The time has passed when all you had to do to main­tain and/or build a rep­u­ta­tion while using social media was to avoid incrim­i­nat­ing pho­tos. Your social media pro­files now serve a much deep­er pur­pose.

[You need to] think of your­self as a per­son­al brand,” said Iri­na Pichu­ra, CEO at Career Man­i­fes­ta­tions. Your pro­files serve as a win­dow into who you are and how you wish to present your­self to the world, and employ­ers are tak­ing note.

We have all seen the sto­ries of employ­ees or job can­di­dates mak­ing poor choic­es on social media that get them fired or removed from the run­ning. This is because employ­ers have start­ed to take what an employ­ee posts in their free time as an expres­sion of their char­ac­ter and per­son­al­i­ty.

Your pro­files on social media are an exten­sion of your­self,” said Tara Red­field, CEO of Red­field Media Man­age­ment. “Employ­ers want to see that you are respon­si­ble and lev­el­head­ed.”

Cre­at­ing a pro­fes­sion­al­ly accept­able social media pres­ence does­n’t mean eras­ing who you are. “I advise clients to present them­selves as true to who they are as pos­si­ble,” said Red­field. “Be authen­tic, share your hob­bies, the things you love. [Just don’t] post any­thing you would­n’t want your grand­moth­er to see.”

To get start­ed, ask your­self if your social media is a true reflec­tion of how you want the world to see you. Does it show a vari­ety of your inter­ests? Does it empha­size what sets you apart from oth­ers? Do you use con­sis­tent imagery and handles/usernames? Does your feed reflect your skills?

There is no one way to present your­self,” said Clare Wat­son, oper­a­tions direc­tor at Zolv. “But stick­ing to your ‘brand’ and let­ting per­son­al­i­ty and char­ac­ter shine through makes a fan­tas­tic online pres­ence.”

A brand does­n’t have to be com­pli­cat­ed, either. As Bar­ry Feld­man put it, you are a brand. Embrace this by iden­ti­fy­ing all the pos­i­tive things that make you you, and post them in a way that makes sense for the mes­sage you are try­ing to send.

Wat­son said that most hir­ing man­agers will look for can­di­dates that come across as inven­tive, ver­sa­tile and engag­ing.  It’s also impor­tant to remem­ber that when a hir­ing man­ag­er looks at your social media, they’re look­ing more for a con­fir­ma­tion of your skills and qual­i­fi­ca­tions than a rea­son not to hire you.

If you will be in a pub­lic-fac­ing or mar­ket­ing role, then [your] social media can real­ly make you stand out and prove you can do the job before you’ve even start­ed,” Wat­son said. “A pos­i­tive social media pres­ence is only going to ben­e­fit your job appli­ca­tion.”

As you’re decid­ing how to brand your­self, Google your­self to get an idea of what’s already out there. (Pro tip: If you’re in Chrome, use an incog­ni­to tab to avoid any saved search ele­ments.) Look for your full name and any vari­a­tions of your name you might have used.

Once you’ve decid­ed on your brand, do peri­od­ic Google checks to make sure you’re show­ing up the way you want, and be sure to update each account reg­u­lar­ly. This shows that you’re engaged and keen to stay updat­ed on cur­rent events with­in your indus­try.

It’s becom­ing more nec­es­sary than ever to have a per­son­al brand uni­fy­ing your social media. While it may not get you the job, lack of or bad brand­ing could cost you an oppor­tu­ni­ty.