As a New Year approaches, January graduates from both high schools and colleges are preparing to take their first steps into the job market. In addition, in the spirit of change for a new year, more than a few people begin looking for a new job to replace one they are less than satisfied with.
These days however prepping a decent resume is not enough to get properly noticed by the average recruiter or hiring manager. In order to be most successful in their endeavors the 21st century job seeker needs to create their own brand, in much the same way as a company does.
Discovering Your Brand
One of the biggest mistakes a job seeker can make when it comes to personal branding is to do so just because they read somewhere that they should and then go about it halfheartedly and without too much thought.
Any jobseeker needs to take the time to determine what their objectives for their personal brand in a clear and concise manner. Then they must take that information, as well as some of their own defining personal traits. and turn it into a memorable brand.
The Personal Branding Tool Kit
Once a candidate has determined how they want to brand themselves, they need to begin building a ‘personal branding tool kit’, pulling together elements that encompass on-line and off-line elements. T
Such a kit, fortunately does not cost a great deal of money to put it together, just a little time and effort.
Personal Branding – The Business Card
Even a recent college grad with very little in the way of actual experience needs a business card. Of course, it will not have a job title or a company name in the way that a traditional business card does, but it still needs to convey certain pertinent information within that 3.5″x2″ space
What should be on that business card? All the right contact information – name, address, cellphone number, business email address. Some people are also adding their Twitter handle or LinkedIn profile link, but that should only be done do if it is an established account that is used solely for business networking purposes.
When designing the layout of a job-seekers business card keep it simple. Avoid the use of too many graphics and stick to a simple font. Some jobseekers create a very gimmicky business card believing it will get them noticed but unless they are in a very creative field like graphic design doing so may very well backfire.
Some jobseekers also choose to add a picture to their business card and if they have a good head shot that may be something worth considering, but only if there is the room on the card to do so without it looking too cluttered.
Personal Branding Tools – The Email Signature
Something as seemingly innocuous as an email signature can be a great personal branding tool. Increasingly the first contact job seekers make with a potential employer is via email, so this is a golden opportunity to promote a personal brand without being pushy about it.
A standard e-mail signature should include much of the same information as a personal job-seeker’s business card contains, as well as a link to business social networking profiles. Some are also choosing to add a quotation to their email signature but if you choose to do so make sure that is appropriate and could in no way be construed as offensive. If you are unsure, leave it out.
Personal Branding – The Headshot
Although not mandatory, adding a professionally shot picture of to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts is recommended. According to Layne Davlin, founder and CEO of Einstein HR, a PEO company, “Personal pictures help build your brand and on a very simple level. A useful old connection may not quite remember your name, but your picture then sparks their memory. So make sure to have a headshot taken at some point. Make it professional – but memorable.”
There are those who are wary of posting their picture to their profile for fear of it influencing a potential employer adversely. However, as long as it is a professional looking, simple head shot it does no harm. Discrimination is of course illegal but to say it does not go on is naïve. Any jobseeker will have to present themselves in person at that all-important interview anyway, so they cannot remain incognito forever.
Choosing a personal snapshot from last year’s vacation to Cancun is not a good idea obviously. Professional single head-shots cost far less than many imagine and given how much use a job seeker can get out of it, it will be money well spent. The ideal head-shot is simple, taken against a plain backdrop and manages to convey something of the subject’s personality without being over the top.
The tools described so far are the basics that every job-seeker should have. There are many other optional tools that can be added to a job-seekers personal branding kit as well. Video resumes, full web pages, blogs are all useful tools for personal branding if used correctly and appropriately may give the jobseeker the extra ‘edge’ needed to score that