As we enter the final stretch on winter quarter, the job and intern search season is quickly approaching (if it hasn’t already started). Always on my mind when I think about this search is the idea of personal branding. Quite often people seem to have the idea that personal branding is only for those who want to pursue a career in communications or some sort of digital or internet-based job.
This is completely false.
You’d be surprised how many employers are now looking at potential employees’ social media accounts before hiring: 48 percent of recruiters and HR professionals look at your personal websites when deciding whether or not to hire you and a whopping 63 percent of recruiters check social media sites to find out more about you.
Interestingly, according to an article I read recently on Mashable, employers aren’t just looking for appropriateness on these sites – they want to find out more about you as a person, outside of work.
So how do you manage to express who you are while still remaining professional and speaking to your niche?
Here are some tips to successfully manage your personal brand on Twitter:
- Don’t protect your Tweets! You may be thinking that this seems counter-productive to protecting your brand, but really when a potential employer sees that your Tweets are protected, it looks like you have something to hide. The best advice? Keep it public and keep it appropriate.
- Make your Twitter presence ‘employer friendly’. With the previous tip in mind, it’s important to make your Twitter somewhere not only employers, but also your audience, can go to find out more about you. Put your 160-character job pitch in your bio. Include brief previous experience, interests, and the link to your blog or LinkedIn profile (somewhere your resume can be accessed!). Think of this section as your mini-resume, those who land on your page won’t spend a lot of time looking at it, so make it short, sweet and interesting.
- Utilize your background. Don’t have enough space in your bio to promote yourself? Use your Twitter background. There are countless free templates online to create personalized backgrounds. Try one!
- Don’t drunk Tweet. You would think this would be a no-brainer, but I have unfollowed countless peers because of stupid or senseless remarks made during drunken excursions. Just like texting people of your past when intoxicated is always a bad idea, when you Tweet when you’re drunk not only are you more likely to make embarrassing spelling and grammar mistakes, but you’re also more likely to Tweet about things that will turn your audience off. Even if your audience is primarily young professionals – don’t do it!
- Don’t say whatever the *&@#^ you want! I cannot stress this enough: whether you are male or female. Don’t say vulgar things in your Tweets. It’s extremely unprofessional. While many of us curse from time to time, splattering it all over Twitter? Not ok. It will just chip away at the ‘ole block we call reputation.
- Steal/repeat your Tweets. If you constantly repeat things on Twitter with no variation, you can pretty much guarantee that you’re going to lose followers. Also, if you use someone else’s Tweets and take away the handy “RT @xxxxx” or “via @xxxx” you’re stealing others ideas.
- Tweet relevant information. What you say on Twitter matters. Remember who your followers are, and what you want your career path to be (even if you’re just a student!) and Tweet to your market! Also, when you Tweet, make sure it’s timely information.
- Don’t link your Facebook and Twitter. Don’t do it! Chances are, a significant number of people who follow you on one site also follow you on the other, so don’t link your accounts. Even if you’re talking about similar things on both, make sure you at least change the wording.
Remember, more and more people (not just celebrities) are using Twitter to represent their reach online. By following these tips you can be well on your way to using Twitter professionally, speaking to a niche and building an online professional network. Keep in mind that not only do you NOT have to be a Congressman or President to ruin your reputation online, but you have control of the information coming from your social networks, so keep it professional!
As a graduate student who went straight from undergrad to working on my master’s degree, while staying at the same school, I am in a somewhat unique position. While my schedule and location of my classes have changed significantly, I am fortunate that I stayed in the same environment thus allowing me if I desire to remain a part of the extracurricular activities I was involved in during undergrad.
While I am no longer involved in the organizations that pertained to my undergraduate major (public relations), I do still compete with the synchronized skating team and still coach figure skating to local kids. Both of these activities were very manageable during fall quarter, as it is not competition season. Yes, I had to put in longer hours when it came to schoolwork, but it was nothing I wasn’t used to.
Then came winter quarter.
Skating kicked into high gear from week one of the quarter, and I became increasingly more stressed. Not only are we out of town multiple weekends of the quarter, but I have work for my GA and practicum, classes and work from my internship at home as well. Another issue that cropped up, was that pretty much everyone on the skating team is in undergrad, and doesn’t fully understand that while I’m still at the school as I was last year, my experience this year is very different.
The lesson I learned from all of this is that being a graduate student and being involved in extracurricular activities (particularly those that are better fit for undergraduate students) is a balancing act, but it can be done. Prioritizing is crucial.
In the last few days, I seem to have finally gotten into a routine and have begun successfully balancing what seems like a zillion activities. The moral of this story? Graduate school is very different from undergrad, and treating it like undergrad often doesn’t work. However, it is possible to hold on to some of the remnants of those activities if you’re willing to put in some extra time.
Surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly) the first week of winter quarter was overwhelming to say the least. After living at home for six weeks and working a 9-5 job with a comfortable routine, returning to Athens with a hectic schedule and skating season in full swing was a kind of shock. My stress even surprised me, as usually I’m dying to get back to Athens and school.
Anyway, there were quite a few things that really stressed me out this week, and it really got me to thinking about where my passions lie. I know I’m one of a fortunate few that have been able to identify and dedicate my life thus far to the things that I am passionate about. But after venting to my dad about my frustrations a few days ago he brought up a good point: what you are passionate about can change over time.
Ok, maybe you’re thinking: doesn’t everyone know this? But I have always lived in the school of thought that I would feel strongly about my current passions forever. But I have begun to realize that maybe that’s changing.
I’ve started to accept that my role within this specific thing may need to change at the end of this year, and was feeling extremely guilty about it, but my dad also pointed out to me that I cannot feel guilty about this. I cannot personally, nor allow anyone else to discredit my contribution over the past four years. I have dedicated a lot of time to something that should realistically only take up 1-2 hours per week. It’s true that what you once wanted to dedicate your life to may not instill the same enjoyment anymore. And that’s absolutely ok. Change is ok!
The moral of the story?
1. Don’t become one of the people you complain about. I listen to people complain and complain about their commitments all the time. The problem with this? 99.9 percent of the time they have chosen the commitment, knowing what it required of them from the beginning.
What does this mean?:
2. You set your own priorities. YOU do! Yes, I know there are exceptions like ‘school comes first’ but ultimately, you must choose to surround yourself with things (and people) who make you feel happy and fulfilled.
Now you might be thinking, ‘How does this relate to public administration?’ Well, I really think the PA field is unique in that there are so many different jobs or adventures you can take with an MPA. Government, non-profit, politics, the applications really are endless.