By Robert Half on 1st July 2020

Searching for your next job role? You can maximise your chances of success with a few simple tweaks to your social media presence and networking approach.

Robert Half's International Talent Acquisition Director, Victoria Sprott, hosted a panel discussion on July 1st featured Jennifer Holloway (personal brand expert and best-selling author of Personal Branding for Brits), Ben Atkinson (Account Director, LinkedIn), Lisa Brown (Customer Success Manager, LinkedIn) and David Neal (Director, Robert Half UK).

Find out what a strong personal brand looks like, how you can build one which reflects you and what potential employers look for on social media before making a job offer.

Webinar: YOUR NEXT ROLE – Networking and personal branding

What’s a personal brand?

A personal brand is how you promote yourself. It consists of two components:

1) Your ‘what’
This is your ability to clearly help people understand exactly what you—and only you—can bring to the table. Your knowledge base, experience, qualifications and accolades. Anything on your CV counts toward the first part of your personal brand.

2) Your ‘who’
Now we know what’s being brought to the table, we need to look at who is bringing it. Who are you in terms of your values? What motivates you? What are your strengths? What’s your personality like?

Both components should work in tandem to make up the sum of your personal brand. A unique combination of assets that make you a fit for the job.

“What people are buying is your personal brand. And this is why you want to make sure you absolutely know what it is,” Jennifer says.

How to start personal brand building

Now that we know why personal brand building is so important, how can we do it? According to Ben, you already have a brand, you simply need to start refining it.

“Right now, you have a personal brand,” he says, “your personal brand is what other people perceive of you. It’s in your hands to influence and control what that perception is.”

There are several steps to achieve this:

1) Ask for feedback
Try to get a 360-degree feedback session from people close to you with a view to gaining an unvarnished view of how your brand is perceived. This could include how you come across in meetings or what your online presence says about you.

2) Define what you want to be known for
Would you like to be considered as a marketing expert? Or a key figure for public speaking? Try to distil your brand down to three words that you want people to associate with you.

3) Drill down into the details
Once you have three key characteristics for your brand, start fleshing out what those may look like in practice and on a sliding scale. If you want to be seen as inspirational, how might that look in a real-life situation? When you interview for new roles, you’ll be able to bring this insight into the answers you give.

How to differentiate your CV and LinkedIn profile

Both your CV and your social media presence play an active role in your job search, but each medium serves a slightly different purpose. For this reason, they should have several key differences.

An effective CV acts as a mandatory document for the job application process. This means you have the opportunity to tailor it for each job you apply to.

Your social media profiles can passively generate interest from recruiters and employers looking to hire for open roles. A social platform gives you the opportunity to add the kind of personal touch which provides valuable insight into your cultural fit for a role.

“Your social media profile shouldn't read exactly like your CV, it should be almost like a blurb and then the CV is your full story,” says Lisa.

“Overall, they do complement each other in the sense that they both give a clear overview of who you are professionally and personally, but they should differ. It's just knowing and finding that balance between the two.”

Be mindful when posting

Although you might be reserving your best face for LinkedIn, it’s likely that a potential employer will browse all your social media profiles.

“Many clients will look at all social media on any individual before making offers and hiring those individuals,” says David.

“Whatever you are posting on any form of social media, you’ve got to ask yourself whether you’d be happy for that to be in black and white, maybe on The Daily Mail, because essentially, that is what you're doing. You are leaving a footprint. Just be really mindful of the views or topics that you comment on.”

What are employers looking for on social?

Your social media profiles can be a great way to reinforce the information you’ve given a potential employer on your CV. If your LinkedIn profile showcases testimonials, skills and professional experience previously mentioned on your CV, you’re onto a winner.

Ben says: “Your CV can be very punchy and factual because you've only got a little bit of space to give the facts about your career. Social media is your opportunity to bring some colour — the things you're passionate about your achievements, your affiliations, charity work, projects you're proud of.”

Optimise your profile for a job search

There are a number of ways to maximise how well your LinkedIn profile advertises you to potential employers:

1) Use a professional profile photo
Try to use a dedicated professional photo as your profile picture, rather than a holiday snap or family portrait. A clear photograph of yourself provides the opportunity for an employer to build trust with you up front.

“You build trust in a brand by consistency. As an interviewer, you want to have seen on that LinkedIn profile picture the same person who's going to walk through your interview door, because then you trust them,” says Jennifer.

2) Always fill in the ‘about’ section
Your ‘about’ section is an excellent opportunity to sell yourself and your brand. Don’t rely on tired clichés and industry buzzwords — instead, aim to write something that could only have come from you.

“Part of individualising [an about section] is to add in a couple of what I call ‘relationship hooks’,” says Jennifer.

“These are little snippets of information about who you are when you aren’t working, that you are putting out as a hook so that if someone was to meet you, you could have a conversation kicking off about that particular thing.”

3) Integrate photos and videos
Much like your profile picture, integrating photo and video content on your LinkedIn profile can help to give a clearer sense of your personality and your personal brand.

4) Use keywords
Strategically place relevant keywords throughout your LinkedIn profile, in your job title, about section and employment history to make sure you’re attracting the right eyes.

“Add loads of relevant keywords,” Lisa says, “not the kind of buzzwords that everybody is using, but rather ones which highlight your transferable skills.”

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