FIRST IMPRESSIONS. WHAT DOES YOUR PERSONAL BRAND SAY ABOUT YOU?
Looking for a new job can be stressful, especially given the volume of applicants you are competing within the market coupled with the often very specific demands of the employer to meet the requirements for the role and how you will fit into the organisation.
If we think about first impressions when looking for a job, before the internet crept into everyone’s life, your CV and cover letter were the starting point to secure you the interview. The real opportunity to make a good first impression was at the interview when you met your prospective future employer face to face for the first time. Nowadays, it’s a completely different story – for both parties. We now have information at our fingertips in order to prepare well for an interview; but likewise, your potential future employer also has information available at their fingertips about you, and will have likely visited at least one of the many social media sites available (professional and non-professional) before they decide to meet you. And this information spans years of your history.
So, this makes what we put online about ourselves and our personal / professional brand fairly important. Especially when looking for a job!
I recently posted a role on LinkedIn and as I was going through applications, I read a profile that looked great for the role. But then I saw their profile picture on LinkedIn. It was of (I assume the candidate) crouched down in a field pointing a very large machine gun with used pellets scattered on the floor. My first thought was why would you have that as your profile picture? It’s not even sending the right message if you are in the armed forces! It was a negative first impression, which changed my initial perception of that person and unfortunately impacted their application.
Equally, that nickname based email address you had in high school might have been hilarious at the time (and was perfect for your brand then!) but unfortunately it may not serving you as well in your adult career. It might be time to rethink having ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ on your CV!
Personal branding is a lot like traditional branding of a product. It’s a series of strategies that shape the appeal of an identity (your identity) to send a positive message and attract attention. When trying to sell a product, the strategy is about attracting new customers (and of course retaining existing ones). But for the job hunter, it’s about establishing your professional identity to woo and attract potential employers. Building a personal brand needs to be consistent and takes a lot of thought and often hard work. But get it right, and it’s a strategy that lasts forever.
So how do you build a personal brand that rewards you with the benefits you need to help find you that perfect role? The message you give needs to be a balance of being professional (your profile picture says a lot!), being yourself, highlighting your accomplishments and having the right amount of social presence (so that you don’t just annoy people!!). Most successful personal brands are the result of careful thought, consistency and being proactive.
Whilst I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t be authentic and true to yourself, be sure to think of the context of your messaging and how a prospective employer is likely to view it. Be the best version of yourself – just shout about it in the right way!