Personal branding isn’t just for college students angling to enter the workforce. Rather, personal branding is a lifelong effort, one that’s constantly evolving and requires regular maintenance. Our individual brands define who we are in the workforce — they guide our career paths and have an indelible impact on our financial future. In short, they’re one of the most important aspects of professional life.
Applying for admission to many American colleges already has high school students jumping through hoops. School transcript? Check. Recommendations? Check. Personal statement? Standardized test scores? List of accomplishments? Check. Check. Check. Now some social media experts are advising high school seniors to go even further. They are coaching students to take control of their online personas — by creating elaborate profiles on LinkedIn, the professional network, and bringing them to the attention of college admissions officers
Most of us couldn’t have predicted that one day, so much of our lives would be public. Young adults growing up in the early days of social media hadn’t yet learned that posting online is like carving in stone — that photo of you and friends celebrating spring break is mighty hard to erase.
According to The Center for Education Reform, there are 30,000 public high schools, 11,850 private high schools and 1,450 catholic high schools in the United States producing an estimated 3.2 million graduates in 2012.
Whether you’re CEO of a mega-brand or owner of a doggy daycare start-up, investing in your personal brand is always a sound investment in your company. When the individual at the helm has the right image and reputation, they impact everything from boosting the company brand to forging emotional connections with employees, investors, customers, and media.
At Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Me., admissions officers are still talking about the high school senior who attended a campus information session last year for prospective students. Throughout the presentation, she apparently posted disparaging comments on Twitter about her fellow attendees, repeatedly using a common expletive.
Without a positive reputation, no personal brand can flourish. If you’re not viewed as a dependable and trustworthy professional, your skillset, interests and output – no matter how impressive – won’t matter much.
Today, graduates need more than a diploma and firm handshake. In a world where every job applicant has a litany of laurels and a professional website, graduates need to be expert (and frequent) communicators with a strong personal brand.
By now, the idea that some college admissions officers might check an applicant’s social media accounts shouldn’t sound too far-fetched.
Your name defines you. Indeed, some soon-to-be parents make a final name selection only after visiting Network Solutions to ensure a suitable URL is available. (True story: My business partner recently had a baby. During her second trimester, I urged her to check URL availabilities before settling on a name. She chuckled — but quickly nabbed the web address.)
Harvard accepted 5% of 39,051 college applicants (Class of 2020)
35% admissions officers have visited applicants’ social media profiles
Cornell accepted 14% of 44,966 college applicants (Class of 2020)