Personal branding is marketing yourself and career as a brand. Even if you never made a concentrated effort to “create” your brand, you still have one. Here’s how to see it:
Here’s the reality: recruiters and hiring managers are Googling your name. And this is what they’re seeing. The goal of this unit is to get you thinking of yourself as a brand and understand the ways you can build and establish your personal brand through online channels.
For starters, taking control of your personal brand allows you to shape the conversation.
More than that, it helps you build credibility. When an employer Googles your name and nothing appears - it raises eyebrows. On the other hand, have a personal brand validates your existence and shows that you can be trusted.
When applying for jobs, a personal brand can also distinguish you from the competition. And ultimately it may be a factor that can help you land better opportunities.
Here are specific ways you can curate your personal brand:
Even your email address and business cards say something about your brand.
More than a refined digital footprint (e.g. completed LinkedIn profile, personal website, blog), the goal is to establish yourself as a contributor to the community. This means you’re sharing thoughts, ideas, and helping your peers. Many of the ways above—especially social media, blogging, and speaking—allow you to contribute to the community.
Many avoid sharing on social media, blogging, or speaking at events, because they believe they have nothing to add to the conversation.
This is not true. There are many ways you can add value to your professional community, even as a beginner. For instance, you can do an experiment, or build a project, and document your results. This way others can learn from your mistakes and realizations. Another way you can add value to the community is by curating industry news, events, etc., on your LinkedIn profile, blog, or Twitter.
These are just two ways you can get involved without being an “expert”.
While being an expert is not a prerequisite for taking part in conversations and ultimately building your brand, what does matter is recognizing how to use each channel effectively. Every platform has its own etiquette—which we’ll dive into in the upcoming lessons.
However, an important component across all platforms is consistency.
Despite not needing to be an expert to start building a personal brand as a developer, you should be consistent across all channels.
Inactive, but searchable social media platforms may hurt your brand. For example, an inactive Twitter handle with a few Tweets dating back to 2010, will probably hurt more than help you. It indicates that you start things, but don’t commit to them. Changing your privacy settings, or deleting the account, can have a positive impact.
Another common misstep people make is having more than one LinkedIn profile. For yourself, you should only have one LinkedIn profile. If an employer sees that you have multiple accounts, it may come across as being out of touch, or unable to use social media/the internet. Luckily, LinkedIn has ways you can merge duplicate accounts. Read here to learn how you can go about it.
Many people make the mistake of signing up for every social media platform out there, but then only sticking to a few, while leaving the others to collect Internet dust. In reality, quality is more important than quantity. Instead of signing up for every social media site, stick to 1-3. And do them well.
However, if you’d like to try a new platform to see if you like it, start by making your account private. This is an option for most, if not all, popular social media networks. This way you can test the waters without coming across as inactive.
People will be looking you up, looking into your background, and generally paying attention to your professional presence while you’re job-seeking. It’s important to maintain a professional image! Do your best to stay out of trouble: Don’t get arrested. Don’t tweet a string of profanities on your public Twitter. And remember that drug testing is a viable possibility as you are considered for a position at companies of all sizes.
Your personal brand matters because it’s what employers consider when reviewing your application. They may take it into account before inviting you in for an interview, as well as later when deciding if you should be made an offer.
In upcoming lessons, we'll cover effective ways to build your brand.