Whether you are aware of it or not, you have a personal brand. Branding is something which has been used in the corporate and government spheres for decades but just recently is being used on the individual level.
What is personal branding?
It is essentially marketing yourself as a professional. It is your online face, the one that prospective clients and employers see and interact with. Though it sounds like something from a dystopian future where we segment ourselves to fit a prescribed mould, this is not the case: authenticity and “realness” are more important than ever when it comes to online branding. People want to know they are talking to a real person not a computer automation. Personal branding done right can help people get the jobs they want by presenting themselves the way they are.
How is your personal brand affecting your ability to get a job
Have you ever heard someone say that they were considering someone for the position but then they Googled them and decided against it? You may not feel worthy of a Google search, but your prospective employers definitely think you are and they are using all the information available about you to decide on your suitability for the position.
It is highly likely that the type of information you are displaying or withholding about yourself is narrowing your career opportunities.
How to take control of your personal brand
The good news is you have more control than ever of what your personal brand means. But it requires a bit of work.
Now is the time to ask yourself how “you” is your social profile?
If you are a reluctant adopter of LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter, who rarely posts, likes, comments or shares you are withholding desired information about yourself to potential employers. From the outside looking in, you either appear socially introverted, disinterested or incompetent in social media, a necessary skill for almost every working professional. This is probably not the case! You are an excited interesting, dynamic, fast adopting person who a potential employer would be lucky to have – so you need to start presenting yourself that way. Think of this as the part of the trashy teen movie where we pull out your ponytail and take off your glasses and let the world see you the way you really are and use that to get the career you desire.
On the other extreme it is possible that you love social media too much and are incredibly vocal online. While there are some positions where this type of self-exposition is tolerated, even desired, there are many where you will appear to be too full on and a touch narcissistic to be considered for the position.
So here are the 5 initial steps to taking control of your personal brand:
What kind of information comes up when you do? If you have a common name, it is the advice of Niklas Myhr that you put in your middle name or at least your middle initial. You do not want your information being confused with someone else’s and it is always ideal to be the most ‘famous’ person with your name. You can quickly set up email alerts that pop up whenever new information is added about you. This will save you from Googling yourself in public too often!
Work on your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool for any enterprising businessman/woman. You have the potential to connect with people you admire, want to work with and keep in contact with colleagues from past jobs. Share relevant, interesting content that serves the purpose of the people in your network while also displaying your interests. Your LinkedIn brand will become a very important base for you when looking for jobs so make sure you fill in all the relevant information, have a good profile photo and background photo. Connect with lots of relevant people and be generous with your friends and former colleagues profiles.
Develop your own website
The best way to curate the information online about you is to create your own website. According to Forbes author Shama Hyder, this does not have to be a huge undertaking, a simple 2 to 3 page site featuring your resume, brief personal bio and links to your social media sites will suffice. A website allows you to show only the best bits of your professional life while demonstrating an understanding of personal branding and a desirable level of self-awareness.
Come up with an ‘elevator pitch’ about yourself
“Brevity is the soul of wit” and successfully summarising what you do in 20-30 seconds without resorting to a mumbled “in accounts” or “in sales” will allow you to harness a lot of potentially wasted opportunities. This elevator pitch can become your statement on your LinkedIn profile, your cover letters and your personal website. Modesty is a virtue but it can also be holding you back from having a real discussion with someone who has the potential to advance your career. Similarly, don’t go overboard and talk yourself up too much
“All you’re required to do is be able to confidently broadcast that you know exactly what you’re doing.” – Dwight Peters.
This is an impressive enough feat so focus on that. Your elevator pitch is the essence of personal branding, easily transferable across different media, differentiates you from a pack and leaves the recipient of the pitch thinking of you as a bit different.
Create a Resume that gets you interviews
There’s no point in having all of those great skills, qualifications and experiences if they’re not communicated in a way that engages the reader. Do you have a winning “Career Summary” that is concise yet convincing? Are your “Strengths” validating your fit for the position? Do your “Achievements” quantify your success? A great resume stands out by focusing on relevance and demonstrating your transferable qualities. Include your website and social media links, if your recruiter is reading online, they are highly likely to click through. Think of your resume as a landing page that is there to convert visitors to other parts of the “you” experience. By complying with resume industry standards you will enhance your personal brand by showing you are highly professional and an ideal interview candidate.
Work out the strategy that best suits the brand you want to present
There are many different strategies of how to take control of your personal brand and depending on what career you wish to have, the best strategy will be very different. For more information on how to develop your personal brand and build up your LinkedIn profile, contact us at INS Career management and we will work out the best strategy for you.
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