In today’s highly competitive job market, it is not too farfetched to say that whichever job candidate fails to build a personal brand, will go unnoticed and perhaps get rejected. Yes, just like brands such as Apple, Nike or Hilton have a clear positioning in the market and stand out for their unique value proposition, so do successful candidates marketing themselves to a company.
Jeff Bezos, said it best; “Your brand is what people say about you when you leave the room”. This sentiment about company branding is no longer relevant just to an employer, but also to potential employees. Expressing who you are and what you can do in a unique and compelling way is the key to winning employers. Building a personal brand either via social media or in-person, requires several strategic steps that need to be followed.
However, many of today’s jobseekers are unaware of the following brand blunders that hinder their path to success. Steer clear of these personal branding errors because your personal brand is vital to attracting potential employers.
#1 You don’t have a sense of purpose
A powerful personal brand has a predefined meaning and purpose. The maxim “Act first, think later” has no place in the process of building a personal brand. First of all, define who you are, what skills, educational qualifications and professional experiences make you a discerning candidate and identify your unique selling point. Then proceed to determine what do you want to achieve and why it is important to you. Think of what you wish to achieve in your sector or market and how you want to be perceived by others. This self-discovery process will help you find the key attributes that form the core of your personal brand. Choose those attributes that best differentiate you and discern what makes you compelling. Start establishing your brand promise before building your brand promise.
#2 Your Brand is Fake
A personal brand that is not authentic is doomed to fail. Your brand needs to reflect your real self – your best self, so it is worth putting your personal stamp on everything you do. As Anne Morrow Lindbergh put it “The most exhausting thing you can be is inauthentic”. Your personal brand should reflect your idiosyncrasy and different facets of your personality that make you unique. Resist the temptation to overvalue your skills or what you can offer to the employer, as these seemingly minor shortcomings will be easily revealed. Just capitalise on your real strengths and weaknesses to send out a convincing message about the value you bring to the employer.
#3 You think personal branding is a solo activity
Although personal branding sounds like a solitary activity because it is “personal”, it is actually not. Building a personal brand involves being part of a community and actively interacting with and contributing to that community. Build your personal blog and discuss topics that surround your brand, share valuable content that is useful to your target audience and encourage them make it go viral . If LinkedIn is your greatest promotional weapon, let your personality shine, share your expertise with colleagues, peers and friends in a relevant group and make sure the digital version of your resume is outstanding. Leave meaningful comments on other people’s LinkedIn posts and convey your authority so that you become a highly credible source. Quora is another fairly new medium to share your expertise by answering questions. Follow key influencers in your preferred industry and keep updated on what is said about your brand and industry through Twitter, RSS, Google Alert etc.
#4 Your message lacks imagination
OK, listing facts and figures in a concise way is good, but it is not engaging. To create a memorable brand for yourself, you need to inspire the receiver. Dare to sell yourself differently. Storytelling is a great way to connect with your target audience. Just make sure your story motivates your target audience to be inspired and make them understand why you are the right fit for their various needs. Think of a simple statement or an incident from previous employment and make sure this brands you as a person who is irreplaceable to the employer.
#5 You ignore metrics
You could be spinning your wheels, but you won’t know until you measure. The first step involves setting up measurable goals for various personal branding activities, such as amount of recognition, awareness or influence you create. Whatever your goals are, make sure to monitor the results of your efforts and track your progress against your goals periodically. If something goes wrong, identify shortcomings and readjust your strategy. Simply checking your Klout score can be a create indicator of the effectiveness of your brand.
Personal branding is critical when it comes to marketing yourself to others. Taking a methodical approach to building your personal brand and using social media to reinforce it will fuel your success as a candidate.
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