Branding yourself. Not a new concept. Recruiters have touted for years that branding, at least for C-level executives, is absolutely vital to a flourishing career. But with so many people out of work, this branding idea has come to the masses, thanks to the web, and if you’re job hunting without an online presence, you’re nobody. Literally. Nobody.
You can avoid Linkedin.com or Facebook.com all you want and muss about the evils of social networking sites, but you’re just kicking yourself in the ass.
Even the least savvy of organizations will do a Google search — at least you should expect them to. And “the complete absence of an online presence can raise red flags,” says Brad Reagan in this month’s Smart Consumer column in Smart Money magazine. Branding is a tricky thing, though, so your online presence must be managed well, wisely and often. What a potential employer sees online can determine whether you get that interview (or job) or not.
Discretion is the key word here. While I assume you know better, it’s my observation that networking sites can be used for good or evil, depending on the level of stupidity. I’ve worked with people (in their early 20s) who think nothing of putting a picture of themselves in a drunken stupor on Facebook — and are aware that I (their boss) had access to their site (as a friend). Being a brilliant speech writer for president-elect Obama doesn’t preclude you from doing dumb (very dumb) things and posting them to Facebook, either. This guy was caught clutching the ass of a Hilary Clinton cut-out and somebody put the photo on Facebook. What were they thinking? Oh, wait, that’s right, they weren’t.
Maybe this is why a recent Boston Globe article about using Facebook as your professional profile proved to me that too much of the job-hunting advice I’ve been reading is being dumbed down — for the really dumb. Saying a profile picture of yourself holding a beer bottle may not be good for your image, is like saying dropping a cement block on your foot will hurt like a bastard. Some things should just be obvious when you become an adult and expect someone to hire you.