“What do I want people to remember about me when they log off LinkedIn or leave a networking event?” “How do I build a personal brand?”
How you express yourself professionally, both in person and online, can help solidify your skill set and voice within an industry, job function, or topic. Finding and maintaining your personal brand can benefit your entire career.
Here are three steps to understanding and implementing your professional brand:
Determine Your Unique Qualifications and Passions
No matter where you are in your career journey, you bring a unique set of talents to the table. Discovering and communicating the things that set you apart from others is critical to your career success.
When designing your personal brand, consider the following questions:
- Who am I professionally?
- What are my strengths at work?
- When I get lost in a project, what is it that I’m passionate about?
- What sets me apart from others in my field?
- When I’m facing burnout, what type of work refreshes me?
If you’re struggling to answer these questions, consider asking a colleague or friend you have worked with – you may be surprised at how others view your strengths, and this can be a helpful exercise when defining your brand.
Determine Your Career Keywords
Keywords are descriptors important to a job or industry. If you’re in the marketing field, for example, keywords might be communication, teamwork, creativity, ability to give and receive feedback, or social media management.
How do you find keywords relative to your interests and goals? Simply Google the job or industry you aspire to be in (not the one you’re currently working in), and see which words resonate with you. Then, select 10-15 of those phrases or words that also describe your strengths. These are your career keywords.
It might be helpful to read job descriptions that interest you as well – what qualities of the role do you have that employers are looking for? Those are all things you will want to adopt for your own brand.
“Speak in the terms of the career you want, not the career you have,” could be the new “dress for the job you want.”
Once you have determined the verbiage to use when describing yourself, it’s time to put that knowledge into action.
Create an Impact Plan
Update Your Resume:
It’s important to create a strong work experience section on your resume. As you’re writing, it may be helpful to ask yourself, “What did I accomplish in this role?” Keep in mind, your work experience section is not a job description but a bulleted summary of high points using real numbers and achievements.
Each time you apply for a job, update your resume with the keywords listed in that unique job description. This will help you advance past any automated applicant tracking systems (ATS). For example, if you are applying for a project manager role that continually emphasizes organization, give examples on your resume that call out organization.
An incomplete bullet point might be:
- Created social media campaigns.
Instead of just stating your job function, prioritize the real-life application:
- Managed social media campaigns, from content creation to graphic design, resulting in a 137% increase in engagement on Instagram.
Notice the format of bullet point + action verb + core content + result. This is the best way to communicate your experience efficiently and effectively on your resume.
Create or Update Your LinkedIn Profile and Build Your Presence Online:
In today’s digital world, a great LinkedIn profile is essential to your career trajectory. Fortunately, LinkedIn lays out the steps to completing your profile clearly when you login. Here are a few tips to stand out and establish your brand online:
- Integrate your keywords into your headline and profile
- Keep keywords in mind when writing your About and Experience sections (copy and paste from your resume)
- Join like-minded LinkedIn groups (Marketing Professionals, Engineers, etc.)
- Ask and give recommendations to others on LinkedIn
- Create a unique LinkedIn URL
Once you are set up for success, you can post about industry topics and interesting conversations you have at work. If you’re struggling with what to post about, consider what knowledge or insight you can offer to your digital community and refer back to your keywords.
With a completed LinkedIn profile, updated resume, and regularly posting about hot topics in your industry, you will begin establishing your personal brand online. You will also grow more comfortable talking about yourself, your strengths, and what you can offer future employers.
Applying the same strategy you used to establish your online presence, you can also start practicing speaking concisely about your accomplishments in person. Whether in an interview or at a networking event, following the three steps above will help you stand out from the crowd and communicate your professional brand.