Did you know that you have a personal brand?
No really. You do. It's the way you walk, talk, dress, and go about your daily life. You’re unique, and your friends and coworkers have an opinion about you — that’s all that personal branding, and branding in general, is.
As with product brands, personal brands need to remain consistent. There are lots of ways to communicate to the world, and everything should be said in the same voice. Each one of your touch points should be consistent. If you’re professional during a job interview but your Facebook is full of party pictures, you will confuse any hire manager — or potential client — who’s checking you out.
When it comes to personal branding, people tend to overlook a few things:
1. Email Address
Employers use everything they can as a screening tool. Your email address is no exception, and it influences your chances for an interview. In one study, 73 recruiters saw six resumes. All candidates had the same credentials and experience, but the ones with “cute” email addresses were rated lower. The same could potentially be said of a personal website domain name. While you do have more creative license to make these unique and expressive, overly silly ones may not equate to the best brand strategy.
It’s also not a good idea to apply to jobs with your work email address. You’ll send a message that you’re searching for new work on your current company's dime, and that you may do the same to other employers in the future. Your current company is not your target audience for new job search emails; keep it separate.
Your resume should answer these questions:
What do hiring managers in your industry like to see? You should tailor your resume to those needs specifically. Never send out generic resumes: if you’re talking to everyone, you're talking to no one.
The heart of your resume is your unique selling proposition. This tells someone hiring why they should care about you. Sixty five percent of hiring managers are looking to hire specialists, yet most people position themselves as generalists. If you have a skin problem, would you seek out a general practitioner or an expert dermatologist? Think of your brand strategy in a similar way.
What do you want the reader of your resume to feel? Most resumes are full of buzzwords like “results-oriented professional,” but these need to be demonstrated through storytelling. The language and tone you use are important. You want them to feel intrigued, like there is a brilliant mind behind the piece of paper.
Every good ad asks for the sale, and your resume should, too. It can be as simple as: “Let’s chat about improving your marketing materials!” They want to hire you if you can fix a problem, so make it clear in your written communications that you can.
3. Profile Picture
Nothing makes someone want to click “buy” more than a beautiful product photo. If you’re shopping online and you don’t actually see any good product photos, don’t you wonder why?
Don’t promise one thing and deliver another.
Ninety percent of hiring managers/recruiters/HR departments (a.k.a. people like myself) use social media to screen candidates. And when it comes to knowing how to brand yourself, your online presence is a huge indicator to employers of that. In fact, having a quality photo in your social media profile makes you seven times more likely to be considered.
To help you out, I want to share a tool! Use Photofeeler.com to test your profile photos. Business photos are judged in three categories: Competence, Likeability, Influence. By voting on other people’s photos, you can earn free votes on your own.
4. Unique Skills
This is a great exercise to build a strong brand. Spend some time evaluating yourself thoroughly and honestly. What roles have you excelled in? What projects have interested you most? Pick an area and specialty to differentiate yourself in — and define yourself by it.
Try to identify something that is valued by your company, and make it your brand. For example: Susan is great at driving revenue. Patty is great at managing projects. Lidya is great with the financials.
5. An Advisory Board
Get to know the leaders of your company in various disciplines — and actually build relationships. Reach out and ask if you can get 30 minutes on their calendar to meet and get to know more about them, their role, and their career.
When you do meet, come prepared to share a clear, concise story about your background, your accomplishments, and your interests. This is your personal pitch. Lay out what your hopes and aspirations are, and ask very clear, well-informed questions about them. Think of it like a job interview!
After your meeting, whenever you have a chance to interact with those leaders, use those opportunities. Every time. Whether it’s with smart, concise contributions at meetings, a well-constructed question at a town hall, or just a smart remark in the hallway, building a relationship takes consistency.
Note: Don’t forget to loop your current boss in on your aspirations, and let her know why you’re reaching out to other managers. No boss likes to be blindsided or undermined by conversations she’s not aware of. If possible, your boss should be your biggest champion and feel invested and involved in your career progress.
The more you can find ways to add value — especially voluntarily — the stronger your reputation will become. And a strong reputation can equate to a strong brand.
6. Looking at Projects as Branding Opportunities
Keep an eye out for projects that you know you can ace. Better yet, come up with an idea that could make a difference to your company and pitch it.
Find something that can really change the company through revenue contribution, cost savings, process improvement, or improved knowledge capital. For example, if you feel your company is deficient in social media, propose a project in which you will spend your spare time researching smarter marketing practices and come back to the company to present ideas about how they could be using it better.
The more you can find ways to add value — especially voluntarily— the stronger your reputation will become. And, the more people throughout the organization who get to know you and what you’re capable of, the more your name will come up when opportunities for promotion arise.
7. Broadcast Your Project
This is probably one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. When you are leading a project or a business unit, pick a clear, ambitious but achievable objective for your team. Make it quantifiable. Then tell everyone — your team members, your managers, your peers. Rally everyone around that number. Track progress. talk about it every day.
Sticking close to the numbers keeps everyone focused, but it’s also great for your personal brand. Everyone will remember you as the person who contributed $X million to the company, or brought in 23 new customers, or increased social media followers by 400%.
8. Loop ‘Em In
Make sure you are telling all your stakeholders what you’re up to — whether it’s via email, meetings, or a tool like Slack. Identify key milestones and let everyone know when you’ve completed them.
And, if you hit a roadblock or you’re unsure of something, seek input. The more you can get others invested and involved in your success, the more fans you’ll have on your side.
Don’t forget to check back in with your advisory board regularly to let them know how you’re progressing and what you’re learning.
Natalie Fisher is an enthusiastic HR Generalist who loves her job! She’s been on over 50 interviews and received 48 job offers. Download her Free Guide: How to Nail an Interview You’re Unqualified For.
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