It might seem odd that a personal brand can help your career, but the truth is that who you are as a person online can have a huge impact on your job, promotions, and even whether or not you get hired or called to an interview. So, what is a personal brand?
What is a Personal Brand?
Brand is defined as a “unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors.”
So what is a personal brand? A personal brand is the image of you based on what you say, like, follow, post, etc., especially online.
What Does Your Personal Brand Say About You?
To an employer or prospective employer, your brand speaks volumes. Companies are very interested in what their employees and job applicants say and do online.
Many companies have very rigid policies in place to define acceptable behavior for their employees. One reason is that companies spend a lot of money to attract diversity, both in their customers and in their employees. At large corporations, diversity is a recognized asset. In medium and small businesses, diversity is a critical aspect. That is why potential employers care about your personal brand.
Their goal is to hire people who match their company brand. They need employees who will fit in and be an asset, not a liability.
How Does a Personal Brand Become a Liability?
Companies are looking for more than skills when they hire. So much of what they do relies on how their employees behave, that who you are as a person matters just as much as your skill set.
By the end of 2017, nearly 90 percent of marketing professionals expect that the biggest deciding factor between one company and the next for consumers will be customer service. That’s big. That’s something that job applicants, students, and college grads need to consider. It also plays directly into why personal brands matter.
If you are a company looking for talent, who do you hire when two candidates have similar skill sets? Do you choose the woman whose Facebook feed looks like she is living the song “Chandelier” by Sia? Do you choose the person who posts recipes that his friends might like?
Those choices are somewhat of an over-dramatization. But what if you are a company with deep political ties and your top candidate hates the candidate you just gave a half-million dollars to as a campaign contribution? That’s not an over dramatization. That is a situation that is very real.
It is also not a reason that a company can fire an employee and that makes it all the more valuable for a company to know who you are socially, politically, sexually, etc. According to the Hartford, there are only a few valid reasons that a company can use to fire an employee. So, to get around the legal issues and the legal risk, companies look at your personal brand to see if you might fit into their “family before hiring you.”
What Can You Do to Build a Positive Personal Brand?
Do a self-evaluation of your online self before you begin to apply for jobs. Some companies check before they call you for an interview. Others check your personal brand when they offer you an interview … or after the interview. Then there is the group who makes your online life part of their background check process. The best policy is to be the first party to check your online presence.
Find out what the internet knows about who you are. In fact, Google your name and address, name and phone number, name and your Facebook name and see what you find. Make sure there are no potential “red flags” and take the time to address issues that you find, especially if you have a job interview. That issue might come up as a question.
Employers might look at your posts, or they might crawl your entire online persona. Monitor which groups you belong to, your friend’s list, all of your photos, and your complete list of interests from books and movies to music and travel destinations. Look at it all from the perspective of an employer.
Showcase the Good Stuff:
Make sure that your social media accounts are full of good – and accurate – kudos. List your honors and awards, memberships and all of the other things that would make your mother proud. Employers are looking for people who are achievers so show them that you are. Just be certain that everything on your profile is true and verifiable because they will look closely.
If you are getting ready to graduate, or even just starting college, now is the best time to start building a powerful personal brand that helps promote you as a job candidate.