How to Optimize Your Online Personal Brand

Do you ever wonder if potential employers are Googling you before they even invite you in for a job interview? Well, wonder no more – because in most cases, the answer is yes.

Employers will often do online due diligence before making contact with a candidate. With the amount of info that’s publicly available online today, they can use the web to do everything from vetting credentials to identifying potential risks related to faulty hires.

And the story doesn’t end there. More and more recruiters are using social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more to actively recruit candidates as well as source and build talent pipelines.

Bottom line? Whether you’re actively seeking a job or simply open to future career growth, it’s never been more important to cultivate your online personal brand. And by “online personal brand”, I mean more than just updating your LinkedIn profile (although that’s certainly important, too). In order to truly stand out from the pack and attract potential employers, you need to build and maintain an appealing personal brand that’s consistent across social platforms and the web at large.

Here are three simple ways to do it:

#1: Actively identify and differentiate your brand.
If you have any experience in business or marketing, you know that building a solid brand usually begins with market research. Personal branding is really no different, except that in this case, you are the business in question.

Listen to the market and see what skills are in demand. Identify your “competitors” and see how they are branding themselves. Determine the gaps in their offerings and the things you do better than they do. Then think about your skills, experience and passion to decide on a space you want to own.

Once you’ve identified your unique selling proposition, craft a compelling brand statement that is easily understood and remembered. Move pass the mundane “I am an experienced career coach with over 15 years of experience helping people build their careers” to something punchy and impressionable, like “I help people who are serious about their careers leverage social networks to create online visibility and a reputation of excellence.” This “brand promise” will be the basis of the language you leverage across all your online platforms.

#2: Effectively optimize your social profile.
In order to help recruiters and potential employers find you, you have to be your own digital GPS. Including the right keywords on your social profiles will not only increase your search engine ranking, but also help generate better leads. Keyword use should be targeted to specific areas of interest. Research the jobs that interest you and shortlist the parallel skills or abilities that are in common. You can use a site like Wordle to identify commonalities in blocks of text, then populate your headlines, summaries, job descriptions and skills sections of your different social profiles with the keywords that emerge. You can also evaluate how ‘focused’ your LinkedIn profile is by using a service like Resunate, which will give you a score of 1-10 based on the strength of your profile.

#3: Tell a great story.
There’s a common saying that ‘content is king’, and establishing the credibility of your brand is no exception to this rule. Carving out a powerful online ‘share of voice’ is critical to helping you attract and build a community of advocates and also cement the claims about your personal brand. Someone in the marketing profession, for example, may want to have a blog or vlog (video blog) where she critiques existing ads and demonstrates how to improve them. That’s one way to tell her story about her passion for effective advertising while also building a reputation as an expert in that space.

It’s not enough to simply have a platform – you should also plan to proactively engage your community of advocates on a regular basis. This could be through blog posts, periodic status updates or sharing updates to your digital portfolio using tools like slideshare that document your work. You can also keep track of how effective your digital storytelling is across different platforms using a tool like Klout.

A final note – it may sound obvious, but it’s important to represent your online brand in the offline world, as well. Whether you’re interviewing or simply meeting new people, be ready to clearly define who you are and your unique selling proposition. Just like in the online space, you never know when your personal brand story might unwittingly win you a new career opportunity.


As Career Consultant on the SoFi Career Strategy team, Benton McTaggart uses his extensive background in digital branding and human capital development to help SoFi borrowers realize their professional goals. Learn more about SoFi’s professional development benefits here.

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