Getting a job offer doesn’t always hinge on your skills and experience. It can be surprising to learn that a growing number of companies take into account a candidate’s personal brand – that is, their key qualities, how they present themselves, and what drives them. Our recommended personal branding tips can help you refine the image you wish to project and make it part of your job search strategy.

What is “personal branding”?

The world’s most successful companies all have unique and instantly recognisable brands that speak volumes about the company and what it stands for.

Personal branding may be a relatively new concept in the workforce but it works along similar lines. It doesn’t mean having a physical product to sell or using a visual trademark, rather your brand establishes who you are, your values and strengths, and what you bring to a workplace. Most importantly, your brand helps you stand out from the crowd.

Differentiate yourself

One of the key benefits of developing a personal brand is the ability to differentiate yourself from those around you. That’s a plus in any industry but it’s especially important when you are looking for a new job. It’s the drawcard that will make your resume stand out from the stack, and it can help you leave a lasting impact at interviews.

To use branding most effectively calls for an understanding of what it really involves. Your personal brand starts with your skills, experience and where you've previously worked. It doesn’t end there though. Branding also encompasses your career aspirations, how you present yourself, how you interact with others and your social involvement. The trick is to combine these qualities in your resume and bring them to life as part of your job search.

Know who you want to be

At the heart of your personal brand is the reputation you’d like to market for yourself. Do you want to be known as hardworking? Approachable? Dependable? Inventive? Adaptable? The clearer you are on who you want to be and what you want your reputation to focus on, the stronger your personal brand will be.

Understand how others perceive you

We often hold a certain view of ourselves. The trouble is, it doesn’t always match up with what others see. Personal branding combines art and science to make these two perceptions line up exactly.

A useful starting point in developing your brand is understanding how people regard you at present. Ask friends, family and co-workers about what makes you stand out in their mind. Once you know how others perceive you it is far easier to adjust and improve your performance so that the views of an outsider align more closely with your own.

Plan ahead

Keep in mind that developing and strengthening a personal brand is part of the ongoing process of achieving your career goals. For example, if you aspire to be a Chief Financial Officer, it pays to cultivate a reputation for being a leader, an innovator, and someone who instinctively sees the big picture.

Then, whenever you’re searching for your next job, you can incorporate that personal branding in your cover letter, your resume and when responding to interview questions. You’ll come off as CFO material long before it’s time to apply for C-suite jobs.

Bring your brand to life

Once you’ve determined your personal branding, it’s time to make it part of your daily actions. Practice presenting yourself the way you want to be seen. That is, bring your brand to life.

Something as simple as the way you dress for work and how you conduct yourself at office social functions can have a tremendous impact on the image you project. Be true to yourself though. Your personal brand will only be sustainable if it reflects who you truly are.

Importantly, bear your branding in mind when it comes to maintaining an online presence. Your posts on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn can have a powerful impact on how others perceive you so think carefully about what you write.

We each have the ability to craft a personal brand. Make yours unique and stay true to it so that your brand strengthens throughout your career. It’s a great way to let a hiring manager know what you stand for, and that can give you a valuable head start in landing your next job.

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