In a recent workshop, college students were learning about the concept of one’s “Personal Brand”. This is not to mean they should view themselves as a product like TIDE or a service such as the one provided by UPS. Rather one’s personal brand is the image portrayed by the individual and the perception others have of the individual. Some have confused Reputation with Personal Brand – the differentiating factor is that one’s brand is defined by internal and external forces whereas reputation is an externally determined view of you.
What do you do well? What skills do you have? What separates you from others? What differentiates you? What do you enjoy? In what areas do you excel? What do you think others would say about you? How would you like to be perceived?
These questions can help one begin to define what skills one has to offer, areas that are of interest, and how an individual is unique/different from others. Holding a college degree is not enough in today’s job marketplace. One has to be able to define what one “brings to the table” to an employer or client in order to set oneself apart.
How do you dress? Is it reflective of how you wish to be perceived? Is your clothing, hair style, accessories out-of-date?
In 2011, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling starred in a movie entitled Crazy, Stupid, Love. In an early scene, Gosling tries to help Carell update fashion. The scene may be difficult to watch because it may hit close to home for many of us. After dissecting Carell’s wardrobe and haircut, Gosling asked when Carell lost his manhood. “A good case for 1984” was Carell’s response. Many of us fall victim to a certain time period of clothing and accessories, this can have a negative effect on one’s outwardly image.
Is your look dated? Facial hair, hair cut, glasses – are they classic or circa 1984? Please know I am not trying to say that you need to dress in the latest styles or having trendy eyewear will make you more employable. Flash on the surface will not hide a candidate’s lack of depth. Still, a first impression it is important. If your suit is dated – the employer may think your job skills may be dated as well. If your sideburns and mustache look like they belong to cast of Anchorman, an employer may think your operate other parts of your life (i.e. your job) like it was the mid-1970s.
Are you still using a velcro wallet? Enough said.
What are you saying about yourself online? What impression do you give others when they see your activity on the internet? Does your LinkedIn account reflect the career you want or career you currently have? The skills and differentiating factors you identified earlier – are they communicated on your profile? Have you Googled yourself?
I love when I work with young professionals who tell me they are innovative and savvy with social media technology. We go online to view how they are presenting themselves to the world. Often, the LinkedIn profile reflects the jobs they have in the past as opposed to careers they would like to have, the Twitter account is about personal messages between friends (some questionable in good taste), and they have no presence at all on professional discussion group threads. In short, they see themselves as leaders in social media, but the online presence does not reflect the image they wish to portray.
In today’s world of online presence, you must be sure your online reputation matches the message you portray in a resume and cover letter. Use your LinkedIn summary to communicate where you want to go (the next job, how you wish to be seen, what separates your business from others), contribute solid content on professional discussion threads, follow other industry experts via social media outlets to stay abreast of trends. In short, your application materials are no longer just a resume and cover letter. You must be sure your online profile matches the image you portray in your resume, cover letter and interviews.
Tomorrow: External factors on your personal brand.