Career Builder said last year that 60 percent of recruiters used their fine-tuned social media stalking skills to research potential candidates. But don’t let those pictures of you in a sea of red Solo cups deter you from applying to jobs. Aside from having your “approve tagged photos” setting enabled on Facebook, there are plenty of ways to ensure you stand out to recruiters out there.
It’s all about your online brand. Luckily one of our very own contributor’s jobs is literally helping you be better at that. Niels Reib specializes in your career brand and helps you attract the career you want and deserve. We interviewed him for some words of wisdom that will make you stand out and be as relevant and desired as the next “unicorn.” If you want more, Niels is hosting a career branding summit from May 8 to 12, where you can learn way more about LinkedIn, your online reputation and branding from 12 experts.
20Something: This sounds way too big. Where do you even begin to brand yourself?
Niels Reib: Before you start branding yourself, you need to be clear about a few things first and lay down the foundation of your career brand. At this stage of the process, you want to do some self-discovery and find out what it is you stand for personally. Be clear on your values. It might seem to be pretty basic, but if you want to create an authentic career brand then your values will play a significant role in how you come across both online and in person. What are your strengths? What is your professional passion? Why do you do what you do? For those of you familiar with Simon Sinek , you know that he talks a lot about your why and that’s what people get drawn to more than what you do or how you do things. Knowing your why and putting it into words, by creating what Simon calls your why statement, is something that can help catch an employer’s attention.
But like…how do execute this?
NR: As the late Stephen Covey would say, you should begin with the end in mind. To make sure your brand doesn’t confuse employees you need to set your career GPS and know where you want to go. The day you retire, how would a successful career have looked like in your mind? Thinking about these things where you are today will help you set your career vision, or as I like to say, set your career GPS. Having this clear vision of what you’d like to achieve and what success looks like for you will give you a great guiding principle throughout your career.
Nice. If so many recruiters are using social media, what is one tactical thing you can do to stand out?
NR: The one thing you need to do if you want to be in complete control of your online presence is to grab your personal URL address and domain. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have at least an optimized LinkedIn profile, but the problem with building your career brand on platforms like LinkedIn is that you don’t know where these platforms will be in 5 or 10 years and you don’t own anything you share or create there. If you rely on having your personal career brand consisting of social media profiles, then you’ll be building your brand on a rented lot, and I’m pretty sure you would never consider building a house on a rented lot. So why do it with the thing that will be the most valuable in your future career, your career brand?
NR: That will not only make you stand out compared to most other candidates, but the recruiter will also get a much better sense of who you are as a person once they dive into the content on your site. There’s plenty of things you can write about and share. If you haven’t graduated yet, then write about internships you’ve had and what you learned, or case studies you’ve made, courses you’re taking, etc. You can also write book reviews with your takeaways or comment on what goes on in the industry you’re looking to go into or are in already, that shows potential employers that you have a growth mindset and you are engaged to you what you do professionally. Doing this will create a powerful personal knowledge-base that not only will rank in Google but one you can use to refer to when applying for future jobs.
So do I ignore LinkedIn?
NR: Being the world’s largest professional networking platform, LinkedIn is a must to be on as a young professional. You need to have an optimized profile so recruiters and others can find you based on your skills. It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to connect with other professionals and to grow your network with valuable relationships.
For more information on the career branding summit from May 8 to 12, where you can elevate all you’ve learned here, visit the Career Branding Summit’s page.