Personal branding as a tool for career success

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Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

We all live amongst communities of people so whether we like it or not, people are consistently creating impressions of us.

Every person you interact with uses what you say or do to come up with stories about you, in the same way that we have certain impressions of those we come in contact with. This is a common fact that too few people pay attention to.

In social relationships, people can classify you based on what you say or do, even on social media.

Take marriage for example: even though people certainly don’t know all they wish to know about the other person, they can still reasonably choose to get married to them.

Oftentimes, their decision is based on what may be incomplete – but reliable – information about their partners and a collection of their impressions of their future spouses.  

The job market is not completely different to this same phenomena. For example, it is very possible that recruiters already have an impression about you as a candidate even before they meet you in an interview.

Given that many of us have social media accounts – and maybe too much freedom in using them – it wouldn’t be too difficult for recruiters or potential business partners to access the content we create or consume online. Some of us may share or post humour, opinions or information without really considering who might have access to it.

Because recruiters are also on these social media platforms, they get to see who candidates are well beyond their CVs and recommendation letters. It is easy for them to have lasting impressions about the candidates from this information. These may be negative for some people, which will adversely affect their chances of being hired.

As a result, some people find that their years of toil on the job hunt do not materialize to anything of value. Of course, there are many possible explanations for why the journey could turn out that way but we don’t always acknowledge how our own actions could have contributed to the outcome. 

For instance, the world is shaken to its core by the coronavirus pandemic right now. Everybody wants to hear what progress is being made to mitigate the impact of the virus.

What you post on social media in response to the ongoing pandemic will definitely allude to what kind of person you are, especially under the emotional pressure of this current crisis.

Whether you intend for it to or not, your online persona could either bring you closer to your potential employers or keep you at a terrifyingly unsafe distance.

For many of us that use social media, the breakthrough we’re looking for in our careers could depend entirely on changing our online presence.  Your social media is, in most cases, your most detailed CV.

We might already have connections to our dream jobs, fellowships, grants or scholarships in our own communities. You know people who know people who might hire you.

In different ways, what you do online can easily land in the hands of future employers and co-workers – sometimes even before your glowing academic and professional accolades.

You don’t have to maneuver a mysterious system to get a job; you just have to present the best version of yourself to the right people. What that means is you have to give your best to leave people with good impressions of you.

Pulling out your most formal outfit on the day of an interview is a small part of a larger job hunt arsenal. Let what you intend to wear on that big day be consistent with the person you are in public, especially on social media.

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Teboho Polanka
Teboho is a Social Worker, Writer and Inspirational Speaker. He is in pursuit of MSc. in Managerial Psychology. Graduates are able to apply psychological principles and methods to tackle challenges in the work environment and provide effective practical solutions. Acting as industrial-organizational psychologists.