When you think about a strong brand, there is typically a single idea, image, or logo which comes to mind. Brand strategists constantly think about how to effectively advertise a brand’s product or service to the market and create value. Similarly, it is just as important to craft a strong personal brand that best communicates your values and skillset to others, especially during a job search. It is never too late to create your brand, so here are the three areas to focus on and questions to ask yourself when getting started.
Identify Your Unique Selling Points
In a competitive job market, it is important to differentiate yourself from the pool of applicants vying for the same position. Creating a clear vision of your brand allows recruiters and hiring managers to easily identify the potential value you may add to the firm. These are the important questions to ask yourself:
- What differentiating value do I have to offer (technical or soft skills)?
- What have I accomplished so far and how have those experiences shaped me?
- What am I passionate about? What are my interests?
- What are my strengths and weaknesses?
Once you determine the skills and interests you want to highlight, it helps to formulate an “elevator pitch” type of statement that expresses your value in a concise and coherent manner. This statement is beneficial to have during the interview, especially when the recruiter or hiring manager asks the nerve-wracking “Tell me about yourself” question.
Manage Your Online Presence
According to a 2016 CareerBuilder survey, 60% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates. Hiring managers are not purposefully digging through Facebook and Twitter to find dirt, but there may be information on a profile which could convince them not to hire a candidate. That’s why it is vital to post and share professional and career-related content that presents your interests and identity in a positive light. Rosemary Haefner, Chief HR Officer of CareerBuilder, stated that “tools such as Facebook and Twitter enables employers to get a glimpse of who candidates are outside the confines of a resume or cover letter.” Don’t let inappropriate photos, comments and content ruin your chances of being hired.
In order to get your online presence in check, ask yourself these questions:
- Is my LinkedIn profile fully filled out and does it highlight my accomplishments?
- Does my Facebook, Twitter, or other online profiles display me in a professional way?
- Is there anything I need to remove from my social media profiles or online presence?
- Are there any other online profiles I should create to further develop my brand?
Social media usage is a part of everyday life, so it is crucial for your online presence to mirror the same behavior you present when meeting someone face-to-face.
Remain True to Yourself
In the same way consumers value transparency from a brand, recruiters and hiring managers also want you to be honest and open as well. It is in your and the employer’s best interest to maintain authenticity, since the hiring manager will feel deceived for hiring you based on false pretenses. For example, if you say you are passionate about community service, but you have not done anything to support that claim, it seems like you exaggerated the truth and tried to tailor interests based on what you think the recruiter wants to hear.
To ensure that your unique selling point is true and consistent with actual skills and interests, ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I truly passionate and interested in what I talk about?
- Are my words consistent with my actions?
- Am I actually proficient in the skills I list on my resume?
- Does this job or company culture align with my values and interests?
During an interview, recruiters and hiring managers recognize when you are not being genuine. Make the job search and interview process easier for yourself and recognize skills you are confident in and topics you are actually excited talking about.
Crafting a personal brand is an ongoing process and it takes time to perfect. Even if your skills and interests change as time goes on, these questions will help you to start shaping your brand now. As long as you continuously make efforts to improve, your brand only gets stronger as you narrow down the values and passions you want to communicate.
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