What are your thoughts on personal branding as someone who may soon be looking for a professional position in libraries?
Your personal brand is what makes you unique. It’s what people see when they look at you. Personal branding is not limited to online forums, but in this day and age, it is often true that you are known for the information that is online before you are ever known as a person.
In 2009, 45% of employers were using social media tools to screen candidates before offering them a position1. It seems likely that this number has gone up in the two years since the study was done given that the use of technology is constantly climbing in our society. What this means is that the way you present yourself online will almost certainly have an impact on future employment opportunities.
I personally believe that potentially questionable Facebook photos of legal activities should not jeopardize anyone’s career, which is why I am a big fan of privacy settings. Privacy settings allow you to control the information that is visible to the public, and this is the best way to manage your personal brand online.
I have had the misfortune of paying the consequences for an errant remark on Facebook (Tip #1 – if you are unhappy in your current place of employment, don’t advertise in public online forums that you are actively seeking new employment). The day I lost my job was the day that I learned what privacy settings are for. When you Google my name, you will find links to all of my social media profiles and blogs. But you won’t be able to access much information from them, other than professional accomplishments and goals. My Facebook profile is restricted to friends only so that I can control exactly who sees what information I choose to post. My LinkedIn profile is full of information that I want potential employers to see.
Personal branding is about projecting who you are (and even who you want to be) to the world around you. If you aren’t paying attention to the information out there about you, then you aren’t in control of your own personal brand and you aren’t showing the world who you really are – you’re showing them who other people think you are.