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Who is Telling us Who We Are?

May 6, 2010

The term “brand” is a hot one right now. Sure, it has been used and referenced before, as far back as Warhol’s Campbell Soup infatuation, but it carries a heavier weight now that we have entered into this thing called the Internet: there is brand management, brand overhaul, re-branding, and the one I want to discuss today, personal branding.

As an avid user of the Internet, I have opted to throw myself out there. With a Twitter account, personal blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, portfolio website and a countless amount of online subscritions, it is safe to say that I am fully immersed. But is this necessarily a good thing, is it more trouble than it’s worth? Five years ago I would say no, I could sign up for anything and use it how I want, risk free. However, that is not the case today.

Even Waldo has trouble branding himself.

Everyone uses Facebook. Many use Twitter. A few of us keep blogs. So who really cares? Well, human resources departments do. According to a recent survey conducted by Cross-Tab Marketing services, 75% of HR departments are required to screen job candidates online, 45% of these use social media sites. Even more intriguing, 70% said they have rejected potential candidates with a poor online reputation.

These are all stressful statistics, especially for someone who is seeking a new job. Personally, I don’t let anyone – friends included – see photos of me on Facebook, except my profile picture. The reason for the stress is because it can restrict your personal expression on these sites. Everytime I post somehting I have to think to myself, “What would an employer think of this?” My beef with that? Employers are real people too, doing the same things we do, interested in the same things we are. Who are they to say that I have character issues because they see a picture of me holding a beer? Are they really so ignorant or arrogant as to think that holding a beer, or God forbid consuming one, is a liability to the company’s brand? What happens at office Christmas partys, people play Parcheesi?

My apologies for the rant, but personal evaluations via social media is a strong case of the pot calling the kettle black. There is, however, a silver lining in all of this. Half of the HR personnel surveyed say that a strong online reputation influences hiring decisions to a great extent. So, if you’re using Twitter or Facebook, perhaps include a fact, thought, or observation about the industry you’re interested in. Maybe start a couple of blogs, a professional and personal. It’s not a big deal to sensor your photos, you can always email them to Mom.

If you don’t fully understand the concept of online personal management, you could always go to Syracuse for your undergraduate degree. They have purchased a six month subscriptions to brand-yourself.com‘s online reputation management platform for all graduating seniors. Good luck out there!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. jqimedia permalink
    May 8, 2010 12:09 am

    If you think about it, building your personal brand on the Internet is a Catch-22. If you want to get a job in this day and age, you HAVE to put yourself out there on the Internet. If a HR department googles you and doesn’t find anything, but googles another candidate and finds [good] information about them, who do you think the company will choose? At the same point, you have to restrain what information you put on the Internet for the reasons you mentioned above, and because no matter how much you privatize your settings on any given site, somehow someone will be able to get access to your info.

    Is there any happy middle?

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