Building a Personal Brand


There are many reasons why a person should put effort into building a personal brand. If you are in the market for a job it can make the difference between getting hired or not.

In this day and age, it would be irresponsible to hire someone without looking them up online. It may be as simple as using Google to search for their name. Many companies and investigators will do a much more in depth search.

Even if you are not in the market for a job there can be many reasons why you want to appear professional. If you run a business people may want to know about you before they will hire your company to perform work. Maybe you mow lawns on the weekends for people. There are many reasons why someone should want to work on what shows up when someone looks them up.

The bottom line is you want to present a professional appearance. You do not want your MySpace page to appear with a bunch of dancing cats and heavy metal music unless that is directly related to your profession (I am interested in hearing about that industry).

By doing some basic things to establish an online presence you can help control what people searching for you will find. While you can not always squelch out information that presents you in an unfavorable light, you can take steps to show people what you want them to see.

Personal Email Address

When you give your email address out to a potential employer or anyone for that matter you want it to appear professional. If your email address is (apologies to that person) you do not want that listed at the top of your resume. Try to establish an email address that represents you well, like

You can also purchase your own domain name and have your address be There is the expense of purchasing a domain an email hosting plan, but it should not cost you more than $100 or so a year.

You may have a work email account. Use it for what it is intended, work. Keep your personal emails in a personal account. Also, make sure when signing up for services like purchasing a domain name and setting up a LinkedIn account you use an address that you control. If you lose access to an email address that you have used to register many accounts it can be difficult or impossible to recover them. I touch more on that issue in my article, Keeping Control of Your Online Identity.

Web Site

You will want to establish at the very minimum a basic web site. At minimum would be contact information and a link to various other accounts and services that you use (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.).

A lot of it will depend on your industry. If you are an artist you may want an electronic version of your portfolio. If you are an athlete you might want some information on records you hold. If you are a model you would want to let people see what you look like. You get the idea.

Establish a Blog

A blog is nothing more than a web site that you can easily make posts on which are typically organized by date. If you are knowledgeable about a topic, or even just wish to express your personality, writing can be a good way to express yourself. There are many free blog services or you can set one up as part of your web site.


Even Grandma has a Facebook account these days. While many people use it simply as a way to keep in touch with friends, there are business purposes. You want to remember that anything you post may be seen by a potential employer. A good policy is to keep all of your posts professional sounding. You want to avoid controversial issues because you never know if the person researching you has a differing opinion. Make sure to use the privacy controls that are available so you are not letting information out that you would not want people to see. If there are racy photos of you you may want to untag yourself or delete them altogether.


Even if you are content with your job, you should establish a LinkedIn account and connect with people that you do business with. Link up with friends from college, colleagues at work and friends from previous jobs. Keep everything on LinkedIn strictly professional. If you happen to lose your current job, you will still have a good way to stay in touch. Many recruiters and HR types use LinkedIn extensively when searching for potential candidates.

Search Engines

While you can not usually get content removed from sites you do not control, you can work on getting favorable information on the first page of Google. When someone searches for you and they see your personal web site, your LinkedIn profile and other things on the first page they will click on them. By controlling the information you put out there you can help guide whoever is searching to favorable content. It also helps to show your technical competency, which is increasingly valued by employers. Google allows you to establish a profile as part of your Google Account (if you have one). When someone searches for your name, it can help you appear on the first page. You want as many favorable results as you can.

If someone searches for your name and the first link describes how you were indicted as part of a smuggling ring, that could influence opinions. While you may not be able to get rid of that link, putting out as many favorable pages as possible can help push it lower in the results.

If there are many people that share your name it can be hard to appear in the first results. If the person that shares your name is really famous it will be hard to show up over all the sites talking about them. Sometimes people are "infamous". You may clearly want to distinguish yourself from the others.


There are a ton of new sites appearing every day that let you create profiles and establish your online identity. Which ones to use is up to you. The important thing to keep in mind is that the information you put out on the Internet can be used against you. There are many possible benefits and with a minimum financial investment you can make some good steps towards appearing professional online.

About the author

Bob Lindquist is an expert consultant with extensive experience building web sites, databases and performing internet marketing work for his clients.  He has over 20 years of experience working with clients from a wide variety of industries along with a degree in Computer Science.  Bob is a professional member of the Association for Computing Machinery.

In his free time, Bob is a volunteer Firefighter / EMT and has served on the boards of several not-for-profit groups.

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