There has been a lot of buzz about personal branding, but that is not just a fancy concept. If you are looking to improve your chances of getting hired, the actionable personal branding ideas in this article will come in handy for your career success.
The brand called “You”
You are probably well familiar with the thrill of applying for great jobs, and the following frustration of being ignored by employers. On average, a corporate job attracts 250 candidates. It is therefore not surprising that making the cut is a matter of outstanding qualities… and a little luck.
In today’s word of social networking, the digital footprint we leave is massive. Therefore, for recruiters, your online reputation could be more impactful than your resume. Who you are and, more importantly, how you present yourself, is crucial for securing an interview.
What is personal branding?
Socrates said: “The way to gain good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” More than 2000 years ago, Socrates laid the foundations of the personal branding concept. The term itself was coined by Tom Peters in 1997 and the title of his article “The Brand Called You” pretty much explains what personal branding is. Personal branding consists in promoting your strengths and uniqueness to a target audience, such as potential employers.
Personal branding is no longer just for celebrities
Even though personal branding was originally considered a strategy for celebrities and leaders to control their public appearance, online platforms have allowed average Joes like you and me to do the same. We can now market ourselves online, gain the attention of potential employers, or partake in social campaigns showcasing our values and moral compass. In fact, building and managing a self-brand has become a must. If you are careless about your online presence, chances are that what others see as your online identity is not actually what you had in mind.
You might be surprised how popular social media is as an information source for hiring purposes. Recruiters are no longer shy to peek at your personal life, or at least the part you choose to share on the world wide web. The days of experimenting with our online presence are over.
Integrity is the key
As Mark Zuckerberg puts it, we now have one identity. With social media sites promoting transparency, we can no longer take the risk of being a party animal on Facebook and a neat brand executive on LinkedIn. Having multiple identities online is an example of an integrity failure and seriously decreases your chances of getting the job. That’s why before hitting the Apply button, take your time to screen your online presence and learn more about effective self-branding tactics.
If personal branding sparkled your curiosity, we are here to offer personal branding ideas to improve the competitive positioning of your online persona.
Why is personal branding so important?
Do you really like that profile picture you took at the bar on a hard Friday night? Do you think your timeline is edgy with those bad-mouthing comments about your ex employer? Think again. Findings from the latest Careerbuilder survey reveal that nearly 70% of employers look at your social media profiles before making hiring decisions. The figure was considerably lower back in 2006, when only 11% of recruiters snooped at applicants’ social media accounts.
Moreover, it is not only social networking sites that spark employers’ curiosity. Almost 70% of companies also do a general online search with Google (or a preferred search engine), so mind the digital traces you leave.
Unlike search engines, social media profiles are under your control
Unlike search engines, social media profiles are under your control, so take your time to screen and manage them. Up until now you have probably been underestimating the scope of the possible damage your private profiles could do. It is not only LinkedIn that matters when it comes to recruitment. Indeed, almost 90% of employers look at your LinkedIn profile, but more than 40% are also stealing glimpses of your Facebook bio. Likewise, blogs, Instagram and YouTube are another source of spicy content, although unpopular.
Personal branding no-no’s
So, what makes recruiters nervous? Provocative or inappropriate content is on the top of the list. Spring clean your social profiles and get rid of any provocative pictures and cheeky selfies.
To make things worse, it turns out that the world is getting boring as drinking is no longer cool. 38% of recruiters are repelled by posts about the candidate drinking or using drugs. Needless to say, racist and gender jokes are totally inappropriate.
The no-no’s list is completed by negative comments about previous employers or colleagues, bad grammar and spelling and an unprofessional screen name. A note for those who are devoted to reporting every single event in their lustrous life – 17% of companies may give up working with you because of posts overload.
If you’re not on the grid, your recruiter might just quit
In case you find these stats scary, and are considering packing your info and leaving the online world… don’t. Six in 10 employers are considering not calling you for an interview if they don’t find you online.
Granted, there are a ton of things to look out for, but please don’t think of your personal brand as a problem. Once you get used to keeping clean after yourself, branding is actually super easy!
And a thorough personal branding strategy might be a job-winner. Four in 10 employers reported that good online content posted by a candidate resulted in a job offer.
Strategies for building a successful personal brand online
If done right, personal branding can help you land your dream job. Let’s make it clear – recruiters do not only look for embarrassing stuff to disqualify applicants. They look for positive cues that will affirm their choices, too.
For example, it is a winning idea to highlight your professional qualifications across social media profiles as 61% of recruiters will be looking for them. A professional online persona gives the green light to hire for half of the employers. Creativity is also a positive sign, if communicated properly.
Therefore, personal branding is not only a matter of cleaning up your profiles. There are things you can do to maximize employment chances.
The more informed you are, the better your self-branding decisions will be. Research offers some meaningful insights you could well utilize in your daily personal branding efforts.
