In a crowded jobs market, finding ways to make yourself stand out from the crowd can be quite a challenge. The internet is full of viral stories of jobseekers going to extremes to get noticed – whether it’s buying billboard space, sending job applications along with carefully chosen gifts, or creating complex personal marketing campaigns to hook a recruiting manager. These stories certainly grab the attention of the internet-browsing public, but for us mere mortals without the means (and imagination) to go to wacky extremes, there has to be a way to land a job without having to walk round wearing our resumes on our T-shirts.
If you’re looking for a way to stand out, while maintaining the professional air you need to grab your dream job, then nailing your personal brand could be the answer. A well thought-out personal brand makes you stand out from the crowd and ensures recruiting managers remember you for the right reasons. Get started with these simple questions to figure out your own personal brand, and make sure to integrate your personal brand into your resume, cover letter, and even LinkedIn profile to keep your message consistent.
So, what’s keeping you? You’re only three questions away from the perfect personal brand to promote the real you.
1. What Are My Personal Values?
Personal values are – like it says on the tin – personal. They’re the unique combination that drives you, and all your behaviors. Even your very perception of the world around you is shaped by the values that are at your core.
In personal branding, it’s important that you work to project an authentic you. As tempting as it might be to copy what has worked for others in terms of brand, or to try to create a brand that’s “right” for your desired role or sector, if you try to brand yourself in a way that clashes with your core values, it will most certainly fall flat. That’s why figuring out your values is the first place to start when you’re looking to cement your personal brand.
You’re looking for the emotions and traits that are most important to you. For some people, personal values are easily worked out. Perhaps you’re driven by loyalty to family and friends (and even your employer), or maybe you’re ambitious and competitive both in private and professional spheres. Think through the values that resonate with you. Create a long list through brainstorming, using online resources like those from Good&Co and asking others what they believe drives you.
You’re aiming to identify the three to five values that are most important to you, so make sure these are reflected in your personal brand once it’s worked out. To reduce the number from your long list, it can help to create a forced ranking of the words in front of you. Rank them from the most important to the least, and really push yourself to consider how important one is versus another. It can be very tempting to just declare it an impossible feat and stick with a dozen words, but this won’t get you the best result.
Narrow your list to a maximum of five, and then look to weave these values through your personal job hunt, both implicitly in how you present yourself and explicitly in how you describe who you are and what drives you. Feature your values in your career objective statement on your resume, for example, and choose these descriptors when you are aiming to show cultural fit in the roles you select.
2. What Is My Career Vision?
The next step to creating a coherent and compelling personal brand is to figure out how you describe your career vision. Start with your end goal in mind. If you were looking back at your career during your retirement party, what would you want to see? What would you want your colleagues and family to say about your attitude and approach to work?
When coming up with an end goal, you will ultimately need to run it through the filter of reality. You might like the idea of becoming a rock star or top model but perhaps lack the necessary attributes. Think about what it is that appeals to you in these career choices, and then how you can achieve the same from a different route. The aim is not to censor yourself at this early stage but to build on stretching, realistic foundations.
Using the end goal you have created, think about the different steps you would need to reach it. This will be a personal exercise based on the sector and sort of work you are interested in. You may start with looking at ways you can deliver the skill sets and experiences you would need to achieve your end goal. You might want to think about the type of roles and companies that would help you bag all the experience you need to get to your desired vision.
It helps to use all your senses when you’re creating this vision. When you think about the perfect career, what do you see, hear, feel, even smell, and taste? What would you want to be able to say about the work you do, and what would you like others to say about how you do it?
Check your thoughts against the values that you came up with earlier, your personal traits, and passions. How do they marry up?
The career vision you come up with should be visible in your cover letter and in the first lines of your resume and LinkedIn profile. Consider sharing your goals publicly if you’re brave enough.
3. What Is My Unique Personal Story?
If your values describe what is driving you, and your career vision explains where you’re headed, your unique personal story shows where you have been. It forms an intrinsic part of your personal brand when job hunting, because you will frequently have to talk through your experience and the choices you have made along your career journey so far.
To come up with your unique personal story, a good place to start is by “talking through” your resume. From the earliest choices you made, such as selecting school and university subjects, part-time jobs, and internships, you want to own and tell your story in a way that reflects your personal brand at every step. How were the choices you made in your early days driven by the values you now hold dear? What did each working experience – including part-time and intern positions – teach you about where your skills and passions lie? How did this drive your career vision?
Be prepared to tell this story, verbally and in your resume and application. Literally talk it through in front of the mirror or as you drive to work. You may feel daft doing it, but it will help cement your personal brand in mind and make sure you make a smooth impression when it matters.
See Also: A-Z Guide to Personal Branding
Your personal brand is reflected through every stage of your job search. From your LinkedIn and other social media profiles, your online footprint, your cover letter and resume, and how you present yourself at interviews and beyond, branding counts. Have a compelling and unique personal story to tell throughout the job search process to give yourself the best possible chance.
Don’t forget that authenticity is at the heart of any good personal brand. At the end of the day, you have to be yourself, because everyone else is taken.
What questions did you ask yourself to establish your own personal brand? Let us know in the comments section below!