PERSONAL branding involves a continuous commitment to maintain and update one’s image and credibility for personal and professional success. Your personal brand essentially reflects the positive image that you want to project in the job market to be successful in your career.

As management guru Tom Peters aptly put it, “personal branding is your promise to the marketplace and the world”. In today’s highly competitive job market, coupled with the significant influence of digital and social media in practically every aspect of life, personal branding has grown in prominence to have a huge impact on career success.

Many job seekers fail to appreciate the importance of personal branding and fundamentally neglect to pay attention to this aspect as part of their overall job search strategy. Failing to manage your personal brand can lead to loss of career progression opportunities in many settings.

The reality today is that if you embark on your job search without a well-defined image, the job market will end up branding you — which may eventually not be favourable for you.

Apart from the traditional resumés, application forms and references, potential employers are also increasingly turning to social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, personal blogs) as additional avenues for finding or conducting background checks on job applicants.

Thus, in addition to having a well-crafted and updated resumé, it can be advantageous to today’s job seekers to maintain well-managed LinkedIn or other social media profiles, personal blogs and even contribute online professional articles and papers highlighting areas of their experience and expertise to improve their chances of job search success.

Taking control of your personal brand means devoting time and effort to cultivate the right professional image that will help project the necessary positive perception in the job market. There are several elements involved in creating and sustaining an impactful personal brand:

Defining statements

Developing your brand begins by being able to clearly define yourself. To define yourself well, you need to first create defining statements.

Defining statements are essentially clear and concise statements that highlight your strengths and competencies and how they were used effectively in different situations and events in your academic, working and personal life.

Such statements also help highlight the strengths of the transferable skills and abilities you possess that can enhance your employability. The more defining statements you have about yourself, the more confident you will be of the professional image you create and project to potential employers at job interviews.

 

Networking

Networking is a crucial part of developing your personal brand. Investing time and effort to build a network of contacts, and interacting with people in the industry you are seeking to enter will significantly help you in understanding the need for a positive professional image for career success.

Networking will also provide an essential platform to project your brand as well as help you carefully shape it through constructive feedback to meet job market expectations. Similarly, learning from mentors and role models who maintain impactful personal brands will greatly help you towards building your own brand.

 

Values

Your values reflect your self-chosen beliefs and ideals and are a vital part of who you are. Thus, in developing your personal brand, it is important to ensure that your personal values are correctly reflected in the image you are attempting to project.

It would be difficult or stressful to sustain a career when your personal values diverge significantly from your professional or occupational values.

 

Consistency

It is essential to create a consistent brand image throughout the multiple channels you use to manage your personal brand. Ultimately, it is the formal interview process that will determine whether you get that job you are aiming for.

Many job applicants are rejected simply because they are unable to live up to the image they have created through their resumés and other traditional or online channels when they come face-to-face with their potential employer at the interview.

Ensuring consistency comes basically from two things. The first is your commitment to be honest and open about your strengths, weaknesses and limitations and not inflating your image through exaggerations and half-truths. The second is from having a growth mindset that focuses on personal development through continuous learning.

 

Article by C.R. Krishnan, a registered counsellor and certified career coach with 35 years’ working experience as a human resource practitioner. He is actively involved in both workplace and school counselling. For more information, e-mail him at krishnan_cr@yahoo.com.sg