Owning your personal brand in 2017

Your personal brand i.e. who you are, what you stand for and how you are perceived by others can significantly impact your career.

Let’s back that up with a true story: Once upon a time I applied for a job, got a call for an interview, went to said interview and thought, ‘I really want this opportunity.’

Once upon a time I applied for a job, got a call for an interview, went to said interview and thought, ‘I really want this opportunity.’

Cue a few days of stress eating and I get an email which read: Unfortunately you weren’t successful for this position.

Damn it John, back to stress eating and seek.com.au for you! But then, one morning, at roughly 11am and mid-bite through a Woolies mud cake (you know what I’m talking about), I get a call that went along the lines of: ‘Hey, you weren’t really fit for the role… BUT we really liked you and found a way to make the position suit your skills. Keen to join us?’

Swallows Woolies mud cake* ‘UMM, HELL YEAH.’

Fast forward two years and we’re still going strong!

What helped me in this case? An honest personal brand. Looking back at it now, I didn’t have a clue what this meant. But after listening to some inspiring personal branding sessions at our generationYOU Live Events, I made a small list of my learnings which can help your personal brand pop in 2017.

One // Be consistently authentic

People buy into brands that exude the same qualities and values they believe in. It makes them feel comfortable and confident. If we were to put this in the context of an employer in 2017, he/she won’t just hire a candidate with a uni degree… there are a lot of candidates with degrees! Instead, they are looking for candidates with a sense of character and have qualities that are in line with their organisation… someone they just HAVE to meet for an interview.

Tip: If you are unsure about your personal brand, start by reflecting on yourself. Write down a list of qualities or skills that you want to be known for. For example, it could be: creativity, hard work and unique art. These qualities can then form the basis of your personal brand and help you answer questions like: What type of people do I want to attract? What experiences will fulfil me the most?

Two // Make social media your BFF  

From filters to Boomerang and the rise of emojis, social media is showing no signs of signing out. In fact, it’s constantly evolving, and right now, image and video are all the rage. What does this mean?

> You can show everyone what you’re about without having to say a word.

> You can completely stuff up. And you don’t even have to say a word!

Tip: A lot of users are following this visual trend, particularly on Instagram. Experiment ways to create engaging images and video that are unique and authentic to your personal brand. For example, a graphic designer that specialises in illustration can have a different Instagram feed to a graphic designer specialising in typography. While they’re both in the same industry, finding their own niche makes it easier to cut through the noise and allow their audience to identify with their personal brand.

Three // Have your BFF’s back 

Last year at our generationYOU events, some of our presenters noted the fact that yes, as employers they conduct a search of candidates’ social media profiles during the hiring process. Why? It allows them to see if:

> You’re real.

> You’re a cultural fit.

> The information on your resume (i.e. your interests section) has similarities to your online persona.

Tip: If you’re on a serious job hunt, you need to clean up your resume AND your social media profile. While it may be fine for you to upload photos having fun on the weekend or tweeting about a controversial topic, you need to consider if this would matter in your industry. In 2017, our work and personal lives can easily interconnect. Thus, you need to consider the content you post and have a plan on how to manage this.

Four // Real connections still matter the most

One thing is for certain, word-of-mouth marketing will never go out of style. It isn’t just about what you put out in the world; it has a lot to do with what the world has to say about you. For me, this becomes a true test on whether or not you have an authentic personal brand.

Tip: No one has time for BS… not your friends, not your family or the people you work with. Invest time in creating genuine relationships by listening, interacting and sharing. At my job interview two years ago, I was a bit panicky. Nevertheless, I still tried my best and showed them my personality, and what I could and couldn’t bring to the table. Embrace the ‘fake it till you make it’ mantra, but at the same time prove what could be possible with what you have now.

Overall, owning your personal brand in 2017 can lead to a lot of success in your career and life in general. With more platforms to think about, reflecting on the core of your identity, finding your own style and going back to basics when it comes to making genuine connections will set you apart from the rest.