Personal branding and your job search

Personal branding

How to determine what personal branding is when it comes to your job search behavior and the tips employers can give you to improve your chances of standing out.

It can be easy to describe why you always choose a certain brand's bag of chips or shampoo; maybe a friend recommended the product to you, it could be you tried it once and had a great experience or perhaps the brand came out with a great ad and you wanted to find out if it's true. Bottom line: The brand you choose time and time again is your go-to because the brand made a promise of what it could deliver and you found it to be true.

But how does this fit in with looking for a job? If you haven't already, it's time to introduce personal branding to your job search.

What is personal branding in a job search?

Hiring managers receive job applications in such large volume that it's essential for a job seeker to stand out from the crowd in order to be considered for the position. This is where personal branding comes in: By having a clear message of who you are, what experience you have and what direction you're going in, you're conveying your identity to the hiring manager instead of being a faceless part of the crowd.

How do you create your own personal brand?

Take some time to brainstorm what you want in your personal brand. Go over your resume, note what type of roles or projects you're drawn to, understand your work ethic and leadership qualities you have, figure out what direction you want to take your career in. Then start imagining how you can express this to hiring managers. Can you communicate your interests and experience in a clear message? Will a customized resume help share your view? Can you get your brand across in your cover letter?

Will your brand work for every company you apply for? No. In order to understand if your brand fits in with a company, check out their website or social media pages. Would your branding be consistent with the company's? Would this be a good partnership? Or do you need to readjust your message to be a better fit?

What job application materials should you consider using in your personal branding?

  • Resume: Your resume needs to be compelling enough to make the hiring manager or recruiter want to call you in for an interview, so highlight your skills, education and some hints of personality. But this isn't the place to lay it on thick.
  • Cover letter: This is a better place to let your personality shine. Be unique and explain how you'd be in the role or why you'd be a better choice over another person.
  • Business cards: If you've chosen a specific font, color or layout in your materials to convey your brand, keep it consistent on your business card and include your contact information.
  • Portfolio/personal website: Being professional is an obvious note, but learn how to be an individual and let your individuality come through by showcasing your past projects and experience in a way that highlights your talent, personality and voice.
  • Online and social media profiles: Depending on your use, social media sites can be a great tool for networking and in job searches. If you choose to use social media in your job search, be sure to keep your visible materials clean and consistent with your personal branding.

Do hiring managers really notice personal branding?

Personal branding may be a great way to organize your job search and help you focus on the type of jobs you're actually interested in and qualified for, but will hiring managers actually be impressed by your personal branding efforts?

“What's important for each candidate to leave me with: What are the two or three things that are truly unique about them?" says Stuart Grief, chief HR officer of Steward Health Care. “But then, in addition to that, helping me understand how those two or three or four unique things are relevant for Steward Health Care. How are they different and how does that difference apply to the job at hand?" If you're going to develop your own personal brand, make your efforts worth the trouble by always making your brand specifically applicable to the company you're interested in.