“All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” – Tom Peters
Do you feel like prospective employers see you the way you wish they did? If not, you may wonder how to build a stronger personal brand and market your value as a potential employee. I can relate. In 2012, I was devastated to be laid off from a job that I loved. I knew I had a lot to offer other companies, but I had no idea how to show them what a great employee I was, yet alone convince them to view me as the obvious choice for their openings. I didn’t even have a resume! It took time, but once I understood who I was and how I wanted to be viewed, the pieces fell into place. Here’s how I made those discoveries.
1. I Spent Time in Personal Reflection
Losing a job under any circumstances is stressful and can easily cause you to doubt yourself. But instead of going south in your personal reflection, I encourage you to use your introspection the way I did: remembering and reconnecting with the things that make you happiest in life, that you’re passionate about, that motivate you, and that you want to accomplish personally and professionally. Perhaps you’ve already been on course with where you want to go, and this job loss is a temporary setback. Or maybe you’ve found yourself in a career or industry that you’ve lost interest in and now is a good time to pivot toward something better aligned with what’s important to you at this point in your life. Think about where you want to be and what you want to be known for.
2. I Learned to Articulate My Strengths and Weaknesses
Malcolm Forbes was right when he said, “Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”
All of us can be blind sometimes to our own best traits and biggest foibles. One way I’ve found to gain deeper insight into my strengths and weaknesses (and have the words to explain them to others) is by taking personality tests like this free one based on Meyers Briggs. You may also find it helpful to ask people whom you trust what they see as your strengths and weaknesses.
3. I Created a Personal Brand Statement
A personal brand statement is a summary of how you define yourself and your personal mission. For example, mine today is: “I’m a recruiting expert who connects top talent with jobs they love in the vacation industry.”
For more examples and step-by-step instructions on creating your own statement, I recommend checking out this article from BrandYourself.
4. I Used My Resume to Tell a Story
Once I thought through who I was and how I wanted to be viewed, I was ready to create a digital copy of myself in the form of a resume. Many people view resume creation as a daunting task, but I think it’s an exciting opportunity to share the story of how far you’ve come. When crafting your resume, I recommend using the bullet points under each listed job experience to explain how your accomplishments made a positive impact for the customer or the company.
Since aesthetics can also help tell the story of who you are, it’s important to ensure that the spacing, fonts, and color selection align to make a professional appearance. One of my favorite websites to utilize for creating a sharp resume is Enhance CV Resume Builder. In addition to helping you style your resume with ease, this website analyzes the information you enter to help you maximize your strengths during the application process.
5. I Promoted My Brand Online
For me, social media invokes conflicting feelings of excitement and anxiety. It’s exciting to see what everyone is up to and share the side of me living my best life. The anxiety ensues when I’m not sure how to properly use a platform or when I feel nervous about what the response will be to something that I post. In talking with friends, it seems these feelings are pretty common, so let’s run through a crash course of how to wisely promote your brand online.
As a recruiter, when I attempt to find a candidate on LinkedIn and they don’t have an account, it’s a disappointment. Almost every hiring professional has a LinkedIn account and knows how to find yours, so this is the single most important online platform to make a good impression. If you don’t have one already, here are the key points on Creating a Great LinkedIn Profile. If you do have an account and are looking for ways to take it to the next level, follow these Steps to a Better LinkedIn Profile.
Once you’re profile is up and running, the next step is creating content. A good mix should be 20 percent about you and 80 percent about others. Your 20 percent can be sharing an accomplishment you’re proud of, like a short story about helping a customer achieve their goal or a picture of a new certification you worked hard to earn. The other 80 percent should be about recognizing and affirming others or sharing helpful information, like industry news, blog posts, or resources.
Although Facebook was designed for connecting with friends and family, it’s not uncommon for recruiters to look up candidates to learn more about them before the interview process. You can make a positive impression by selecting a professional looking headshot for your profile image and posting regularly about career-related topics you’re passionate about, projects you’re proud of, or coworkers you appreciate. If you’ve had a Facebook account for a long time, it’s also a good idea to audit your past content and delete photos or posts that don’t align with your current brand statement. When you’re done updating everything, follow these instructions to see what others see when they click on your profile and change your privacy settings if there is some content that you would prefer to only share with family and friends.
The best way to use Twitter to promote your personal brand is to engage in conversations with people around topics related to your area of expertise. Think of it is a place where you can help others by exchanging relevant industry news or sharing ideas and knowledge based on your experiences. Hashtags (#), often considered the hallmark feature of Twitter, can be intimidating at first, but they’re actually just a way to make keywords searchable. Use them to find conversations about topics you’re interested in and add your voice to the discussion.
Overwhelmed? Take a deep breath and remember that you don’t have to do all of these things all at once. When I lost my job, these exercises helped me build a stronger personal brand and better demonstrate my value to prospective employers. It takes time, but I hope that they will also help you recognize and be proud of all you’ve accomplished, so that you can confidently portray that to others.