The employment landscape is shifting. People have become more empowered. The increased access to information has made us aware of endless possibilities and created ways to connect in seconds, also in the work space. There’s choice in an amount it has never been before. And when there’s choice, people get picky. Companies react to this. In a need to attract and retain talent, they’re forced to not only rethink their work culture, they also need to step up their employer branding game. People, nowadays, simply expect more from a company than just a good salary. And it make sense right? You’re spending at least 40 hours a week between those walls.

As companies started investing more in their culture, offices and benefits, they have become more empowered as well. Having gained a better understanding of what people would fit the company, candidate selection processes became more successful in filtering out the best employees from the crowd based on much more than work experience. A growing number of companies is taking into account someone’s personal brand - that is, their key qualities, how they present themselves and what drives them - when hiring someone. Knowing this, it only make sense for job seekers to work on their personal image they wish to project.

We’re talking more than just a facelift of your resume. There’s much more to it. Our guidelines can help you refine your personal branding and make it 2019 proof.

Step #1: Brand basics

Personal branding is nothing new, but until today most people have been focusing solely on their work experience, their background. But a personal brand is more. Think of it as old school marketing: there’s a product (=you and your valuable work!) that needs to be put into the market (=employers) and promoted. For this, it needs a brand identity and a value proposition, and you need to define your target audience. Here’s why:

When people buy a product, they read product descriptions or reviews to figure out if the product is valuable to them and fits their needs. A similar thing happens when recruiters or hiring companies are considering to invite a candidate for an interview. They read a person’s resume, look them up on LinkedIn and check their Instagram. Anything they read influences if that person will be invited or not. Therefore, candidates should have their personal brand on point. There is too much noise in the market. A strong personal brand will make you stand out.

In order to define your brand identity, you need to spend some time formulating what you stand for. What makes you, you. Think beyond your experience, and focus on your personality. Are you that person who comes up with innovative ideas and leads? Or are you the environmentalist that feels work should mainly be around helping people? Don’t be afraid to go niche. You can’t be everything at once, and just those few characteristics that are specifically you will make you distinguish from the rest.

In defining your unique value proposition, you compile what you promise to deliver. It’s why to hire you, and not someone else. These four steps will help you define your personal value proposition:

  1. Set a target and define what you, in your career, want to achieve.
  2. Identify your strengths, both work related and personality related. What is it that makes you the person to fill the job and fit the team? This is similar to your brand identity.
  3. Connect your competences to your target. Don’t leave it up to the hiring person to figure out how your strengths relate to what the employer needs, and what you want to achieve for them.
  4. Provide evidence. You can tell your future employer anything - and they might buy it -but showing them your achievements through a portfolio, references or reports will definitely help make them believe you.

When building your personal brand, you’re basically working on selling product “you” to a specific target audience: your (future) employer. Just like in any type of marketing, defining your target audience will help your to effectively share your message. Also think about the type of companies you’d like to work at. Are they large corporates or start-ups? Are they sales focused or not-for-profit? And what about the company culture? Make sure you have a clear idea on how your ideal employer looks like, and adjust your message to this.

Step #2: Bring it to life

Forming your brand identity, value proposition and target audience takes most time in working on your personal brand. But if done well, the rest is basically like filling in the blanks. Once you have a great understanding of the personal image you want to present, it’s time to bring it to life.

Getting your message out there starts by picking the most suitable channels. Think about what platforms or formats go best with your message, and where recruiters or future employers will look for talent like you. First, it’s very to pick a base for your personal marketing. A place you guide people to where they find more in-depth information and contact details. This could be a website, a downloadable CV or a portfolio. Second, you want to share your message through great storytelling. A blog, an infographic or any type of content that forms a good way to express your skills will help you build your personal brand.

Make sure to spread that content. Promote it. Nowadays, social media are used is almost all hiring processes, and these channels have a great reach. By sharing your content on these channels you not only built your brand, it’s highly likely you will reach people who want to hire you. Also spend some time on updating your profiles. Whether it’s LinkedIn or Instagram. Showcase your identity and value proposition on these channels, by using consistent wording and strong images that help you tell your story.

Also bring your brand to life offline. Put some effort in creating a visual brand style, with a certain font, relevant colours, a signature or even a personal logo (which of course should be used online as well). Maybe you would like to work with business cards? There are plenty of options. Just as important is your appearance. You are your brand. So dress for whatever field you may be in, use the right vocabulary and be conscious of your actions. The latter takes us to the final step.

Step #3: Breathe it

What happens if people keep breaking their promises? Right, you lose faith in them. The same happens if you personal brand is not in line with your actions. If that’s the case, you won’t be taken seriously. No matter how great your content or how big your Twitter following. So make sure to do what you say. Not just for people you (will be) work(ing) with, but for yourself. In order to really breathe your personal brand, is to turn it into a life strategy. Real personal branding is knowing yourself, and the alignment of your core values.

By thinking of personal branding as a part of our life, we don’t just relate it to our work. It becomes part of our whole being. Thinking of your personal branding tells us a lot about who you are, and by frequently examining yourself, you are able to set and correct course. In order to do that effectively, you need to set goals. Like companies set business targets. By setting such goals, you can track your progress and realise when you’re expecting too much from yourself.

Living your personal brand, and acting according to your core values, for example means asking the right questions during an interview or saying yes to the right opportunities. It means attending events that match your brand, speaking at an important conference or joining relevant groups. Or even simpler: it includes how you treat co-workers and clients. Personal branding isn’t simply a tool to get a new job, it’s a continuing process of how you act in a business environment. When your actions are in line with the message your send out, people will start seeing your real value.

The bottom line?
Building a personal branding doesn’t happen overnight. Just like with any product, it takes time to develop. It’s an ever evolving thing, just as you. By starting with defining your brand basics, you set a solid base on which you can build your brand step by step. With the right words, visuals and actions. Ultimately, your personal brand is a reflection of who you are as a person, and that goes beyond work.
 

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