A. Get used to the idea and play by the rules – Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. I have a way that you can trick yourself so that you feel a bit better about it. You just need to pick your favourite product (it might be a car, a pair of shoes, the iPhone 6 or whatever else you are passionate about) and identify yourself with it. You feel a bit better now, right?
B. Play by the rules until you feel ready and confident enough to start your own business.
C. Avoid following the crowd. Play by your rules and start your own thing straight away.
In this blog post I will talk about the first two cases and I will cover case C on a future blog post.
Employers think of job seekers as products and if you want to land that corporate dream job you should do the same. When an employer screens job applicants, they check their pros and cons in the same way as a consumer checks the specs of a luxurious product for which they intend to spend a heck of a lot of money.
So yes, you need to consider yourself as a quality product and if you want to be a successful product (if you don’t like the wording just use the word job candidate), you need successful branding. Thus, you need to highlight, strengthen, and market your skills as well as your pros and brand yourself as the ‘perfect’ job candidate.
My goal through this blog post is to help you understand what personal branding is and how you can use it to build your online reputation.
# What is personal branding?
Think about your personal branding as the way you present yourself to others. Everyone has their own brand identity, but not everybody knows what it is or how to use it for finding a job. Your brand identity is all those qualities that make you different and unique. By building your personal brand identity and taking care of it, you control the way you are perceived by others and the market.
# How can personal branding help me as a job candidate?
Personal branding can be extremely useful to you as a job seeker as it helps you stand out from the crowd and make a memorable and positive impression.
What about my CV and cover letter? Are these part of my personal branding or not?
You got that right. Your CV, cover letter and the job interview are 3 core parts of your personal branding as a job candidate. Polishing your CV and cover letter is important for your personal brand. Yet, it’s just 1/5 of the job you need to do to brand yourself as the perfect job candidate.
Everybody has a CV and a cover letter but not everyone has a memorable online presence. A great way to be remembered and to stand out from the crowd is to be unique. Having a strong online presence will help you make you a memorable job candidate.
# Important factors of the job seeker’s Personal Branding
There are a lot of things you need to consider even before writing your CV and cover letter. Taking care of these things from the start will help you build a coherent, clear and effective branding. By using the “Socratic method” of questioning and discussion with yourself you can gather the most important information. This information will be the core of your personal branding as a job seeker and also as a 21st century digital boy/girl.
1. What are my skills? What is my unique selling point?
Think about your most important skills. Ask yourself:
- What am I really good at?
- What am I best at?
Through the second question you can find out your unique selling point – a special skill that makes you stand out among all job applicants.
Tip: A good technique to help you find your best skills is to think about how your family or friends think of you as an individual and how they describe your personality. If you don’t remember just ask them. If that doesn’t work and you still can’t think of any skills you can check out this list of skills to get inspired. You can also do this online assessment to test your skills and identify your strengths.
2. Which of my personal and professional experiences can be used to strengthen my personal brand?
You need to think about your career so far and write down all the experiences you have had which could be associated with your personal brand. If you don’t have any work experience try to find important events that can be linked to your professional path. The following questions will help you find what you need. Ask yourself:
- Do I have any professional experience at all? Could this be used for my personal brand?
- Do I have any volunteer experience*?
- Have I ever won an award? (I don’t mean the gold medal that you got at the age of 9 at a table tennis contest).
- Did I graduate from a prestigious university?
- Did I graduate with Honours?
- Do I have any published articles, conference presentations, or other work?
- Do I belong to any professional organizations/associations?
*Don’t underestimate your volunteering experience. Without a doubt, any volunteer experience can be a valuable addition to your work history and to your CV.
3. What are my values?
This is one of my favourite parts. If you want to live a happy and balanced life you need to pay attention to your values as they are the core of your being. Your core values are the operating principles that give meaning to your everyday life and your existence as a whole. If you have a job that is aligned with your values you will be super happy, efficient and successful. Follow the 2 steps below to identify your core values:
First step: You will need to identify the times you were:
- Most fulfilled and satisfied.
- Most proud.
Second step: You will need to:
- Determine the top values at that time, based on the above experiences of happiness, pride, and fulfillment.
- Prioritise your values according to their importance.
Tip: Check out this list of 400 core values to get inspired and pick the ones that most resonate with you.
Get in touch to discuss about how you can increase your online reputation and get a memorable personal brand to stand out from the crowd.
4. What are my passions?
Your passions are the things that you love doing the most with your time. We all have personal and professional passions. For some people their passions might be obvious. Others might struggle to identify them. So, if you are one of the latter you can ask yourself the following 5 questions:
- What do I love doing in my free time?
- What am I doing when I feel happiest?
- What are the topics that I can talk about endlessly?
- Which activities am I passionate about?
- What am I willing to try right now?
- What is my current reputation?
5. What are your benefits compared to other job seekers?
This may overlap a bit with your skills and your unique selling point. You need to think about something that you have a great reputation for. Think about the talents that differentiate you from others. Ask yourself:
- Is there something that I do better than anyone else?
- What skills do people notice mostly in me?
- Why would I hire myself?
Tip: After finding your number 1 talent, you need to find out how to emphasize the added value you will bring to the company due to this talent that you have.
6. Who do you want to reach?
Think about your ideal job. Ask yourself the following:
- Where can I find my dream job?
- Which are the companies I need to reach out to?
- Am I willing to relocate?
Tip: Have a look at current job vacancies regarding the exact role and find out what type of skills and experience they require. Then try to match your own skill sets, values, passions and experiences with the job requirements.
# Elevator Pitch
After having found the above answers to all the questions you will need to write down your elevator pitch. This will be an intro of 140-200 characters (spoken approx. 30 seconds) about yourself that you can use to introduce yourself whenever you meet a business contact. It summarises who you are, what you do and why you’d be a perfect candidate. Here is an example:
“Hi. I am John. I am a creative strategist and digital consultant with more than 7 years experience in project management and online marketing and I’m looking for an exciting, challenging career opportunity in a values- driven start up.”
If you want to find out more check out Forbes’ guide to writing the perfect elevator pitch.
Final Tip: Don’t try to be different. Just be yourself and differentiate yourself by highlighting your uniqueness.
The above answers will help clearly define who you are, what you want and how to get it. The answers will be a great guide to writing a strong CV and cover letter and building a successful personal brand. This whole process will also help you understand your potential as a job candidate. You will find out how to present yourself with greater confidence and clarity.
Now you can start building your online personal brand as a job seeker. There are many ways to brand yourself which we will cover on a later article.
Download the free personal branding questionnaire to build the core of your personal brand with ease.Get Your Free Personal Branding Questionnaire