Creating and developing a unique personal brand is crucial to success in any industry, from marketing and advertising to politics and journalism. Entering the job field as a recent college graduate has become increasingly competitive. Having a core identity that allows employers to get to know the real YOU is important in setting yourself apart among a large pool of job applicants.
The scary part of this process is that you are always representing your brand. Whether you are in a classroom, interviewing for a position or posting on social media, your personal brand is always being showcased. Luckily, however, there is a platform that works behind-the-scenes 24 hours a day to represent you — it’s called LinkedIn.
First, let’s identify what a personal brand means. A personal brand is what people think of when they hear your name. It’s what makes you stand out. Your brand is not what you say you are, but what others say you are. In addition to that, it is not what you know or who you know, but who knows you. Because of this, it is easy for your brand to get misconstrued based on false or incomplete information about you. Here is a list of some well-known, influential personal brands.
LinkedIn is a powerful tool for you to carefully craft your personal brand in a way that promotes you and your best qualities every second of the day. Schools, employers and recruiters can access your profile at any time to learn more about you and discover what makes you unique, so it is imperative to represent yourself in the best light on this platform.
LinkedIn works as a professional toolbox — showcasing your education and training, work experience, history and interests. LinkedIn is not a resume: it’s more than that. Your profile should offer more emotion than a resume and make people feel a connection to you through words, photos, videos, documents and more. The power of LinkedIn may seem daunting at first, so let me walk you through some tips to enhance your profile.
This is the first thing people see along with your profile photo (which should be a professional headshot). Your title should reflect the core of your personal brand through the hard, soft and people skills that you possess. This is more than just your company title or position name, but a short explanation of how your personal capabilities contribute to your professional work. Some examples include: “student leader and community volunteer,” “digital and social media marketer,” “entrepreneur, mentor and traveler,” “strategic brand marketing student,” or “marketing innovator, leader, strategist and educator.”
In order to maximize your reach, set your location to the greatest nearby city. For example, if you live in or near Atlanta, use “Greater Atlanta Area.”
This allows you to include your email address, phone number and up to three websites where people can learn more about you and your work. This is a great way for employers to see what you are doing and easily get in contact if they are interested
This section should describe what people can expect if they work or engage with you. This includes your values, personality, passions, skills and goals for the future. Get creative and be personable. Avoid referencing your current job, because this is seen later under your experience.
Your experience should showcase the most relevant tasks and accomplishments of your current and past positions. Use this space wisely – start each bullet point with a strong action verb and include your most important work that pertains to your desired industry. This looks very similar to a resume format.
*Note that without clicking “see more” (which people often do not click), the page shows seven single-line bullet points for your latest job and five single-line bullet points for older jobs. Try to include all of your information in those visible lines.
LinkedIn offers several sections for you to add other featured information about yourself (including interesting podcasts, articles you’ve written, featured videos, blogs, etc.), licenses and certifications, volunteer experience, skills, endorsements and recommendations. Feel free to explore these areas and incorporate what is most important in defining who you are as a person!
I know this seems like a lot at first, but try to tackle each of these sections one by one. The ultimate goal is to grow your network (hopefully to 500+ connections!) to set yourself up for success before even hitting the job market. This platform markets your personal brand 24/7, so make your life easier and let LinkedIn do its job!
Written By: Roxie Ware