A personal brand isn’t a logo or tagline. It’s a way of marketing yourself and the experiences you’ve had in person and online. It brings together the perceptions, ideas and associations that create the image people have of you.
Your brand will help future employers understand who you are. You can use it to communicate your suitability for a job, the things that make you unique and the direction you want your career to take.
Getting across this message takes time and it’s important to start at the beginning of your time at university rather than a few days before your first interview.
Here’s how to get started with your personal brand.
Ask yourself some serious questions
The key to a strong personal brand is knowing who you are and what you are trying to achieve. If you’re studying medicine you’ve probably had a career path planned out for a while, but for the rest of us it can take a bit of time and thought.
Think about what you’ve learnt so far, both at university and during any internships or work experience. What do you want to achieve before graduation? Make sure you understand where you are now and what your passions are. Try to imagine where you’d like to be in five years.
Have a look at potential graduate roles and speak to your careers service to find some good job matches. If you start planning early enough you can build your personal brand and develop new competencies at the same time.
Google your name
When researching applicants one of the first places that employers look is online. Have a quick look at the first few pages of Google and see what comes up. If a recruiter only finds a hundred pictures of you partying a little too hard in first year they are unlikely to be impressed. You can change your privacy settings on social networks such as Facebook to keep your private life private.
Your online profile should reflect your brand. Making sure that your social media pages reflect your values rather than just telling followers what you had for breakfast and consider creating a website or blog for brand you.
Interact with purpose
Networking is the best way to get your brand out there. There are plenty of opportunities to interact with future employers. Follow their social media pages, connect on professional networking sites and attend any job fairs or open days.
Make sure you consider how best to convey your message and what questions you might want to ask. The most memorable members at networking events or in online chats are those who’ve had the enthusiasm to make a plan. Speak to your careers advisor before the event to find out who is going to be there, turn up with your CV and some prepared questions and connect with the people you’ve met via LinkedIn afterwards.
Pause and think before you post or approach a potential networker – a few wrong words can destroy all your hard work. Look at your future employer’s brand and take your cue from them – some companies keep it formal at all times whereas others are more casual and enjoy a light-hearted approach.
Stay true to your brand
Authenticity is essential. The advantage with a personal brand is that you can show off your own personality and wider interests, giving employers a more rounded picture of who you are. Building a brand takes time, and the more you work on it the more useful it will be for finding a graduate job that really suits you.
You’ll be happiest working somewhere that shares your passions and has a similar outlook. Try and match your brand to companies and job specifications rather than changing who you are to match a role. Don’t say you’re passionate about spreadsheets if you’ve never used Excel. It’s about finding the right position, not just any old thing, so be patient.
Keep working on it
A personal brand needs to be maintained. The people with successful brands are always interacting, so if you set up a blog, twitter feed or LinkedIn page make sure you keep them updated. Keep turning up to events and talking to people.
Those who secure interviews are those with a clearly defined idea of who they are, what they want to achieve and how best to share this with employers. A personal brand is a great way to get across your unique combination of attitude, skills and experience.
If you think that your personal brand is right for Enterprise, then we’d love to hear from you. Check out our latest graduate management opportunities, or come and spend some time with us on an internship so you can find out if we’re right for you.