The Importance of Personal Branding in Your Job Search
How can you make a name for yourself online and on paper? In honor of Name Yourself Day – which will be observed on April 9 — we’re taking a look at five ways you can build your personal brand while searching for a job.
1. Anchor Statement
According to branding strategist Karen Leland, a good place to start is your anchor statement, which Fast Company writer Chris Gayomali describes as the “distillation of what you want your career to be about. It’s the thesis from which the rest of your brand originates.”
An anchor statement is the answer to the cocktail party question, “So, what do you do?” Ideally, your response should be brief and focused, and it should invite conversation. You anchor statement can serve as the executive summary on your resume, your bio on social media sites, and your introduction to new acquaintances.
SEO isn’t just for websites anymore. Thanks to the rise of HR screening software, it’s more important than ever that your resume and cover letter contain the right keywords. Writing for Forbes career, expert Susan Adams offers a list of the best and worst keywords to use in your job search, but, of course, your specific list will be tailored to your unique skills, experiences, and goals.
To create your personal list of keywords, jot down as many words as you can think of that describe your field, work style, accomplishments, and more. Next, look at job ads that interest you and highlight all the eye-catching nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Words that appear on both lists should be the foundation of your keyword list.
One of the most important aspects of personal branding is consistency. No matter the choices you make about how to present yourself, you need to make those same choice every time you do present yourself. Your email address, LinkedIn username, personal website URL, Twitter handle, blog, and Facebook profile — as well as any other platforms you use — should present a unified front.
If you’re still using the Twitter name you created on a whim five years ago or the email address you had in college, it might be time to update your information. The best choice for your branding is usually some variation of your real name: not only is it more professional than a nickname, but it’s also easy to remember.
4. Visual Style
On the heels of consistency comes visual style. You may not be a design guru, but you should make an effort to use the same fonts and layouts for all of your documents. Check out Microsoft Word’s premade templates for inspiration, and remember: you can’t go wrong with a classic font like Garamond. It’s better to err on the side of simplicity than to choose a decorative font like Papyrus.
Your visual style should extend to your business cards. You do have business cards, right? There are many companies that offer incredibly affordable rates and easy-to-use templates, so if you don’t have business cards yet, go order some as soon as you finish reading this post!
Finally, you’ll want to make sure that your profile picture is consistent across all platforms. Choose a pleasant, professional headshot — the kind of image that you’d be proud to see on your company I.D. badge. Goofy faces, pictures of your beloved cat, and sketches of your favorite superhero need not apply.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t remind you to proofread every piece of your personal branding efforts. Your online profiles, tweets, and posts — as well as your resume and cover letter –should be completely free of errors. Killer keywords and a compelling anchor statement won’t get you very far if you neglect this last — and most important — step.