You, The Brand
You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating: there is only one you. Now, don’t quote us on this, but we’re pretty sure that makes you about as valuable as the Mona Lisa (there’s only one of her, too.) No one else can offer the unique combination of skills and personality traits you can bring to the table. That one-of-a-kind combo is what constitutes your personal brand.
When you’re building your career, a good way to get noticed is to think of yourself as a brand. A personal brand is simply what you want people to think about you. Every piece of communication you put out there for potential employers to see should tell that story—your website, your (public) social media profiles, and of course, your cover letter and resume. It’s no different than any other kind of advertising, except in this case, you’re the product. So how do you start creating your brand story?
Know yourself: Your first step is to figure out exactly what you offer. You should be able to state it succinctly, meaning in a single sentence or less. It’s not enough to just be a photographer or a wedding planner or an accountant. You have to isolate the unique combination of skills and personality traits that sets you apart from all of the other photographers/wedding planners/accountants. Then you have to tell people about it.
Find your strengths: Start by talking to your friends, colleagues, professors, group members, and anyone else who has worked closely with you and knows you well. They’ll see your strengths in a completely different light than you do, and talking to them will probably help you uncover some positive attributes you never knew you had. You might also consider taking a personality inventory like the Myers Briggs test. It’s not a crystal ball, but it can reveal things about your personality and leadership style that can help you formulate your personal brand. You can also make a mood board as an exercise to focus your personal brand concept.
Know your audience: To make your brand work its hardest for you, you have to know who you’re talking to. Think carefully about the kind of person or company you want to work for, and tailor your personal brand to appeal to them. What do they need in an employee? What unique niche can you fill? Answer these questions, and then build your brand accordingly.
For more in-depth personal brand-building tips, check out this article.