A personal brand online has its specifics. Unlike in-person communication, where non-verbal cues are a game changer, you have a limited arsenal of tools to express yourself. Your digital body is made of visuals, text & likes.
A (profile) picture is worth 1000 words
What matters most is relevance. You need to be clear what your desired career path is. Are you pursuing jobs requiring credibility or trustfulness? What do you need – an entry level or an executive position?
Beard or specs?
Consider some typical facial props – beard and specs. One may say that beards are for hipsters and recruiters won’t take you seriously. However, research by van der Land and Muntinga (2015) shows that a beard may open the door to a senior job. The study established that wearing a beard on a LinkedIn profile picture significantly increases a candidate’s perceived expertise. This effect is particularly conducive for positions that require experience. Want to get that business consultant position? Getting rid of your Gillettes may help.
It might also be a good idea to wear spectacles on your LinkedIn profile picture. Specs boost credibility perceptions, when it comes to jobs requiring expertise (e.g., consultancy) or attractiveness (e.g., in sales). Interestingly, for trustworthiness jobs (such as bank jobs), specs actually make no difference.
Unfortunately, hiring world is a world where beauty does matter. A study by Jobvite revealed that 41% of recruiters confess that seeing a picture of the candidate influences their hiring decision. When comparing the beauty and personality premiums, a study found that attractiveness is the more important decision-making factor. This is particularly valid for male recruiters, while females appreciate openness more.
But even if your beauty is unconventional, there are some tricks. Spectacles are a good way to bring some symmetry to your face, especially the big-rimmed ones. A simple smile can make wonders. Cues of smiling and eye-contact (looking into the camera) will make you look more attractive and credible for recruiters.
What is a personal branding statement?
Along with visual content, your online persona is made of text. So, take good care of it. In personal branding theory, the personal brand statement is probably the most important copy you could leverage. It should appear on all social media bios, as well as on your resume, clearly saying what your skills are and how they make you unique. Most importantly, the statement must be 1) original and 2) targeted.
Personal branding ideas for an effective statement
You need to address 3 crucial points: values, goals and experience. First, emphasize two or three professional values that help you perform great at workplace. Second, show your potential employer what your career objectives are. Finally, demonstrate your past experience in relation to these values and goals. Voilà! If you are looking for a word count suggestion, 30 words will do the job.
To like or not to like?
Last but not least, don’t forget to check the list of the things you like or follow, because Facebook page likes, for example, are normally publicly available. If you have hit the Like button for controversial political organizations or a plethora of alcohol brands, you may want to get rid of some of them. Or simply adjust your privacy settings.
If you want to take your personal branding efforts to the next level, take a look at this super intriguing Facebook psychology tool, developed by the University of Cambridge scholars. Apply Magic Sauce API surprisingly well predicts your psycho-demographics profile from the likes you leave on Facebook. Once you donate your likes to the tool, it will estimate your gender with 93% accuracy, religious views (82% accuracy), smoking habits (73% accuracy), alcohol use (70%). If you don’t believe us, try it yourself. Apply Magic Sauce might be a fun way to pass 20 minutes with a pal, but social media likes present a serious challenge to privacy and are often considered by recruiters, so don’t shy away from using it constructively, too.
Action plan: Personal branding ideas to reinvent your online personal brand
You don’t have to come up with a complicated strategy to build a personal brand that works. Rather, you need to follow a sequence of simple steps to take control on your personal brand and raise your online reputation. Here’s what to do:
1. Screen all your social media profiles
The first step is to acknowledge the existence of your online personal brand, be it a good or a bad one. Go through your social media profiles. In light of your recent personal branding discoveries, you might be surprised of what you find!
2. Delete inappropriate content
Silly pictures, drunk statuses, workplace satire – don’t hesitate to hit the ‘delete’ button, no matter how funny you find the posts to be.
3. Pick an appropriate profile picture
Once you are clear about what your career objectives are, make sure your profile picture says “expertise”, “trustworthiness”, and “openness”.
4. Write your personal branding statement
Showcase your copywriting skills. It takes time to craft a catch line about your expertise, but an effective statement will make you special in employers’ eyes.
5. Unify your social media bios
Consistency is the key to a professional presentation of the brand called ‘You’. Spread your personal branding statement across social media accounts and make your posts talk about the very same nice person your dog thinks you are.
Roll up your sleeves
You are now equipped with real-life personal branding ideas that will make your self-brand shine. If you want your job application on the top of the stack, make sure that recruiters are impressed by your online personal brand.
But don’t forget: stay true to yourself. Be creative, show your personality and what makes you special. Ethics is the guiding principle of your online personal brand. As long as you don’t share content that may hurt someone else and doesn’t expose others to unwelcome details of your personal life, your online personal brand is there to make you stand out from the crowd.