Self Branding in the Digital Age

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June 2, 2016 at 2:12 pm

We’ve heard the old warning time and time again, ‘the things you post on Facebook will never be erased. Your future employer will see it and it’ll come back to bite you’ (Everyone-with-a-Linkedin, 2016).

I agree with this word of warning to a degree. However, I don’t understand why it’s considered a negative rather than an outlet to be leveraged. Of course, this would be dependent on the industry you’re entering, as I could only imagine an Investment Banking firm wouldn’t be too impressed by a messy photo of your first year days at booze cruise (can you be employed on LinkedIn for being the life of the party? No? Okay.)

But how many times have you heard the advice to ‘be yourself, as, at the end of the day, they’re hiring a colleague and not a robot.’ I feel this rationale is consistent with the idea of self-branding through personal social channels, as you can tell a lot about a person, albeit minimal assumptions, based on their personal handles. What motivates someone to upload to Instagram? Why that particular picture, filter, crafted caption, and the conscious decision to post in the elusive-yet-sought-after ‘prime time’? ‘

It seems an arbitrary analysis, but nonetheless an argument with some body. There’s always reasoning behind every post: a flatlay of a brunch spread says, ‘I’m a Melbourne foodie’, an Outfit Of the Day (#OOTD) post says, ‘hey guys, I take pride in my appearance’, and a high angled and overly filtered selfie says, ‘I try too hard’ (Kidding).  But what can this translate to in recruitment terms? Perhaps just the right filter and witty caption can demonstrate a keen eye for detail. Good social media skills can mean good people skills, and everyone loves to work with people who are interested in different things, or that don’t take themselves too seriously.

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The marketing industry is certainly a discipline that, for those considering entering the creative workforce, stands to gain from this concept of self-branding. For instance, consider Instagram as a platform that allows the viewer a snapshot into the life and thoughts of an individual – an almost continuation from where a CV leaves off. To highlight this point further, I’m going to use the analogy of Tinder to exemplify a recruiter-potential candidate relationship. Consider a recruiter swiping through their potential candidates (matches), finally coming across an attractive individual that fits the right criteria: witty bio, great photos, hits the mark in all forms. After this initial screening, you see a linked Instagram account at the bottom and give it a modest stalk, as (congratulations), they made it passed preliminary screenings.

Through the use of Instagram, you’re reassured that; a). They’re (probably) an actual human, b). They have hobbies and interests that fall out of their three sentence bio and c). can act as the deciding point if the potential relationship has any grounds to begin with.
I had this thought as I was applying for internships at various marketing firms and instead of requesting my academic transcript, I was asked for examples of my favourite Instagram accounts that I believe were branded well and also for my personal Instagram.
Upon receiving the position a week later, I asked the recruiter if my Instagram account and the ones I handled for various student societies (shoutout @unimelbsamm, you the real MVP), played a part in securing the position. To my surprise, she confirmed it did, saying that she liked my captions as it ‘showed a lot of personality and eye for detail that was transferrable to keeping developing a brand voice’ over social channels.

The moral of the story, or more appropriately moderately-structured-rambling, don’t be afraid to harness your social channels as an outlet to express your personality or other interests. You never know when it may come in handy