As a writer, and as someone who has changed careers more times than I can count, I've always been irked by the whole idea of personal branding. I've always felt a better word for it was typecasting. Ask William Shatner what personal branding did to his career after Star Trek first went off the air. Or Christopher Reeve in the first years following Superman.
The same is true for tech careers. Ask a desktop technician with ten years experience how easy it was to get that first position as a network engineer, and there's a good chance you will hear about dozens of failed interviews with managers suggesting he sticks with what he knows best.
When it comes to online branding, the situation can become even more complicated. As I explained in a recent article, the majority of hiring managers do an online search for your name after reading your resume. Depending on what they find, this could drastically harm or help your chances at getting an interview.
While the majority of hiring managers currently limit their online searching to sources like Google, a significant percentage also look at your social media profiles, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Branding works well for corporations. Brands are what make it easy to swallow the fact that the same company making your frozen dinner might also be making your laundry detergent and your underarm deodorant. Much more difficult is slapping a single label on a human being.
Fortunately, as the Internet has helped us become more diverse in our interests, it's becoming a bit easier to convince employers or customers that you can be good at more than one thing. In fact, in the survey quoted in the above article, having a well-rounded range of interests and experience is actually something employers want to see when they look for you online.
The good news is that there are an increasing number of tools online to help you take some control over what employers see about you first when they search for you online. These include nameplate websites like About.me and Vizify.com, as well as presentation tools like Sliderocket, which we will be looking at more closely in the coming days.
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