Recession Mama

{August 16, 2009}   GUEST POST: Your Personal Brand

Katy sez:  Today’s guest post comes from Stefanie.  She writes a great blog called “Awesome and Unemployed.” There’s a lot of great career advice on there on how to stand out among the hundreds of other job candidates these days.  She relates to what we may all be going through, as she says, “I graduated without a job, applied to 50+ different companies and temp agencies, only to get rejected every single time.”  Presently, Stefanie’s worked in career development and HR for a major company. (hint:  google her)  Today, she reminds us how to remain professional in our online social networks.


I got this awesome lead from my friend, Matt.  Thank you, Matt, for your pearls of wisdom.

Let’s talk about this for a minute.  Please raise your hand if you are a Facebook junkie.  Myspace junky?  Manage a blog?  Interact in ANY WAY on a social media platform?  Then see example A above.

As you reach out to different people across a social networking platform, you build a perception of who you are as a human being and as a potential employee.  Who are you as a potential employee?  By hiring YOU, the company is making a statement about their brand and employee values.  So really, who are you in this interconnected world wide web?

Let’s talk about who you’re NOT.

You’re not the person that whines about their lame job on Facebook.  When you’re young, your job is going to be a shit job.  It’s a right of passage.  Patience and hard work, though, earns you open doors to more challenging projects and responsibilities.  Meaningful work must be earned.  It’s rarely handed out at the get go.

You’re not the person that brags about what a joke the interview was on your personal blog.  I knew a person in college that had a consulting offer rescinded because he bragged on his personal blog that the interview was a joke.  Not so funny without the job offer!

You’re not the person with the obscene “haha funny” photos up on his MySpace.  Really, that photo of you rubbing your nipple?  Hilarious at the party, but not so hot when your potential employer comes across it in a “tagged” photo search.

You’re probably thinking “What the hell, dude.”  Why are employers searching through my personal stuff?  Here’s the honest truth.

There’s a really fine line between private and public on the Internet.  Unless you explicitly make your profile private, anyone can view your business.  Including a potential employer.

And what the heck?  Why do employers even care?  They are all people and do crazy things, too!  They care because you represent them.  It’s very hard to command the respect of a client, your manager, or even your peers, when they know all your business behind between 5pm – 8am.  Just because you are a good person does not erase the fact that you passed out on the sidewalk that one Saturday night.  Just make sure that you protect yourself, your photos, and your personal brand.

So let’s talk about who you are/could be online.

You are the person that is professional, but human.  You do have friends.  You do have family.  You do have interests and a life outside of work.  But, from what anyone can see, it’s appropriate.  You are someone that is a whole person and you can bring this whole person in as an asset for connecting with clients, peers, superiors.

You are well-rounded.  In addition to being serious about work, you’re also serious about… oh, sailing.  Or Comic-con.  Or Travel books and wine.  You have passions that enhance your intellectual value and add character to you.  For example, my geeky passion is Harry Potter.  And if anyone asks me, I can recall alternate endings, interviews and speeches by JK Rowling, and I can even tell you about the time I ended up on Jimmy Kimmel during the launch of the 6th book.  People will always remember that quirk about me.

You are someone that they would enjoy working with.  You might be strong willed, witty, or completely easy going, but either way, you’re someone that they could discuss ideas with and work well with.  You’re positive, you’re motivated, you’re smart.

Now, the formula for the right person is always going to differ by company.  But the good news is that there is a company for you.  There’s one that will have other employees that enjoy your blogs about sea otters or waterfall jumping.  How about your tweets about your awesome Barista at Starbucks?  Status updates about your amazing lunch?  Clearly, you can still be you, just publicly appropriate.

So what do you want to tell the world about who you are?  It’s time to get updating!  Start defining your personal brand on the Internet.


anthonymci says:

I really like your points about what you can actually do and even the advantages that being able to display your outside world can bring. These are some benefits that I hadn’t actively considered before.

recessionmama says:

From Heather: This is such GREAT advice. People should be professional and careful about what they put on social networking sites. Why risk it?

steflau says:

Thanks for the feedback, Heather! And to think–this is really just scratching the surface! I really should have written a novel about this one!


Carla says:

Perfect advice…thank you, Stefanie. It really IS hard to balance that line of personal/fun stuff when you’re online…and remembering that your next boss could stumble upon your name down the line.

Steve in W MA says:

Essentially, Myspace profile and web presence as personal marketing. As long as you are dependent on someone or something for income, manage your online profile and “online personality representation” as if you were always marketing yourself to your employer, future employer, and actually anybody who might know anybody who might know anybody….

Does this bother anyone else but me?

steflau says:

Hi Steve,

I totally hear you on this one. It does bother a lot of people, but here is an interesting fact: 45% of employers now screen social media profiles (

“According to the study, “thirty-five percent of employers reported they have found content on social networking sites that caused them not to hire the candidate.” The big lessons you can learn are quite obvious, but bear repeating. Provocative photos and info are a bad idea (53% of employers won’t hire you), shared content with booze and drugs is also highly dangerous (44% dismissed candidates for this reason), and bad-mouthing former employers is very risky behavior (35% reported this a the main reason they didn’t hire a candidate).”

It’s a reality that is becoming more and more a part of this interconnected world. If you really want to protect yourself, make sure to change all of your profile settings to private. Private is my personal best friend.

Good luck and keep the conversation coming!

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