Posted by Robert Half Finance & Accounting on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 10:30 | Follow me
As a financial professional, you’ve been building your personal brand, consciously or unconsciously, since college. You’ve established trust and understanding with your clients and respect from your colleagues, along with valuable skills and experience in finance and accounting.
However, in today’s fast-paced economy and social media milieu, it’s easier than ever to make poor decisions that can undermine your professional image. Here are four potential pitfalls that could tarnish the personal brand you've worked so hard to polish:
1. You don't know how your personal brand appears online
Kathrin Peters, a Robert Half vice president, says if you are in the running for a new career opportunity these days, you can almost be certain that at some point in the process your potential new employer will google your name.
“You want to ensure the picture they get of you accurately reflects you and your personality,” she says.
We’ve all heard stories about professional reputations hurt by inadvertent missives on Facebook or Twitter. In finance and accounting, you’re dealing with your company's or your clients’ money, and that alone may nudge them to look at your profile on social networking sites or do a Google search for you. Be certain that none of your posted content is offensive or makes you appear as anything less than a mature professional. Keep your personal brand intact by setting your privacy settings so only close friends can view your political opinions and out-of-office antics.
2. You have no strategy across the social platforms
Most of today’s jobs are not purely skills-driven anymore, and personality and leadership capabilities play a central role in the decision-making process for employers.
“It’s not only about avoiding party pictures on Facebook or being associated with the wrong content,” Peters says. “Hiring managers will want to see how you express yourself and your expertise online.
"Most of today’s jobs are not purely skills-driven anymore, and personality and leadership capabilities play a central role in the decision-making process for employers. The clearer the image you present, the more likely you'll end up with an employer whose corporate culture is compatible with yours, and you'll have a head start before all other applicants.”
One way to present yourself strategically is to make sure you create consistent profiles on social media that present the brand you want to showcase. Scrutinize your head shots and messages to make sure they are consistent, from LinkedIn to Twitter. Social media platforms are excellent forums for networking and presenting yourself as a thought leader who stands out even when starting out and has some unlikely skills for accounting and finance jobs, as long as you remember to optimize your profiles and keep your personal brand consistent.
3. You don't market your efforts
“A really good way of branding yourself beyond a profile on social media is building your own website, including a blog that showcases your expertise in your profession,” Peters says.
She has two personal websites that contain blogs — one on a more professional level, and one that highlights her personal passion for traveling and personal development.
A really good way of branding yourself beyond a profile on social media is building your own website, including a blog that showcases your expertise in your profession.
“Sites like WordPress offer a great platform for free, and by linking it to your social media profiles and generating additional traffic on the site, it will likely show up on top of the search results that your future employer will be seeing,” Peters notes. “Also, publish a link to your content in forums or websites that specialize in your professional area of expertise. Most critically, make sure you stay consistent with the messages that you’re sending in how you want to be perceived by your readers.”
4. You underestimate your own value
While lower fees or salary expectations can help you get work, by asking for too little you run the risk of being dubbed “the cheap guy,” which can connote lower quality. When it’s time to adjust your rates for inflation or ask for a raise at your firm, longer-term clients and employers may balk. But stay abreast of the market value of your work and consider a long-term plan for rate or wage increases.
Periodically, step back and assess your professional image from the standpoint of clients and work associates. Keep your personal brand pristine, but there's nothing wrong with tweaking it as your business grows and your career opportunities evolve.
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Kathrin Peters is a vice president for Robert Half Finance & Accounting, the leading global recruitment agency in the financial sector. With her broad international background and her solid business networks in both the U.S. and Europe, she has built and scaled highly effective recruitment operations in different markets and has served as a subject matter expert in recruitment and personal development across continents.