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Personal Branding Done Right

Personal Branding Done Right

The ubiquitous phrase “personal branding” prompts many an eyeroll—as the Onion recently parodied (“‘I Am a Brand,’ Pathetic Man Says”). For some, the term evokes an overly self-promoting job-seeker: someone so intent on selling himself that he comes across as inauthentic (and probably uses the word “synergy” a few too many times).

But whatever you call it, the idea at the heart of personal branding is crucial, says Texas Exes Career Services director Jennifer Duncan. “Branding yourself just means giving the reader a clear image of exactly the kind of professional you are,” Duncan says. “And you want to communicate that same image across all of your platforms.”

So how can you sell yourself to potential employers while still keeping it real? Duncan explains:

1. Get an elevator pitch. You need to be able to explain in just a few sentences what specifically you’d bring to the company. Figure out where their needs and your skills overlap, and then state that clearly and succinctly.

2. Be consistent. Does your Twitter feed show off your skills? Are there any discrepancies between your LinkedIn page and your résumé? Employers should understand what you’re all about, whether they’re skimming your cover letter, your business card, or your Flickr page. Decide what you want to communicate and adjust your materials accordingly.

3. Beef up your cover letter. Duncan says cover letters should contain what she calls “wow” statements—numerical success stories that make an impact.  These come more naturally if you’re in sales: “Increased sales by 47 percent for 3 years, from $350,000 to $514,500 for regional division,” for example. But even if you don’t work with numbers as much, you can still find something to quantify. Duncan worked with an academic advisor to craft this statement: “Advised 270 students for 10 months, earning ‘Academic Advisor of the Year.'”

4. Know your Google footprint. A Microsoft survey found that 70 percent of employers have rejected potential hires based on information they found online. While you can’t control everything that comes up in a Google search, making your LinkedIn profile public means one of the first things employers will see is your professional page. Consider starting a professional website, too—tools like WordPress and make it easier than ever.

5. Be you. Branding yourself doesn’t have to mean being inauthentic or overly self-aggrandizing. There’s room for your personal quirks to be part of your professional brand. If you have a great sense of humor, for example, bring that to your online presence and your job interviews—within limits, of course. Scope out successful professionals in your industry to see how they do it, and when in doubt, trust your instincts.

Photo by laverrue on Flickr.


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