The Value of Personal Branding
Recently graduated? Get a head start on your personal brand today.
The finish line is finally in sight, all that time and dedication is about to pay off, and your graduation is fast approaching. But the end of post-secondary education can be the beginning of a whole new set of fears for graduates. Not being able to land a job right away or having uncertainty with where your degree can take you can be a scary thing—but only if you are ill-prepared to face those challenges.
The first step to getting anywhere near breaking into the job market is to have a personal brand. Establishing a personal brand that is distinct and unique to you can help differentiate yourself from other hopeful job-seekers. It serves as a personal identifier and showcases your core values and traits. This can be very useful for setting you apart from other candidates.
Building a strong, coherent, and consistent personal brand on a variety of platforms is no easy feat—but it can help you land the job you want. By crafting your personal brand, you will open doors for yourself with the credible and reputable identity you have built. Your personal brand as a new graduate will create not only your professional identity but consequently increase your self-confidence and recognition as you step out into the job market and establish yourself in your field.
Understanding the Job Market
To be able to create a successful personal brand, you must first understand the job market. Doing your research cannot be emphasized enough. As a new grad, you have to be capable of understanding what the job market requires of you. The success of your personal brand will depend on how well you execute your description of yourself while tying in what potential employers are looking for.
Understanding the branding of your potential employers can help you with your job search. Simply put, employer branding is the way a company promotes itself to target audiences, but it can also give you an idea of the market’s perception of that particular company or organization as an employer. Employer branding helps you understand a company’s reputation, workplace standards, and the way the company sells itself to past, present, and potential future employees.
Employer branding is heavily influenced by something called ‘Employee Value Proposition’, or EVP. EVP is a set of benefits that an employee receives in exchange for their work, skills, and overall value that they contribute to the company. EVP is used in company branding as a way to attract desirable employees, and can also help inform your job search and guide your steps towards finding a company that suits your career needs.
Building a Personal Brand
There are two sides to personal branding: how your brand is presented, and how potential employers will react to your specific branding. These two can be tricky to disentangle as they are as intertwined as they are separate. Differentiating between the two is no easy task, but we’re here to help you build the best personal brand for you and your career goals.
Your personal brand should start with you, so how you present yourself is of utmost importance. Below are six ways you can develop your professional identity:
- Maintain authenticity – Be genuine in your description of your core values, what you stand for, and what’s important to your and your career path.
- Prepare an elevator pitch – Practise saying your name and your handshake, and prepare a short pitch of your past achievements and future goals.
- Be confident – You never want to be too arrogant, but you also don’t want to be lacking in confidence. Learn how to be confident in who you are and what you do, and everything will balance out.
- Have your tools handy – You must be prepared for anything an employer might ask of you, so make sure to have a professionally-tailored resume and cover letter available. It’s also important that your email address, voicemail, and social media profiles are all professional so you can attract potential employers.
- Carry a business card – It doesn’t hurt to have a few of these in your wallet at all times. You never know when networking will happen, so having your name and face readily available to remember can be very beneficial.
- Dress for success – Often employers will see your exterior appearance as a reflection of who you are. Make sure your appearance matches the image you are trying to sell.
Tips for Crafting Your Personal Brand
So now that you’re feeling confident enough to make your career debut, it’s time to tailor your personal brand. Defining the essence of who you are and what you value is the first step, but the execution of your brand involves a multifaceted approach to your personal identity and career goals.
Sound daunting? It can be, but we have some helpful tips to get you started on your personal branding journey and on your way to your dream career.
- Define your audience – Who is it you are trying to reach? The sooner you figure that out, the easier it will be to craft your story.
- Research the industry – Find out who the leaders in your desired industry are and see what they are after.
- Informational interviews – Consider reaching out to professionals and asking for informal conversations (also known as coffee chats). These interviews will help you form essential connections and will give you insights into the industry.
- Learn to love networking – It’s vital to network regularly and grow your professional circle by connecting with peers and industry professionals.
- Ask for recommendations – One of the easiest ways to endorse your personal brand is to have former colleagues and managers do it for you!
- Grow your online presence – Even if you’re not on the job hunt, make sure your online presence is engaging to those who might see it. Relevant content that is original and engaging will help set you apart and may even draw the attention of potential employers.
Believe You’re an Asset
Finding a company that is compatible with your professional identity can be difficult, but branding can help you determine what employers are right for your career path. Always remember that the best thing you have to offer is yourself—and no one is better at that than you.
A few key tips to bear in mind during your personal branding journey:
- Fake it ‘till you make it – While confidence is crucial, it also grows with time. Swallowing your nerves, maintaining composure, and putting yourself out there are all steps you can take to appear confident even when you aren’t feeling it.
- Vouch for yourself and your image – This is something you’re already an expert in! Be practiced in communicating who you are and what is important to you.
- Do your research – Read articles for career tips, research potential employers, and get to know brands via their social media channels. Your research can help you create an impeccable personal brand that will leave a lasting impression.
- Plan ahead – While there may be no need for spreadsheets or intricate planning, your personal brand should still be carefully planned out. Make sure your approach to your brand is deliberate, intentional, and purposeful.
It is key to remember that your personal brand will be continuously evolving as you and your career grow. Imagine Better Solutions can help you at any stage of your career, whether you are a recent Vancouver graduate just starting out, or are someone wishing to change to an entirely different field. If you’re still not sure how to take your personal brand (and career) to the next level, get in touch; our experts are on hand to answer your questions and to coach you through any issues.