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Personal Branding 101: Essential Guide For Job Seekers.

Personal Branding 101: Essential Guide For Job Seekers.

Most personal branding advice you see on the Internet tells you to “create valuable content”, “share other people’s content on social media” and so on. This advice is not entirely wrong, however it overvalues the role of technology in the process of creating a personal brand.

It leads us to believe that personal branding is more a process of posting interesting links on Twitter and owning a good-looking website than discovering who you truly are and making meaningful connections with other people.

Don’t get me wrong – digital technology is crucial in the process of building your personal brand. It enables you to leverage your time, distribute your message and – of course – reach out to, and be discovered by, potential employers.

However, long before technology is mentioned, an appropriate context for your actions must be defined. Without it any online activity you take part in will yield disappointing results.

Avoiding The Trap.

To see the biggest trap which catches most job seekers who attempt to build their brands, we must go back in time and take a quick look at the evolution of the world wide web.

If you’re like me, you started using the web during its most industrialised phase. It was called Web 1.0 and it was an individualistic, impersonal environment where people viewed other online users as nameless, faceless means to their own ends.

Web 2.0 changed this. Online communities emerged. Sharing and connecting replaced buying and selling as first points of contact between users.

The problem with Web 2.0, however, has always been this – majority of users have failed to fully embrace its community spirit. Even though Web 2.0 officially started around 2004, every day we still see native Web 2.0 tools (e.g, blogs and social media platforms) being used for Web 1.0 purposes (e.g., self-promotion).

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Why Do Most Personal Brands Fail?

Because personal branding is so heavily reliant on social media, the effects of this problem are often seen in the views of job seekers who are interested in taking the first steps of building their brands online.

Their questions quickly give away their approach. When it comes to using Twitter, a person with a Web 1.0 mindset would ask:

“How do I get more followers on Twitter?”

In the meantime, a person who has embraced, and is living to the standards of, Web 2.0 world, would be wrestling with questions such as:

“How do I engage with the most like-minded people on Twitter?”
“How do I serve the most people through Twitter?”
“Who on Twitter would benefit from what I have to offer?”

The difference is subtle, however the context for each person’s actions is completely different.

Their results will be vastly different, too. Because the web no longer caters to Web 1.0 mentality, people who are still approaching it with Web 1.0 mindsets will find it very difficult to build their personal brands and extend their influence.

Foundations Of Your Personal Brand.

Building a thriving personal brand in the modern Web 2.0 environment requires 3 things:

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  • ability to take a strategic, long-term view
  • self-awareness
  • knowing who you are and what you stand for

This is not something we’re generally encouraged to do in our Western society because it requires us to pause, set aside the usual things that keep us busy and get really present with ourselves, our motivations and desires; to come face-to-face with who we really are.

A good personal branding strategist will be able to help you get there and – importantly – will do this work with you before starting work on typical personal branding assets such as your resume, LinkedIn profile, personal website or social media presence.

If you are a job seeker and you are not yet ready to hire a personal branding strategist yet you feel stuck with building your personal brand, follow this 5-step formula to get you back on track quickly.

Step 1: Start Living A Rich, Fulfilling Life.

What makes a great life? Everyone has a different definition. You need to define yours. Can I share with you a glimpse into mine?

For me a great life involves waking up early, excited to attack my day. That’s right, I like to attack my work. Work for the sake of paycheck bores me; I must feel that I get to create something, so I aim to connect even the most rudimentary, repetitive jobs to a bigger picture.

This means I’m never “doing” anything when I’m at work – I’m always building (the task remains the same, but the headspace – and my experience of the task – is very different).

Step 2: Write About Your Life.

An inevitable by-product of a great life is the abundance of stories about your lessons and discoveries. These stories are the cornerstones of your personal brand and topics for your content.

The reason most people struggle with creating content is because they skip Step 1.

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Here’s a test. If you find yourself sitting down and thinking – “Geez, I need to write a blog post for my website because I know it’s good for my personal brand and SEO, but I just don’t know what to write about. Hmmm….” – you’re not pushing yourself enough in Step 1.

You’re simply not living consciously and / or are not clear on where your brand value is.

Remember that the content you create is the main vehicle through which you communicate your personal brand. As such, it has to be an organic extension of you. It has to capture your unique voice and tell stories of your struggles and victories. It can’t be rehashed, prescriptive advice you’ve adapted from somewhere else on the Internet.

