Googling the concept of “personal brand” finds articles suggesting you audit your online presence, create a personal website or blog and in some cases, micro manage your entire life as an exercise in branding. For most graduates (with the exception of marketing professionals) this might be a task too many, on top of your college work! Rather than consider yourself as a personal marketing exercise, a useful way to think about personal brand is how you want to be perceived, or remembered by prospective employers. As a student or recent graduate, this means considering how you interact with potential employers, on your CV, online and in person.
Sometimes overlooked in the digital age, your CV is still how you introduce yourself formally to an employer and ultimately it is what influences their decision to shortlist you for interview. If your CV is poorly laid out, unclear or doesn’t convince the recruiter of your suitability, it’s likely that the rest of your personal brand won’t be seen.
To give yourself every chance of success, include your most recent exam results, relevant correctly dated work experience, academic awards or extra curricular achievements. Your CV should tell prospective employers what you have done, what you enjoy doing now, and show them your potential for the role you are applying for. If you can tailor your CV and put in a personal statement (objective) this is really powerful, and a way to introduce your personal brand.
A professional online presence is a powerful tool to create and enhance your personal brand. LinkedIn is created for this purpose, and is a go-to tool for any Talent Acquisition team in sourcing talent. It’s important to spend the time to fill out your profile fully and proof it ensuring it is up to date and completely error free. The various elements within your profile including the headline, summary, photo and experience should align to create the professional persona you want the world to see. Build your connections but be careful not to spam people who you’ve never met. It’s no harm to like or share content that you find relevant, or interesting, but don’t add those who might be interviewing you just yet. Remember to include a link to your LinkedIn profile on your CV too.
Your online presence isn’t restricted to LinkedIn. Prospective employers may search for you on Google, Facebook or Twitter to help build a better picture of who you are. Search for yourself online to see what they’d see. Draw a very clear line between the personal and the professional, and remember that embarrassing or inappropriate photos might not be the personal brand you want to show your potential employer.
On a positive note, you can use online channels to help establish yourself as an authority is your area of expertise. A website or professional blog will allow you to publish articles that showcase your knowledge. Social media can help you to promote and distribute these articles to your chosen audience, and hyperlinks on your CV can also direct a Talent Acquisition team to your content, promoting your personal brand.
The job interview is the first time your prospective employer will meet you face to face; it’s where your personal brand becomes a reality, where you have the opportunity to make yourself memorable to an employer. For entry level roles, it’s not uncommon for a graduate recruiter to see 10-20 people in the same day, and in a highly qualified marketplace. Your personal brand can give you the edge over the competition. Skills and cultural fit are very important, and when recruiting our talent of the future, organisations assess both.
This is undoubtedly advice you’ve heard before, but be on time, be professionally dressed and be prepared to talk through your CV, work experience, and extra curricular activities. Make sure to have researched the company, read the role profile in advance and taken on board any advice from your school/university careers service for interview preparation. In the interview itself, be positive, concise, and factual. There is no doubt that your answers will be assessed objectively, but your personal brand will also be hugely important. It’s crucial to be authentic, leaving a lasting positive impression of your personal brand on the interview panel, that won’t be undone by a quick google of your name!