Job fair

For students, college is the perfect opportunity to figure out who they are. One important, yet overlooked, subject is developing a personal brand for your professional future. You may wonder why you should care, but let’s face it, we trust what we recognize and we recognize brands. (Pepsi, Adidas, Starbucks, need I say more?)

Your outgoing personality may be what makes you stand out from the crowd, but your branding is what makes you stand out in a stack of job applications. But in today’s socially distanced world, first impressions happen long before any phone or Zoom call. That’s why a strong, cohesive online presence is a must in any personal brand. 

Create a portfolio site.

A portfolio website is an essential tool for promoting yourself and exhibiting your work. Integrate relevant coursework, work experience, awards or honors and anything else that makes you look awesome; if there was ever a place to be boastful, a portfolio site is it.

You can build your own portfolio website using Adobe Portfolio. This is a free component included with an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, which is also available at no cost to all University of Nebraska students and includes lots of other valuable programs that can be used to enhance your personal brand like Illustrator, InDesign, and Premiere Pro. With plenty of examples and templates, you can easily create and host your own professional portfolio site.

Refine your social media accounts.

All social media is not created equal and each requires a slightly different approach. Here are some platform-specific tips to cyber-brand yourself:

  • LinkedIn – One of the most popular tools for job recruiters and seekers, LinkedIn connects users from across the globe. This professional social media platform is basically a resume with keyword search, so being identifiable is crucial. Share news of recent accomplishments, join a discussion on industry topics or even post a picture of your latest Zoom meeting set-up (#relatable), but maybe skip the memes and cat videos.

  • Facebook –  Although not extremely popular with younger audiences, Facebook is frequented by recruiters during the hiring process, so make sure your page passes the grandma test. You can still post fun pictures with friends, but beware, ghosts from Facebook past have a tendency to pop up when you least expect, so save yourself the embarrassment and track down the teenage selfies ahead of time.

  • Instagram – As the most visual outlet on the list, Instagram is especially important for artists and creators. It can act as a portfolio with engagements and feedback; it’s also a great way to (appropriately) showcase life out of the office. Up your Insta game by using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom to professionally edit your photos for free. You can also download tons of customizable Instagram story templates here.

  • Twitter – Often the channel for quick updates and the infamous “subtweets,” Twitter is actually an easy way to keep up with industry news and engage with leading professionals.

Be boldly authentic.

Perhaps the most important tip in this article is to be confidently and unapologetically you. Personal branding is all about who you are as a person, so let your individuality be the guiding light when you answer the question, “who are you?”