When you hear the phrase ‘personal branding’ you’re far more likely to think of a marketing strategy or the Kardashians than of yourself. While branding is an incredibly important part of any marketing strategy, and Kim and Kylie have figured out how to use their own carefully curated images to their advantage, the fact is that personal branding can be an equally useful tool to utilise if you’ve just graduated and you want to set yourself apart in a saturated job market.
If you’re interested in developing your own personal brand but just don’t know where to begin, we’ve compiled the most important information right here. Think of it as your own personal guide to the concept, complete with the questions you’ve wanted to ask but just didn’t know how.
Why should I care about personal branding?
Personal branding gets a lot of flak for being image-based and inauthentic, but this is far from the truth. In fact, the art of getting personal branding right lies in building and depicting a narrative that shows off your passion and purpose in the best possible light, and when used intelligently, can make the difference between having little success and getting that first job offer.
Dismissing personal branding as unimportant or as superficial can mean losing out on a really great way to land yourself your dream job. If personal branding isn’t inauthentic, then what exactly is it?
Since personal branding can seem like a slightly abstract concept, it’s important that we pin down a definition so that you know exactly what it entails. Simply put, personal branding is how you promote yourself as a ‘brand’, and allows you to distinguish yourself from people who may have similar qualifications to yourself.
For example, you can be an IT graduate, but what sets you apart? If you have an interest in artificial intelligence, you can show this off by having social media accounts through which you share articles on the matters that interest you, or writing blog posts about innovations in the field you think are relevant.
When employers do a simple background check, these things show up, and leave you coming off as someone with a focused passion. Plus, you can also actively promote these sites/accounts on your CV which will set you apart in a wide field of candidates.
How do I develop my personal brand?
The best personal branding strategy is one that most big companies and CEOs have adopted into their business strategies, and that’s to build an authentic narrative that is driven by their passion. Bill Gates started as the founder of Microsoft, but his philanthropic pursuits are well known and that’s because he’s constantly promoting and sharing news about his various charities and intellectual interests.
Instead of trying to hyperbolize your own story, stick to the facts – don’t promote yourself as an expert photographer when you can barely get your iPhone camera to focus.
If you feel nerdy about something, be unabashedly so. Using your LinkedIn page or Twitter to like and share articles you find interesting, maintaining a personal website in which you can display a portfolio of some of your work, and attending networking events that are specific to your interests can all aid in you doing this.
How will maintaining a personal brand help me land my dream job?
Ah, the million dollar question – how is all this going to help find you the perfect career fit? Most companies prioritise the promotion of their company culture and brand identity, and when they’re hiring, they’re looking for employees who fit in with this vision.
This doesn’t mean your interests have to necessarily align with those of the company in question, but if you’re applying for a company that has innovation and proactivity as some of its core values, one way to impress your prospective bosses is by indicating you have similar values.
Showing this off through well-maintained and curated social media pages is one way to do this. Think of your dream companies, and what they position themselves as when opposed to their competitors – what makes them stand out? What do they prioritise when promoting their own brand? Adopting these values into your own brand, or at least showing evidence of engaging with it, can be a sure-fire way of helping you land that job.