Personal Branding

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.

1 Source: More Employers Use Social Networks to Check Out Applicants

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Posted on September 5, 2011, in LIBR 246 Web 2.0 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Diane Grevalsky-Angiletta

    I like the company you chose to focus for Exercise 1. I wish they had not canceled Stargate Universe!! Just as it was getting good–poof–gone! They also seem to have a commitment to websites for their shows, allowing fans to access even more content and of course that translates into brand messaging and marketing. I will have to check out their Twitter account, as I was unaware of it. Great post!


  2. Thank you, Diane!

  3. Like you, the type of information and privacy settings I use depends on the social site. My Facebook page, and the content I post on Facebook in general, is only viewable by my friends and I. To the contrary, the information on my LinkedIn account is much more visible to everyone. This sounds a lot like how you have your accounts set up. Each site definitely has its purpose in personal branding.

    What about who you select to be your “friends” or “connections?” I hate turning down friend requests and/or connection requests, but think it is necessary to draw a hard line between your friend-friends and your business-friends. For example, another parent I met at a park one day found my profile on LinkedIn and asked to be my connection. I hesitated to accept because I knew they were not a professional-type connection. Ultimately, I turned down their request, but found them on Facebook and asked them to be a “friend” there instead. I really want to keep the “connections” people see in my LinkedIn profile as professional as possible. Crazy Dave from high school es no bueno.

    Family has posed another issue. Where do they fit– Facebook, LinkedIn, or neither? I’ll be honest, I am not Facebook “friends” with my wife or the vast majority of my family. It just doesn’t seem necessary to me since we connect by phone, in person, text message, e-mail, etc. It’s also nice in a way to keep “friends” separate from family, which allows me to control the content I share between the two groups more closely. I’ll admit this sounds a bit selfish; what do you think?


    • I am just as careful as you are Peter. Under no circumstances will I friend on Facebook a colleague from work. My Executive Director sent me a friend request, and I denied it. Even my best friend at work (we joke that he is my “work husband”) is not a Facebook friend. I have put into a place a hard line that I will not cross when it comes to work and Facebook.

      I am becoming more active on LinkedIn and have started using that to network with my colleagues.

      As far as family goes, I tend to pick and choose based on the person. Most of my younger family – sibilings/cousings – are on my Facebook list.

  4. Amanda, an excellent post. It sounds like you learned a lesson the hard way. I am sorry to hear this. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  5. I agree with you that privacy, settings and social media are so very important. I’ve seen and heard reports on television and in print how people jeopardize their jobs and careers by underestimating the power of social media tools. Often it is downright careless and foolish misjudgment but other times just being naïve and not realizing how information takes on a life of its own once it is in cyberspace.

    I personally feel that sometimes the criteria used goes too far and people should not be judged or labeled because they have a photo online of questionable legal activities such as having a social drink with friends. To think that companies may hire or fire someone over these types of things is placing too much emphasis on moral rules and taking away from the actual benefit an employee has to offer an organization.

    Until this semester I have never used social media tools but as I learn more and speak with more fellow students about them, I realize how careful one must be and understand the importance of customizing the social media tool settings before something may come back to haunt you.
    Thank you for your post as it reinforces my need to better understand how these tools are used both personally and professionally.

    ~ William

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