Is It Important That Students Embrace their Personal Brand?
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Lianne Froggatt.
The stark truth is that the job market is extremely tough, and more and more graduates are finding themselves struggling to find work.
After years of studying and a huge investment of money, it can be incredibly disheartening to graduate and find yourself struggling to even embark on your career at all.
What makes you different from everybody else?
Your “Personal Brand”!
Many people think developing a personal brand starts and finishes with celebrities such as the Kardashian’s (who, incidentally, have done this incredibly well! Take note!) but this is no longer the case. Everybody is an individual, everyone has something unique to offer and by developing a comprehensive and consistent personal brand, you can showcase your personality and personal strengths. Not only that, you can also develop an extremely employable online profile!
By developing a personal brand, you can independently:
- Improve your employability
- Protect yourself online
- Show your passion and display your proactive nature
- Get noticed
- Develop relevant and useful relationships
- Establish a strong, professional social media presence
In particular, given the prevalence of online blogging, social networking and online showcasing tools available, it is now easier than ever to develop this brand online for free, rather than having to spend money on offline options.
How Can You Do This?
A personal brand is a way to show off what your passions and interests are, as well as your expertise and experience in you chosen career path or subject of study. It is increasingly difficult to find employment for graduates at the moment; employers want the experience as well as the degree. Showing your skills, knowledge and experience through online platforms goes a long way to showing your expertise without actually having hands on experience, putting you well above the competition!
When beginning to think about developing your personal brand, there are some key areas you need to focus on:
- Damage Control
- Developing a Consistent Profile
- Social Networking
- Blogging and Showcasing
What is already on the internet about you? With so many social networks readily available and a part of our everyday lives, it is frighteningly easy to be unaware of how much information is just sitting online, waiting to be found by potential employers.
With 91% of employers using social media to check out potential candidates and 69% of those rejecting a candidate based on their findings, it is so important to make sure your profiles will not hold you back when searching for your graduate jobs.
It is frighteningly easy to be unaware of how much information is just sitting online, waiting to be found by potential employers.
Do you really want people to see those photos? Or that ever-so-funny Facebook ‘frape’ from the other week? Shudder at the thought? Then get rid of them!
Delete any unfortunate statuses or tweets and photos of questionable legality, nudity or really drunken behaviour need to go!
In addition, to pre-empt any further embarrassment, make sure you get on top of your security settings on Facebook, be careful what you tweet, make sure not to leave yourself logged in when you are not around, and NEVER post drunk. It may seem like a good idea at the time, but trust me, it definitely isn’t!
There are so many examples of people losing jobs, wrecking relationships or just being caught out with ill thought out tweets, photos and posts; don’t let this be you!
Developing a Consistent Profile
Now you have cleaned up your act, it is time to set about creating the online presence you want people to see. Here are a few tips when it comes to setting up a brilliant online presence:
- Make sure you use the same picture on all of your professional social media profiles. People will begin to recognise your face.
- Use the same name on all profiles. This seems obvious but variations can occur, for example when your name is not available on every network, and be confusing. Use a site like Namecheck to quickly find out what is the closest username to your real name available across all platforms.
- Create a bio and mention the same interests and links to your blog on every platform. Inject a bit of personality into this but make sure you remain professional.
- Keep your personal profile consistent across the board.
Now you have begun to build your brand, you need to think about getting involved with social networking and begin connecting with contacts within your chosen field.
Firstly, it is important to look at the networks that will be useful for you to form contacts on. Of course, there are the standard networking sites that everyone should get on board with (yes Twitter and LinkedIn I am looking at you!) but different networks will be better for certain industries:
- deviantART – Budding artists should check out this network. Not only can you promote your own work, you can comment on other artists pieces, forming useful connections and relationships. Seeing all these pieces may also inspire your own work.
- SoundCloud – In much the same way as deviantART SoundCloud enables you to share you tracks, but also comment and connect with other artists in the community, developing contacts and finding inspiration.
- Social Media Examiner Clubs – Interested in online marketing? This branch out from the popular blogging site presents some interesting comment and networking opportunities in these active clubs.
There are some other specialist networks like this, so keep your eyes peeled for something within your sector and make some great, relevant connections. Pick their brains, ask questions and present your own opinions; actually interacting with these people is the best way to make sure you stay in their mind, and picking the brains of experienced people in your field is a great way to learn.
Blogging and Showcasing
Now you have developed some great contacts, started joining in with communities and begun to learn from them, it is time to start showing what you can do!
Blogging is one of the best ways to have a readily available body of work that really shows you to the best of your ability. Blog about your studies, interesting issues in your chosen industry and show off your experience; this is the best way to prove what you can do without having hands on experience in a job role.
Likewise, if you are a video producer, animator, photographer or artist, what better way is there to show what you can do that having a comprehensive archive of work online that you can link to on your CV?
There are numerous platforms available, all with free options and ample opportunities to develop a great showcase of your work:
And many more!
What Are You Waiting For?
So there you have it! Not only why students should be embracing your personal brand, but how and where to start! It is so important at the moment to make sure that you set yourself apart from every other graduate looking for work, start your personal brand today and set your career in motion.
Lianne Froggatt is Digital Communications Manager for Ideasbynet, UK promotional gift distributor. She is the main author of their Personal Branding series; head there for more comprehensive information of how exactly to develop your own brand. She loves feedback so tweet her @LianneCai.