Building a strong personal brand also means avoiding the mistakes that can ruin a personal brand. Here are 5 kinds of mistakes that could cost your personal brand dearly.

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Personal branding mistakes I hope you never make

1) Lying on your resume

You've heard it before and I'll say it again. Whether to embellish your track record or stretch dates to cover periods of unemployment, lying on your resume is just a bad idea. The impression that ‘everyone is doing it' and the fact that it seems so easy to do are the reasons why so many people feel they can get away with it, but it will come back to haunt you.

In 2006, then-CEO of Radioshack David Edmondson admitted that he lied about his academic record and was forced to step down.

2) Posting incriminating content online

Everything on the Internet can be found if someone really wants to find it. Google caches websites for months and the Internet Archive caches webpages for years.

As more and more employers Google your name after receiving your resume, any past shenanigans can come to light and make you look silly, taking you out of the race for a job before you even realize it. Worse- imagine if someone decides to expose that content to a larger audience without first giving you the chance to remove it.

3) Breaking the law

Posting an embarrassing old picture of yourself acting stupid is one thing, but actually getting arrested and even convicted is another thing altogether. Unless your brand is strengthened by illegal activity like a gangsta rapper's, the sight of your mugshot or the news of your crime can hurt your image beyond repair.

Roger Clemens was adored as one of the most successful pitchers in Major League Baseball history until it was discovered he had been on steroids. He is now being investigated for having lied about it publicly, in testimony to a Congressional hearing no less

4) Stop doing whatever you are known for

You've spent years building a personal brand as an expert in your domain and then one day decide that you've had enough/you're tired/have found a new passion, to the frustration of your network of followers and admirers.

Trent Reznor, lead singer of the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, had a loyal following on Twitter in part because of his swear-laced rants. Then he fell in love and started tweeting about it. The backlash was so strong that he eventually gave up Twitter altogether.

5) Faking it and being found out

If you're building a brand as an authority in your domain, imagine what would happen if people found out that it was never really you after all. Why should they respect you anymore if the advice “you” gave actually came from someone else? It's that someone else who deserves their respect.

Guy Kawasaki was one of the first power Twitterers to admit that he used “ghost twitterers” to help update his Twitter account. The immediate reaction was fast in coming but Guy managed to defuse the situation and perhaps even save his brand by quickly updating his Twitter profile to give credit to the “assistants” no one had known about.

Do you know of other kinds of ways people have ruined their personal brand?

I originally published a version of this article on the terrific Personal Branding Blog.

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Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention 5 Personal Branding Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Personal Brand | JobMob --

  2. Anthony

    4 is especially true. If you’re going to say you’re plugged into social media and on top of all the trends, and your last blog update or Tweet was 6 months ago, that looks horrible. You’re not only a liar but you’re out of touch.

  3. Jacob Share

    Anthony- you sound like you just came across someone like that very recently.

  4. Devorie Friedman

    Great article Jacob! I’ve included it in this week’s Embassy jobs newsletter (credited you of course!)

    1. Jacob Share

      Thanks Devorie. If there’s any feedback from your readers, I’d love to hear it.

  5. Hayley Hudson

    This is an excellent, informative blog post! We plan to share it with our Career & Job Seeker Tweeps.

  6. Kate

    I think I’ve made ALL of these mistakes.

    Correction: I’ve made ALL of these mistakes TODAY.

Leave a Reply to Kate Cancel reply