One of the hardest parts of a job search is getting noticed, but now everyone has his or her own microphone in the form of social media. Building and maintaining a strong personal brand can help you land a job, keep it and thrive in it. Doing so takes time, but learning how to create your brand, and modify and maintain it after getting hired is worth the effort.

Before heading online, you must clearly define your career goals and how you will try to reach them. Once you’ve done this, you can start building your brand on various social networks. Start with LinkedIn, the professional social network, and then progress onto Facebook and Twitter as you feel comfortable.

You can link your various profiles in one place using an page and, if you have the time, expand your reach with a personal website or blog. Quality is essential, however, and having numerous half-filled out profiles will harm you more than it will help, so avoid spreading yourself thin.

Each of the social media sites encourages expression in different ways, but when building your brand for a job search, you must be consistent. Use the same photo on all of your sites, and come up with a tagline that fits in your 160 character Twitter bio, but works for the other sites as well.

Use the extra space on LinkedIn to elaborate on your experience, taking full advantage of the opportunities to obtain recommendations from colleagues, upload a resume and expand on your specialties, all while maintaining a consistent message. Keep in mind that potential employers will search your social profiles, so be careful about sharing photos that make you look less than responsible, but show some personality, too.

Broadcasting your personal brand is helpful in finding a job, but tending to it after landing one is also wise — though your focus should change. During your job search, pay especially close attention to your privacy settings so photos of your nights out don’t show up in recruiters’ Google search and concentrate on projecting your value through your experience, skills and interests.

You will have to be more extroverted in reaching out to friends and former colleagues to build your networks and your online presence.

Once you have a job, some of your priorities will change, but the key points about staying consistent and up to date remain. Establish yourself as an expert in your field by highlighting your specialties and recent accomplishments. Cultivate your brand by connecting with others in your field and engaging them on issues in your areas of interest.
Stay aware of your privacy settings and consider showing more of your personality as it seems appropriate, but tread carefully here and do not write negative posts regarding your colleagues or organization because it could come back to haunt you.