Personal branding in an online world

Branding, once the exclusive realm of products and corporations, has now become much more personal, encompassing the way an individual presents himself to society and the professional world. Similar to marketing a product, a necessity in today’s world is marketing yourself.

The 2013 Bayt.com “Personal Branding in the Middle East and North Africa” poll found that managing one’s online presence and creating a powerful personal brand is becoming more important, with nine out of 10 respondents turning to the internet to search for people they’ve just met or are about to meet, and 70.5 per cent of them saying they have changed their mind about a candidate based on their online presence. At the same time, 41.5 per cent of responding companies always research new hires online before hiring.

Today, we’re seeing more and more recruiters use the web as a place to search for talent and conduct employment background searches. This trend is set to increase, and we’re predicting that an “online presence search” will soon become the most common reference check among recruiters.

The overwhelming majority (92 per cent) of respondents in the Bayt.com poll think that personal branding increases their career opportunities, with the most important benefits being the ability to showcase their skills (23.2 per cent) and connect to their target audience (21.1 per cent). Being able to distinguish themselves from others in their field (14.7 per cent) and becoming an expert or thought leader (13.2 per cent) are also important.

A brand is all about creating trust in the eyes of your audience. So how do you build your brand online?

1. Go public

Public profiles online are the new business card. They’re akin to having your own personal brand that readily grabs the attention of employers. Your managers and peers can endorse your skills or write recommendations on your public profile. This profile can be shared on all forms of online media, including email, Facebook and Twitter. It’s a one-stop page that highlights your experience, skills and aspirations.

2. Join online discussions

Your online presence should communicate what you’re passionate about. There is far too much competition and employers like to see people who are knowledgeable and enjoying their work because they will be more productive and help foster a strong corporate culture. Your best bet is to develop your online presence and focus your job search around what you know and are passionate about.

Professional networking platforms are pre-eminent places for asking questions and finding answers from people with first-hand experience. They are ideal sites to populate with information you know and want to share with others based on your experience and knowledge.

3. Mind your keywords

Employers are on the lookout for candidates with CVs that match their needed requirements. It can take less than 30 seconds for your CV to make or break your chances of landing the job.

Using keywords on your CV is very important to give your job application a boost when you are applying for jobs on leading job sites. A sophisticated algorithm takes your keywords into consideration before giving you a rank, and the higher the rank, the quicker an employer will view your CV. The same algorithm works for CV search too.

4. Monitor your digital footprint

It goes without saying that negative information about you can be difficult to get rid of, however, one effective strategy for managing your online reputation is to “bury” it. By posting new content, the unfavourable information will scroll down in the search results.

A final word

Your personal brand reflects who you are. This means creating a realistic assessment of your strengths, what you love doing, and the skills that you’ve mastered or are working to master. If you understand your strengths, skills, passions, and values you can use this information to separate yourself from others and truly stand out.

Lama Ataya heads the marketing department at Bayt.com.

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