Personal Branding 101: Essential Tips for Building a Strong Presence in the Job Search
By: Lynda Grossman
“I want to keep my options open.”
“I’ll do anything to just get in the door of ABC Company.”
“I don’t want to make my LinkedIn profile too specific.”
“I can do anything if I’m just given the chance.”
As a career coach and counselor for many years, I have heard these statements often. Job seekers hope and assume that the more flexible and chameleon-like they seem, the easier it will be to land a job. However, in today’s market that doesn’t necessarily turn out to be true.
Employers seek job candidates who know themselves and bring their authentic selves to the job search process. Now, we’re not talking about you in your pajamas uttering curse words at the coffeemaker. We’re talking about the real professional you – what makes you stand out positively from others. Knowing the real you can help employers to ensure a good fit between company (employer) and candidate (potential employee). How do you portray the real you? Know your personal brand and be sure that your brand is consistent across all aspects of your job search. Your personal brand is what people think when they see you or hear your name, and working on your personal brand can strengthen your presence in your search. As William Arruda, guru of personal branding, likes to say, “you need to know yourself to grow yourself.”
- DEFINE YOUR BRAND – aka know yourself. Your brand is more than a job title. Your brand is how you present yourself and how others see you. According to William Arruda, the guru of personal branding, everyone can build a personal and sought-after brand.
Take some time to answer the following questions:
- Who are you professionally?
- What do you do?
- Who do you do it for?
- What are you known for?
- How do others describe you?
- What have been your greatest accomplishments?
- What motivates you in the workplace?
- How are you positioned in your field?
- How do you WANT to be positioned?
- Who are you connected to?
With this information, develop your branding statement. Example: Creative and data-oriented digital marketer known for strategy and implementation across multiple channels that exceeds company targets and consistently achieves customer satisfaction. Through a combination of what others have reported as well as self-evaluation, this individual has given us how she sees herself and how others see her.
Now start to work on the grow yourself part.
- DEFINE YOUR GOALS. How do you want your personal brand to work for you? Who will your audience be for your brand? Are you looking to transition to a new career, grow within your current field, start a new business, something else?
- BE SURE YOUR BRAND FITS YOUR TARGET. How do you appear in social media? Is your authentic self, represented in ways that help your professional reputation? What do you see if you search your name on Google? Is it consistent with the way you want to be seen by potential employers? Across every social media platform you are using: check, correct and refresh.
- DECIDE WHERE YOU NEED TO BE. A social media presence may vary depending on your industry. Yours might be one that uses Instagram heavily, while another may only favor LinkedIn for professional conversations. Perhaps you have a LinkedIn profile but you haven’t maximized your LinkedIn efforts by joining groups, commenting on professional posts, or posting your own professional content. Maybe you haven’t yet discovered the relevant Instagrammers or Twitter handles to follow. Research your industry. Where is your audience? Post there to be consistent with your brand. Follow the experts. Seek out opportunities for information interviews in your target field or industry – learn what you don’t know. Consider creating a professional website for yourself.
- ESTABLISH A STRATEGY. In order to continue to build on your personal brand based on the questions you answered earlier and the branding statement you created, what else do you need to do? Does your resume show your accomplishments? Are your cover letters targeted to show examples of how your authentic self fits with the company to which you’re applying? Are you keeping your personal brand themes in mind when you go to interviews to be sure that you’re leaving the potential employers with concrete examples of how you can add value? Who do you need to know? Expand your network. Implement a strategy to strengthen your personal brand.
- ENSURE CONSISTENCY. From social media platforms to job search materials and virtual or in-person interviews, be sure that you are consistent in how you present yourself. When employers see the consistency of brand, they are reassured that they know what to expect. Reliable personal branding can make a difference in your job search.
Creating your personal brand is not a once and done exercise. Your personal brand will need to evolve to keep relevant. The personal brand you present with your job search goals in mind may be different from the personal brand you will have two years from now. For your search, evaluate all aspects of how you present yourself, including your virtual brand, to strengthen your appeal as a candidate.
What will you do to strengthen your personal brand today?
Looking for more ideas on personal branding? Check out any of William Arruda’s articles or books on the topic, including his latest “Digital You: Real Personal Branding in the Virtual Age.”