So what is personal branding? Personal branding is a form of self-marketing, which encompasses who you are, what knowledge and skills you have, what makes you unique and what you have to offer. A strong personal brand sends a clear message to your peers, potential employers and your wider network, of exactly what you’re about. It’s something that job seekers should see as a tool to give themselves a competitive advantage over other candidates.
Whilst your CV forms part of your personal brand, in the age of information which we live in today, employers are often looking beyond CVs and want to delve deeper into a candidate’s background, often by doing some online research. In some cases, employers are actively bypassing traditional recruitment methods in favour of targeting passive candidates, often through social media, because they can go directly to people who have the specific skill set they need.
Savvy jobseekers are taking note and harnessing the potential power that a strong personal brand can bring. But how?
In the same way someone looking to market a product or service would focus on its unique selling point, think about your own USP. What makes you different? Is it a particular combination of skills or experience, knowledge of a certain sector or a personality trait? Once you’ve established what that is, make sure you’re using it to your advantage:
GET THE BASICS RIGHT
Firstly, and if you do nothing else, do this. Google yourself and see what comes up. View the results through the eyes of a potential employer. Is it all consistent with how you want to be perceived? You might have an up to date Linked In profile showcasing your professional achievements, but perhaps those tweets you sent back in 2007 might not paint you in the same, or the best, light. It really could be the difference between a job offer and a rejection.
As we’ve said, many employers will search a potential candidate’s name online, so consider whether you can actually use this to your advantage.
Can you show industry understanding by sharing and commenting on topical pieces on social media or online forums? You could even go one step further and write your own articles, blogs or have a webpage with a portfolio of your work. The aim is to position yourself as an expert in your field.
Linked In’s recommendation feature is also a good place to start, approach your colleagues, former managers, customers or suppliers to write a testimonial for you (you can offer to return the favour).
In times where personal data and online security is a hot topic, many people are cautious about what they share online and with who. You might choose to have multiple accounts, keeping professional and personal separate. That said, there’s nothing wrong with using social media to share the personal as well as the professional; that’s entirely up to you. A human touch could actually be a positive; demonstrating that you’re well-liked and well-rounded could reinforce that you’d be a great fit for a company’s culture or be a great team-player.
TAKE IT OFFLINE TOO
It’s important to build a reputation offline too. Find events happening within your local business community or industry and start networking and meeting new people. Don’t forget your business cards!
Say yes to new opportunities – public speaking is not for everybody but if you’re confident talking about a topic it can be a great way to expand your network and enhance your reputation whilst honing your presentation skills and reaching a wider audience.
PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE
In personal branding, the key is just to get started – it’s never too late, but it does require authenticity; there’s little point in overselling yourself or not being true to what you stand for. It also requires consistency, make sure you’re sending the same message across all platforms and in face to face communications. And lastly, remember that building your personal brand will take time; building a reputation does not happen overnight.
We’d love to hear your tips on how you’ve made your personal brand work for you, let us know in the comments below.