Whether you know it or not, you already have a personal brand. It’s what other people think of you, how they talk about you, your actions and the reputation you’ve already established over time. And honestly, you want people to talk about you – in the best light - because what’s worse is not crossing their minds at all. Especially when you’re launching a career or changing one.
You control the business of you. Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you already have a digital footprint. Enhancing your brand means taking control of how others consider you, guiding them to seeing your best you, electronically and in the real world. Making yourself irresistible so they can’t not hire you, give you a promotion, a raise.
Sell yourself. We’re not talking about selling yourself in a used-car-salesman kind of way nor are we encouraging you to make unsubstantiated claims about who you are and what you can do. In fact, the opposite is true. Authenticity is key. Know your strengths and play to them. If you think about it, a brand is a promise of an enhanced value or experience. You have to come through on your promise.
Know your value. What do you bring to the table that makes you stand out from other candidates? Define your value proposition and don’t be afraid to alter it as you add new skills and capabilities to your toolbox.
Everything you do while searching, applying and interviewing for positions is part of how you make yourself irresistible. Here are some tips that will help you define and enhance your brand and get people talking about you positively. In fact, they’ll help you be your best you - someone people, and especially potential employers, can’t get enough of.
1. manage your online presence
- Don’t post anything you’ll regret, be embarrassed about or that is contradictory to a company you’re hoping to land a job with. In other words, if you’re applying to a meatpacking firm, don’t post pictures of your most recent vegan sit-in. Pretty much all hiring managers check out applicants on LinkedIn. Many will also look you up on Facebook, if only to make sure you’re not into anything completely outlandish or that what you do in your spare time doesn’t collide with the persona you’ve created for them.
- Set up online alerts for your name on a regular basis. You’re managing the YOU Company – you want to be sure what’s being posted and said about you is in keeping with your brand. If someone else with the same name keeps coming up, consider differentiating yourself by adding a middle initial. Remember, it’s all about you.
- Consider creating a blog or twitter account. Comment on or link to articles that have value to your industry or to a potential employer.
2. manage YOU before the interview
- Keep your resume up updated. Include community service activities. If you’re not already involved in your community, get involved.
- Focus your resume. Customize it for each position you apply for. Make sure it’s accurate and a true reflection of your skills and accomplishments. Don’t just list your skills; include what you did with them and how they – and you – brought value. And be sure that you support and enhance the skills you list on a resume in the interview.
- Increase your qualifications through advanced training or education. Personal growth not only looks good on paper, it feels good.
- Build relationships and networks. Nothing says how great you are like positive word of mouth.
- Apply for jobs you’re qualified for. Make sure your job search is as effective as it can be. Target your applications so you’re not spending all your time broadcasting resumes and applications like seeds and wondering why no one’s responding.
- Research the company whose position you’re applying for. Learn as much as you can about the organization – it will differentiate you from candidates who don’t bother. It will also help you identify potential pain points that you can address and suggest solutions for in the interview.
3. manage the interview
- Be the candidate your resume says you are. Be yourself. If those two things are mutually exclusive, you have some work to do.
- Be mature. Show hiring managers that you can work under pressure without imploding by giving them examples of times you were challenged or stressed and how you handled it.
- Suggest solutions. Hiring managers have a problem to solve. Tell them why you’re the best person for the job. Show why you’re a good match for the position and a good company culture fit.
- Be likable and enthusiastic about the position. Employers want to hire people who want to work with them and whom they want to work with.
Your brand changes as you do. A personal brand is an organic thing – it changes and morphs as you do because it’s a reflection of you. As your career evolves, so too will your brand. It will help you make decisions and career choices because you’ll be thinking in a whole new way. The energy you spend tending your brand will come back to you in how it reflects your development. It’s a constant reminder of what you can – and should – expect from yourself.
Be irresistible. You’re the boss of you! That means that, while you can’t control what happens outside of your sphere of influence, you can control what you do and how you respond. And you most certainly can influence how others see you, by being and holding fast to your best version of yourself.