Even in today’s market, where there is an abundance of jobs available, vying for the attention of potential employers against competing candidates is tough. Personal branding can make your application shine and stand out. We explain how.
You are never the only person applying for a role, which means that you compete against potentially hundreds or more of other candidates. A strong CV and cover letter are crucial to the application, but they may not be sufficient to stand out from the crowd. You need to differentiate your profile from all other candidates. This is where your personal brand can play a significant role in the job search.
It is becoming the norm for potential employers to review candidates’ online presence as part of the recruitment process. Indeed, hiring managers can use social media to screen applicants. Negative online presence issues, such as controversial public tweets, for example, can be detrimental to your application. Therefore, you need to create a brand that is reputable, trustworthy, and positive for employers.
Your personal brand will act as a marketing boost for your professional skills, expertise, and personality. For job applicants, this can be beneficial at many levels:
- Bring your name to the top of search engine results
- Demonstrates that you can stay relevant to your career path
- Helps you get noticed by hiring managers and employers
- Showcases your expertise
- Tells your story and conveys your values
- Provides personal information that is not apparent from your CV
- In highly competitive circles, your profile will stand out ahead of other applicants
However, developing your personal brand can feel intimidating and knowing where to start can be overwhelming. That’s why we wrote this simple guide to building your online presence.
It is undoubtedly IT, Digital and Marketing professionals who will benefit the most from high digital visibility. However, having a positive online presence can be highly beneficial when applying for any job.
What is Personal Branding?
Jeff Bezos famously described personal branding as “What people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Indeed, the term branding comes from the business environment. However, the addition of the word ‘personal’ transforms the expression into something much more individual.
You instantly associate successful businesses with a recognisable, memorable, and unique brand. For example, Apple stands for creativity, innovation, and sleek designs, making it a favourite for the creative community, including designers and marketers.
Your personal brand defines how you choose to present your profile to the world as a professional: It is your unique combination of skills, experiences, and values that define what you stand for. Moreover, just like Apple attracts a specific targeted audience, your personal brand will also act as a magnet for your audience group, aka potential employers.
What Difference Does Personal Branding Make?
Only the strongest CVs make it to the shortlist for a role. Indeed, hiring managers exclude many candidates at this point. Therefore, your CV and cover letter must make a positive impression to stand among other candidates.
A typical first stage job interview typically gives candidates less than an hour to make a lasting impression. If they are successful, they may obtain a second interview. With only an hour to impress, it can be challenging to convince your interlocutor of your expertise.
However, having a personal brand can do the leg work for you by introducing you to hiring managers before you meet. Getting a head start against the competition in this way can give weight to your application.
Additionally, building your brand puts you in charge of what people know and say about you. Indeed, if you don’t brand yourself, you’re at risk that someone else might do it for you. Branding allows you to manage your reputation and ensures that hiring managers see an accurate image of who you are.
The Advantages of Managing Your Brand for a Job Search
First of all, a personal brand will ensure your profile conveys the right message. It avoids harmful inconsistencies in your social profiles, which hiring managers can perceive as red flags. Keeping your digital presence consistent and meaningful through all media and platforms will avoid unpleasant surprises.
You are in charge of the message. You can use your personal brand to identify our differentiating factors. The process of communicating your brand helps explain to others what makes you unique.
Your personal brand can also bring your professional story together. For example, if a candidate’s profile reveals periods of unemployment or a series of frequent job changes, this could be a red flag for potential employers. However, your branding could present a new focus, helping hiring managers and recruiters appreciate your experience.
Where to Start with Building Your Brand?
Your personal brand shows people the version of you that you want them to see and establishes your reputation in your area of expertise. Although where companies often employ full-time branding experts, candidates have no support in creating their brands. For this reason, knowing where to begin can seem overwhelming. We recommend starting with your branding statement, which you can use as an elevator pitch on your CV and during a job interview.
Your branding statement is an introductory message that explains briefly who you are and what you stand for. It needs to cover the following points:
- Who you are – your professional role or area of expertise
- What you do – define your services and activities
- Who you do it for – your targeted audience or business sector you work in
- Your most significant characteristics – your professionally relevant qualities, such as diligence, work-ethic or ability to solve problems
- Your best accomplishments – Praiseworthy track records that are relevant to your job
Once combined, the elements of your branding statement will form a brief introduction to your professional path. Still unsure what it should look like? Below are a few examples to guide you:
Branding statement for a marketing role
A communication expert and enthusiastic researcher of information with a proven track record of success delivering B2B campaigns in the finance sector to thrive in the modern digital marketplace.
Branding statement for a software engineer profile
Multidimensional, high-focus manager of processes and technology with a strong record of success leveraging innovation, profits, and growth through data structure and cloud computing.
Branding statement for a digital designer
Creative designer turning concepts into meaningful, accessible and beautiful images for B2B and B2C communication. Key trait: Psychology of colours and shapes. Result: Successful messages that hit your target every time.
Where to use your branding statement?
Your branding statement is an integral part of your personal branding. You can use your statement in many different ways to promote your brand:
- Personal Statement on your CV
- Cover letter
- Elevator pitch, when meeting professionals
- Response to the interview question “Tell me about yourself.”
