Your Personal Brand is Important — These 5 Things May Be Weakening It

a woman smiling wearing a dark green turtleneck with her arms crossed


Profile Picture
April 17, 2024 at 8:28AM UTC
You’re a hard worker. You clock in early, take on extra assignments for the boss, and hit your monthly quotas without fail. You thought you had the promotion in the bag, but they chose someone else. Does this sound familiar?
So, what gives? It might have to do with your personal brand (or lack thereof). These days, hard work alone isn’t enough to land a promotion, snag freelance clients, or clinch a job offer. A personal brand is key to being memorable to prospective clients or employers and standing out from the competition.

What Is a Personal Brand?

First, let’s clear up a common misconception: your personal brand isn’t your reputation. Think of your reputation as external—it’s formed by what other people think about you. You can’t control it.
However, a personal brand is internal—it is the image you create based on your values and what motivates you. This is 100% within your control.
Whether you want to or not, you have a personal brand. Here’s why that matters for your career.

Why Do You Need a Personal Brand?

Being a “hard worker” or “go-to person” isn’t enough to snag that promotion, raise, or new job at your dream company. You need to intentionally create a personal brand to thrive in your career. Creating a strong personal brand that embodies your personal values and motivations can help attract new career opportunities, stand out from the competition, and bolster your professional identity.

5 Key Obstacles Weakening Your Personal Brand

So, we know that having a personal brand is important for attracting more job opportunities, snagging new clients, and generally advancing your career. However, if you’re not careful, some common mistakes can damage your personal brand. Here are a few to avoid and how to fix them.

1. You don’t know what you want to do.

It’s hard to develop a personal brand if you don’t know what you want to do. You can’t position your brand or expertise if you don’t know where you want to work or what jobs you want to do.
Take some time to do an inventory of your skills and career goals to determine what industries or roles you want (i.e., social media, forestry, web development). What do you want to be known for? This will make it easier for you to shape your brand and target new opportunities.
If you’re struggling with figuring out your next career move, consider resources like What Color is Your Parachute? or CareerOneStop’s Interest Assessment.

2. You haven’t defined your values.

Attempting to build a personal brand without defining your values is a lot like driving with your eyes closed. It doesn’t work.
To create a personal brand that’s authentic and true to yourself, you need to understand the values that drive you. To do this, take an inventory of your motivations. What drives you to get out of bed in the morning? What sort of impact do you want to have in the world or at work? If you need help, you can use CareerOneStop’s free Work Values Matcher.
Defining your values helps you cultivate a strong personal brand, and by projecting those values, you’ll attract companies that share them.

3. You’re inauthentic.

Personal brands aren’t just costumes you discard at the end of the day. They need to reflect who you truly are and the values you represent. Make sure that when you’re developing your personal brand, you’re not pretending to be someone you’re not. Otherwise, you’re sure to be found out, which can have repercussions for your career.

4. Your social media presence.

Whether it’s ethical or not, employers check social media for job candidates. In fact, 54% of employers have eliminated a candidate from consideration due to social media content. In other words, getting rid of those sketchy spring break photos from your freshman year of college may be a good idea.
A solid first step is to google yourself to see what’s out there. You can also go through your social media profiles and delete questionable tweets or posts. However, if you’ve had social media for a long time (like most of us have), it could take a long time to get to the posts from the 14-year-old you.
To save time, consider social media scrubbing apps that’ll do the work for you, like Jumbo. Then, adjust your privacy settings accordingly. You may want to set your profile to private to keep your posts away from the prying eyes of employers.

5. Your LinkedIn presence (or lack thereof).

LinkedIn is no longer just for C-suite execs. Over 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to fill roles. This means that if you’re not on the platform, you’re missing out. Here are three simple tips to use LinkedIn to your advantage:
  • Make sure to fill out your entire profile to achieve “All-Star” status. All-Star profiles appear in seven times more searches than other LinkedIn profiles.
  • Use relevant keywords for your desired job in your headline and About section. Don’t put “Open to Work” as your headline. That’s not what recruiters are looking for. They’re looking for specifics. Instead, try “Full Stack Developer-Node.js, JavaScript, and SQL.” These are keywords that a recruiter looking to fill such a position would likely input into the search bar.
  • Engage with people on the platform. That doesn’t mean you have to write posts every day. Comment on other people’s posts, share posts that inspire you, and post relevant industry news or trends.
Whatever you do, always be respectful toward others on the platform. Remember, other LinkedIn members can look at all your previous activity, so you want to give a good impression.

Create a Strong Personal Brand for Career Success

A strong personal brand can elevate your career. To ensure a strong brand, be authentic, know your values, and be mindful of your social media activity so you can open the door to new opportunities.
This article originally appeared in FlexJobs. FlexJobs is the leading career service specializing in flexible work, providing the largest database of vetted remote and flexible job listings. To support job seekers in all phases of their journey, FlexJobs offers a range of services including expert advice, job search events, and career coaching. FlexJobs also works with leading companies to recruit quality remote talent and optimize their remote and flexible workplace.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice when it comes to shaping a personal brand? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always