Personal Branding For Job Seekers 101

By Mike Simpson

So you want to learn a little bit more about personal branding?

Well, in order to do that, start by taking a good look at what you’re wearing. 

Odds are, you’ve got an article (or more) of clothing on with a logo on it. 

What are those logos?  Is it an easily identifiable ‘swoosh’ on your shoes?  Maybe it’s the little embroidered alligator on the front of your shirt?  How about your watch?  Is there a logo on there?

Now look around you. What do you see? 

What’s on that cardboard coffee cup you picked up this morning on your way into the office?  I bet you it’s a green mermaid!  How about your technology?  Is there an ever present glowing fruit logo on the back of your laptop?

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Every one of these logos is a tiny visual representation of a much larger brand. 

Each one is distinct and unique, and in our consumer driven world, instantly recognizable.  As soon as you see a familiar logo you make a mental connection to the larger company overall. 

You consciously (and often, unconsciously as well) make purchasing decisions based on your relationship to a company and their brand.   

This is called corporate branding, and is the cornerstone of almost every successful corporation out there today.  

But what is corporate branding exactly?

Corporate branding is the practice of promoting the overall brand name of a corporate entity (Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Starbucks, etc.) rather than focusing on the specific products or services the corporation provides.

Sounds like fun, right? 

So why don’t you get in on this branding action? 

Why should corporations have all the branding fun?  What if you were to sit down and brand yourself?  In an increasingly difficult job market where there are thousands of qualified applicants vying for positions, it’s time to stand out from the crowd. 

It’s time to create the brand that is you!

Now before you rush off and design a logo and start slapping it onto everything, we need to make sure you understand exactly what branding is, and how to make it work for you…not against you. 

you-brandPersonal Branding: The “You” Brand

So what is personal branding?

Personal branding is a little less clear than corporate branding because it relies more on intangible concepts rather than physical products, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t any less important, especially in this day and age! 

When you build your personal brand, you’re going to be taking your passions (what drives you), your key personal attributes and your strengths and rolling that all into a brief, clear, laser focused and targeted message that defines not only who you are, but how you’re different from everyone else. 

It’s a way of making sure that you clearly communicate to your target audience exactly who you are, what you stand for, what makes you unique, and what value you can offer. 

To boil it down even further, personal branding takes how you present yourself to those around you and refines it, allowing you to strengthen and market those unique desirable qualities that make you…well, you! 

So how does personal branding relate to your career? 

Like we said above, the job market these days is tough.  There are thousands of incredibly talented and qualified people applying to the same jobs you are…and the best way to get hired is to stand out for the right reasons. 

A solid personal brand carefully built can generate a connection with a hiring manager that not only helps get you into the interview, but help make the decision to hire you an easy one.

You want to build a brand that is true to you while at the same time attractive to both your current and prospective employers.

Right.  Look, I get what you’re saying, but I don’t need personal branding.  I’m amazing at what I do, my resume is killer and my cover letter is flawless. 

Okay…that might be true…but let’s slip into a quick little scenario…and we’ll see just how important personal branding actually is. 

Let’s pretend you’re a hiring manager with a media company. 

You’ve narrowed down the field of candidates from hundreds to the top 5.  You’ve brought them all in, one at a time, and interviewed them.  They’re all great.  They’re qualified, eager, and each one seems like a good fit. 

So who do you hire? 

Now in our scenario, you’re a good hiring manager, so rather than just randomly picking one and hoping for the best, you turn to the internet.  You type in each candidate’s name and look at what pops up. 

The first two candidates have no social media presence at all.  The third candidate has an extensive social media presence but its’ all cat videos and recipes.  The fourth candidate has a fairly impressive social media presence, but again, it’s all very personal posts. 

You’re frustrated. 

You just want to find the right fit for the job, and although each candidate looks good on paper, there’s just something…missing.  You type in the last candidate’s name and hit enter with a sigh…and then gasp. 

Not only is their social media presence impressive, it’s relevant to the job.  Candidate 5 even has a blog they’ve started on their own which has a clear voice and direction!

Your heart pounds as you scroll through months of posts and entries, each more impressive than the last.  Not only is the blog well done, but it’s engaging and Candidate 5 has already built a solid following and interacts with readers regularly. 

Their twitter feed is funny, targeted and on point and ties back into the blog flawlessly.  It’s clear to see exactly who Candidate 5 is from their posts. You can get a sense of their personality, as well as what they value, based off of what you’re reading…and it’s all perfect for the job you’re trying to fill! 

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