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Personal branding is often seen as a self-serving part of job hunting. But there are important reasons to think about your personal brand online: not only does it play a bigger role in recruitment and hiring, but also, it can reflect on your organization or cause.

Why should you care about personal branding?

1. Organizations are already looking for you online, and many consider it a red flag if they can’t find you at all. According to JobVite’s 2012 Social Recruiting Survey, 92% of respondents said they use or plan to use social media in recruiting. What do they see they search for you on Google or social sites? Additionally, some companies are concerned if a candidate cannot be found online. With a bit of work on your personal brand, you can control what companies learn about you without looking like you are trying to hide something.

2. It can attract new opportunities and help establish credibility. Personal branding is another form of networking. And networking can bring about job opportunities, volunteer projects, chances to meet new people, and ways to enhance your reputation as an expert in your field, blogging or working with the media. This not only promotes your personal brand, but also your professional skills.

3. It can strengthen your cause. Personal branding doesn’t have to be all selfish. By getting yourself out there, and connecting with others, you can also support your organization or a cause you are passionate about. You can use your own brand to build awareness and spread the message of your issues and organizations through social media and the connections you make.

Ready to build you brand? Here are a few things to consider:

1. Determine what you want your brand to be. This is the most basic step and can often be the hardest. When people search for you online, what do you want them to find? How are you unique? Luckily there are plenty of online resources to help.

2. Do a brand audit. Don’t just Google yourself, but also see what strangers see when they search for you on social networks, and use free Twitter tools, Klout, and Google Analytics to see what areas you have influence and how your work is spreading. Look at what is already out there and see how you can leverage it to define you as a person, showcase your talents, and introduce people to you as an employee.

3. Mold your online presence to showcase your brand. Make sure your social network profiles are up-to-date with work information and skill sets. If you have a website, connect to your LinkedIn and Twitter, and vice-versa. If your work permits it, create an online portfolio or social media resume. Craft your brand while keeping in mind your goals for your career and reputation.

4. Introduce a bit of your personality. Just because you have a job doesn’t mean you don’t have a life. When it’s appropriate, posting about your interests or personal life can provide a nice peek into who you are as a person and can demonstrate a wide variety of interests and well-rounded individual.

5. Be active! Once you feel your online presence represents your personal brand, keep it up to date. Post interesting articles and start conversations on Twitter. Update your LinkedIn with that great job accomplishment. Regularly update your website or online resume.

6. Look to career and branding experts. There are people out there whose job it is to help people develop their personal brands. Learn from them.

Happy branding!

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