How to build a personal brand to improve your job search

The Prepped Team

July 23, 2020

4 minutes

Job Search

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Who do you think has a strong personal brand? It’s a great question posed by our Marketing Manager, Marleigh Cheaney, in our webinar: Building your personal brand for your job search. We’re sure you can name at least a few people who you follow that stand out. Maybe they’re celebrities; maybe they’re more niche individuals who are doing an amazing job communicating their message. Regardless of who you choose, there’s something that these people did to grab hold of your attention—something about their branding that connected with you in a deep and meaningful way. Have you ever wondered how that connection was created? What did that celebrity or influencer do to get you to engage? In this webinar recap, we’ll discuss personal branding, why it’s important and some strong examples of personal branding.

What is personal branding?

“The best way to describe it is that it’s a representation of who you are,” Cheaney says. “It’s a conscious, intentional effort to create a perception of yourself.” The word intentional is key here. If you’re doing anything publicly—posting on social, profile on LinkedIn, etc.—you’re letting people into who you are. People are making assumptions about your public content, so if you’re not making an effort to control what you display, it unintentionally reflects on an aspect of your character. Employers take notice of that. They aren’t only buying into your skills; they’re buying into who you are as a person. You need to make sure you control that message as best you can through thoughtful communication.

Why is a personal brand important?

Pretty much any industry you’re looking to get into will be competitive. Taking time to carefully craft your personal brand helps you stand out from the crowd. Cheaney says that “A personal brand helps add uniqueness to your image and actually helps with networking, too.” The more people take notice of your profile on platforms such as LinkedIn, the better chance you have of engaging in meaningful conversations that can potentially lead to job opportunities. Cheaney compares your personal brand to a storefront, which is a great analogy. When you walk by a store you’ve never been in before, or even if you’re browsing online looking through different websites, there has to be something to get you to stop walking or browsing. That’s where branding comes into play, and if you do it right, you get people to take notice and give you a chance.

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What are the components of a personal brand?

Cheaney identifies three main components of a personal brand:

1. Leverage your skills and your passion to promote yourself

You need to be deeply connected to the image you’re portraying in your personal brand. It doesn’t make sense to try to be something you’re not. You have skills that you’ve built and things that you’re naturally passionate about. Leverage those skills and that passion and show who you are and what you’re capable of. Learn more about what skills employers are looking for.

2. Be unique

Cheaney reminds us that “You’re unlike anyone else, and your personal brand should reflect that.” This is so important. It’s OK to be inspired by other people or brands, but don’t spend your time trying to replicate who those people are. No one in the world has the combination of skill, personality, creativity and motivation that you do. Accept who you are and express your uniqueness to the world.

3. Be clear and consistent

This is a component that a lot of people talk about but not very many people do well. Being consistent is challenging. It takes a level of focus and attention to detail that not everyone is capable of. But you have to consider your audience. Consistency simply means that people can depend on you and the messages you put out. They know your tone, understand your core values and aren’t confused by any conflicting communication. Those traits are invaluable in the eyes of an employer.

3 examples of a strong personal brand

Now that we’ve covered what a personal brand is, why it’s important and its main elements, let’s look at a few examples of real-life personal brands that get it right.

1. Brené BrownProfessor | Researcher | Storyteller

Why does she have a strong personal brand?

Brené Brown uses her skills as a researcher and a unique style of storytelling to help millions of people solve problems. She is able to present her findings in a clear and concise way that helps make difficult topics resonate with her audience.

2. Lolly DaskalEntrepreneur | Motivational Speaker | Thought Leader in Business and Entrepreneurship

Why does she have a strong personal brand?

Lolly Daskal uses her entrepreneurial skills and passion for public speaking to build her personal brand. She’s known to build businesses and has become a great teacher by showing others to do the same. Her messaging of power, leadership and peak performance is consistent, whether in one of her books or across her social media platforms.

3. Oprah WinfreyMedia Executive | Philanthropist

Why does she have a strong personal brand?

Oprah uses her public speaking ability to help her audience tackle difficult issues or bring attention to people and causes that deserve it. Oprah is very authentic and has consistently been present in the media for decades. She’s been able to pivot from traditional to social media, but her social change message and empowerment have remained the same.

Your personal brand checklist

It’s time to make sure your personal brand is on point. Here’s everything you need:

  • Get to know yourself, in particular, your skills, experience, values and passions. Hint, Prepped's career learning exercises can help with this!
  • Find your voice and your tone. You have something to say, how will you say it?
  • Update all your job search materials to reflect your personal brand. That includes your resume, cover letters, elevator pitch and public profiles.
  • Ensure your social platforms reflect your personal brand. Remember, consistency is key.
  • Refine and update as needed. Figuring out your personal brand takes time, so don’t be afraid to make adjustments as you move along.

Prepped gives you the job search tips you need to get noticed  

Whether searching for a job or interviewing, who you are is important. By focusing on building your personal brand, you help employers take notice of your skills, experience and other assets that make you unique. When you sign-up for Prepped, you get the job search skills you need, including templates to help build your brand that will land you that dream job.  Learn more about kick starting your career search with Prepped