Building Your Personal Brand

Make yourself unforgettable by developing and presenting a strong personal brand.
Carmen Teh
Writer, gradsingapore

Just like traditional branding, personal branding involves strategies to create appeal and attract attention. However, instead of applying that on a product, personal branding is about making yourself attractive and appealing to an audience, which, in the context of job seeking, would be prospective employers.

Personal branding is more than just how you portray and market yourself, it is also about how others remember you. Think of a strong brand, like Tesla, for instance, and you will immediately associate it with “innovation” and “cutting-edge technology”.

Your personal brand works the same way when you are associated with positive traits and characteristics that you’ve strategically built for yourself. A successful personal brand is when it becomes a reflection of your reputation and when you are remembered in a positive light.

To help get you started, here are a few things you can do to build a distinctive brand and make yourself stand out.

Craft a consistent brand

Recruiters often receive vague applications without a clear indication of the kind of jobs the jobseeker is looking for. For instance, graduates applying to IT companies sometimes make the mistake of simply saying that they are “open to jobs in web development/programming/technical support/technical consulting”.

Quite often, applicants include statements like this to show recruiters that they are flexible and adept in multiple disciplines. Unfortunately, from a recruiter’s perspective, the applicant will just come across as indecisive. Recruiters prefer candidates who are confident in their career direction and have genuine interest in their line of work.

To reassure your prospective employer of your potential to commit and of your genuine interest in the role on offer, you will have to be consistent throughout your job application. Indicate clearly and consistently what you want to achieve from the job, why you want it, and how you can meet its requirements.

When defining your personal brand, think about what is your unique selling proposition (USP) and how you can differentiate yourself from other candidates who are also applying for the same role. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What makes you unique?
  2. What are your core competencies?
  3. How can you contribute to the company and industry you are applying to?

Make your USP part of your personal brand by promoting them consistently throughout your job seeking process (e.g. during networking, résumé-writing and job interviews). 

Market your brand

Developing and embracing your brand is just the first step – you will need to market yourself and tell your story to employers in order to successfully stand out.

Think of it like a sales pitch. Just like how a salesperson sells a product by packaging its features to show what makes it unique, you can package your skill sets and past experiences to create a compelling narrative about your unique brand.

Here are a few ways you can make your pitch:

  • You can brand yourself as a specialist in a certain sub-sector
    e.g. App development, interior architecture
  • You can showcase a portfolio of your work
    e.g. Web design layouts, writing samples
  • You can also use fun or unique terms that describe your abilities
    e.g. Time management whiz, compelling storyteller

With a clearly defined brand and strategic pitch to market yourself, you can put your narrative into action, starting by being specific in your job applications.

For example, instead of writing an all-encompassing, vague statement about yourself, you can try: “I am a tech whiz keen on a role in web development. I have programming skills and experience in coding interactive websites and mobile apps for university clubs with diverse teams. I am looking to offer my strong organisational and leadership skills to a pioneering team working in the fast-paced and exciting environment of the tech industry”.

Other things to consider

  • Manage your online persona
    Your brand consistency should also encompass your social media accounts. Make sure that your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles reflect the personal brand that you want to be associated with. If there are posts or pictures on your personal social media accounts that you would not want recruiters to see, remember to set your accounts to private.
  • Polish your pitch
    Your personal brand is not something you can build overnight. Constantly seek room for improvement and refine your story/brand as you meet more employers and explore new job opportunities. The way in which you present your personal brand should be flexible too, as you will need to tweak your pitch to ensure your brand aligns with the specific qualities required for different job roles.
  • Be yourself
    Resist the temptation to exaggerate or to make up selling points at all cost. Seasoned recruiters can easily tell if you are lying and will disregard your application entirely. Don’t try to be someone else you are not. All you need to do is to take a step back, evaluate your abilities as well as experiences, and craft a persuasive narrative for a strong brand.