Personal Branding Toolbox For Your Job Search

Even if you are happily employed, you should always be working toward your next job. One key element to prepare for the next opportunity in your career is to manage your professional reputation online, because more often than not, the first impression that recruiters and hiring managers have of you will be on the internet.

According to a 2016 survey of recruiters by CareerBuilder, 60 percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, and 41 percent say they are less likely to interview job candidates if they are unable to find information about that person online.

But who has time for managing their image online when they are busy working or juggling other matters of unemployment?

Apps can be your secret weapons for saving time while helping you differentiate yourself from other job candidates going for the same positions. Google offers apps that not only centralize your tools in one place, but are also accessible from any device -- saving you time and aggravation.

Build your personal brand toolbox by checking out these Google apps to help you strengthen your professional reputation online.

Relevance: Gmail (Google Email)
Your name is your personal brand name. If your name is somewhat common, try to differentiate yourself by selecting a variation of your name that is less common, such as including a middle initial. Use that everywhere you are represented professionally online, including opening a gmail account that exactly reflects that name, such as FirstMLast@gmail.com.

Why use Gmail? For one, you will automatically have access to all the Google apps in a centralized place. More importantly, especially for those of us over 40, you will not date yourself as you would with an email address from Yahoo, Hotmail, or AOL, for example.

Use this account only for professional purposes, such as:
• your contact information on LinkedIn
• your resume
• all social media accounts you use professionally
• your blog and guest blogs.

Set up Google alerts for variations of your name so that anytime your name appears on the internet, you will receive an email alerting you to it. This helps you to monitor your personal brand online.

Visual Content: Google Photos
Your portrait is your personal brand's logo. Keep the original stored in Google Photos so you'll always be able to find it and use the same portrait for every instance online where you are represented professionally -- much like McDonald's uses the arches in every instance, consistency is important if you want to become recognized. This is also a great place to keep an archive of images to use in your professional portfolio -- charts, slides, product logos, event photos, etc. that help visually tell the story of your career.

Written Content: Google Docs
Google Docs works much in the same way as Google Photos, giving you a centralized place to create and store your documents for job searching and personal branding. You'll never have to worry about misplacing or losing your most updated resume, organizing your cover letters, or storing drafts of blogs. By keeping these documents on Google Docs, they will be password-protected and accessible from any device. You won't have to store them on your employer's system or to carry around your personal laptop.

Organization: Google Calendar
It can feel overwhelming to try to keep all the personal branding balls in the air, but fear not! Scheduling reminders in your calendar will make it easy. You can download the Personal Branding Calendar as a guide to further simplify the process into daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. (Hint: Like other major social channels, LinkedIn tends to reward those who are active on the site, so using it on a regular basis helps you get found.)

Expression: Blogger and YouTube
Once you are active on LinkedIn, you may want to branch out to express your expertise. Google's Blogger app is an easy way to get started. Begin by planning out your first 10 posts and schedule them on your Google calendar weekly (or at least once a month). Write a new article for each one you post, and you'll always be 10 steps ahead. If you prefer not to write, consider creating a YouTube vlog instead. It is basically a blog you record on video and post to Google's YouTube app.

Regardless of what industry you are in, a strong professional presence online can help establish you as an authority in your industry, setting you apart from other job seekers -- whether you are searching for a new job today or preparing for the future.