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The Science of Personal Branding in the Age of Social Media

Photo by on Unsplash
Photo by on Unsplash


The Internet has brought us all closer together than we ever have been before. That means that people you would never have met otherwise before the Internet are in your inner circle online thanks to social media. There is one tiny downside to all this togetherness, however – you have no chance at anonymity when it comes to getting a job. Your potential employers are screening you from the moment you come on their radar, researching everything they can find about you online before they even think about bringing you in for an interview. How you present yourself online has never been more important, and it affects more than just your job prospects.

How To Brand Yourself On Social Media

More than 80% of people have social media profiles. This is where you keep up with friends old and new and where your mom signs her posts Love, Mom for the whole world to see. Who you are online is an extension of who you are in person, and how you act online determines how people will perceive you. A good rule of thumb to follow is that you should never say something online that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.

Most people treat personal social media as an anything-goes kind of proposition, but in the real world where personal and professional are constantly being blurred, it’s worthwhile to adhere to some basics. Try to keep it neutral and lighthearted – there are plenty of other places to go online if you want to discuss heavier stuff.

Your appearance is also important on social media. You wouldn’t roll out of bed and go to the grocery store in your pajamas, so why post about it online for everyone to see? And guys, those photos of you with food in your beards aren’t as charming as you want to think they are. You’ll have to actually brush up on your personal grooming, too.

Online Dating Profiles Can Be Tricky

Although most people make snap judgments based on your appearance, that’s not necessarily what you want when you are looking for a serious relationship. Around 40 million people use online dating sites, and in 2013 OKCupid removed the profile pictures for “Love Is Blind” day and made some amazing discoveries. People responded more readily and made deeper connections. But when there are profile pictures on online dating sites, men are looking for women who talk about fitness while women tend to prefer men who seem brave. Your bio should be about 70% of you and about 30% what you want in a date.

Professional Sites Are A Whole Other Ballgame

When you think about professional social media, you probably think about LinkedIn. And you should! LinkedIn has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, and most people are starting to think that a well done LinkedIn profile is more important than a resume or CV. And chances are you haven’t even logged in in a few months.

Your LinkedIn photo should make you look competent and likeable. Dark suits and white make you seem competent and influential while smiling with teeth makes you seem more likeable. Even good lighting can make you seem more competent.

Your bio should paint a picture of who you are as a person, not just regurgitate corporate speak. Highlight your achievements and tell who you are outside of work as well. Mention your hobbies and even your family. Remember that 70% of a potential employers screen you on social media before they even think about bringing you in for an interview, so how you look online could make or break your job prospects. Even adding a short video can help people get to know you a little better and feel more comfortable about bringing you in to meet in person.

Personal Branding Matters, Especially Online

If you aren’t sure you are branding yourself online in a positive light, now is a good time for a social media checkup. What do your profile pictures look like? Do your bios and professional summaries paint a picture of who you are as a person? Most importantly, do all of these online personalities mesh together to make one authentic person? Learn more about the importance of personal branding online from this infographic!

Personal Branding Graphic