Sarah Fudin currently works in community relations for the University of Southern California’s Master of Arts in Teaching program, which provides aspiring teachers the opportunity to earn an online teaching degree and teaching certificate.  Outside of work Sarah enjoys running, reading and Pinkberry frozen yogurt.  Follow her on twitter @sarahfudin

Every college website has it, a Proper Attire page on their site helping their soon-to-be graduates dress right for their big interview.  Be conservative, be neat, simple jewelry, no perfume, neutral colors – these are a few of their suggestions.  Obviously first impressions are important and these simple guidelines are a great place to start, but what happens when you get that job? Do you throw all inhibitions to the wind, get a tattoo in the most visible spot and pierce your nose?  And what if at this job you’re behind a curtain and your customers can’t really see you?

Communicating on social media is a lot like the interview process, you want to be yourself, but at the same time, you want to be professional and put your best foot forward.  You establish credibility by being professional and then as you progress in your field you can slowly start to insert the personality that makes you likeable, approachable, and unique.

When you’re working in social media, you’re definitely in the public eye – you’re bound to be using social tools both professionally and personally and normally the two will cross paths.  Perhaps you’ve reached out to a blogger using your brand’s Twitter handle, but then you email back and forth with your personal email and finally you tweet out your article that went live with your personal and/or professional twitter handle and post to your Facebook wall– things can get very confusing.

My experience is that you should follow your old college career services page when you start out your job – be conservative and don’t assume its okay to show your most recent piercing.  The same is true for your online brand when you start out – keep it professional, you never know who’s looking at it.  That being said, I’m a huge believer in bringing your personality and creativity to work – being conservative while you get a feel for your company culture is a great place to start, but not a rigid guideline.

Your personality makes your brand unique.

Social media has opened up the internet fostering conversations between brands and consumers and has given each brand a chance to define and share their personality.  For the same reason we choose Starbucks over Dunkin Donuts (or the reverse) is why we should share our personality in the workplace.  Every brand is unique and brings specific values to the table, as do we as employees.  You were probably chosen for your job among a wide range of others and it was because of what you brought to the table, yourself!  Don’t lose yourself at the office or you may lose that unique identifying factor that made you the best fit for the job!

My advice: Bring your personality to work, it’s why you were hired and plus, no one likes to talk to a blank wall at the water cooler.  Word to the wise — keep those college interview guidelines in the back of your mind (especially at the beginning), you never know when you’ll become internet famous.  At some point, the Oz behind the curtain will be revealed and it will be much easier if you’ve added a personal touch to your brand as you’ve developed it!