Your personal brand can play an integral part in your job-search process. Here's exactly what it is and how to establish your own.
You've likely heard of personal branding; it's been a trendy topic for the past several years. But what's it have to do with you? Why would you need a personal brand?
Sure, “personal brand” might seem like one of those buzzwords social media influencers, thought leaders, and CEOs like to throw around. But the truth is, if you're searching for a job, your personal brand can help you stand out from other applicants, making you more noticeable and leaving a long-lasting impression on the interviewer.
So how do you define your own personal brand to show off during a job interview?
What is a personal brand?
Your personal brand refers to how you present yourself, your skills, your experience, and your career goals to other professionals. It's what distinguishes you from the rest of the pack on the job market.
Think about some well-known brands: Apple, Uber, Target, and Pepsi. What do you think of when you hear someone mention these brands? Your professional brand will work in a similar capacity — it's your reputation and your image. It's something you have to work to establish, promote, and maintain.
Before you start thinking about your own personal brand, here are a few folks of fame who've done a brilliant job building their own:
Elon Musk is a successful entrepreneur, technological visionary, and hard-working CEO.
Oprah Winfrey is a strong, charitable, and successful black female leader.
Kim Kardashian is an influential TV personality and (love her or hate her) a pop culture icon.
Defining your own personal brand
Your personal brand will likely drastically differ from the ones mentioned above, but you get the idea. Now it's time to define your own brand.
Think about your experiences, your accomplishments, and your goals. When people consider you professionally, what do you want them to think about? How do you differ from Susan in the cubicle next to you?
These four tips are a great way to spark some introspection:
Make a list of your jobs, internships, and volunteer experiences.
Ask your current and former colleagues to describe your best attributes and skills.
Think about your career goals. Ask yourself: Where do I want to be in five years? Ten years?
Consider who your target audience is. In this case, keep the hiring manager or interviewer in mind.
Now, take a look and pluck out some common themes that fit you and your career goals. Use these to start building your personal brand statement, aka the one sentence that highlights your expertise and what makes you stand out in your field. It's basically a mission statement, but for yourself and your career.
Here are a few examples you can use as a template when defining your own brand and what makes you unique:
“I create online branded content that engages readers and pushes them to action.”
“I help small businesses develop sustainable business practices that lead to long-term growth.”
“I offer one-on-one leadership coaching and training to help individuals reach peak performance.”
Typically, the more niche you can get, the better. Keep your statement short and sweet, and be true to who you are.
Now keep this statement in mind as you polish your cover letter and resume, update your LinkedIn profile and personal website, craft your elevator pitch for networking events, and build your portfolio of work.
And during your job interview, of course.
Showcasing your unique personal brand in a job interview
Highlighting your personal brand on paper and on the web seems much easier than bringing it up during a job interview. And it's true — when you're tailoring your resume and updating your website, it's not hard to keep your personal brand statement top of mind. But it's just as important to showcase your personal brand during a job interview, too.
Not quite sure how to showcase your personal brand during an interview? Here are a few tips that'll help you lean into it:
Practice, practice, practice! One of the perfect times to inject your personal brand into an interview is during some of the most common interview questions. Think: Can you tell me about yourself? What are your greatest strengths? What's your greatest achievement? Where do you see yourself in five years? What are you passionate about?
Note your body language. It might sound odd, but interviewers and employers — intentionally or not — consider your body language. If you have your arms crossed, you're going to portray yourself as closed off. If you're slouched in your seat, your brand is going to look just plain sloppy. Keep these nonverbal cues in mind as you practice interviewing.
Consider what you wear. First impressions are everything in job interviews, and your outfit choice has a lot to do with that. No, this doesn't mean you need to go buy an expensive, name-brand pantsuit, but you do want to walk into an interview feeling crisp, clean, and ready to go.
Showcase your personality. Try not to let your nerves get the best of you and let your personality show. You don't want to joke around too much or act like you're catching up with an old friend, but don't be afraid to engage in interview small talk or reveal personal snippets about yourself. After all, most people want friendly co-workers, right?
Believe it or not, all of these elements tie back to your personal brand — how you're representing and portraying yourself in an interview. By using each opportunity to highlight your personal brand, you'll be able to stand out from other candidates, flaunt your skills and experiences, and — fingers crossed! — score the job offer.
Want some one-on-one interview practice that focuses on building your personal brand? Use one of our interview coaches to set yourself apart from the crowd.
Interview Mistakes You Don't Know You're Making — and How to Prevent Them