Personal Branding for Job Seekers and Why You Need It

by Yvette McKenzie
Posted: September 21, 2015

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Job hunting has never been easy. It causes dread in anyone who hears this phrase. It is not pretty. To be realistic, recruiters do receive hundreds of job applications. What chance do you have? How can you attract their attention? How can you give yourself an edge and help you stand out in the minds of recruiters and hiring managers?

One of the most effective ways of distinguishing yourself from the competition is to create a strong personal brand. This basically means to establish a consistent, highly desirable image in the minds of prospective clients and businesses. Instead of begging them for a job, think about it as an exercise in selling yourself.

What Is Personal Branding?

“You have to consider yourself as a whole package or product – not just your skills and functional abilities, but also your personality, creativity, enthusiasm, passion, et cetera,” say Justin Thompson, consumer marketing manager at Career Builder. “Job seekers need to be able to wrap that up in a concise way so as to easily explain themselves to employers.” In a nutshell, you have to craft a killer UVP. Define Your Unique Value Proposition Imagine if you had the PERFECT answer to ‘why should we consider hiring you over others?’ That would make the while job hunting process that much easy. Think about it. Why should they hire you, really? What is it that makes you different from the rest of the candidates? Unique value proposition (UVP) describes why you are different. To craft a strong UVP, make a note of your:

  • work experience
  • skills and abilities
  • special interests
  • goals
  • command of languages
  • technology skills

Weave the items on your list and your main key talents/skills into a statement of your specialty. What are you particularly gifted at doing? Write a paragraph. Your branding strategy also includes the creation of personal business cards, social media profiles such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, your blog and your brand compatible email. It includes creating a visual CV and tailor-made cover letters and resumes. To begin an effective personal branding strategy, you also need to clearly identify your target audience so that you can develop a core brand image in their minds. Identify Your Target Audience Just like any business that wants to sell their products or services to a unique audience, you too have to identify your target market which will hire you. Make a list of your target audience by jotting down the names of all the people you during your job search that can assist you in some way. This includes:

  • Potential employers
  • Past colleagues and supervisors
  • Recruiters
  • Networking groups
  • College or university alumni or teachers
  • Community members

Every contact you made can help you get a job and you need to leave an everlasting impression on them in consistent with your unique brand image. For this you need to create a unique brand identity.

Create a Brand Identity

The first step in creating a brand identity is to identify your career goals What is your career goal? What sort of jobs are you looking for? Are you interested in causal or temporary vacancies? Would you accept job offers with less than expected remuneration package? How important are benefits to you? What are your job priorities?

Recruiters will check you online first before they contact you. They will look you up on Google and this could be your first impression. You need to make sure that this is your best one.

What market trends are affecting your industry?

Research job markets trends in your location. Are new companies coming to your part of the world? Is there downsizing going on? Are businesses hiring? Keep an eye out on what’s happening.

Why are you different?

The aim is to set you apart from rest of the candidates. Articulate your UVP – unique value proposition. Think about your unique strengths and talents and what skills you bring to the table.

Essentials of a Sound Branding Strategy

Credibility is the main ingredient of establishing a strong personal brand. There are different ways you can do this online:

Headshot

You need a professional headshot to go with all of your online profiles. People have come to expect this. You want to see your picture next to your LinkedIn profile. They want to see you on your blog or your Facebook page. And yet, a vast majority of people are reluctant to put up photos online. They have privacy issues, fear discrimination, or they might not have a latest photo. Whatever the issue maybe, you need to sort it out. Recruiters will check you online first before they contact you. They will look you up on Google and this could be your first impression. You need to make sure that this is your best one.

Testimonials

If you are looking for a job, what others are saying about you is critical for your success. Ask your past employers for recommendations. Ask people for endorsements and display them on your site or social media sites.

Expert content

Why not demonstrate your expertise by writing online? You can easily start a free Wordpress blog and start posting within hours. Remember the goal here is not to start an online journal, but to build authority. Publish relevant, useful and high quality material in your industry and you might impress the heck out of a potential recruiter. Also use key words in your content so you rank for what you want to be known for. Make your online brand compelling and trust worthy. You want the hirers to come to you.

Appear active

According to research, employers prefer recently-employed candidates over those who seem to be unemployed for a long time. Get rid of any gaps in your resume by listing volunteer work, short courses. Taking on new projects will make you more desirable in the eyes of those who are looking.

Video Bio

Think about shooting a brief, introductory video about yourself as a huge differentiator. As the saying goes, a picture paints a thousand words, take advantage of this trend. You can do it with basic equipment or ask somebody to do a professional one. Write a script about your goals, qualifications, experience and skills. Rehearse and shoot.

Creating online profiles

Your online profiles are hugely important. Keep them relevant, engaging and up to date. Keep them clean. Make sure you are not caught sharing any photos or content that would make you look unprofessional.

Create a visual CV

A visual CV is an online resume that has all the traditional elements like your objective, qualifications, past experience and references. It has add-ons like links, video, slides, images, portfolio and your social media profile buttons. You can have one if you don’t want to have your own website or blog.

Making Sure Your Personal Brand Works

“Will your brand work for every company you apply for? “No. But that’s the beauty of being multi-faceted as a person,” Thompson says. “You can play up certain parts of your ‘brand’ for certain companies or certain roles; especially if that’s what is being required.” In order to understand if your brand fits in with a company, check out their website or social media pages. Would your branding be consistent with the company’s? Would this be a good partnership? Or do you need to readjust your message to be a better fit?”

Here are some tips to keep your branding on track.

Resume: Look through your resume with fresh eyes. It needs to be compelling enough to catch a recruiter’s eye. Eliminate experience that is no longer relevant and check that all job responsibilities and descriptions are clear. If you are out college for more than 5 years, take out high school/summer job details. Consider keeping a copy online.

Cover letter: This is the place to show you are human. Let your personality shine through. Briefly talk about your passions and things that excite you. Tell the employer why you are thrilled at the possibility of working for them.

Business cards: If you have business cards, ensure they match your brand and double check that all the important info is there.

Blog/personal website: Blogs are great to showcase your expertise and build credibility. This is also the hub for all your online activities.

Social Media profiles: Remove anything that you don’t want potential employers to see. Take out photos of you in groups that would negatively affect your job search. They are a great tool when it comes to networking. Resist the temptation to be funny or overly friendly. Join LinkedIn and participate in groups in your industry.

Get help: If all fails, talk to a recruitment agency or your previous boss for an internship. Consider part time jobs or pro-bono work to minimise any gaps. Your personal brand can do wonders for you if you do everything right, stay positive and approach everything with the success mindset.  

 

Does your social media profile help your branding? Learn how to maintain your social media profiles.

 

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Yvette McKenzie

Yvette

Is the content strategist at Open Colleges. She has over a decade of professional experience at some of Australia’s largest media corporations, including Southern Cross Austereo and the Macquarie Media Network. With a degree in Communications (majoring in Journalism), she covers stories on education, new knowledge technologies and independent learning.

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