“Be authentic. Just do you… but commit to posting across all your social media channels on a frequent, consistent basis. In fact, if you can’t maintain a vigorous social media account, you should just delete it. Not having a Twitter is better than having an idle one. Seriously, it could hurt your brand.”

Social media was pretty fun when all you had to worry about was Friendster. Back then nobody referred to their “personal brand” outside of a boardroom (at least not without getting their ass kicked), nor did you hear about anyone get a job based on how many quasi friends they had on the internet. (That didn’t start happening until the whole Myspace and Tila Tequila thing.)

Working as part of a young editorial staff at an urban weekly, my peers and I embraced each new wave in the evolution of social media. (Even Google+!) By the time Twitter had been invented, it was plain to see that these were tools that could and should be used by any business to communicate with their customers, as well as create a living documentation of their values, aesthetic, and voice. For media, it was incredible (and a little scary). Suddenly you could report instantaneously—without having to scramble around trying to make a dongle work in the hallway of a hotel ballroom on election night.

The way forward for business marketing was clear. Updates gave people a reminder to check you out, and it’s been proven that people are more apt to interact with something that arrives on their personalized feed than they are to go from being inspired to leave a comment on a web site to… discovering they need to create an account to “join the conversation”… and… you know what, never mind. Didn’t need to comment that bad after all. And Instagram: what incredible things this has done for retail. Not since Etsy have small-time purveyors had such a playing field-leveling chance to reach new customers.

Back at my media job, we all took turns running the company’s various feeds (until we finally hired a social media manager). When I “had the keys,” I knew just what to do, I had plenty of material to draw from, and I had a ton of fun with it. My personal accounts were a slightly different story. As something of a public figure within our market, it wasn’t really optional to be present on social media; it was compulsory. At first, this felt a little invasive in terms of work/life balance, but it forced us to get savvy, and stay nimble. (Luckily, my job involved a lot of creative freedom. If I wanted to post witty observations about a stretch Hummer trying to get through the midnight line of a Popeye’s fried chicken drive-through, that was just fine with upper management.)

It also taught us caution. We’ve all seen how frequently people get burned when they post something stupid on Twitter. The internet will tell you instantly when you’ve put your foot in your mouth, and the more followers you have, the more eyes are there waiting for you to make a mistake so they can take a screen shot and forward it to your competitors. It’s all fun and games until someone gets offended, as they say.

I always had a love/hate relationship with the “public figure” aspect of that role, and it was with a degree of satisfaction that I changed my Instagram setting to private when I left to go freelance. I wasn’t marketing myself as a news source, after all, but as a copywriter. I wasn’t writing a design column anymore. If I posted a photo from the front row of a fashion show, it was just because I wanted to. “At last,” I thought, “now I can use social media like a normal person.”

Famous last words.

Now I am the business, and my attitude toward how I want to use social media is still in constant flux. How personal should my personal accounts be? Will I be penalized for not having a public-facing “personal” account that churns out carefully crafted content at regular, intentional intervals? Is it bad that I hardly ever look at Twitter anymore? Do I really have to Snapchat even though almost none of my real-life friends do?

It’s an evolving conversation in both the personal and professional realm. At the least, anyone in the business of marketing themselves should be mulling these questions, and being conscious of the fact that most people check out the social media feeds of prospective hires and coworkers. And if you, like me, have doubts about whether it’s worth having accounts if they can’t truly be personal—including owning the prerogative to take a cleansing break from it altogether, or to just observe for a while—maybe the question you should be is asking is whether you want to work for someone who doesn’t.

Marjorie is a former Creative Circle candidate based in Portland who recently accepted a full-time offer for her dream job. She is a writer/editor and stylist/producer with an emphasis in the design world. If you are interested in working with someone like Marjorie, please contact your nearest Creative Circle office.

We know searching for a job is tough. You’ve probably sent your resume to over 100 postings this week alone. You’ve tweaked your cover letters and used the appropriate keywords but you’re sick of sending applications in just to get a generic response – or no response at all.

With the number of job seekers submitting applications, standing out is as important as ever. Focusing on a different direction may change things. We’ve seen our fair share of resumes and portfolios, and can tell you that with some preparation you can be where you want to be. Read below for job search tips that will hopefully inspire you to try a new approach.

Differentiate yourself.

Establishing your personal brand is the single most important thing you can do different. This makes up part of the first impression that hiring managers or recruiters see when they review your application. Look at your personal brand as your own marketing campaign. Think about how you want to be perceived and review your application materials to ensure that the same message is coming across. Don’t be afraid to showcase your personality but maintain a consistent presence. Your website, blog, business cards, resume and portfolio should have the same look and feel. This is the first way you can start showing off your skills.

Try this: Choose three words that you want others to associate with you and your brand. Are there certain qualities you want to be known for? Have you thought about your personal mission statement? If you aren’t quite there yet, start analyzing the personal brands of people around you, looking for ways you can improve.

Learn something new.

Take time to brush up on any skills you may be missing while job searching. Educational resources are often free or inexpensive and can be a valuable tool in staying up-to-date. If the courses come with a certification, it’s also something you can add to your resume in order to fill in any gaps. However, creative trends will continue to evolve.

Try this: Familiarize yourself with one new trend a week, whether it’s a new shortcut or a new program. Take the stress off by not committing to becoming an expert – just to learning a little bit more than you knew before.

Meet new people.

It’s easy to focus too much on making the job application perfect but nothing works better than meeting someone face-to-face. Meet ups or similar events in your area may be the best place to network with potential employers and recruiters. Stepping out of your comfort zone will not only boost your confidence but talking with people you’ve never met will also improve your public speaking skills and your elevator speech.

Try this: Commit to ten minutes with each new person you meet. In this short time, practice introducing yourself and what you do. Listen to what the other person does and try to find qualities that you can relate to. How do they present themselves? If you are at an event for an hour, by the time you leave, you’ll have learned at least six new things about yourself and have six more new things to work on based on what you learned from others.

Focus on quality vs. quantity.

Now that you have given your personal brand some thought, focus more on the quality of your resume, instead of the number of resumes you submit. Sending the same resume to 100 job postings a week may not be the best use of your time. Instead, find the positions that are in line with where you want your brand to go and tailor your application to them. Show how your qualities line up with those of the company and the position. The benefit is that you will not only come across as more focused to the hiring manager on the other end, but you will also start honing in on the types of jobs that you really want.

Try this: Narrow down the qualities you are looking for in your ideal job. How do they complement your personal brand? Target jobs that are specific to both your skills and your brand so that the reasons to hire you become that much more obvious.

Stay positive.

Remember why you’re doing all this: to do what you love. Take some time during your job search to create something for yourself. Maybe that’s revamping your portfolio a little bit at a time or maybe it’s creating art for the sake of art. Whatever it is, don’t forget what you love most.

It’s easy to get discouraged but a negative attitude spreads. You want to be your best self when searching for a job, especially when meeting new people. You never know which one could be your next referral. If you are excited about your craft, it will show.

Try this: Do something different today – whether it’s one of the tips from this article or something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Shaking up your routine is the surest way to gain a new perspective and some inspiration. At the very least, you’ll have some fun!