How to Prepare Your Personal Brand for a Job Search

Features Recruiter.com

You've likely seen the term "personal branding" in blogs and articles as you've been preparing for your job search, but you may not be entirely certain what it means. Personal branding is how a candidate packages their skills, background, experience, and public persona in order to market themselves to potential employers.

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A strong personal brand image could mean landing the job of your dreams, while a poorly maintained one could hurt your chances – or even worse, get you disqualified from consideration entirely.

Because finding and keeping a job is all about marketing yourself properly, it's a good idea to take a minute to read up on a few key points regarding how to boost your personal brand:

Clean Out Your Closet – Your Social Media Closet

The first place employers look after they've seen your resume is your social media presence. In fact, a recent survey from CareerBuilder found that 60 percent of employers research candidates on social networking sites. That's an 8 percent increase from last year's survey.

Companies want to know that they're hiring people with character and integrity, so you want to make sure that everything you post on the Internet casts a positive light on yourself.

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Employers also pay attention to the ways in which your social media activity reflects poorly on you. Your conduct on the Internet can have some serious negative consequences on your job search: In CareerBuilder's survey, 49 percent of the hiring managers who said they screen candidates on social media also said they've found information in their research that has led them to decide not to hire a candidate.

Some of the content that most commonly causes hiring managers to shy away from a candidate includes:

- Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos, or information – 46 percent of hiring managers said they've not hired a candidate after finding these things on their social media accounts

- Information about a candidate drinking or using drugs – 43 percent

- Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc. – 33 percent

- Candidate bad-mouthed previous company or fellow employee – 31 percent

- Poor communication skills – 29 percent

This is not to say that you can't go out with your friends and have a good time when you're in the middle of a job hunt. Rather, you simply need to be cognizant of the moments you choose to document and share.

Build Up Your Online Presence

The flip side to cleaning up your online presence is that you also want to ensure the content the remains reinforces a positive and professional perception of you. You need to take control of your Internet footprint and reshape the information that can be found about you.

One of the first things I advise any client to do is update their LinkedIn profile so that it is 100 percent accurate and portrays them as a qualified professional. LinkedIn is well indexed by Google, so when a recruiter searches your name online, your LinkedIn profile is likely to be one of the first results they see. LinkedIn is also a great way to showcase projects you've worked on, papers you've published, and interviews in which you've been quoted.

If you like to write or have an online portfolio to show off, it's a good idea to purchase your own website domain, such as JohnSmith.com. If you are unable to purchase your own domain, you can set up a site for free on a platform like WordPress. Just make sure that your full name is included in the URL – e.g., if you use WordPress, your URL should be JohnSmith.WordPress.com. No matter which approach you take, strive to always keep it professional.

Your Behavior in the Real World Is Just as Important as Your Behavior Online

Many companies see their employees as extensions of their businesses – even after hours. Again, this doesn't mean that you can't have a life. But if you want the job – or if you want to keep the one you have – you should be on your best behavior even outside of the office.

Do you remember many years ago when a woman drove across the country wearing a diaper and attempted to kidnap a U.S. Air Force captain? Do you remember her name? Probably not, but you may remember where she worked. After all these years, one prominent detail most people can recall about that strange event is that the woman worked for NASA.

You likely won't do anything as serious as that, but the lesson stands: Your actions outside of work can affect your employer. You don't want to do anything that would jeopardize its reputation – or your chances of landing a job in the future.

A version of this article originally appeared on ResumeSpice.

Savannah Ober is a resume expert at ResumeSpice.