Our generation is constantly being told what not to post online. We've heard horror story after horror story of students getting kicked out of college, applicants being rejected from their dream jobs, and so forth. However, there is a reason why the authority figures in our lives tell us these cautionary tales.
Today, roughly 70 percent of employers look through candidates' social media accounts.
But instead of focusing on all of the things we shouldn't post, maybe we should focus more on the things we ought to post or do more often. What if we tried to enhance our social media accounts, emphasize our strengths and stand out amongst others?
This is what it means to build a brand. Your brand gives you a reputation. It shows who you are, your personal growth, career growth and overall, how you market yourself.
You've probably been building your brand for years and haven't noticed it yet! But even so, it is always a good idea to revise and keep building. Here are 8 ways you can get started:
1. Create a LinkedIn.
One of my first classes at Penn State required all of us to make our own LinkedIn profiles and I could not be more thankful. Although I have had to update my profile quite a bit since then, I found that LinkedIn is a great way to market yourself. You can connect with other students in your major, various employees, employers, teachers, and so on. It lets people know what you're up to in your professional life and what you are looking to do. If people know what you're looking for, whether that's an internship, career, or recommendation, people will be more inclined to help you or point you in the right direction! You never know who is going to open up a new door for you.
2. Clean out your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
I just recently deleted my Facebook albums from middle school and let me just say, I would highly recommend that others do the same. It's not that you need to feel embarrassed about anything, but let's be honest, A LOT has probably changed since then. You want your social media accounts to give an accurate representation of who you are. Sometimes, who you were or where you came from can be important, but if the majority of your page is from ten years ago, it might be time to clean it up a bit.
3. Create a blog or website.
Whether you decide to start your own blog or you write for another website (like Odyssey!) both are great ways to showcase your writing style. A personal website can also be an awesome idea because it organizes your information in one space, serving as an easy way for employers to find you.
4. Perfect your resume or portfolio and link it to your LinkedIn, blog, or website.
Your resume is a snapshot of everything you've accomplished, and you want to emphasize these things, not downplay them! Therefore, your resume should be read and reviewed many times by different people. In addition to your resume, you can also create a portfolio. Maybe you recently completed an internship and want to highlight some of the techniques you learned or projects you worked on. Your portfolio can be anything from an organized PowerPoint to a PDF document, it's up to you.
5. Search yourself and "control" what comes up first.
We've all done this from time to time - just out of curiosity - but try searching yourself again and notice exactly what comes up and in what order. If you notice your name only appears in old articles and stats from when you were a high school athlete, it's time to create some new content, whether that means creating a blog or a website, as mentioned before. You want to make sure your main social media accounts and best pieces of work come up first (in order to make this happen, make sure you use your real, full name across your social media accounts).
6. Connect with others, including your favorite companies.
This is especially important on LinkedIn, as you can see when companies post new job openings. However, it's also a good idea to follow your favorites on Instagram and Twitter, even if these companies are on the smaller side! You want to show that you are interested and engaged in what they have to offer. Connecting with other students, adults in specific professions or previous supervisors can also be really helpful. This way, you can get some help or tips when it comes to interviews, internship searches, or even letters of recommendation.
7. Keep a list of reliable references.
Touching on what I just mentioned, you want to stay in contact with previous bosses, managers, and supervisors. Never, ever burn bridges and make sure you always save contact information. You never know when you will have a question for someone or will need some words of advice.
8. Stay consistent across all.
Whether you want to be active on all social media platforms, or simply stick to LinkedIn, is up to you. However, be sure to remain consistent if you do have an abundance of social media accounts. This means making sure your aesthetic is similar, your usernames are similar, and your language or persona is similar across all platforms.