Personal Branding: Marketing Yourself in the Workplace

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By Barbara Ellis

When starting a job search, personal branding should be at the top or your priority list. A strong personal brand helps you to stand out in a crowded job market and distinguishes you from the competition where other traditional indicators might not.

So what, exactly, is a personal brand?  Think of it as the process by which we market ourselves to others and develop consistent messaging via every touch point. A successful personal branding strategy uses the same strategies that make corporate brands appealing. In the job market, building a personal brand is a way to define what makes you unique, stay relevant, and, most importantly, be employable. 

Follow these strategies to personal branding success:

Create or improve collateral. Review your business cards, resume, cover letter, reference documents, portfolios, and your video resume. Ensure each item is thoughtfully crafted to look professional yet reflect your personality, and that there is consistency throughout all typography, highlighted keywords, etc.

Craft an elevator speech. This is your 30 second commercial. Pretend you’re in an elevator on your way to a dream-job interview, the door opens and in walks the CEO of the company. This is your opportunity to let him know who you are in a succinct, well-spoken manner. If you are not practiced, it could turn into the longest elevator ride of your life. Take time to craft your brand message about who you are and what you have to offer. Then practice it out loud until it flows, and then practice it some more. 

Review your online image. If you were to Google your name, what pops up in the results? Chances are, at the very least, you’ll find links to every social media outlet you’ve ever been to. Your LinkedIn profile, Facebook posts, interactions on Twitter, photos immortalized on Instagram, boards labeled on Pinterest, and every blog post you’ve ever written are all there. It’s not too late to ensure this very public image is leveraged to enhance your personal brand. Remove offensive posts, clean up the “about me” sections, and add a professional image as your avatar.  

Update your personal style. It’s no secret that what you wear (and how you wear it) has a huge influence on others perceptions of you. Your appearance must be polished. For interviews, convey professionalism and authority with a blazer or suit jacket and leave the denim at home. Press your clothes, tuck your shirt, comb your hair, keep jewelry to a minimum, and ensure clothing is stain free and all buttons are securely attached; do not let your appearance be a distraction. Bold colors, funky accessories and trendier items are great…after you’ve nailed down the job.

(Barbara Ellis is a Manager of Corporate and Strategic Relationships at American Public University System.  She has 30 years of experience in the retail industry with a keen focus on fashion.  She has been singled out as a style and personal branding expert by Personal Branding Magazine, the Small Biz Association, the Barefoot Executive and more.)