How to manage your virtual brand

  • Written by Andrea Edwards

These days social media is a part of everyday life, showing snapshots of where you’re at, what you’re up to, even what you had for breakfast, 24 hours a day – but what most people don’t realise is the impact social media can have on your ability to find and keep a job.

Career Life Transitions’ Peter James said many people don’t understand is that with every post, you are creating your virtual brand which is visible to the world.

“Alarmingly we’re hearing about more and more people not getting a job because of their brand on social media,” Mr James said.

“There are two key problems – people who post inappropriate content, but equally, having no social media presence can be just as damaging,” he said.

“This is a particular problem for over the 40’s looking for work who can be non-existent on social media.”

“These days if you’re not on a platform like LinkedIn, you’re cutting your chances of even finding a job to apply for by up to 75%, that’s 1 in 4 jobs you may not even know exists.”

“If you’re serious about your career and you’re serious about moving forward you need to manage all aspects of your virtual brand.”

“I’ve seen some atrocious profile pictures even from senior employees, one person used a photograph from the beach where he was wearing a hat attached to beers cans – is that really someone you want in your organisation leading your staff?”

 “Something that seems fun when you’re young can come back to haunt you – just ask former US President Bill Clinton who was photographed smoking marijuana at university. The photo went viral and became a negative part of his brand that he then had to manage in political life.”

“Eighty per cent of companies use social media as part of their recruitment process and if social media posts show a person drunk, using drugs or engaging in any other illegal or immoral behaviour they’ll move onto the next candidate.”

“A company recently came to us because they were worried about their public perception and after looking at their senior managers social media profiles we were shocked.”

“The photographs and posts portrayed them in a way that did not reflect the professionalism of the company, its brand or desired image, so we spent weeks redoing all of their online profiles.

Peter James’ advice to manage your virtual brand includes;

Think about your photos - Pictures say a thousand words, what people see is how they will label you. Avoid pictures that show you being boozy with your mates and be careful what is put online. Always use professional looking profile photos for platforms like LinkedIn.

Understand the importance of your ‘virtual brand’; everything you post on social media is seen by someone and becomes part of your reputation. So avoid posting extremist views if you’re looking for a new job or a promotion.

Be consistent; if someone is searching for you they will be looking across various platforms.  Recruiters will often cross-reference your LinkedIn profile with your Facebook or Snapchat.  They should be getting the same ‘sense’ of you regardless of where they look.

Get professional help to create a LinkedIn profile; this is so important as it’s often the first place recruiters will look. Many jobseekers are discounted because of something negative a potential employer saw on social media.

“I’ve had clients with the same set of skills and experience, one got out and used his network on social media and moved into his next role quickly, the other refused to and faded into obscurity.”

“Importantly it’s also a red flag if you don’t have a social media profile, employers today are expecting everyone to be IT savvy and would be concerned if you’re not engaged online.”

“People need to accept they’ve got a virtual brand as soon as they go on social media and be prepared to manage it.”

“But it is also a two-way street and potential employees should research a company to see how their brand is portrayed before applying for a job.”

For tips on how to create a virtual brand and to be sent a free e-book go to;

About Peter James

Peter James practices what he preaches, he’s had several careers over his working life, moving from senior management positions in mechanical engineering into change and leadership development; building his successful business Career Life Transitions that supports individuals as they transition through all facets of life.

Peter is a professional people and talent developer whose expertise is in strategic and ‘hands-on’ transition management, coaching, group facilitation, leadership and organisational development consulting.

He also uses his training in martial arts to help candidates better understand the art of strategy and tactics – teaching them what it takes to master managing their own career. In Japan the way of the sword and the way of business run parallel, with powerful Samurai families like Honda Toyota and Suzuki becoming the country’s business power brokers.

In 2014 he was inducted into the Australian Martial Arts Hall of Fame and is the Master Instructor or ‘Shihan’ of the WA School of Japanese Swordmanship.


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