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May 24, 2011
Brand You: Being Consistent In Your Personal Brand
Like most people, you’ve probably have an online profile on several social media sites, including the obligatory listing on LinkedIn, your social personal on Facebook, and your thought-provoking Twitter stream. So now you’re online and not only that, but you’ve taken the time to make sure each profile is complete.

But before your pat yourself on the back for doing such a good job, take a step back. 

Ask yourself: Is the online “me” the same me in all of these channels?

If the answer is no…then you need to re-evaluate your strategy.

From an employer’s standpoint, they want to know about you, but if they get one message about the crazy weekend partier on Facebook that looks vastly different from the formal business person on LinkedIn, and your irreverent tweets on Twitter add in an entirely different dimension, it might give them pause when considering your application.

The most recent statistic out there is that 4 out of 5 employers are Googling prospective employees, so you need to make sure your personal brand is consistent from your old-school résumé to your LinkedIn profile and any other social media channel out there.

So, what exactly is a personal “brand?” A personal brand is what you want to be known as. In short, it’s your reputation.

Once we leave the strict social strata of school cliques and groups behind, the next stratosphere we enter is the realm of career reputation. And carefully cultivating this persona requires as much attention (if not more) than you paid to how you groomed your image with your peers.  There’s much more at stake at this point… how much you earn, how far you go in your career, and what kinds of positions that you are offered.

Here are a few pointers on what can affect people’s perception of you, your career potential, and what you offer.

1. Your photo(s). Sites like www.gravatar.com make it easy to build a singular presence. You can upload a photo that can float to any online site (like Disqus, which auto-loads your selected photo any time you comment on articles or on discussion boards). No matter what, you need to make sure that your visual image stays within a certain parameter of professionalism and is consistent throughout all social media sites. 

2. Brand messaging. Tools like Google profiles (free) and Vizibility.com (paid) can help raise your personal search engine ranking by allowing you an opportunity to proactively create a professional presence. If you are struggling with burying some not-so-great content that you cannot erase from the Internet, your best shot is to build more positive mentions over it…and registering for these online sites can help you achieve higher rankings with your more desirable profile information.

3. Build a control center. Creating a central hub for your social media outlets further consolidates and streamlines your brand messaging online into a single portal which aggregates your social media feed into one location. Examples of these tools include Flavors.me and About.me. The positive of this kind of central control point is that you can send one update out and it goes out to all channels and avoids piecemeal, inconsistent messaging by logging into each separately.

4. Cross-check against your official credentials. What you say online should match what you submit officially as an application for a job. You should always be truthful, and never trump up job titles or inflate your background. The job of a prospective employer is to investigate the truthfulness of your application to make sure you are what you say you are…and if there are any inconsistencies between what you say officially and what is posted online, it could be the death knell to your application.

Understanding how an employer thinks and what they are looking for while managing your job search as well as your online reputation can truly make a difference on how you find your next job! Be consistent and be truthful!

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Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is the president of Portland, Ore.-based Pathfinder Writing and Careers, which specializes in mid- to upper-management résumés. She is an active volunteer in her community and donates her time teaching a résumé writing class at the Oregon Employment Department every week to help empower unemployed professionals and workers.
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