Nowadays, it has become quite normal having a part time job while studying. Now, it has also become a normal situation to find yourself in a queue on 20 or more candidates to obtain any kind of job. Now, if I asked you to explain all you know about “McDonald’s”, I know you would be able to recognize or describe its logo, what kind of product they offer, and you would even be able to sing the jingle that the brand uses for its ads. Overall, you know what McDonald’s is and what it can do for you. Can you say the same when a possible employer hears your name?
The funny part is that, according to Forbes magazine, you actually have almost the same resources brands have to make yourself different and memorable when job hunting. You have your image, a communication style and an area of expertise. Having a personal brand and developing in a way that communicates who you are can have a huge impact on your success, or hold you back if it is not developed, according to Forbes.
What Is Your Personal Brand?
According to personal branding expert Ryan Rhoten, your personal brand is what it is said about you when you are not around. In other words, it is what people say you are, according to how they perceive you and your skills. Your personal brand helps you in the same way it helps McDonald’s: It makes you different from the rest, both professionally and personally. And in the same way everything McDonald’s communicates with actions and words as a company has a consequence on how the rest of the world perceives the brand, everything you post on your social media, and everything you share in your LinkedIn profile shapes the opinion individuals and companies have about you.
Why do you need a personal brand?
Personal branding was first popularized by an article called «A brand called You», by Tom Peters. This article was written a decade ago, but it is as relevant as it was then. The author explains that to be in business today, our most relevant job is to be in control of our own image and perceive it as a brand. But why? It basically makes you stay competitive: There is you, and the other 20 candidates with a similar education… Why should anybody choose you among all of them? You are unique, but nobody can know about it unless you communicate the specific reasons that make you special and different as a professional. If McDonald’s did not have a distinctive logo, a catchy song and a way of running their business, what would make them different from any other local burger place? The same applies to you. Knowing who you are and what you can do is useless if nobody hears about it.
How to start?
According to magazine Entrepreneur, the first step to develop your personal brand is to know yourself. What makes you unique in your field? What are your skills? Second, you need to learn to communicate such skills. This means revising your online presence but also taking action out there: introducing yourself and making possible employers notice you. Finally, remain a student forever. Even after you finish your studies, keep yourself updated: you may know your area of expertise very well, but things “in the real world” change at a very fast speed, so be sure you stay up-to-date with the latest trends.
So, before you send that CV, make an exercise of self-reflection; think as a brand. Hopefully doing so can be a sort of shortcut between you and your dream job!
«The think tank» is a column about everything and nothing. Columnist Aneley Lampugnani writes about whatever is on her mind.