Whether you have just begun your college journey, are about to begin your senior year or are in search of your first full-time job (or your second, but who’s counting anyway?), you’ve probably thought about tweaking your resume and drafting a cover letter to land you that awesome internship or job. Both your resume and cover letter are undoubtedly very important, but they are not the only things that can set you apart.
In today’s day and age, you not only need to focus on your initial outreach to an employer, but also your Internet image -- also known as your personal brand.
If you haven’t thought about your personal brand, don’t fret! Here are five tips to help you get started as you create your brand:
1. Buy your name as a website domain
Domain names can be equated to real estate on the Internet – once you buy them, they’re yours! Think about the endless opportunities when purchasing your name: You can post your resume, create a blog and distribute important information, all of which you can share with potential employers, family and friends. If your name isn’t available, see if you can get some variation of it. For example: JohnSmith.com may not be available, but perhaps JSmith1987.com is. Be creative and be conscious of your domain name as well as the content you share.
2. Create an About.me profile
About.me is a site created to help you share all of your Internet assets in one place. It’s a simple page that allows you to share your name, picture, a short bio and links with prospective employers. Like buying your domain name, it gives you a space to share what’s important to you, but in a succinct way. Once you create your profile, there is no heavy duty maintenance; just remember to update your About.me to reflect your most current information.
3. Start a blog
Many employers are interested in your writing background. Are you a good writer? A simple way to demonstrate your writing abilities and impress your potential boss is by sharing writing samples. Think about creating a blog where you share your work. It shouldn’t be a chore, so make it interesting to you! To show that you’re well read and up to date in your field, you can also post other people’s interesting articles on your blog -- just make sure to give them credit! The best part about your blog is that it can live on your domain name or a variety of other free blog hosting websites, like wordpress.org, tumblr.com or blog.com. If you’re not ready to start a blog, think about guest posting on other blogs; like I said, everyone’s looking for good writers!
4. Do some spring cleaning on your Facebook page
You’ve heard those wretched stories from your friends, or friends of friends: “So-and-so didn’t get the job because the company that wanted to hire them found some incriminating photos on Facebook.” The truth is, most of us have Facebook and it’s a great way to stay in touch with your friends, family and the rest of the world. Facebook also provides a platform for us to connect and share with great people, businesses and brands. So go through your profile and make it professional. Sift through your photos and make sure they’re appropriate. Lastly, check out your privacy settings. Remember: You don’t have to share everything with everyone!
5. Explore other social media options: Google+, Twitter and Linkedin
Take a look at other options to help your potential employer find you when googling you. Create a Google+ profile and test it out: You’ll have the chance to create separate groups of people with whom you share different information. Try out Twitter: It’s perfect to share quick, live news updates about your interests. And lastly, create a LinkedIn account: You’ll be able to create a professional profile that will surely be seen as an asset to any future employer.
You get it: Employers are online and they can find out a lot of information about you -- but this doesn’t mean you have to remove yourself from the Internet, move to the North Pole and live in digital darkness for the rest of your life. Embrace the social technology that is sweeping the world today and use it to your advantage. Good luck and happy self-branding!
Sarah Fudin currently works in community relations for the University of Southern California's Master of Arts in Teaching program, which provides aspiring teachers with the opportunity to earn a Master’s degree and teaching certificate online. Outside of work, Sarah enjoys running, reading and Pinkberry frozen yogurt. Follow her on Twitter @sarahfudin.