As the semester comes to an end, it is vital, especially for those of us graduating, to be thinking about what our social media pages and profiles say about us. We’ve all heard that what we post on the Internet is out there for the world to see, including future employers. It is not difficult for employers to Google your name and get an easy first impression. Clearly, it is important to remove any content, pictures, statuses, etc., that could be inappropriate or misinterpreted. But why not go beyond just the clean up stage and make your social media sites really promote you? This video by graphic designer Jacob Cass tells his story of the importance of using social media to promote your personal brand.
Personal branding is “the process by which we market ourselves to others.” In the competitive job market, it is important to stand out. According to John Doherty, truly building a personal brand can take time, but he lists ways in which to build it: by writing what you know, by what others say about you, by having a strong voice, and by using consistency across many platforms. The words that people associate with you are part of your brand, so it is important to use all available platforms to promote what you want to be identified with. As college students prepare to join “the real world,” an obvious platform to examine first is Facebook.
According to the Huffington Post, out of the hiring managers who screen applications using social media, 65% of them use Facebook as their primary source. Therefore, your Facebook page can be an extension of your résumé. Just like you determine what goes on your résumé, you determine what goes on your Facebook page. So, you might want to consider changing your privacy settings to where photos tagged of you by others do not appear on your page.
Now, the obvious place to start is the clean up stage, which means going through your page, including photos, posts, and the information section, with a fine tooth comb and deleting anything that is not going to make you positively stand out. Next, update your profile picture and cover picture with your audience (aka possible future employer) in mind. Hiring managers will look at profiles to see if applicants look professional and appear to fit the company’s culture. In relation to Walther’s Social Information Processing Theory, computer-mediated communication, such as content on a Facebook page, can give the reader an impression of that person, which gives them an idea of who that person is. Therefore market yourself further, update the “About” section, including the work and education sections as well as the contact information. While all of this information will be on your résumé, it needs to be updated and maintained on your social media sites as well. It can be a place to add additional accomplishments and qualifications. Once your page is in order, do not neglect to post insightful and productive status updates. Do not ruin the brand you are building by posting careless statuses.
Using your Facebook page to build and present your personal brand is a simple yet effective place to start. Through Facebook, you can link viewers to your other social media sites and blogs further promoting yourself. Begin thinking about the image you want others to have about you and start tailoring your available platforms to match it.