regardless of your area of expertise.

Questions on how to optimize your LinkedIn profile, online portfolio, and print and digital resume? 
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