Building your personal brand

In a world where individuality is harder to come by than a horse egg, it’s important to paint yourself as a standout job candidate with a strong personal brand. But how do you do that in this day and age?

1

What is a personal brand?

The fabled 2:1 degree is one way to go about it but these days, that’s an accessory that everyone has. Going to Russell Group universities and doing extra-curricular activities are good in themselves, but they aren’t gonna cut it in terms of helping you stand out.

So what’s the answer? Well, there’s only one thing you have that no other job candidate in the world has: that’s your brand. Your brand is the story you tell to employers and show to the world that defines who you are. It’s the culmination of your academic achievements, your personal interests, your extra curricular activities and everything in between. Building a good one is vital, and you’ll need to know how to build it before you start showing it off to the world.

There’s only one thing you have that no other job candidate in the world has: that’s your brand.

2

Social media

Your social media presence is a crucial part of anyone’s personal brand. First off, employers will check your online presence before inviting you for interview or offering you a job. You need to make sure that not only is what they find there all above board, but that there’s potentially something to offer them too. You need to portray all this is while maintaining a semblance of your own personality and uniqueness. Here are some top tips:

Cull the negative/offensive/embarrassing pieces of content on your social media.
Hide, privatise or remove anything related to drugs, alcohol or those embarrassing Freshers’ photos from first year. A personal brand shouldn’t be all of you, it should be the best of you. Yeah, it shows what a fun person you are and hey, we were all kids once. But now is the time to set aside childish things and become a real employable adult. It rings alarm bells in employers’ heads if you can’t tell the difference between what the public should see and what should remain between you and your friends, so make this a priority.

A personal brand shouldn’t be all of you, it should be the best of you.

Facebook’s privacy settings will allow you to hide certain things individually. With Twitter and other platforms, you may wish to consider a business and personal account. Otherwise, just be careful what you post.

Start by following and liking accounts that resonate with you and interact with them.
The only way to stay relevant is to be relevant, after all. Twitter is great for this. In this situation, your competitors aren’t necessarily your enemies. If you see someone creating the kind of content you want to see or create yourself, go out of your way to support them. Like them, follow them, and share on your own pages. Who knows? This might lead to a partnership down the line.

Next, start creating your own original content.

To mark yourself out from the millions, you need to start creating things that people come only to you for. If they can get the same kind of content elsewhere in a format that appeals to them, they will. Make something that’s unique to you, and people will return again and again to consume it. Have a particular art style? Post your masterpieces regularly. Like to write about a particular subject? Tie yourself to it and inject your own personality in.

Make something that’s unique to you, and people will return again and again to consume it.

The key here is constantly and regularly updating your channels with original content. If you’re a student, motivate yourself to create by joining similar societies. Write for your student newspaper, start a video blog with friends, get involved in raising and giving – all of this makes for great social content.

3

Websites

Outside of social media, your own personal website is a great step to express your fledgling personal brand. This is not just the reserve of the nerds any more. Knowing how to build, create and run your own little corner of the internet will show you have skills outside what you’re pushing on your brand.

Doing this takes content creation and curation skills, as well as a keen eye for aesthetics and design and technical prowess. Here are some steps you can take to get yours popping.

    • First you need to decide how you’re going to host your website. There are plenty of fine choices out there, WordPress probably being the most popular. Aside from that you have Squarespace, Tumblr, Wix, Blogspot and many more depending on the type of content you’re trying to create.

      Depending on which you pick, you will be allowed a certain amount of customisation for your website; some apply themes, some have drag-and-drop widgets, some you have to code to your liking. It takes a bit of research to figure out what works for you.

    • A pro-tip for something to do as soon as you hit university or graduate: buy the domain for www.yourname.com, even if you don’t intend to do anything with it just yet. Once you do come around to creating your own blog, you’ll be easy to find and you’ll be the most famous person on the internet with your name (unless you’re unfortunate enough to share your name with an actor).

      Domain names and hosting are pretty cheap nowadays too; places like GoDaddy and IWantMyName will offer you yours from as little as £5 a day.

    • In the likely case that you have very little coding experience or if you just want to make sure it gets done right, try hiring someone to help make your website for you. It will allow you to achieve a bolder vision you wouldn’t have managed on your own and possibly even a unique design that will stand you out from the crowd. Places like peopleperhour.com offer freelancers that can do just that. It’s a pricey option but hey, you’ll do it once and won’t have to ever do it again.

4

Personality

Find your niche. Now I know what you’re thinking: how do I know what the hook of my personal brand is? How do you find that unique trait that keeps people coming back? Well, that’s all down to you. Everybody has their own talents and interests and there are trillions of combinations. You’re more unique than you give yourself credit for. Here are some suggestions for how you can tease out your uniqueness and apply it to your brand:

First, remember that you already have the power.

You don’t have to go far to find what makes you, you. Consider your interests, your opinions, your achievements and your passions and you’ll come up with a niche that suits you in no time. If you went to a good school, got a degree from a great university, climbed a mountain, raised a boatload for charity, started a business or did something incredible – you are already in the awesome minority. Your story is already compelling. Now, tell me what it is in a compelling way.

Everybody has their own talents and interests and there are trillions of combinations. You’re more unique than you give yourself credit for.

Find something you are good at and make yourself amazing.

You don’t have to already be at a rockstar level of skill to push an interest on your personal brand. Taking your audience on a journey is equally as valuable, if not more. If it’s compelling enough, they will stick with you throughout the journey. Locate great people to learn from and invite them to help you. Collaborate. Make mistakes. Encourage people to comment and critique. But most importantly, put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to fail.

Follow the right people, find that niche and exploit it to get them engaged.

If you are really interested in music, art, or politics, for example, then the chances are that your friends will have similar or opposing views. At university, you have students with the time and energy to commit with very little personal loss, so test the waters and go for it. Engage with other people on the subjects that matter to you and you’ll sharpen each other. Don’t be afraid to share and discuss ideas with people. Their ideas might give you an idea of how to do something differently or make an improvement.

With these tips at your disposal, you should have everything you need to build, maintain and expand your own personal brand. Show this off to potential employers, and they are bound to find you compelling and possessing a level of initiative worthy of a job offer.

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