- In your networking message, when reaching out to potential contacts
- Social media bio
- Intro to a blog
- LinkedIn profile
- Professional biography, if interviewers ask you to provide one
- On business cards
Enhance your brand visibility
When your branding essentially lives digitally, you can’t afford to fall behind with online maintenance. Particularly when applying for jobs, your social media profiles will be under hiring managers’ scrutiny. Therefore you must maintain your brand by creating:
- Positive social media presence
- Algorithm-friendly content
Make Your Social Media Accounts Consistent
The majority of hiring managers and recruiters run background checks on candidates. The first and most important check is your social media presence which factors heavily into hiring decisions. It is not uncommon for employers to reject a candidate based on the content of their social media accounts. Therefore, polishing your social media presence will help promote (and sometimes correct) your personal brand.
Ultimately, some of your posts could harm your employability. There is no denying that discriminatory, hate speech and illicit content are a no-no for potential employers. However, candidates should also be wary of other potential red flags that will affect their professional careers.
Employers do not expect perfect grammar and literary skills for positions that don’t require high written skills. However, poor communication skills are detrimental to any application. Therefore, it can be helpful to run your public posts through a grammar check tool, such as Grammarly, first. Ultimately, ensuring your social media posts remain readable, understandable, and grammatically correct can make a difference and boost your profile.
There is such a thing as oversharing. Employers appreciate that you might want to use your social media presence to connect with friends and family members. However, highly personal and sensitive content is best suited to private social media profiles.
Setting your profile on private ensures that only authorised users can access your information. Separating your partying photos and other potentially harmful content keeps it out of sight for professional connections.
Similarly, your public-facing profiles should focus on managing your professional reputation. For example, sharing confidential data about a former employer is an immediate career kill switch.
Once you have decided which social media profiles should be visible to hiring managers, your next step is to create a homogenous brand. Visible and public profiles tend to include Twitter and LinkedIn. Creatives often also use Instagram as a platform to share their latest work and behind-the-scene processes. It can be helpful to use the same professional profile picture and branding statement for all those platforms. You are, of course, free to use any image you wish for private accounts that are only accessible to a selected few.
Build a Strong Online CV on LinkedIn
With over 600 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is the social media platform for professional networking. Linkedin is one of the first places recruiters and hiring managers look for potential candidates and where smart job seekers go to find jobs. However, having a LinkedIn profile does not guarantee you’re going to get noticed. Ideally, you want to leverage your profile to draw attention and help you connect with your target audience.
Your headshot can make or break the deal. A professional photo can be a worthy investment, as it will be the first impression people have of your personal branding. You can use the same image for other professional platforms, including Twitter.
LinkedIn allows you to write a headline and a summary. The headline is a little shorter than a tweet and includes 120 characters. Think of it as a strapline that showcases your speciality and how it benefits your audience. For instance, a digital marketer could use it to demonstrate their accomplishments:
“Digital marketing expert helping you with high ROI strategies. Double your digital ROI.”
Your branding statement can serve as your summary as long as it is under 2,000 characters. It can also be a good idea to expand a little on your branding statement to fit the character count and introduce valuable information, such as naming specific tools and technology, a reputable former employer, or desirable certifications.
Too many candidates fail to create an enticing CV on LinkedIn. You have to consider that your targeted audience has a limited attention span online. Therefore, it’s best to include the most relevant jobs to where you want to take your career. Keep job descriptions simple, focusing on a handful of bullet points for interesting and valuable accomplishments. These should demonstrate the impact you’ve had rather than listing all your actions and duties.
Whenever relevant, visual media can enhance your job descriptions and make your online CV stand out. If you share images or videos, do ensure that you are explicitly authorised to do so. Spotting unauthorised use of a copyrighted image on your LinkedIn feed will not go down well with a potential employer.
LinkedIn lets you list your skills and makes recommendations from your contacts. You can also use the skill test features to demonstrate your abilities. Recommendations and skills are crucial for the LinkedIn algorithm, so keep those updated, visible, and relevant. The platform also provides a profile strength assessment, helping boost your visibility by prompting you to add appropriate information.
Be the Expert Everybody Recognises
More and more candidates decide to expand their digital presence beyond social media platforms. Indeed, recognised experts and thought leaders are the first to maximise the benefit of a blog or a dedicated online channel.
Start a Blog
Investing in a website can be a smart move to establish yourself as an expert. Platforms such as Wix.com or WordPress let you create a free blog presence fully hosted by the platform. While a blog requires management daily, it can be a display window for your knowledge, experience, and understanding of the market. Managing a blog requires a content plan, ensuring you can keep it updated and react to real-time trends.
An IT professional, for instance, might use their blog to demonstrate their knowledge on the changing technology in the industry, share tips, and explain programming projects and solutions for specific tasks. Blogging also provides unique content to share on social media channels.
Alternatively, candidates who are worried about keeping their content up-to-date can also learn a valuable lesson in self-marketing from Nina Muffeh. Muffeh turned her online CV into an Airbnb strategic marketing plan, which attracted their team’s attention.
Share Valuable Tips
Alternatively, you can also use your social media platform as a content base. For example, a creative designer can use their YouTube channel to share tutorials on using specific tools or creating unique effects. Alternatively, you might join an existing channel as a guest to express your opinions or educate subscribers. Podcasts, YouTube channels, and blogs are popular platforms for guest contributors.
A Few Final Thoughts on Building a Personal Brand to Improve Your Chances of Getting a Job
Your personal branding online can showcase your expertise and attract potential employers’ attention. Your brand can not only help you land your next role but also accelerate your career progression.
If you’re optimising your personal brand intending to make your next career move, why not check out our current IT, Digital & Marketing jobs?