When you’re on the market for a new job, everyone tells you the same thing: Just pick relevant ads, create the perfect resume and cover letter, and keep applying. What if you’re not getting any results? Keep applying, they say.
Is there something no one is telling you about?
Yes. It’s branding. When companies want to sell more, they work on their brands. They create a lovely logo, they pay tons of attention to the product design, and they invest in a marketing campaign with the intention to attract customers.
You’ll be doing something similar when creating your personal brand. You’ll be your own product. Through your “marketing campaign,” you’ll lead potential employers to find the exact details you want them to get about you. You’ll make yourself look professional, innovative and self-confident. Through the personal branding process, you’ll definitely increase your chances of getting hired.
So how exactly do you do it? Are there specific personal branding tricks that will jump start your job search? There sure are! We’ll list 5 of them today.
1. Update Your Job Application Documents
This is the starting point of your personal branding process. The first thing an employer is going to see is your job application, which contains a resume/CV and a cover letter. You must make these documents perfect!
Although the resume seems like a rigid format that doesn’t allow for too much experimenting, it’s more creative than you assume. Explore the option of infographic resumes, especially if you’re in a creative industry. Don’t forget to update the resume with the latest information regarding your employment history, as well as online courses you’ve taken lately.
Even if you don’t apply for a job through LinkedIn, your profile on this network is still part of the story. It serves as your online resume, which the employer will certainly find when they search your name on Google. Your profile should be absolutely flawless.
Set up a nice profile picture, which shows you in a professional, but relaxed vibe. Smiles are allowed on LinkedIn.
Set up a custom URL for your profile. This shows you pay attention to detail.
Add all relevant skills and keep the profile up to date.
Connect! LinkedIn doesn’t just serve as a platform where you showcase your online resume. It’s a career networking tool. Connect with people from your industry, and outreach to influencers. This activity reflects your communication skills.
2. Start Making Updates… to Every Online Trace!
Roberta Falcon, an HR Manager from Careers Booster, explains: “Everything that can be seen online is part of your personal brand. Haven’t you been active on Facebook and Twitter lately? Are there still old photos from parties and vacations available on your public profile? Is there a MySpace profile you’ve forgotten about? You have to take care of these things, since they affect the impression that potential employer forms about you.”
Start making the updates. Think of every single profile you’ve created under your name. Even Goodreads is important.
Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are the most important online traces you have. They have to be flawless. This doesn’t mean you should make them completely private; you still want a potential employer to see something.
Hide all private photos, but leave public traces of activities that make you seem professional. These can be links to your blog (we’ll get to that later), insightful status updates related to the industry, or online discussions that show you as a great debater.
3. Build Your Own Platform
The website is the highlight of each branding process. When a company starts branding itself, it’s mostly focused on the website. From there on, everything else can take off.
Your personal brand should be represented through a website, too! If you’re in a creative industry, in particular, a personal website is a must! It’s where you’ll feature your online portfolio. Even if you don’t need a portfolio, you still need a website.
But what will you publish on that website? The answer is simple: content.
When an employer takes a look at your application, they wonder: “Who is this woman and why should I care?” Your content answers that question!
This website will basically be a blog. It’s easy to set up a WordPress site, and you can do it for free. From there on, you’ll be left with a major goal: develop great content and make the blog influential.
- Pick a niche, which correlates to the industry you want to work in.
- Start publishing readable, shareable content. You need a blogging schedule, which will set the frequency of posting. In order to make the blog popular, you’ll have to publish high-quality content as frequently as possible. If necessary, hire freelance writers to work under your instructions.
- Engage in online marketing. You want to build a following, so the potential employer will see you as an influencer in the industry.
4. Connect with Influencers
Speaking of influencers, you have to connect with as many of them as possible. When you start conveying your message through the blog, you should connect with influencers, who will share it further. You already know the most influential bloggers in your niche, right? Well, why don’t you offer your guest posts to them? This will be a nice way to get more audience for your blog, but the connection itself will matter, too.
Pay close attention to everything these influencers tweet or blog about. What issues do they stand by? Can you engage in an online discussion with them? Don’t impose yourself, but use all opportunities for connecting.
There’s another important way to connect with influencers: LinkedIn. Not all influential people in your industry are bloggers, right? However, most of them are on LinkedIn, and you can get connected there.
Why is this important for branding, anyway? Well, when you link your personal brand to influencers, you make it more important. It’s just what “real” brands are doing: they get influencers to promote their products or services. When you connect and they engage with your content or comments, they are basically promoting you. When you become that visible in the online world, you might start getting job offers even when you’re not directly looking for them.
5. Showcase Your Uniqueness
Online Personal Branding: Processes, Challenges, and Implications is a research study focused on examining how people were managing their personal brands. The researchers found that the personal branding efforts were often misdirected or insufficient. Most people were trying to brand themselves, but they weren’t doing it in the right way.
Here’s that question again: “Who is this woman and why should I care?” The employer doesn’t just want to see good content and flawless social media profiles. They want to see how you’re different from all other applicants they are considering. The blog, social media profiles, LinkedIn activities, and every other aspect of your personal branding process should answer that question.
Think: what are your highlights? What strengths make you a real catch on the job market? Is it your creativity? Maybe it’s your resourcefulness? Find the thing that sets you apart from the crowd and build the entire personal branding campaign on that foundation.
Own your online space! Perfect your strengths and show how they make you a true expert in your niche. Of course, you won’t fake this. You’re still being yourself when you engage in personal branding. You’re just highlighting your strengths and you’re letting employers know how lucky they are for having the chance to hire you.
The Bottom Line:
A strong brand has a brand strategy that boasts both brand value and brand loyalty. Like a business brand, you as a human brand need to design your brand identity. Instead of attracting customers, however, you'll be attracting company after company who will want to hire you — but only once you've built a successful brand for yourself.
Remember that personal branding is a process. You won’t get it done in a day. A week won’t be enough. It takes months or even years for building a successful personal brand. Don't you have that much time? It’s not an excuse. You should still start! The point is in staying consistent.
Update all online profiles, start your own website, boost your LinkedIn activities, connect with influencers, and showcase your uniqueness through everything you do. Those are the main tricks that will lead you to great results.
Are you ready? The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll experience the advantages of having a personal brand.
Eva Wislow is a career coach and HR Executive from Pittsburgh. Eva has a degree in Psychology and she is focusing on helping people break down their limits, find a dream job and achieve life and career success. She finds her inspiration in writing and peace of mind through yoga. Connect with Eva on Twitter.