How cultivating your personal brand puts you ahead in the job hunt

Looking for a job involves so much more than finding an employer who’s prepared to hire you. It’s about aligning your values with those of an organisation, to see whether there’s a favourable fit. In order to do this, you’ll need to spend time crafting your own personal brand in the quest to make you attractive to any potential recruiter.

By Charles Edelstein, director at Executive Placements

Why is it important?

Some may shrink back from the thought of branding themselves. You’re a person, after all, not a bottle of shampoo. But that thinking may be disingenuous. Everything you say and do online is broadcasting to the world exactly who you are, and what you stand for. Being aware of your personal brand and how you can craft it to reflect your vision and core values is an empowering goal. When a recruiter scans the web to find out more about you, you want the message they receive to be consistent with the one they read when looking at your curriculum vitae (CV) and cover letter. Cultivating a positive personal brand will ultimately help you in your job search and has many benefits.

Craft your personal brand

A good starting point is to ask yourself a few questions. What motivates you? What do you hope to accomplish in your lifetime? What makes you special? What are you most passionate about?

The answers you give to these questions are clues to your vision, mission and core values. Spend some time drafting these in a few succinct sentences. That way, when a job interview comes along, you’ll be able to compare how your values measure up to your potential employer’s. If you’re into saving the planet, then a company that produces single-use plastic products may not be the best fit for you. On the other hand, a company that supports the circular economy is likely to be right up your alley.

Make sure your core statements are unique to you. Don’t just describe yourself as an engineer, software developer or product manager. Include what it is that you love doing or hope to specialise in, as well as your personal interests.

Generate content

Next, you’ll need to take a long, hard look at your social media accounts. Is the message you’re communicating aligned with your personal brand? You may need to adjust your settings to make a few of your accounts private. Even so, posting hundreds of pictures of your adorable kitten on Facebook isn’t really showing you off in the best light.

Try to make all your profile pictures the same across multiple platforms for the sake of consistency, and create posts that show you are professional, capable and good-natured.

This doesn’t, however, mean you should exclude personal details. In fact, your “life events” on Facebook could highlight that you’ve recently graduated or moved cities. In the same way, showing off your flair for interior decorating on Pinterest may impress recruiters and help them get to know you better.

Once you’ve updated your profile picture and bio on all social media platforms, it’s time to generate some content. Spend a little time each day on each platform. Don’t only post and retweet – converse with others and reply to comments. Hashtags are a great way to connect with like-minded individuals. Make sure that whatever you post showcases your qualifications and expertise, even if you’ve only just graduated.

If you have your own website, then it’s time to get blogging! Your splash page should tell prospective employers more about you at a glance, while your blogposts should show off your knowledge about an particular industry. It’s good to have opinions on certain topics; just make sure that you can justify your position and that it’s not too controversial – as this could stand in the way of being hired.

Focus your brand

Now that you’ve done your homework thoroughly, it’s time to start refining your CV and cover letter. Make sure you tweak these documents for each position you apply for, highlighting the relevant skills required for that particular job. Customisation and consistency are the watchwords here. A prospective employer, who has read your CV, should only find confirmation of your core values when they do a Google search to find out more about you.

If you ensure that your personal brand is aligned and focused, both in your job-application documents and the online content you generate, you’re well on your way to securing an interview and landing your dream job. Best of all, you won’t take it personally if things don’t work out because you’ll know that finding a good fit for both you and your employer is what job search success is all about.