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Candidate 2.0- Using Social Media to Promote your Personal Brand

May 10, 2009

Today’s job market is more competitive than ever, especially for college grads. Just think, for every entry-level position you apply for, there will be an average of 73 others applying for the very same job! The question is: how do you differentiate yourself to stand out amongst the 72 other college graduates going for the same job? The answer is: create a personal brand and utilize social media tools to get your message out to potential employers.

Today, over 85% of jobs are found through networking. The great thing about social media is that it connects people that would otherwise never connect. Social Media accelerates your professional networking. Why not build your brand using social media and stand out amongst the competition?

Most likely, you’ve heard someone use the phrase “personal brand,” but you probably haven’t explored what personal branding is and how you can use it to gain a competitive advantage. 

The definition of “personal branding” is: differentiating yourself as a professional and projecting that message to the right people.

There is a process that you should follow in order to discover and effectively utilize your personal brand as a career tool. (Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success. By Dan Schawbel) 

  1. Discover your Personal Brand: Brainstorm! Figure out what your passion is and write a short value proposition. Your value proposition should be something unique that you offer to potential employers. Read blogs to find communities that have similar professional interests as you do.
  2. Create your Personal Brand: Jump in! Start commenting on blogs and joining discussions. This is where you show your stuff! Share knowledge, articles, books. Ask for advice and don’t be afraid to connect with people on LinkedIn.
  3. Communicate your Personal Brand: Create something! Here is where you create something of your own. Start an online discussion group on LinkedIn, start a blog, or start a fan page on Facebook. Get your name out there and keep it out there. This is the step that takes time. It won’t happen overnight.
  4. Maintain your Personal Brand: Keep building your online presence. Due to the speed of social networking, you need to remain active.

Building your personal brand using social media actually DOES work! Brett Farmiloe (@thatpassionguy) shared his story with me on how he used his passion for social media to land his ideal career.

“I branded myself with the words ‘passion’ and ‘work’ starting in 2006.  I started a website called  because I was a recent college grad wondering what I could do with my life after graduation, and how I could find a passion in the career I would pursue.  So I started a website, produced a blog, and found a sponsor at  They bought me and my three friends an RV to travel around the country in for four months, 16,000 miles, 38 states, and 300 interviews.  Throughout the 2007 Pursue the Passion tour, we posted blogs to our site, microblogged through Facebook status updates, posted pictures to Flickr and Facebook, and our videos to YouTube.  We also used  to sleep on couches across the country.  So we use lots of social media tools.  But that was 1 1/2 years ago, and the social media world moves quickly.

I’m now the social media manager for because of the work I did with Pursue the Passion.  So the social media strategy of branding myself as an expert on passion in work paid off with a job, and continues to pay off with speaking engagements all of the country.  We’re going to DC in a couple weeks, and have sold a few thousand copies of our Pursue the Passion book/documentary in speeches we’ll be giving in the fall. 

The strategy really boils down to this: pick your niche, pick your tool, and use it.  My niche is passion in work, my tools are mainly Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin, and I use them for hours each day to network, build relationships, and on a smaller scale, push out information I’m trying to promote.”

 So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start building your professional network. Whatever your passion, there is a community that supports your interest.

Here are a few places to start: If you don’t have a profile, create one now! Join at least 5 groups

 Blog Search: Search for at least 5 blogs that appeal to your professional interests and subscribe to the RSS feed. I use Google blog search

 Read the following personal branding blog. It is updated daily and gives great tips on how to develop and maintain your personal brand.

Now get out there and start promoting yourself. Good luck! 

Erika Penner 

Follow me on Twitter @eapenner

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 10, 2009 11:48 pm

    Interesting read, could not agree more. My credo is…

    ‘Be the virtual person that you represent in the offline world. You will be successful in using social media if you can mirror your personal individuality in an informative, authentic and qualified way of networked communication’.

    However, the question I am asking myselfis… Do recruiters and HR managers share this vision? Still trying to find that out… Any views from your end?

    • ssmstudent permalink
      May 11, 2009 7:30 am

      Martin, I absolutely agree that authenticity is of paramount importance!

      I think that HR managers and recruiters are just starting to recognize the impact of social media, but I also think it depends on the company. I worked as an internal recruiter in a traditional finance firm for 3 years before I came back to obtain my MBA. We were not encouraged to use social media for recruitment purposes, however, I always searched potential hires on Google. If anything, all candidates should be aware of their virtual footprint in order to manage their reputation.

      Thanks for the comment!


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