You Trademarked Choosing how to present yourself publicly is more complex than ever in today’s technology-driven society. The resume has become an increasingly smaller part of a job-seeker’s professional image; an image you begin to project before even going on an interview. Professional engagement, volunteerism and often your online social profiles are all parts of your public image that can highlight your unique strengths to colleges, and to employers. Cultivating your personal brand has never been more important and developing it shouldn’t be a haphazard endeavor, but a well-thought out plan.
Discover Your Strengths
Take time to reflect on who you are, identify your strengths and figure out what makes you unique. List the attributes that set you apart from your peers. What can you offer that others can’t? What is your niche or area of expertise? Increasingly, employers are seeking specialists with a specific focus rather than generalists. Next, talk to those in your network to gain an understanding of how others see you. This will provide valuable perspective and potentially highlight qualities missed in your self-analysis. These two steps will be crucial in helping to identify your strengths and fine tune your career goals.
Create a Tagline
Take your best attributes and most marketable skills and create a one sentence “trademark” or mission statement to use as part of your branding efforts. Are you a “GAAP expert currently pursuing a CPA license” or an “Excel guru?” Use this statement as a headline for your resume, your LinkedIn profile and other platforms. A keyword-rich statement like the above will help you show up higher in search results and make your profile stand out to recruiters.
Volunteerism, community involvement and entrepreneurial pursuits can be an important part of your personal brand. Get involved in something that interests you. Giving back and pursuing your passions can provide new experiences and often have the incidental benefit of broadening your contacts and professional image. Be sure to reference your activities on your resume and social media sites.
Pay particular attention to the image that you project on social media sites. Careers can now be built on social profiles, so be sure that yours represent you professionally and highlight the things that make you unique. Add your work history, accomplishments and volunteer experience to your social media profiles, even those not specifically designed for professional networking. Update your profiles frequently to ensure they are current and interesting. Always be mindful of what you post and as a general rule don’t post anything that you would not want an employer to read.
Many social networks now allow you to customize privacy settings for content you share, so take advantage if you must. Many an employee has posted something forgetting that their posts are visible to coworkers and managers.
Once you’ve built your social profiles, it’s critical that you continue to use them on a regular basis. Having a LinkedIn profile that has clearly been dormant for years isn’t much more effective than not having one at all. Keep your position title and work experience up-to-date. Add new skills, awards and certifications to your profile as you receive them.
Even more important than keeping your profile up to date is not forgetting the whole point of social media and social networking websites – to be social! Stay active in any professional or alumni groups you might have joined. Keep up with the people in your network. Business is still built on a foundation of relationships, so don’t let yours crumble. Keeping up can be as simple as congratulating a connection on a new position or a work anniversary when a notification shows up in your newsfeed. Try and reconnect with people in your network on at least a yearly basis. And be generous with your time – your brand will benefit.
Careers are often a journey down a long winding road, rather than a straight path to a single goal. During the course of your career it will be necessary to periodically analyze where you are, where you want to be and adjust your brand to fit. Keeping your brand updated can be just as important as staying connected, particularly as you seek new employment and promotional opportunities or pursue a career change.
JustinBradley delivers exceptional financial talent. Our three business lines—Recruiting and Interim Staffing; Project Solutions; and Executive Search—provide the right talent for our clients’ finance, accounting, financial systems and business requirements. For more information call 202-457-8400 or visit our website www.justinbradley.com