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Using Social Media to Find a Job: Five Personal Branding Best Practices

by Dave Cutler  |  
June 29, 2012

After being laid off in February 2011, I had to devise a strategy to differentiate myself in a job market crowded with talented and creative individuals. I started by leveraging the power and reach of social media.

Coming from a predominantly traditional marketing background, I was in the midst of rebranding myself as a social media marketer. I put a major emphasis on producing and curating content that demonstrated my knowledge and understanding of the industry, while demonstrating social media savviness.

I built the website, featuring a video and PowerPoint resume, writing samples, and references, to provide a more holistic view of myself than a traditional resume would provide. I created a Foursquare venue promoting my search and an app that aggregated my various content channels.

My efforts culminated in my receiving considerable media coverage as I was featured on the cover of The Boston Globe’s Sunday Business section and was interviewed on NPR, Boston’s Fox television affiliate, and the Tonya Hall Radio Show. You can see the interview on Fox below.

My own promotional efforts, coupled with the publicity generated by the mainstream media coverage, resulted in a barrage of opportunities. Here are some best practices I picked up along the way.

Craft Your Niche

Think in terms of an elevator pitch. Can you quickly and succinctly describe your knowledge and experience, either in person or an online profile? Consider the colleagues, consultants, or friends that you’ve recommended to others. More than likely, you thought of them because they demonstrated a mastery of a certain specialty. Identifying the appropriate keywords associated with your chosen niche across your entire online presence is critical. Being the foremost expert matters little if no one can find you by searching relevant terms.

Remember That Neither Rome nor Coke Was Built in a Day

Establishing a brand is not an overnight process for a company or an individual. It’s not merely as simple as flipping a switch. While taking control of your online presence, configuring profiles, and building a website for yourself is a step in the right direction, your work isn't complete. Personal brands must be nurtured over time, especially as your career progresses and evolves.

Mix Business With Pleasure

People want to work with individuals they know, like, and trust. Injecting a little personal info into your branding helps make your story more relatable. I try to give people a broader understanding of who I am beyond my professional pursuits. You never know what will resonate. I’ve had business opportunities that initiated with comments about my kids, dogs, and even the spot where I proposed to my wife. However, it’s important to strike a balance and find a happy medium.

The Case for Googling Yourself

Much of your personal brand is determined by what can be gleaned about you through a Google search. I would highly recommend the seemingly narcissistic exercise of googling yourself fairly regularly to see what about you is featured most prominently. For optimal results, use a browser that normally lies dormant on your computer. Short of that, you should at least make sure to log out of any Google-related profile to ensure that you’re viewing a reasonable facsimile of what the average person performing a search of your name would find.

Targeting Influencers

Every field has established experts and influencers. Identify and reach out to those folks in your industry. You can learn how they achieved and maintained their current stature. Rather than immediately requesting that they share your content, engage with them via social media, comment on their blog posts, or introduce yourself following a talk. Over time, the influencer will be more inclined to follow and share your work, lending you further credibility.


Editor's note: This post is excerpted from The Grande Guide to Personal Branding by Dave Cutler, released today by Eloqua. Download a full copy of the Guide---which features handy tools for both in-person and online person branding, how-to advice, resources, and more---all packaged within a stylish design. Download the Grande Guide here.

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Dave Cutler is a Boston-based blogger and social media consultant. You can read his blog by visiting and follow him on Twitter at @CutlerDave.

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  • by Peter Jones Wed Jul 4, 2012 via blog

    I guess the best way to show a company you really are as good as you say you are at social media is to build yourself up as a band on-line. What a great out of the box method to catch an employers eye!

  • by Jacky Sat Jul 7, 2012 via blog

    I did this exact same thing for the position of 'digital marketing manager' for a company in Australia. GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE! ;)

  • by Tony Restell Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    A really excellent article, thanks for sharing these insights! Working in the social recruiting space, the one thing I would add to this is that candidates (and indeed recruiters) should start early in their social media endeavours. Don't wait until you actually need to find a new job, or need to make an urgent hire, before starting to engage on social media. The key is to have already built up a network, credibility and trusted relationships via social media before the point at which you need to reach out for help.

  • by Dave Cutler Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog


    Thanks for the comment. Establishing your personal brand online is certainly a step in the right direction towards demonstrating your value to prospective employers.


  • by Dave Cutler Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog


    Very cool! Well done. Great minds do indeed think alike. :)


  • by Dave Cutler Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog


    Thanks! I completely agree. I've advised people who ask about experience to cultivate and nurture their networks in advance so that they've established context before having to make an "ask."


  • by Cuthbert Wed Jul 11, 2012 via blog

    Its really useful and a nice article. It teaches a lot. Thanks Dave

  • by Dave Cutler Wed Jul 11, 2012 via blog

    Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad to hear you found it useful!

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