If you read the words "your personal brand" and assume the phrase is about you, you'd be mistaken, according to Los Angeles-based marketing professional, author, keynote speaker and entrepreneur Cynthia Johnson.
"There is a misconception that personal branding is about you," said Johnson, co-founder of the personal brand development and management agency Ipseity Media. "It is about the way you make people feel, and the knowledge you deliver. Personal branding has nothing to do with what you say about yourself and everything to do with what people say about you."
Your personal brand is essentially your reputation, good or bad, throughout your career, added Mark Anthony Dyson, career consultant, podcaster and host of The Voice of Job Seekers Blog. "If you're intentional about building a personal brand online, you want to display your best," he said.
Why is projecting a personal brand so important while looking for a job?
Establishing a brand for yourself is increasingly important given today's level of workforce mobility, said Johnson.
Co-Founder, Ipseity Media
"In today's job market people have a difficult time moving up or pivoting within organizations the way that they used to," she explained. "Twenty years ago the thought was that you take a job and grow with the company. Today, we switch jobs every three years because we get trapped in the companies we work for."
Cultivating a personal brand changes that mindset by empowering the individual, she continued. "It gives us leverage and marketability," she said. "It gives you the competitive advantage over other people in your field and allows people to see the you that you have become, not the original person that they hired three years ago."
Dyson also pointed out that, during a job search, your personal branding influences:
- Prospective employers vetting your social media profiles for good and bad before considering your candidacy
- Recruiters engaging in their ongoing quest for talent to hire
- Employees seeking to refer people they know, trust and like to their employers.
Presenting a personal brand enhances a job search "not solely contingent on your proactive efforts in filling out 100 job applications monthly, but your ability to market yourself," Dyson said.
Careers Consultant, The Voice of Job Seekers blog
How do you build and present your personal brand?
Adaptability, flexibility, an active social media presence and patience are key ingredients for building and presenting your personal brand, the sources interviewed for this article said.
Showing that you are adaptable in applying your skills and knowledge in various ways over time is critical, said Dyson. "Are they relevant to the shifting and changing in your industry? How will they fit the companies looking for you?"
Demonstrating flexibility in your current status – whether employed, unemployed or underemployed –also helps to shape your personal brand, noted Dyson.
"Preview how your skills are relevant to your current employer, or how you're staying current or shifting in your unemployment, or how you are underemployed and remaining on top of trends," he explained. "The social channels are great for getting feedback or engaging in conversations where people are exchanging value and ideas."
Sharing your professional knowledge and insights via social channels can also enhance your personal brand and help you to stand out among job candidates, added Dyson.
"Increase your visibility by leading them to your social profiles, your instructional videos, podcast interviews and website," he said. "The more employers know you, your chances of engagement by them increases."
Echoing Dyson's point about the value of social media channels, Johnson noted that content creation is a key ingredient for personal brand development.
"You have to write and talk about openly the career and direction you are trying to go," she said. "Blog, converse on social media and create content for third-party publishers."
Dyson pointed out that developing a personal brand should include familiarizing oneself with various job screening formats.
"Your career agility is necessary because the phone interview could turn into a Skype interview in little time," he explained. "You may have two pre-interview calls before your first Skype interview. You may need to do an assessment online first before talking to a human employee. Be ready for anything without flinching."
In closing, Dyson urged realistic expectations in creating Brand You.
"Personal branding takes time," he said. 'It is not a quick fix, and it is not for picking up your next job if you're unemployed now. Successful branding considers anyone's career trajectory, experience, knowledge into a package speaking to employers' needs…It's about understanding what employers need and delivering an attractive package."