Personal Branding 101

The Purpose of Personal Branding 

You can’t go anywhere without seeing the same clickbait: “How to write a standout resume!”, “Top 5 questions all hiring managers ask!”,  “3 steps to nailing an interview!” The list goes on and on. Here’s the reality: advice and ‘easy tricks and tips’ can only take you so far when transitioning into a new role or switching organizations. 

If you find yourself struggling with interviews or your job search in general, it’s important to stop and consider two often overlooked pieces of the job search puzzle: personal branding and good storytelling. 

Wondering what we mean?

A personal brand is just a fancy term for your uniqueness — it’s the special sauce that makes you, you. Just as a company or school has a mission statement and values, you have to figure out who you are, what’s important to you, and where you see yourself going. A personal brand is a lifelong project that should be constantly changing and evolving. To define your personal brand, you have to acknowledge both your strengths and your weaknesses. 

In addition to spending some time getting to know yourself, you also need to know how to effectively and efficiently present your personal brand in a way that engages potential employers. It all boils down to authenticity, confidence, and communication. While there are no hard-set rules for creating and developing a personal brand, we’ve put together a few general guidelines to get you started — especially if this is your first experience with personal branding.  

It all boils down to authenticity, confidence, and communication.

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1. Know your passions – Your passions and interests are what energize you, motivate you, and make you stand out to others. When you clearly define what moves you, you can seek out ways to combine your passions with what you do throughout your career. Identifying the things that make you want to get out of bed in the morning is an important part of fine-tuning your personal brand. 

2. Listen – and learn – about the other person (whether they’re an interviewer, someone you’re networking with, or a friend) Active listening is an overlooked but extremely important pillar of storytelling. It’s well known that everyone loves to talk about themselves and their achievements. However, it’s much harder to listen to others and truly seek to understand them. Asking questions that support your active listening is a great way to build rapport, find common ground, and even build a deeper connection to the people you’re communicating with. 

3. Differentiating personal branding – is about standing out and being yourself. Make sure what you have to offer is different from what other people bring to the table. Figure out what makes you, you and run with it. Can you speak three languages? Know how to teach yoga? Have lived abroad before? Whatever it might be, understand and live your differentiation so you can attract the attention of those who are making a decision about you. 

All in all,  telling an engaging and coherent story of yourself and your goals will dramatically increase your chances of getting an interview and, ultimately, an offer. Being able to positively present your personal brand will allow you to stand out not only in interviews but also in resumes and on social media. Begin to think strategically about how you wish to be perceived, develop a compelling story that explains your evolution, and then spread that message.

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Author: M. Bridges