Unless you have lived in a cave for a couple of years, you have heard about it. Personal branding is basically promoting your own name in your field, or personal marketing if you will. Look around you and you will see people with great brands. Politicians are masters at personal branding (and pretty good at ruining their brands as well), they have been trained to nurture a positive image of themselves and to market it to the masses. You should do the same and your career will be better off.

Your personal brand is not tied in to a job search, it certainly helps you find a new job but the main purpose of your brand is to market yourself passively. By having a very strong brand in your industry, you are likely to be promoted quicker, get a raise and get more recognition and appreciation from your peers. And your strong personal branding will be very useful for a potential a job change, regardless if you choose to jump ship or if you’re pushed. Call it an insurance policy if you like.

Offline

You have been working on your offline personal brand all your life. Your brand gets stronger by demonstrating qualities such as authenticity, honesty, gratitude, kindness, service, and generosity – all the traits associated with your favorite people. The way you look in terms of clothes and accessories, the way you speak and present yourself, how you interact with others, what activities and charities you involved in et cetera are all strong factors of your brand.

You will probably have a decent idea of your own brand, sometimes there is a mismatch to what you think and what others think. The people around you will have an opinion of your personal brand already, ask them and they will tell you exactly what your offline brand is. The key here is to ask and not assume that you know the answer already.

Your offline brand isn’t optional; it’s there alive and kicking. There is really nothing new here apart from perhaps the new buzz term itself, which is not going anywhere so you best get used to it. The interesting side to personal branding is really what is happening online.

Online

be prepared for personal branding

With the advent of the Internet, you can now beam your image to the world at the moderate price of free. All your offline qualities transfer nicely to the online world and if you haven’t already, now is the time to stake your cyber claim for your brand.

I can think of countless examples from my days in recruitment when people realized they needed a new job for whatever reason and they didn’t have a resume, online profiles or even a presence. When you find yourself in that situation, you’ll have plenty on your mind already and you don’t want to start writing a resume or online bios from scratch. To avoid that stress, make sure you have the bare minimum and you will be prepared for any situation.

What can you do online today? Here’s a checklist that you can go through:

Need to haves:

  • updated and winning resume
  • standard cover letter that you can adapt
  • good looking and effective profile
  • well rehearsed elevator pitch to deliver at any time

Nice to haves:

  • online bio somewhere you can link to
  • social media resume uploaded and searchable
  • employee friendly and searchable profiles on YouTube

Extra credit:

  • having an avatar
  • personal blog or website
  • your own Linkedin Group
  • your own domain name
  • moderating or owning a forum
  • publishing articles or blog posts
  • anything techie with your name on it

Some people will have very few things from the lists, some will have a lot. Most will have bits here and there. The way you test your brand is to simply run a Google search on your name, just like a potential employer or customer is likely to do at some point. Are you happy with what they will see or is there room for improvement?

Bottom line

The benefits of your brand are many and there is no reason not to begin your campaign today. If you start working on your personal brand when you are in dire need of a new job, you will realize you are very late. Instead, be a good scout and be prepared with a strong personal brand now and it will be your parachute when you most need it.
Is your personal brand prepared?

Related: How To Boost Your Personal Brand with Social Media (Infographic).

photo by: greg westfall.

Jörgen Sundberg

The original Undercover Recruiter, after 7 years in tech recruiting Jorgen now runs Link Humans, a social media agency in London.