Your personal brand is crucial when it comes to standing out from the crowd. It was my pleasure to serve on the “Perfect Resume/Cover Letter/Personal Brand Panel Discussion” for McDaniel College students and graduates. There was more that I wanted to say and I figured that writing it here would be beneficial. Here are my key points.
Hello, Dream Employer
Your personal brand is essentially your online presence. It’s a way to introduce yourself to your future employer and show them that you’re worth their time to interview or even hire.
Get into the mind of the employer. What would they want to see from a candidate? A graphic designer should definitely have a portfolio with his/her work available online. A teacher could have an Instagram account focusing on kids activities to show he/she thinks creatively about learning.
Ask yourself: How can I set myself apart from other candidates? What skills or talents do I offer that go beyond my resume?
[Related Reading: 3 Steps to Differentiate Yourself]
Give the Hiring Manager a CTA
Any good piece of marketing material always leaves the reader or viewer knowing what they should do next. This is referred to as a call-to-action (CTA). You’ve seen it plenty of times on YouTube videos when they end with “be sure to subscribe.” The YouTuber is telling the audience what to do next.
Realistically, a potential employer will probably look at your resume first and determine you fulfill the requirements. Then, they will look at your cover letter to evaluate writing capabilities and why you’re interested in the position. But what happens after they look there?
- Write a strong closing sentence in the cover letter that states when you will follow up. (And then be sure to follow up!)
- Direct them to your website or a social media account (like your LinkedIn profile) that is dedicated to your professional work.
- Ensure that your other social media accounts and online presence does not negate your respectability.
Tips to Maintain & Protect Your Personal Brand
Your personal brand should grow with you. Spending a little time on it each week will add up to big results. You might eventually get to the place where they find you online FIRST, determine you’re the perfect candidate for the role, and then ask you for an interview. (Doesn’t that sound like a dream?)
- Ensure your LinkedIn Profile is Current. Connect with fellow grads, professors, employers, and anyone you can think of. You never know where your next opportunity will pop up. Ask a person or two to recommend you. Post an industry-relevant article or update once in a while.
- Use a clear photo of yourself as the profile image for each platform. Some people will say it should be the same photo/headshot on every platform (Facebook, IG, Twitter) but I don’t agree. Each platform has a different purpose and therefore using different photos shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. That being said, yes, it is nice to be able to identify that you’re looking at the right profile based on the imagery.
- Double-check what your profiles look like from an outsider’s perspective. View your social media accounts from an “incognito” window or ask your friend/roommate/family member to pull up your account so that you can see what others see. On Facebook in particular, there are some posts that end up being public that you might not want to show the world.
- Change your profile to private OR delete controversial posts. If you have posts that are controversial in nature, keep in mind that an employer might see that post and find it offensive. I’m not saying give up on your beliefs or hide your passions. Perhaps you never ever want to work for someone who doesn’t believe in climate change. Just be aware that you’re narrowing the pool of potential job opportunities. (Personally, I wouldn’t want to give them a reason not to hire me. I’d want to be the one who makes the decision not to work there.)
Building your personal brand is beneficial for business owners and employees, but it’s extremely beneficial for those who recently graduated or are currently pursuing their degree. It gives them the opportunity to showcase their writing skills, social media competency, portfolio, or other talents that don’t come across in a resume. Think about how you can stand out from other candidates and create your unique online presence.
If you are a McDaniel College student or graduate and would like additional help on this topic, connect with me on LinkedIn. I would love to speak with you and do whatever I can to help you acquire your dream job.