The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

January 20, 2012

From a Passive to an Active Job Search: Building Your Online Brand

Personal-Brand
The majority of professionals, including those in Accounting, Finance, IT and Administration, pursue job searches in a similar fashion. Typically, individuals look for new employment by browsing through and responding to Internet postings and possibly networking with other professionals. While these techniques are certainly viable and necessary components of the job search, they alone are not sufficient.

The competitive landscape of today’s job market requires professionals to extend their employment searches beyond traditional methods; specifically, job seekers should utilize the Internet to promote their personal “brand.” Personal branding is a strategy that allows for the demonstration of unique strengths and achievements to differentiate yourself from the competition. As recruiters increasingly use the Internet to source candidates for new roles, professionals who have not yet invested in the formation of a strong online presence are at a serious disadvantage. The following article provides some essential suggestions for creating and sustaining an effective online brand.

The first and most challenging part of establishing an online brand is to conceptualize what sets you apart from others in the job market. This process includes the assessment of professional ambitions, values, strengths and interests. The conscious identification of these traits allows you to move beyond the confines of the traditional professional description methods, such as resumes, to more specialized and effective communication about yourself. Through the proper combination of these qualities, you can effectively utilize your online personal brand.

The next step is to understand how to efficiently use the most popular social media websites, namely LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Recruiters and employers will almost certainly search for potential candidates on these, so it is highly recommended that you both set up and maintain a presence on all three of these social networks. For LinkedIn, the most crucial online tool for job seekers, you should be certain to fill out your profile thoroughly and update it regularly. Particularly important aspects of using LinkedIn include keywords, highlighting past accomplishments, obtaining recommendations and joining relevant networking groups. For Facebook and Twitter, in addition to obvious guidelines, such as not sharing offensive or inappropriate material, users are encouraged to generate content about their own field-related interests. Professionals should be careful to limit themselves to just a few major social networking accounts; joining too many will make it difficult to effectively scale your brand and maintain an active presence on all sites.

After some initial professional social media involvement, job seekers should advance to more sophisticated online branding techniques, specifically the creation of your own domain name and/or blog. The domain or blog name should ideally be the professional’s first and last name. If unavailable, some variation of the name and career interest or certification can be combined; for instance, www.SarahJohnsonCISA.com could be used as an alternative. In addition to generating positive Google search results, a personal professional website can serve as an easy resource for recruiters and employers looking for more detailed and lively information about a candidate. The website should provide links to both the owner’s resume, as well as all active social media accounts.

The importance of a well-maintained online presence is not limited to those who want to change jobs. Even professionals who are perfectly happy in their current jobs should be implementing these recommendations. The desire or need to find new work can arise unexpectedly, so it is useful to be prepared by having at least the foundation of an online brand built in advance. Further, those who are comfortably employed and have established a professional Internet presence can have the opportunities to network, earn tremendous respect from their peers and continuously educate themselves about new industry developments.

Building an online presence requires dedication, frequent upkeep and a substantial amount of virtual interaction with others on the Internet. However, active online personal branding is significantly more effective than merely searching for jobs without fully highlighting your personality and talents. If you have not yet begun creating your unique virtual image, Abacus Group recommends that you begin as soon as possible, enabling your career to grow through positive online exposure.

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