Social channels like LinkedIn and Facebook make everyone more accessible. And this goes for job seekers, too - millions of you are just a click away from prospective employers. So if you're looking for a new job, I've got some news for you:
- 92% of companies consider social media as a useful tool to recruit high-quality applicants, according to a survey conducted by Jobvite.
- Organizations are making use of social media to recruit candidates. This usage has increased to 54% within 5 years, according to SHRM.
Welcome to the competition.
Of course, there are thousands of others who are working just as hard to get that job. And they might be building their personal brand. So, how do you rise above the clutter and ensure that you, as a brand, are perfect for that dream job?
Here’s the answer: It’s time to realize why personal branding is so important, and then give a brand identity to your own self so you can attract the employers of your choice. Yes, you read that right - YOU are the brand you're promoting.
Here's why personal branding is something you cannot afford to ignore:
1. You're Climbing the Corporate Ladder – From the Bottom
Congratulations, you've got a degree. Here’s when the real game begins: the job hunt, screening tests, interviews, and more interviews! You're a new entrant in the corporate world, and people know nothing about your capabilities.
As a fresh entrant, building your personal brand can help you get an edge over other candidates.
2. You Want to Move Up – or Around – at Your Job
Though it may be an issue for others, job dissatisfaction is not your problem. You're happy with your job, but you think it's time to move up in your company.
Regardless of your efforts, there are times when you just can't seem to create that impression in front of your boss. Believe it or not, personal branding can play a big role in creating an entirely new perception of who you are in the eyes of your boss, colleagues, and even other stakeholders.
Or, let's say you are interested in moving to another department. Do they have the slightest idea what you are capable of? Probably not.
So, instead of worrying or trying to force yourself into their view, use the opportunity to introduce the 'new you' by repositioning your professional profile. After all, it’s always good to remember your strengths, but focusing on your areas of expertise, and presenting them in a desirable manner, means you've got to make some effort on your personal brand.
3. You Want a Career Change
You've been at your company for years and suddenly you realize that your interests are in a whole different area – or even a whole different industry.
But here’s the dilemma: You may have the spark to make it in a new industry, but you probably lack industry-specific experience. Which is something you need for any job, regardless of the industry.
This is where personal branding will help you highlight your current skill set, and enable you to communicate to recruiters how you are going to be an asset to them.
4. You've Been Laid Off and Want a New Job
It’s not your fault – your company had to let people go. But the world hasn’t ended. What matters here is how you manage to continue being a go-getter. You need to make sure that you're still in the best position to attract your next employer quickly and efficiently.
This means that your current profile aligns well with the ever-changing demands of the competitive environment. Working on your personal brand will help ensure that you're on the right track.
5. You're Joining the Workforce After a Gap
Maybe you spent a few years as a stay-at-home mom, or you want to start with a new passion as a retired, experienced professional. Whatever it is, if you are re-entering the workforce after a lengthy gap, here’s the truth: You're not alone.
But the hard reality is that only the "most capable" candidate will actually get that job. But again, you've got what it takes! So get a hold of your personal brand and shape it as today’s employers want to see you.
If done the right way, chances are that you’ll still shine in the workplace, even after years of being away from your industry!
6. You've Been Promoted
As a first-timer, it can be hard to lead and motivate your team, especially when you've never considered yourself as a leader before. Unintentionally, you end up stressing over how your team members perceive you.
Though various first-time leaders use trial-and-error to identify what works and what doesn’t, personal branding provides a better way to create a good perception of yourself in the minds of your team members. After all, the first impression always counts!
7. You Want to Be an Entrepreneur
Your company always encourages new ideas, and this is why you have come up with a great one. But something keeps you from speaking up about your innovation. Is that a lack of confidence, or maybe the fear of rejection? No matter the case, personal branding is going to help you.
8. You Want to Attract Clients
As a business owner, you know how important it is to invest your time and money in effective branding. But many of us forget that personal branding is what it takes to bring in a larger number of clients. Think of personal branding as your entrepreneurial arsenal, and see your clients grow.
9. You Have to Fuel Your Startup
You have plans to turn your startup into a billion-dollar company. But if you can't convince investors of the potential in your business, that's going to be a far-off dream. Since it is you who is going to persuade them, reshaping the way you communicate to them matters. This is where you need to build your own personal brand.
In short, branding yourself is key to your professional life.
Tips For Creating Your Personal Brand
So, whether you are a promising employee or a budding entrepreneur, here are my favorite tips to help you build and enhance your personal brand:
Never Fake It to Make It!
It's important to present the best side of yourself. But some people can take that too far, and they wind up becoming someone else online than they actually are. It's important that your social media brand reflects who YOU are.
Don't forget your personal interests. Write in your own voice. Post media (photos, graphics, etc.) that is accurate. And while you can be proud of your accomplishments, take care not to dip into arrogance. And just like I tell business brands, be consistent!
It’s good to be a humble listener. But in the corporate world, it’s even better to speak up because it enables you to present your unique brand. Of course, there are limitations. So here’s a quick tip: Don't talk just to talk. But speak regularly.
And when you do speak, you should know exactly what you're talking about! If you don’t know about an important subject that's going to come up, prepare in advance.
Do your research. Have your educated opinion ready. This not only shows that you're confident about speaking, but it proves that you know what you're talking about – this is something that can help you stand out from your competitors.
Keep Working on Your Online Presence
You have a LinkedIn account, but that’s just not enough. It’s crucial to know how you appear online in front of your target audience (be it employers, clients, or even colleagues, who could be a referral).
So, update your professional info on LinkedIn. Does it sell you well? Did you use a high-quality photo that looks professional? Are you regularly interacting with your LinkedIn connections, and sharing your content with them?
Today, LinkedIn has become a great publishing platform for professionals. In fact, over 1 million users have published their posts on this powerful social platform.
Write an engaging article on something that is related to your own area of expertise, and state your opinions on the subject. This way, you're showcasing your thought leadership. Publish it on LinkedIn Publisher, and see what happens: It's highly possible that you’ll see a noticeable spike in your LinkedIn profile views.
Doing this can increase the chances of your potential employer viewing your LinkedIn profile. And recruiters could consider you for a job for which your credentials are a good fit.
Remember This: Going Ahead Requires Industry Expertise and Higher Knowledge Than Your Colleagues
Regardless of the level of knowledge you have about your area of expertise or industry, remember that things change and you need to stay updated with your industry’s latest trends and changes.
Of course, it'll take time to upgrade your knowledge to improve your personal brand. So, if you want to maintain that competitive edge of your personal brand, my advice is to keep up with reading blogs, articles, books, and trade journals.
The Bottom Line
With so much competition by your side, the cliché “The only thing that’s constant is change” fits well: Never stop working on your personal brand.
Whether you are struggling to land a new job or are a striving entrepreneur with a thirst for doubling your clients, be unstoppable and stay competitive with a killer personal brand.