Step 3: Share This Content.

This is where we start thinking about technology. If you haven’t completed the first two steps to your best ability, no technology in the world will make a difference to your personal brand.

Here are some social media platforms where, as a job-seeker, you should consider publishing your content:

  • your LinkedIn profile
  • the LinkedIn publishing platform (check if you’ve been invited)
  • LinkedIn Groups
  • Google Groups
  • Twitter

Remember that you should not attempt to be on all platforms at the same time – you’ll spread yourself too thin.

Step 4: Create A Community.

Some people would tell you to “build a following” right now. I don’t like that phrase because it has an ego-centric appeal and lures us into believing that social media is a means for us to promote ourselves. It’s not.

The key advantage of social media and Web 2.0 is that you can find people who share the same interests, who are fighting for the same cause and who serve the same communities.

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Those people are your allies. Your job is not to use them, but to create win-win situations which benefit you all.

Be strategic about your social media activity. Don’t “spray and prey”. There’s no point sharing your epiphanies about increasing your productivity in a Buddhist meditation Google Plus group, however I’m sure there are software developers in Palo Alto who want to know about them.

Because the social media world is so large it’s always tempting to build lots of very shallow connection in it. Your effectiveness, however, starts with the opposite approach – connecting with 10-20 like-minded people.

Step 5: Leverage Your Community.

This is where you amplify your influence by increasing your ability to be heard.

If you’re at this point and you’ve done the previous steps correctly, you will be seeing a multitude of opportunities through which you can evolve your personal brand.

The opportunities will come in two forms. Look out for them:

  • passive (e.g., editors/writers approaching you for comment)
  • active (e.g., you’ll see benefit in approaching an influential blogger to be their guest author)

Which ones you’ll act upon will depend entirely on your individual needs and your career objectives at that point in time.

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Last Updated on April 25, 2019

How to Write a Career Change Resume (With Examples)

How to Write a Career Change Resume (With Examples)

Shifting careers, tiny or big, can be paralyzing. Whether your desire for a career change is self-driven or involuntary, you can manage the panic and fear by understanding ‘why’ you are making the change.

Your ability to clearly and confidently articulate your transferable skills makes it easier for employers to understand how you are best suited for the job or industry.

A well written career change resume that shows you have read the job description and markets your transferable skills can increase your success for a career change.

3 Steps to Prepare Your Mind Before Working on the Resume

Step 1: Know Your ‘Why’

Career changes can be an unnerving experience. However, you can lessen the stress by making informed decisions through research.

One of the best ways to do this is by conducting informational interviews.[1] Invest time to gather information from diverse sources. Speaking to people in the career or industry that you’re pursuing will help you get clarity and check your assumptions.

Here are some questions to help you get clear on your career change:

  • What’s your ideal work environment?
  • What’s most important to you right now?
  • What type of people do you like to work with?
  • What are the work skills that you enjoy doing the most?
  • What do you like to do so much that you lose track of time?
  • Whose career inspires you? What is it about his/her career that you admire?
  • What do you dislike about your current role and work environment?

Step 2: Get Clear on What Your Transferable Skills Are[2]

The data gathered from your research and informational interviews will give you a clear picture of the career change that you want. There will likely be a gap between your current experience and the experience required for your desired job. This is your chance to tell your personal story and make it easy for recruiters to understand the logic behind your career change.

Make a list and describe your existing skills and experience. Ask yourself:

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What experience do you have that is relevant to the new job or industry?

Include any experience e.g., work, community, volunteer, or helping a neighbour. The key here is ANY relevant experience. Don’t be afraid to list any tasks that may seem minor to you right now. Remember this is about showcasing the fact that you have experience in the new area of work.

What will the hiring manager care about and how can you demonstrate this?

Based on your research you’ll have an idea of what you’ll be doing in the new job or industry. Be specific and show how your existing experience and skills make you the best candidate for the job. Hiring managers will likely scan your resume in less than 7 seconds. Make it easy for them to see the connection between your skills and the skills that are needed.

Clearly identifying your transferable skills and explaining the rationale for your career change shows the employer that you are making a serious and informed decision about your transition.

