7 Ways To Strengthen Your Personal Brand, For Recent Grads And Job Hunters

By Lauren Dugan 

“Everything you post on social media impacts your personal brand. How do you want to be known?” – Lisa Horn, The Publicity Gal

It’s the middle of a hot, lazy summer for many recent grads: that time of year where all your responsibilities are thrown out the window and you get in one last “hurrah!” before the job hunt begins in earnest.

But what happens when that job hunt starts… and it never ends?

If you don’t pay attention to your social profiles from your hazy school days, you run the risk of a poorly worded status update or inappropriate photo sabotaging your efforts at finding a new job. Employers are looking, so what do your social profiles say about you? What’s your personal brand like?

For those that might need a little social media re-branding, we’ve got 7 ways to strengthen your personal brand and (virtually) dress to impress.

1. Revamp your profiles

I suggest starting off by taking a good hard look at your current social media profiles – from an employer’s perspective. What stands out as inappropriate? What looks good?

Start with LinkedIn, as this is the network for professionals. But don’t overlook your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts, as well as any connected profiles like Instagram. Update these to reflect your professional side: include your work history (where appropriate), what you’ve accomplished professionally, and any internship or volunteer positions you may have held while at school.

And it’s not just the content that needs to be reassessed when you graduate – you’ve got to look at your images, too. After all, a picture says a thousand words, and you want those words to be good ones! Make sure you scrub any compromising photos, untag yourself, and even spruce up your profile pictures with a headshot.

2. Stay connected

Employers like to see potential employees that are active online. Show them that you have a vibrant social life and it will reflect well on you during the job hunt.

Maintaining connections via social media is important for job hunting, too. You never know where your next opportunity will come from, so open yourself up to as many as possible.

Use social media to enhance your offline networking. Did you meet someone cool at a conference? Do you have a favorite professor you’d like to stay in touch with? Add these people to Facebook, LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter to stay in touch.

3. Let them know you’re looking

There’s nothing wrong with letting the right people know you’re looking for a job via social media.

You can use your (now professional) profiles to broadly announce that you’re interested in new career opportunities, or reach out to individuals directly and ask about any new openings – but only if you are confident these individuals will be receptive.

Just keep in mind that you don’t want to appear desperate or too over-eager. Your entire personal brand shouldn’t be geared towards advertising yourself as a job seeker, you should just sprinkle it in when it makes sense.

4. Watch companies – and their hiring managers

As everyone knows, LinkedIn is a great place to do a little professional networking… but it’s also great for doing a little (harmless) professional spying.

You can take a look at the company pages of the businesses you’re interested in, to see if they have any public job opportunities. But, perhaps even better, you can do some serious digging and find the profiles of the actual individuals in charge of hiring.

Whether you want to monitor them to see what they’re up to, or actually reach out and apply for a job is up to you, but it never hurts to keep an eye on the job market.

5. Establish yourself as a resource

If you’re looking to build a long-lasting personal brand, helping others is the way to go.

After graduation, you’ve hopefully narrowed down your career future to an industry or two. So why not insert yourself into that industry early? If you’re sending out helpful links when people ask questions online, pointing them to resources and becoming a resource yourself, you’ll stand out as someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Sharing great content within your field will establish you as a thought-leader, and employers will certainly be impressed. This strategy might even get you some unsolicited job offers if you work at it!

6. Pay attention to your Google search ranking

Social media can help boost your Google search results. The more your name appears in tweets, status updates, blog posts, etc. the better the search results will be when employers search for you after they’ve received your resume (and you know they will).

By posting frequent, professional status updates and tweets, you’ll help employers find you fast. And it also helps rank your name for profiles and websites that are actually associated with you – and not that other John Smith on the other side of the world.

7. Be consistent

Lastly, you’ve got to make sure you have a plan when using social media as a recent grad. Know who you’re connecting to and why. Understand what each status update and photo says about you. Search for jobs on the right websites.

If you’re using social media off-and-on, without any real strategy, you won’t get a whole lot out of it. Consistency is key for building up a personal brand that will help you get hired. So make sure you’re organized, disciplined and on-task with everything you do online, and your efforts will be repaid – hopefully before these hot summer days transition into cool fall nights!

Do you have any social media branding tips for new grads? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

(Image by Turhan via Shutterstock)