The Art of Personal Branding

Coming into college I was one of the lucky ones. I knew exactly what I wanted to major in and what field I wanted to pursue. However, that was hardly the battle. Although I knew what I wanted to do, I truly struggled with how I was going to get there. I felt as if my childhood self came out and I had this big dream career that seemed suddenly so unattainable and distant.

Needless to say I hit a plateau. Yes, I was involved. Yes, I made decent grades. But when it came to who I was as a person and what made me, me, that is where I struggled. You hear the terrifying numbers and percentages of how many people apply to jobs and internships, and how many actually get it. It was then and there as I scanned application after application that I knew I had to stand out. I knew I was funny, innovative and charismatic, but how could I convey that to the people reading my application without meeting them?

It hit me as I was meeting with my professor. Branding is all around us, especially in the PR world. If we’re constantly working on building up brands, why shouldn’t we brand ourselves? After that realization, it all made sense. Personal branding is a necessity in today’s job market. It is so easy to find and apply to jobs and internships online. Through personal branding, employers can get a feel of your personality and even your work ethic through a simple job application online.

The first step with personal branding is to figure out what types of jobs or internships you want to apply for. Before you develop who you are, you have to find who you want to work for. The next step to go along with that is to dive into research. Talk to professors, look at blog posts, stalk LinkedIn and even look at where the companies are located. The more you research, the more you will know how to properly brand and market yourself to your dream company.

After your research, assess yourself. What do you bring to the table? The key is to be honest. Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses, but really think and be creative when it comes to that. Are you organized, team-oriented, a grammar whiz? Really try and set yourself apart, because saying you’re a “perfectionist” is anything but original. I for one can get around in Adobe suite, but by no means should I be writing that I am an expert in Adobe on my resume. The easiest way to convey who you are to an employer is to be honest about your skill set, because that is the first thing they will test.

You must think of yourself as a package. From your social media, to your resume, to your business cards and all the in between. Part of the reason personal branding can be difficult is because there needs to be a common thread linking all of these different platforms to you.

The first place to start with your tangible branding is your resume. Your resume is often the first impression an employer has of you. The time for dull Times New Roman, 12 point font is over. Color can be your friend, as well as fonts and a unique layout. This is not the time to go completely wild and send a vivid pink resume to a straight-laced agency, but as with anything, know your audience and use your judgment. At the end of the day you can’t go wrong with a clean, organized resume. However, a hint of color or a design element here and there could set you apart.

Next, LinkedIn can be a blessing and a curse. Just because you “have” a LinkedIn doesn’t mean you utilize it. If your profile is not updated and your picture is from last weekend  where you had to crop your friend out, you may want to reconsider. LinkedIn is such a hub for networking and job-hunting with professionals it can even replace a resume on an application. The key is to include everything you have done, because at the end of the day your profile on LinkedIn can include a lot more than your one page resume. Follow the companies you want to work for so you can stay up to date on their actions. Include a clever but informative description of your current goals, whether it is job searching or simply looking to network.

All in all, personal branding never stops. You yourself are a brand, from your social media to the way you dress for an interview. Knowing who you are and being able to effectively communicate that across multiple platforms confidently is what will make you stand out amongst your competitors.

This blog post was written by Kerry Marques. She is in the public relations department in Capstone Agency.