The information that you share when you apply for a job is not limited to your CV and cover Letter. Most recruiters check for online presence and social media to get a better overall image of candidates. With all this information available within just a couple of clicks it is important to think about the image you want recruiters to get of you.
What is branding?
When you think of branding you will probably immediately think of some of the biggest brands in the world. You can envision their logo, their products, maybe even their advertisements. You will even have a (positive or negative) opinion about this company. The image you have of a brand is for a large part accurately created by that company. Most companies have brand marketeers to precisely build a desirable image and a positive reputation. You probably have never thought of yourself as a brand but taking a personal branding approach can help you actively monitor and adjust your image and reputation when you are looking for a new job.
You are your own brand
When you are applying for a new job, you are sending recruiters information about yourself. Recruiters know that you will give them all the positive information in your CV and cover letter. But recruiters will also look for more information about your personality on the internet and social media. All this information together will create an image of you. Even when recruiters cannot find any information about you online or on social media this will create an image. If they cannot find you online or on social media that will be a red flag for most recruiters. Personal branding is not about hiding your information, it is about sharing the right information. The most important aspects of personal branding when you are a job seeker are your CV and Cover Letter, your online presence and the references former employer, co-workers, teachers and others who recruiters can contact to ask about you.
Do you fit the desired image?
The first step to take is to determine your current image. Your image is not just what you think you are, it is particularly what other people think of you. What do people think when they see you or when they talk to you? What do they see when they check your social media posts, what comes up when they google your name? The second step is determining what image is required for the jobs you are applying to. When you accurately read the job posts in your work field you will find good hints about the desired personality traits.
How to adjust your personal brand
When you notice that your personal brand does not match the image desired by recruiters in your work field you can try to adjust your personal brand. You can off course delete social media posts that may harm your image. This does not mean you have to delete all your post about your personal life. However it is wise to get rid of pictures that will damage your professional image (heavy drinking, nudity etc.) You can put an extra effort in writing your (and designing) your CV and cover letter to make sure you make the best professional impression. Emphasize your expertise in your work field by posting interesting articles or engaging in online conversions about topics related to your work field.
Unfortunately an image or reputation is not something you can change quickly. Most companies take many years to build a brand image (and it can be destroyed quickly by just one incident). Building your personal brand is not something you can do in just one evening, you cannot immediately change the image other people have of you. By constantly monitoring and moderating your online presence you can match your personal brand with the required personality traits.