Not just a buzz-word used by marketing professionals to wow their target audience, ‘branding’ – and in particular your own ‘personal brand’, is the perfect way to differentiate yourself when you are up against other job seekers with similar roles and experience in the hunt for a new job.
Here are 7 ways to cultivate and build your personal brand for success and longevity in your career:
- Define your personal brand: The first step is to decide on how you would like the general public (and more importantly, potential employers) to perceive you. Just as businesses strive to offer a unique product to consumers, you should too. Outline what your value proposition is - i.e. what do you have to offer over other candidates? Brainstorm 5 words which you would like work colleagues to describe you as. Then, with these five words in mind, list measurable career goals over the next five years. This will not only give you something to work towards, it will also help you measure how successful your personal branding efforts are.
- Google yourself: Conduct an audit of any existing evidence of your personal brand. Searching online is the most obvious way to get visibility over how potential employers view your credibility. Be sure to delete or make private anything that would be potentially damaging to your job prospects. This could include any old social media profiles (can you remember the last time you looked at MySpace?), tagged photos, and even public comments you have made on website forums. Be ruthless - keep only the things that show you in a positive light, and remove any which don’t fit in within the branded persona you have mapped out.
- Build your online profile: After you’ve cleaned up your existing internet footprint, the next step is to cultivate a strong online presence using whatever is left after the audit. Social media is, of course, the easiest way to begin building your personal brand online - read our article ‘how to leverage social media to land your dream job’ to learn more.
- Getting your resume found online: Social media is an excellent place to start, but don’t fall into the trap of relying just on LinkedIn and Twitter to be found. While it might be a prerequisite of younger generations to be on Facebook, never assume that all hiring managers will be on these same mediums. One of the best things you can do is to host your personal resume on a website (there are many places where you can do this for free), where it can be indexed by Google and searched for by recruiters and potential employers. Include links to any digital evidence of achievements including awards you have won, blogs you have written, photos, videos you have made – anything that supports and shows your professional experience and skill set.
- Take a look in the mirror: Promoting your online brand is important, but there is nothing worse for a hiring manager when they interview someone whose offline identity does not match up to the amazing picture which has been painted online. Take a look at your personal appearance – does your clothing match the roles you are going for? What about your general demeanour? Do you present yourself professionally at interviews? Are you as engaging in regular conversation as you are when answering LinkedIn group polls?
- Align yourself with a specialist recruiter within your industry: Did you know that less than 10% of active job vacancies are ever advertised? Developing a long-term partnership with a specialist recruitment provider means that you will get all the benefits of someone who knows your industry inside and out as well as access to exclusive roles which have not been posted on job boards.
- Continuous improvement: Building your personal brand is not a once-off project. The people who have the best personal brands are continually working to improve, promote and boost their brand reach. Upskill, ask for recommendations, subscribe to blogs online in your industry, get involved with Linkedin groups, attend conferences and try to remain as innovative as possible in everything you do.
In an economic downturn where the number of job seekers vying for roles exceeds the number of available jobs on the market, it’s important to a competitive advantage wherever you can over other eligible candidates in the hiring process. How do you grow your personal brand?
Posted: Friday, 21 March 2014 - 11:39 AM