Personal branding is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot in college but rarely do people talk about how to actually come up with a personal brand. Though typically emphasized more in the liberal arts sector, everyone can benefit from having a personal brand. By creating a strong and cohesive image of yourself, potential employers get a better sense of who you are and will hold a more impactful memory of you. It also just shows that you have your sh*t together. But asking someone to find out who they are in their early 20s can be daunting, and we often have no idea how to figure that out. Though it doesn’t happen overnight, curating your personal brand isn’t as exhausting and intimidating as it sounds.
Do some soul searching
The first step to building your personal brand is to get to know yourself better.
What are my favorite colors?
What three words best define me?
How do I want my employers and colleagues to view me?
What style represents me best? (ie Industrial, elegant, bubbly, etc)
After asking yourself these things, you should begin to see a pattern in ways to represent you. Use your favorite colors to create a color scheme, the three words that define you to find a font that fits your personality, the way you want to be viewed to determine which pictures you post of yourself, and your style to determine the overall vibe and layout of your digital presence. It’s a lot to take in and sort through at first, but our personalities are constantly growing and changing, and time is the best way to hone and refine our brand.
Clean up your social media
We’ve all heard it before: “Be careful with what you post on social media because you never know who’s watching.” And as much as it sucks, it’s true. 70% of employers check social media before hiring someone, and 43% admit to checking up on current employees. Which means your social media is probably due for a spring cleaning. If you are really serious about creating a personal brand, in addition to deleting any pictures or tweets you wouldn’t want your boss to see, delete any pictures that aren’t high quality. To really take it a step further, try to curate a theme within your visual feeds with either a cohesive filter or a subject matter (other than yourself) to focus on.
Design your resume
Sure, word templates were great back in high school when you were applying to your first job at a fast food restaurant, but in college, you need to have something a little bit more professional. The workforce is becoming evermore digitalized, and showing that you have the creative mindset to design something that stands out amongst others is a great thing. You don’t have to be a whiz at Indesign or Photoshop to create a stunning resume, either. Though you can certainly make your resume on one of these softwares (you can download templates if you need some help), websites like VisualCV and Canva are free and much easier to use if you aren’t interested in learning Adobe Creative Cloud.
Build your own website
This step is for the ultra-dedicated. Not everyone feels the need to create a personal website, but for some people (communications, business, advertising, art, UX/UI), a website can be an extraordinary way to brand yourself and make it easier for potential employers to find your work. It also adds a slightly more elevated and professional touch, informing employers that you’re willing to go the extra step. There are several sites in which you can build your website. Unless you’re a coding genius, I suggest using website builders like WordPress.org (or wordpress.com if you’re looking for something more basic), Wix, or Squarespace. Adobe also offers an easy to use portfolio building website if you have access to that software. Stick to the same color scheme and fonts that you found best reflect your personality, and use this site to display your work, start a blog, give a bit more personality that what can be gleaned from your resume, or all of the above.
Get custom business cards
Pretty much nothing is more impressive than when you whip out a custom-designed business card. This applies to all professions because having a card is crucial in networking events. Though we frequently apply online for job positions, having a business card for career fairs and events that your campus hosts shows that you’re serious, as well as provides a more meaningful and lasting impression. Plus, they’re just fun to design. Check out VistaPrint for stunning but inexpensive business cards that you can design from scratch. They even have an option to add a specialized QR code that can lead people to your LinkedIn or website!
Creating a personal brand is time-consuming and difficult, but it can also be fun and is so important when looking for a job. In addition to its usefulness in a professional setting, its also a great way to get to know yourself better and can help you curate your personal life as well. Your personal brand is an outward reflection of who you are and is the best way to express yourself professionally.