Building your personal brand

Why brand anything?

We all understand that each business in the world has a brand. A logo, certain colours, slogans or taglines, fonts, maybe photography styles, writing styles, and so on.

Businesses need a consistent and appealing identity. They appear professional and attractive to people as a result.

Great brands have a presence. A weight. They make people feel a certain way:

  • Reassured: Yale
  • Excited – Ferrari
  • Comforted – Tetley
  • Professional – Apple
  • Full of dread about the afternoon ahead – Ikea

That last one might just be me. But that one little Swedish word does evoke very strong emotions. We instantly visualise ‘Ikea’ in our minds and everything it means to us. And that’s powerful branding.

What is a personal brand

Whether we like it or not, we each have a ‘personal brand’ that will impact how people feel about us. And when trying to get recruited for a new position, how people feel about us becomes very important.

“Personal branding is about managing your name — even if you don’t own a business — in a world of misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records.” – Tim Ferriss

A personal brand is what you stand for. What your passions are. The unique combination of skills, experiences, and thinking that make you who you are (and who they’ll want to hire).

It’s very important to take control of your personal brand and tell your story. Don’t risk the chance of people making false assumptions or simply never discovering your positive traits and skills. When you’re applying for a new role, it’s time to show off.

In a practical sense, a personal brand takes many forms in the context of recruitment:

  • The contents of your CV and the way it’s written
  • The contents of your LinkedIn profile and how it’s written
  • How you talk on the phone to potential employees
  • How you talk in the interview
  • The way you write the follow-up email about a job
  • What’s in your email signature (if anything)
  • Your social media profile photos
  • Articles you have written as part of personal or business blogs
  • The way you dress at work
  • What you talk about the most (your passions)

You can see from the first two examples above (the CV and LinkedIn profile) that inconsistencies could be quite damaging. Major differences in employment history there will raise questions.

It’s rare to find examples of people who do actively tailor and manage their personal brand. So it’s something we strongly encourage our candidates to do so they get an advantage in their career. We work with them to present the best version of themselves online, in person, and in documents like CVs and letters.

As a word of warning, it’s important to remember that a personal brand isn’t about presenting a false, ‘idealised’ version of you. In the same way that a company can’t disguise its faults with a new logo, people are never fooled for long by false claims or exaggerations.

Branding yourself when applying for a new role is about removing things that don’t represent who you are as a professional. Instead, you need to enhance the positive aspects of your personality, skills, and ambition.

How a personal brand can help you secure a new job

Employers will potentially search Google for your name. In fact, people Google you at every stage of your career. What will they find? Does it really represent who you are? Are the skills you have today visible to those potential employers?

An employer will almost certainly look through LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other online profiles.

This helps them to build a picture of your personality – something that rarely comes through in a CV and is often somewhat stifled in an interview due to the understandable pressure.

They want to know if you’re a ‘good fit’ with the team and the business. Your personal brand will give some clues away about that.

They will also be comparing you to other candidates. Your personal brand is part of what differentiates you from the competition.

The benefits of spending time on your personal brand

Reassurance

There’s a certain level of reassurance that comes from having checked all the details of your employment history. Check the age of your CV and profile photos. Update your bio as your career progresses (remove references to being a mid-level manager after a promotion, for example)

Prevent social media mishaps

Take charge of how you appear on social media, blogs, and maybe your own website. Remove any posts from the past that you may come to regret in the future (complaints about previous jobs or companies, for example)

Show them your best side

By getting professional photos taken and using them across your CV, LinkedIn profile, professional blogs, etc, you can look the part before they’ve even met you for an interview

Market yourself

Getting hired is a marketing job; you offer things that will appeal to potential employers. You need to present these in a clear and attractive way, and use the right platform to do it. Have we mentioned you should be consistent?

How to develop your personal brand

There are some specific steps you can take to assess your existing personal brand and make some changes to enhance it.

You need to have an almost out-of-body experience to understand how other people see you in their mind. In this case, you’re trying to get into the mind of a recruiter.

Here are just some of the steps involved in assessing and developing your personal brand:

  • Perform an audit: make an honest assessment of your current CV, search for your own name, look at your social media profiles through fresh ‘recruiter’ eyes
  • Update basic details, employment history, and other common information found in documents and online so they are simple, clear, and consistent
  • Remove anything that wouldn’t be suitable for the workplace or potentially have negative consequences (Facebook can be a good place to start as it’s quite easy to forget a throwaway comment made years ago that would be very cringeworthy if brought to light today)
  • Try to write things in the same style – typically for recruitment this is slightly more formal but simple and clear (‘plain English’). Avoid industry jargon, buzzwords, and
  • acronyms. Avoid swearing, slang, emojis – which is mostly common sense anyway

  • Use words that accurately describe you and aren’t simply what you think people want to hear – think about what makes you different (‘outgoing, positive, energetic’, for example)
  • Work on your opening ‘elevator pitch’. You’ll start most interviews this way when you get asked, “Tell us a little about yourself”
  • Think about where potential employers and hiring HR professionals will be. What platforms will they use – LinkedIn? Twitter? Instagram? Create a presence there that helps you stand out.

Conclusion

Just like branding a business, branding yourself is hard work and needs managed over time. It’s a habit. Especially if you want to move fast through a complex career path.

Putting your best foot forward really does rely on a strong personal brand.

What next?

There is more to a personal brand than we can cover in one article. Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you notifications of new articles, or simply check back later for more.

If you have any questions or concerns about your personal brand as you think about progressing your career in procurement, please get in touch with us.