When you think of branding in the traditional sense, you think of the impression a company or product makes on you, and the qualities you associate with it. When you think of Volvo, what comes to mind? For most people, it’s safety. Mercedes? Luxury.
Celebrities have brands too. Think about Tom Brady, a.k.a. TB12, a.k.a. The G.O.A.T. (Talk about branding…he even has his own logo.) His image is squeaky-clean, All-American super-athlete – but with a relatable sense of humor. (Remember his “wicked accent” in the Under Armour-Dick’s Sporting Goods commercial?)
But personal brands aren’t just for celebrities. They’re for us regular folks, too. In fact, if you’re in the market for a job, creating a personal brand is a necessity.
What is a personal brand and why is it important?
Just like Volvo or Mercedes (or even Tom), your personal brand is how people perceive you. In terms of job hunting, that means curating a professional identity that represents the traits, passions, and skills you want employers to remember.
Ten years ago, personal branding wasn’t something people talked about, but we’re living in the Information Age now. The fact is, you already have a personal brand whether you realize it or not. Just about everyone has some sort of online reputation, and when a potential employer Googles you, you want to ensure that the impression they get is a positive one.
Speaking of Googling…
For most of us, who don’t have product endorsement deals or our own line of clothing, our personal brand is mostly digital, and often it’s primarily your social presence. Before you start working on your personal brand, take a minute to Google yourself and see what comes up. Looking at it from the perspective of an employer, does it make you look professional and reputable? Does it reflect your interests and talents? What isn’t there that you would want an employer to know about you?
Building a brand – for a product, business, or person – is about implementing various strategies and tactics to attract people and build relationships. I thought I’d share a few strategies that have worked for me and many of our clients:
- Be authentic. When I say “create” a personal brand, I don’t mean create an image or persona that isn’t really you. It’s okay to let your personality and passions shine through, just don’t post anything that makes you look unprofessional or of questionable judgement.
- Be consistent. Certainly, different social channels call for different types of posts. Most people aren’t posting pictures of their kids on LinkedIn, and most don’t post the latest whitepaper they read on Facebook. At the same time, you want your image to align. If you curate a highly professional profile on LinkedIn, your Facebook page should not reflect a party-hardy image.
- Position yourself as a thought-leader. This can be a little trickier but definitely worth the effort. This could be writing blog posts on topics you’re an expert in. They don’t have to be related to the type of job you’re looking for, necessarily, but sharing knowledge on something you know a lot about is a great way to show people what you’re passionate about and make connections with other people who share your interests. It could also mean engaging in groups and discussion threads, or sharing articles written by others and offering your own perspective or opinion on the subject.
- Build relationships. I mentioned earlier that your personal brand is mostly digital. But don’t neglect the value of creating personal connections – in person. Attend community events, volunteer at a local non-profit…in short, get to know people and offer help when you can – whether that’s making an introduction or offering a testimonial – without the expectation of anything in return. Being genuinely helpful leaves a strong impression.
Don’t expect results overnight. Just like finding your perfect job, building your personal brand takes time and constant attention, so stick with it. I encourage you to reach out to the team at BANKW Staffing as you start building your brand. We can offer guidance and we can help you land your next dream job.