Our current job market remains competitive, so how do we stand out among the rest? My last two blogs (Cover Letters – What Should You Include and Curriculum Vitae’s – What Should You Include) have focused on your job application, providing readers with some helpful tips. Today it’s all about your personal brand. Whilst many of us may not have consciously established or developed our personal brand, everything that we do in every day life certainly influences it, especially with our ever increasing digital footprint.
So what do I mean, personal brand? When we consider certain brands, such as Ferrari, Jimmy Choo or Apple, we can all think of some descriptors around what we believe their brand is all about, whether it be positive or negative, and whether it is intended or unintended by the brand’s owners. And when we consider what our own personal brand stands for, the descriptors may also be positive or negative, intentional or unintentional.
Why is maintaining your personal brand important? It can add real value to your career and often differentiates you from those around you, it can lift your credibility and profile. Your brand is something that you control, it will distinguish your from your competitors (others in the job market). Lets think about this for a minute, is your current personal brand the one you want?
Here we look at some key aspects on how you can maintain, influence and possibly improve your personal brand.
Know and define your brand
Who you are is unique to you. First we need to know and define what your brand is, as once you have this then you can put in strategies on how to maintain, influence and improve it. Consider the following questions when defining your brand:
- What do I want people to say when they think of me?
- What three words describe the impression I would like to make on others when I enter a room?
- What makes me unique?
- What would I like others to say are my three best qualities?
- As an employee my three key skills I can offer are?
- My top three work values are?
- My career goal is: ….. And this is how I will achieve it ….
Review and influence your online brand
Our digital footprint is ever increasing, and has a direct influence on your career. If someone was to search your name on Google, are you going to be happy with what they find? Consider taking some of the following actions to ensure your online presence aligns with your brand:
- Google yourself. Go through your results and identify if it’s positive, neutral or negative. Then take action to remove the negative if it doesn’t fit with your personal brand.
- Audit your online presence which covers all platforms. Is the content that you share or comment on adding value to your brand, does it represent who you are?
- If you have a common name, consider how you can stand out from the rest.
- Do you have a LinkedIn profile?
- If you do, ensure it’s aligned to your CV and represents your brand. If you have a photo, does it represent your brand?
- If you don’t, consider setting one up. LinkedIn is a professional network with hundreds of millions of members, and continually growing. You can establish your professional profile, control one of the top search results for your name, build and maintain your professional network, find and reconnect with colleagues, network, learn about other companies, final other professionals in the similar industry groups and so much more!
From now on you can be more aware of everything you share online, as it contributes to your personal brand. Once you understand how you wish your brand to be perceived, you can be more strategic about your personal brand online.
When we’re applying for jobs – how can I influence my personal brand?
Your job application is the first factor to consider, does your cover letter and CV reflect your personal brand? If not, change it so that it does. I commonly refer to these two documents as being your sales documents or a marketing brochure as they reflect your brand. They need to convince the reader to take your application to the next stage.
Next up is the all important interview. Think of your personal brand as the product that you are about to sell:
- If you know the product well (the product being you – your brand) then you will have no problems in selling it confidently.
- Know what the buyer (interviewer) wants so that you can meet their needs. Match your sales pitch to the buyer’s needs.
- Think of the potential questions they may have about the product (you) and prepare your responses.
- Does your voicemail reflect your personal brand? What about your email address?
- Dress for success – does how you present yourself externally match your brand?
- How you present and communicate in the interview, does this represent your brand?
- Will your referees confirm what your personal brand is?
What other area’s influence our personal brand?
In essence, everything that we do in our every day life influences our personal brand. Whilst it’s becoming increasingly important to present a consistent and thoughtful online presence, the internet is by no means a replacement for actually getting out and participating in the world! Here’s just a few area’s that can have an influence your personal brand:
- Every person you meet is a networking opportunity, you never know where they work and what connections they have. So make sure it’s a positive one!
- Every interaction that we have with someone, whether it be bad or good, has an influence. This includes phone calls, text messages, emails and the list goes on. So when we are on the receiving end of negative customer service or a bad experience, be aware of how you react to the situation and how you present yourself. Or that email that you send in a hurry which is riddled with mistakes and the tone is quite abrupt.
- Your personality – this includes your values, behaviours and overall identity. How do you project yourself to the world? How do you treat others around you?
- Join professional associations or memberships and attend networking events or industry meetings. Get your brand out there in the real world.
- Your friends and those close to you can be your main advertisers or brand ambassadors – do they promote you or hinder your brand? If not, how can you influence this?
- Maintain your relationships with your contacts, networks, ex colleagues etc. It doesn’t need to be a burden, just simply checking in every now and again to keep in touch.
Your brand is ever evolving, just like you! It takes time and effort, is one thing that no one can take away from you, and is something that you can control. You have the ability to differentiate yourself from others, because there can only be one of you!