Step 3: Read the Job Posting

Each job application will be different even if they are for similar roles. Companies use different language to describe how they conduct business. For example, some companies use words like ‘systems’ while other companies use ‘processes’.

When you review the job description, pay attention to the sections that describe WHAT you’ll be doing and the qualifications/skills. Take note of the type of language and words that the employer uses. You’ll want to use similar language in your resume to show that your experience meets their needs.

5 Key Sections on Your Career Change Resume (Example)

The content of the examples presented below are tailored for a high school educator who wants to change careers to become a client engagement manager, however, you can easily use the same structure for your career change resume.

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Don’t forget to write a well crafted cover letter for your career change to match your updated resume. Your career change cover letter will provide the context and personal story that you’re not able to show in a resume.

1. Contact Information and Header

Create your own letterhead that includes your contact information. Remember to hyperlink your email and LinkedIn profile. Again, make it easy for the recruiter to contact you and learn more about you.

Example:

Jill Young

Toronto, ON | [email protected] | 416.222.2222 | LinkedIn Profile

2. Qualification Highlights or Summary

This is the first section that recruiters will see to determine if you meet the qualifications for the job. Use the language from the job posting combined with your transferable skills to show that you are qualified for the role.

Keep this section concise and use 3 to 4 bullets. Be specific and focus on the qualifications needed for the specific job that you’re applying to. This section should be tailored for each job application. What makes you qualified for the role?

Example:

Qualifications Summary

  • Experienced managing multiple stakeholder interests by building a strong network of relationships to support a variety of programs
  • Experienced at resolving problems in a timely and diplomatic manner
  • Ability to work with diverse groups and ensure collaboration while meeting tight timelines

3. Work Experience

Only present experiences that are relevant to the job posting. Focus on your specific transferable skills and how they apply to the new role.

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How this section is structured will depend on your experience and the type of career change you are making.

For example, if you are changing industries you may want to list your roles before the company name. However, if you want to highlight some of the big companies you’ve worked with then you may want to list the company name first. Just make sure that you are consistent throughout your resume.

Be clear and concise. Use 1 to 4 bullets to highlight your relevant work experiences for each job you list on your resume. Ensure that the information demonstrates your qualifications for the new job. Remember to align all the dates on your resume to the right margin.

Example:

Work Experience

Theater Production Manager 2018 – present

YourLocalTheater

  • Collaborated with diverse groups of people to ensure a successful production while meeting tight timelines

4. Education

List your formal education in this section. For example, the name of the degrees you received and the school who issued it. To eliminate biases, I would recommend removing the year you graduated.

Example:

Education

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  • Bachelor of Education, University of Western Ontario
  • Bachelor of Theater Studies with Honors, University of British Columbia

5. Other Activities or Interests

When you took an inventory of your transferable skills, what experiences were relevant to your new career path (that may not fit in the other resume sections?).

Example:

Other Activities

  • Mentor, Pathways to Education
  • Volunteer lead for coordinating all community festival vendors

Bonus Tips

Remember these core resume tips to help you effectively showcase your transferable skills:

  • CAR (Context Action Result) method. Remember that each bullet on your resume needs to state the situation, the action you took and the result of your experience.
  • Font. Use modern Sans Serif fonts like Tahoma, Verdana, or Arial.
  • White space. Ensure that there is enough white space on your resume by adjusting your margins to a minimum of 1.5 cm. Your resume should be no more than two pages long.
  • Tailor your resume for each job posting. Pay attention to the language and key words used on the job posting and adjust your resume accordingly. Make the application process easy on yourself by creating your own resume template. Highlight sections that you need to tailor for each job application.
  • Get someone else to review your resume. Ideally you’d want to have someone with industry or hiring experience to provide you with insights to hone your resume. However, you also want to have someone proofread your resume for grammar and spelling errors.

The Bottom Line

It’s essential that you know why you want to change careers. Setting this foundation not only helps you with your resume, but can also help you to change your cover letter, adjust your LinkedIn profile, network during your job search, and during interviews.

Ensure that all the content on your resume is relevant for the specific job you’re applying to.

Remember to focus on the job posting and your transferable skills. You have a wealth of experience to draw from – don’t discount any of it! It’s time to showcase and brand yourself in the direction you’re moving towards!

More Resources to Help You Change Career Swiftly

Featured photo credit: Parker Byrd via unsplash.com

Reference

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