Creating a Personal Brand That Enhances Your Job Search
These days the term “branding” means so much more than what comes to mind when you think of a particular company or product. Brands, in the traditional sense, of course still exist, but in this day and age, it’s more critical than ever for individuals to brand themselves, as well.
Developing your own personal brand doesn’t have to be intimidating, though. Here’s a guide to help job seekers craft a personal brand.
Why Do You Need a Personal Brand?
Your personal brand is essentially marketing yourself and your career expertise. It signals what you stand for, what you’ve accomplished, and what you’re capable of achieving. Having a personal brand can provide you many benefits when it comes to finding a new job and staying relevant in your career.
- Hiring managers are scouring the web, just like everyone else; for them, the goal is often researching job applicants. Stay ahead of the game by making sure that when your name pops up in a search engine, they’ll find information that’s flattering, informative, and shows you in your best light.
- A consistent personal brand lets potential employers know that you’re goal-oriented and have a master plan for your career—or at least a focused strategy to achieve your goals.
- A consistent personal brand is a marketing tool that serves as your own personal billboard, one that evolves and changes over time. Use your personal brand to tell your own story, explain your core values, and offer details about skills and passions that may not come up in traditional job-search formats.
How to Create Your Personal Brand
For job seekers, most significant step to developing your personal brand is determining what your brand represents. Your core values are the heart of your brand. It is the foundation for all of your communication strategies. Ask yourself a few questions. What motivates you to get up in the morning and tackle the day? Why are you unique? What are you passionate about?
When you begin to answer these questions, your personal brand will take shape. Once you have discovered your core values, you can easily draft your personal vision statement. Your vision statement will serve as your guiding light and will keep you in check as you continue your search and promote yourself.
You might think that “writer,” “illustrator,” or “content creator” is enough of a personal brand, but really, those are just job titles. To develop your actual brand, you’ll need to put a little more thought into what it is that you actually create (or hope to create) on a daily basis with your work.
For example, perhaps as an illustrator you’re well known for your quirky caricatures, or as a writer you’ve really cornered the market on crypto-currency, international travel, or single parenting. Whatever it is you’re best at in your particular job, own it and flaunt it in every way possible. Here’s a few ways to promote your niche talents.
Promoting Your Personal Brand
Build a strong social media profile that catches the attention of recruiters. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to craft and display a professional profile that’s frequently updated with information about your professional assets. Use the same profile photo and color schemes/background photos across all networks for easy identification. Make sure your bio information is listed the same on all sites. It should be noted, though, that certain platform fit different career fields better than others. Below is a breakdown of how some of the leading sites can benefit job seekers, where applicable.
- Add video to your LinkedIn profile. This LinkedIn article is a good tutorial for that.
- Utilize sections on LinkedIn to highlight your achievements, especially if you have less work experience to leverage.
- Update your headline and photos to reflect your branding.
- Remember to include LinkedIn as part of your content plan and schedule posts.
- Tighten up your controls so that your posts, photos, and/or activity are not set to public.
- Use Facebook Lists for easy use of custom settings.
- Strategically use Life Events to post your achievements to your Timeline. Set those posts to public so recruiters can see them.
- Schedule some Twitter time each day to reply, retweet, and converse.
- Use the list function to set up lists for leads, businesses, news sources, etc.
- Update your bio to reflect your personal vision statement.
- Take care with who you follow and who follows you.
- Create a consistent intro and outro to your videos.
- Make sure that the lighting and background to your videos is polished and professional.
- Closely monitor comments.
- Include detailed descriptions of your videos.
- Establish consistency and quality standards with your grid.
- If you work in a visual arts field, showcase your work and tell its story—professionally, of course.
- Utilize hashtags to reach like-minded individuals.
- Use Pinterest as the visual form of “Interests” on a resume.
- Share photos related to your hobbies and life goals.
- Pin items that make you a person a hiring manager can relate to.
Establish your own website, blog, or splash page like about.me to showcase your expertise in a particular area. What better way to show what you know than to create your own content? Providing a professional blog or website with insightful posts and information that’s relevant to your targeted industry shows you’ve done your homework when it comes to nourishing a personal brand.
Job Application Materials
As a job applicant, make sure that your resume and cover letter sparkle, and are customized for each position. Carry over key branding statements from your social media and website for the ultimate in consistency. Craft your materials to have an immediate and lasting impact in what may be just the few seconds a recruiter or hiring manager spends reading them.
Your professional network affords great opportunities to promote a consistent personal brand and get yourself known for your expertise. Find ways to grow your professional network by attending professional events and reaching out to current and former colleagues to market yourself and shape your professional identity. Don’t forget to print business cards that can further convey your personal branding statement and visual identity.
Personal Branding Mistakes to Avoid
An Unfocused Brand
Yes, you’d like to snag a job as a writer—but you also are addicted to pug videos. But posting memes of pugs skydiving won’t get you a job. The goal of brand building is to create a consistent message so that people automatically equate you with what you do best.
So instead of fawning over a pug puppy pic, show off some of your most recent written work. It will help reinforce your professional skills and help hiring managers when they search your social media profiles.
This is very similar to overselling, but with more of a focus on how great you are and how employers simply can’t operate without you. The cold hard truth is that people will lose interest quickly and this in turn will hurt your image. Self-promote wisely.
Developing a personal brand isn’t a one-and-done process, it’ll require constant upkeep and checking in.
That means you should always share your own work, as well as the work of others that you find interesting or that is in line with your own brand objectives and goals.
Divulging Too Much Info
Sure, social media is meant for sharing thoughts, ideas, likes, and dislikes, but you have to be careful what you put out there.
You don’t want to broadcast a fight with your partner when you’re trying to get a new job. Although you do need to share some parts of your personal life online (that’s how you create an audience, after all), you want to be selective and thoughtful in your approach.
Finding a Job That Fits with Your Brand
Personal branding for job seekers is important, but so is landing a position at a company or organization that fits your brand and aligns with your values. Luckily, we can help you with that! FlexJobs partners with companies in more than 50 different career fields to offer fully remote and flexible jobs. Find your next opportunity today!
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
A version of this article was originally published on July 26, 2018.
Don’t forget to share this article with friends!
Cheryl Lock, Contributing Writer
Cheryl Lock is a writer and editor with over a decade of experience. You can find her work in dozens of publications — both in print and online — including Parents, Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Money and Newsweek, to name…Read More >
We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions. Please leave a comment below! All fields are required.