Presentations are everything in life, and in a sense, we are always marketing ourselves to the public with our voices and actions. These components work together to create a brand image for each person as an individual. James Twitchell claims that a brand “is the application of a story to a product or service,” so it is important to realize what stories your life is telling and what images you are portraying. Many people tend to forget that online communication can be extremely harmful to a personal brand, and often diminish their brand images with common mistakes. The top 5 personal brand fails to avoid have been listed to help strengthen and build who you are as a brand.
# 1 – Oversharing
Although the tailgating and partying of your undergraduate days may be over for the most part, many forget that the pictures and posts that documented all those nights have not. Not only do people look at all of the bits of information people say and share, but posts remain in cyber space long after they are forgotten, and are easily and readily available for anyone and everyone to see.
Susan Adams wrote an article on managing online reputation, one of her key points was this: “Keep private things private, while assuming nothing is truly private.”
Everything about you on the Internet comes together to form a picture of your personality, even if you feel this picture may not be true to who you are. Think treating the Internet as a diary doesn’t matter? Oversharing has been linked to: self-incrimination, break-ins, loss of employment, and failed relationships.
Having trouble entering the workforce? You may need to examine what’s on your social media sites. Employers routinely search applicants to see what type of information, pictures, and statuses pop up. Besides not being able to land you a job, oversharing can also get you fired from one. Monster.com shared how an employee took the day off from work, telling his boss he had a funeral, however, later that day the employee posted pictures of himself at a party. His boss found out, and naturally he got fired.
Every time you go to post something whether it be as a status, tweet, wall post, share, picture, whatever- think to yourself, “Is this TMI? Would I want my employer to see this? Would I be proud of this years from now?”
# 2 – Underestimating Technology
We’ve all heard of Snapchat , the application that allows you and your friends to take ridiculous photos that once viewed, are immediately deleted… until recently. Not only can people screenshot your snap, but a counter-application called Snaphack has brought into question whether or not the photos you are sending are truly being deleted. Snaphack allows users to save screenshots of snapchats. Once saved, these photos can be uploaded to social media outlets such as Facebook or Twitter. One of Snapchat’s original uses was for sending racy photos, and Snaphack could easily lead to some very personal pictures being published for all to see.
Snapchat is just one of the many applications that at face value seems harmless and fun, but could easily affect employment opportunities. Being aware and responsible for everything you send via any technology medium is essential to keeping your personal image a good one. So next time you think it might be funny to send a Snapchat of you and your friends doing something questionable, make sure you would be okay with seeing it on the Internet the next day. What you might think is funny during the time, won’t be funny if it is found on your employer’s desk the next morning.
# 3 – Not Staying Up-to-Date With the Latest Social Media Sites and Apps
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, Instagram, LinkedIn, -the list is constantly growing and evolving when it comes to social media sites and apps available for public use. One of the biggest PR fails that people tend to overlook is not taking advantage of these social media techniques as a way to catch employer’s eyes, and to network.
Understanding and taking advantage of social media sites is essential in a world that is each day growing more reliant on technology. Where in the past employers only had a resume and a portfolio to judge a candidate for a job position, now the possibilities for judgment are endless. So why not take advantage of it? Take for example LinkedIn, a social media site that caters specifically to people to network professionally and allows users to connect with one another and build and maintain a broader network of professionals you can trust. It is a smart way of getting your personal name and brand out there for employers to see.
The website is helping people get jobs, so make a great move for yourself and join if you haven’t already!
# 4 -Talking Badly About Your Boss… Or Anyone For That Matter
In order for anyone to be happy with his or her job there must be a positive work environment. Most of us have had that one job we hated because of co-workers, company standards, the work itself, or the boss. In these sort of situations, trash talking seem to come with the business. So, for future and recent graduates we want to warn you, one of the biggest fails you can make in your career is talking trash about your boss, company, or coworkers online.
Recently, this video, featuring Marina Shifrin quitting her job, went viral on YouTube. You have probably seen it, but please feel free to watch it again and laugh.
Funny right? Except for the fact that her past boss knows how she really feels about him and her future employers will undoubtedly see her as unprofessional. So, as a rule of thumb, always save your rantings and trash talkings for your parents and close friends because if you share your personal (and most likely unprofessional) opinions and the wrong person sees it , you can kiss recommendations good-bye, as well as turn your personal brand image into that of a spiteful person.
(Also, take a look at her ex-boss’s response.)
# 5 – Poor Grammar
Poor grammar can affect your brand and your career. Anna Underhill, a consultant for a HR firm, said poor spelling and grammar has become a serious issue for employers. Writing is the main way communication takes place via employers and employees and clients. Having poor correspondence in writing undermines the professionalism of yourself as well as your company.
Communication skills are consistently rated in the top 10 things employers look for. Knowing the difference between affect/effect, their/there, its/it’s, should be common sense not consistent mistakes. While shorthand and abbreviations are the norm in social media, that type of writing should never be integrated into business composition.
Erik Deckers asks for you to think of it this way: If you receive a cover letter from a perspective employee filled with errors, would you hire that person? What sort of message are you sending to potential business partners when your initial email is riddled with mistakes?
Make your personal brand an effective one that highlights all of your best qualities. Don’t be afraid to jump into the cyber world to “sound [your] barbaric yawp,” but be cognizant of the do’s and don’t when it comes to establishing and maintaining a great image.
–Savannah Valade, Jade Lester, Caroline Robinson, Morgan Jones, Meghan Carey