By John Arenas | April 22, 2014

Burnishing Your Personal Brand

In an always-on, work-from-anywhere culture, the window for attention is smaller than ever. Here’s how to break through the clutter.

Once upon a time, a bachelor’s degree wasn’t a required qualification and some experience was always better than none. However, the landscape is changing and companies are expecting a lot more from prospective employees. Basically, the competition has intensified.

Many candidates who have both a degree and experience still struggle to land that perfect job because they don’t know someone within the company. One phrase that’s been around for decades comes to mind, “It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.” In today’s economy this advice rings truer than ever.

Initially, candidates may feel confident because they meet all the required and preferred qualifications that an employer requests; but in reality, job seekers must have something that sets them apart. So how can professionals and recent graduates move forward with their career when the barriers seem insurmountable

The first step to jumpstarting your career is developing a personal brand—or building and taking control of your reputation, both online and off. Building a personal brand helps your future boss see a face and a personality behind all those cover letters, resumes and writing samples. Luckily, there are numerous free tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr to help create your personal brand in the online sphere. In addition, companies find value in employees who are tech savvy and innovative, so feel free to launch new initiatives that are near and dear to your heart, especially those related to field you are interested in entering or are already a part of.

Aside from your online impression, it’s crucial to back up your brand with a little effort and sincerity. For example, if you’re a writer, your personal brand will improve when you take the initiative to stare at screens as long as it takes to come up with the perfect idea for the people you’re writing for. The same standard would apply to an Olympic ice-skater who spends four hours repeatedly falling on the ice to nail that elusive triple Lutz.

When you think of successful brands, they all have one thing in common—a purposeful slogan, or statement of intent. A great example of this is Grocery Supply Company’s slogan, “Big Enough For The Job, Small Enough To Care”. In the time it takes to read that phrase, customers understand that GSC has the manpower of a big company, AND the intentions of a small family owned business. Forbes contributor, The Muse, offers 4 steps to creating your personal mantra.

  • Consider your emotional appeal. How do I make people feel? What words do others use to describe me?
  • Determine your description. Who is my target audience? What industry am I in?
  • Define your function. What service do I offer? What makes me stand out?
  • Throw it together. Your sentence or phrase shouldn’t exceed five words, but if you need 5-10 that’s probably acceptable.

Even though the competition has truly intensified over the last few decades, these changes have motivated professionals to go above and beyond. Personal branding for instance, encourages professionals to be creative, and in turn awards them with the freedom to manage their own reputation. In addition, online forums offer avenues for free personal advertising.  So while the stakes are higher for job seekers, technology has evolved and presents us with the tools we need to flourish. Nevertheless, the market for flexible tools is only expected to grow and offer more options to set yourself apart from the opposition.

Speaking of setting yourself apart from the competition, see how innovative thinkers like Bill Gates and Coco Chanel made their mark.

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