Public Relations: A Beginner’s Guide to Personal Branding

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Great personal branding is essential to positioning yourself as the ideal candidate for the job you’ve studied hard to obtain. Cultivating a memorable brand will help you understand your strengths, stand out from the crowd, and envision your future. Personal brands, however, require meticulous planning and upkeep to remain relevant, interesting and appealing to hiring managers at every stage of your career. Starting a website, creating a logo, and using social media to foist your brand out into the world can put you on the path toward gainful employment. Maintenance efforts, like regularly updating your brand and networking, can open new job-related doors and help you cement your reputation as an indispensable employee.

Creating Your Brand

The first step toward creating a winning brand requires you to objectively assess your strengths and weaknesses. Determine your motivations, what inspires you, which activities bring out your best qualities, and what type of work you prefer to do and use the answers to create your personal brand. If you’re having trouble figuring out which aspects of your personality stand out from others, consider surveying your friends, relatives, and professional associates to determine which characteristics they value in you. While generally, you should be consistent with your career goals, themes, and personal mission, you shouldn’t worry about creating a perfect brand on your first attempt. Students can begin the process of branding while they’re still freshmen and fine-tune their efforts every year to reflect recent accomplishments, volunteer work, and educational milestones.

Social Media Is Your Friend

Many hiring managers now use social media as a research tool to determine if applicants are a good fit for the positions they seek to fill. To protect your personal brand, clean up your social media presence to remove any potentially objectionable, offensive, or negative posts and make room for a more positive tone and consistent, professional message. Take advantage of online networking opportunities by posting your résumé and portfolio on employee-friendly platforms like LinkedIn. Become part of the professional conversation by using hashtags related to your industry or mentioning the Twitter handles of professionals. Use clear photos of your smiling face as profile pictures so that your audience will recognize and remember you. Post different content in each of your social media accounts, but ensure that they all fit with your brand.

Improve Your Image With a Logo

Your logo should encapsulate your brand by reflecting your goals and who you are. Remember that every detail about your logo can provide subliminal cues to your audience about your personal brand. Choose the appropriate color, font, and accompanying images and ensure that your layout is professional, rather than large or gaudy. Use research and school resources to your advantage: Visit the library to check out books that cover color psychology, and inquire at computer labs to see if machines with Adobe Illustrator or other design programs are available. Your particular logo choices can also be informed by your potential profession or personality; for example, an individual involved in a creative field may opt to use a logo created by hand, while someone in business may choose to design a logo using a standard sans-serif font.

Leave Your Mark With a Personal Website

Take the ultimate step in digital personal branding by creating a website. Websites can be a smart investment, as domain names and hosting services can cost a minimal amount of money yet offer an invaluable resource for potential employers. In contrast to social media platforms, websites can host a variety of documents and information about you, including a downloadable résumé and portfolio. They can also provide you with an appropriate venue to formally introduce yourself to potential employers by giving you the space to publish a personal statement and information about your accomplishments, future goals, social media accounts, and how to contact you. Consider using your name as a domain name so that future employers can quickly and easily find you.

Go Offline and Network

While digital footprints are an important component of building a personal brand and landing a job, personal connections can be just as effective and fortuitous. Find opportunities on campus that can help you network. Attend recruiting fairs, join clubs or professional associations, and build relationships with both professors who could serve as references and peers who could one day be colleagues. Maintain positive interactions and keep connections alive through social media. Sometimes, there’s no better way to obtain a job than to have others who can vouch for you, your work, and your potential sing your praises.