I sometimes ask students “What’s your personal brand?”. I get a variety of answers including:
“I’m on Linkedin and Instagram”,
“I’m really not confident in talking to groups of people”,
“I wear glow in the dark socks?”
What’s the truth?
There is a certain element of truth in all of these (even the glow in the dark socks, which I’ll come onto later) but if you want to stand out from the crowd or you’re asked in an interview what makes you unique from all the other candidates out there – you’ve got to have your story sussed.
This is where personal branding comes in.
So what does it mean?
Personal branding is the process of marketing yourself and your chosen field of work. It’s how you present yourself online and offline and includes everything from how you dress for interview to your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles.
Before you reach for your hashtags you need to:
1. Know Yourself
This is the hardest bit and it does require some soul searching and time but is essential to know what you want your brand to portray.
Think about your values, your strengths, what motivates you and the style of work you prefer. It’s also key to think about what makes you unique.
Values are your personal compass and give direction to your choices. Are you after money and fame or community and collaboration? Are you more of a Wolf of Wall Street or The Greatest Showman character? What sort of work environment do you think you’ll thrive in? If you can crack this one, you are half way there already.
Ask your friends and family what your strengths are – you’ll be surprised what strengths you’re unaware you have.
Find your quirk – what’s unique about you? Those glow in the dark socks I mentioned earlier were worn by a candidate I interviewed for an Operations Manager role. It later transpired that that this was a conscious decision on his part as a way of the panel remembering him. It worked.
2. Be aware of your current branding
Go on, Google yourself and see what’s out there. Does it reflect what you want the professional public to see? If not, change it. In one survey, it was revealed that 47% of employers check social networking sites to screen prospective employees immediately after receiving their job application.
Before you leave for the summer check your privacy settings, otherwise you could have potential employers knowing what you’ve been up to. Not something you want when a further survey suggested 57% of respondents changed their opinion of someone based on content they saw about them online.
3. Be confident promoting yourself
Finally, now you know what you want your brand to be, you need to be confident in promoting it. So , to all you of you who constantly doubt yourself and may not have the loudest voice in the group: value yourself and the skills you have. Remember you guys are digital natives, you naturally know how to connect and build communities and can spot a phoney a mile off and that’s what businesses need.
So just go out and be the very best wonderful you.
Feeling inspired? Check out Careerhub+ for workshops on Personal Branding.
Aideen Sadler is the Faculty Employability Officer at the Southend Campus.