How to Build a Personal Brand That Sets You Apart
This is the 21st century and branding has come to stay. Business owners and people looking to sell their skills are promoting their brands and giving their goods and services symbolic identities. Not just reputable fashion houses but everything from small businesses run from homes to start-ups and even your professional image as a job seeker planning to work for someone else can be given an image or a freelancer looking towards getting a client base.
You might ask, Why is personal branding important? How do I create an outstanding brand for myself? As a job seeker, do I have a brand?
A strong personal brand sets you apart and helps you reach your ideal employers. Your brand is yourself – your skills, reputation, and work style. Treating yourself as a brand on your CV and in an interview means presenting yourself as a potential employee with in-demand skills. Branding gives importance and credence to your skills, work experience, and achievements. It gives you the visibility that could take you global.
This article has six workable ideas that will help you create a brand that differentiates you. Let us get you started.
- Carve a Niche for Yourself: Chances are that the industry or field you are seeking a job in might already be saturated by the type of service you offer and this means that strong competition already exists. So, find your specialty and build your brand around it. For instance, if you are a freelance writer, find out what forms of writing are available in your field – short stories, blog posts, poems, articles, etc and how you can create a unique place for yourself in your industry. Experiment with different forms of writing, practice, and then choose the form you do best. You could infuse your own storytelling with cultural undertones or any other unique marker. As an accountant, you can brand yourself as a system accountant, an auditor, or a forensic auditor. As a banker, you could become a retail banking expert. This goes for virtually any other skill and certification. If you studied a professional course, then there are millions out there with the same certificate as you. Find a specialization that sets you apart.
A lot of people have regular skills like communication skills and multitasking skills on their CV. Having spectacular skills assures recruiters or your prospective employer that you are unique and different from the crowd. Explore to find out what you can do best in your field and focus on it. Ask yourself questions like, Can I take online courses or further studies that can open fairly new and distinct avenues for me? Can I acquire specific skills that are outstanding? Can I apply for jobs in a niche market? Finding a niche market involves research. A niche market is a relatively small and specialist, yet profitable market. In your case as a job seeker planning on building your personal brand, it involves finding relatively unexploited skills or part of your career and focusing on them. Niche marketing ensures that you sell distinct skills in a distinct market. There is always a new path to discover, something to improve on.
- Strategize: Define your goals and the timeline when you want them to be achieved. Draw a big picture of what you want your brand to look like in the future and work towards it. You might not get that big title job in an instant. Start small and work towards your goal. You could start with seemingly small jobs and work your way up while garnering skills that will help you build your brand. Good things take time and sometimes involve rigorous processes like learning from people who have achieved a lot in the sector where you want to work.
- Use Social Media: It is difficult to talk about excellent branding without talking about the role of social media. The two have come to exist simultaneously in our world of upload and download. If you are planning on building a personal brand, then you have to have visibility on social media. The stronger, the better. There is an abundance of applications that will help you reach potential employers. From apps like LinkedIn that give you job alerts and make you visible to employers according to your skills and certifications, to Fiverr where you can find customers for skills ranging from editing to virtual office assistant. Do not forget Instagram and even Facebook.
Remember that projecting yourself as a brand means telling prospective employers that you have value and quality that will impress and benefit them. As humans, we are attracted to packaging. Little wonder why big-name brands have a lot of customers. So use social media to make yourself an attractive brand. Update your bio on apps like LinkedIn and Facebook to include your achievements and even work experience. Do not forget to put up in-demand skills you possess that attract employers. Put it out there, no need to be modest if you want your brand to resonate with the right people. People are attracted by what they see and hiring agents are not left out. Adding a professional portrait to your social media handles will not hurt. Be mindful of what you post too. Posting politically incorrect or phobic content will not give off the right vibes to prospective employers. It does not give you a good reputation too.
With social media, you can follow notable and successful people who have built the type of brand you aspire. This is true, especially for freelancers. There are a lot of writers, copywriters, and any other experts you can think of sharing their tips on building a good brand and even masterclasses on their pages. You can also create social media pages for your brand if you are a freelancer. With social media, your brand has the opportunity to have a wider reach and even a global audience. Many job seekers have testified to getting offers of employment on social media. It therefore cannot be overstated that social media is a good resource in building your brand and giving it a good image.
- Advance with Technology: Just like social media, technology, in general, can help you promote your brand. There are a lot of things you could do with your mobile phone or laptop – take certified online courses that will help you improve your skills and give you an edge, learn in-demand technical skills, give your CV and cover letter a facelift, design a website or even an app for your brand if you are a freelancer, and so much more.
- Build a Good Network: Talk about your skills to people at any proper chance you get. Word of mouth works wonders. Let friends, family, and acquaintances know what you can do. They can refer you to their own friends. Converse with people both offline and online. Opportunities to talk about your brand can also spring up at events, workshops, skillshares, seminars, and webinars where you can also hand out your CV. Enter your brand for competitions and training that will give you an opportunity to be visible to target employers and other people in your field.
- Offline Branding: The way you present yourself and your brand in person is as important as the image you give online. Be truthful and authentic in real life. It would be futile to promote a brand based on lies and deceit. People will easily see through it. Do not forget to be cordial and professional to employers when you meet them in person. Maintain eye contact when you speak to people, give handshakes and be polite.
Building a unique brand requires strategy and time but it can be done. Once you have found your niche, there are a plethora of resources to help you promote your brand and create unique ways to set you apart.